Thursday, December 27, 2007

Rinse and spin

On my break, I'm questioning what to do with my reporting. My professor told me I need to get an internship with one of the local dailies. She says my little job at my little paper is fine if I don't get the internship, but that I need to go somewhere bigger where my skills would be appreciated. I thought they were appreciated where I was. Sure, I don't use all of those skills to the highest degree. Heck, I don't use some of them at all. But I've got it pretty cushy. And I get paid pretty well considering. I guess I don't want to jump ship and stuff envelopes somewhere else.

I'm also wondering about working at one of the campus papers. It feels sort of like a been-there-done-that, but they're both dailies and the community is much bigger than what I'm used to. It just strikes me as a chore. But maybe a good opportunity.

Anyway, enough navel-gazing.

No heart attacks this Christmas. Yea!

My mom came over Christmas Eve. We had homemade pizza, just like last year, which worried me a little given last year's big event. We watched some Vicar of Dibley, which was pretty funny. It was the 10th Anniversary special or something. I hadn't seen those particular episodes before. I haven't seen my mom laugh that much in a very long time.

My brother and his family also came over that day. It was nice. The kids played hard. In true Aunt Amy fashion, I got my nieces self-inflating whoopee cushions. Man, they sound real.

My mom took Kelsey's bed, and Kelsey slept on the top bunk in Kayleigh's room. Kayleigh whined a bit about it. She said Kelsey keeps her awake wanting her to tell stories. And she snores, Kayleigh says. Ah, well. They got to sleep some time after 11.

The day itself was pretty low-key, which I like. We watched some more Vicar of Dibley after gift-opening. I dropped my mom off at my brother's in the afternoon for standing rib and Yorkshire pudding.

My spoils: Adobe CS3, Forrest Gump, season 4 of Goodnight Sweetheart, the soundtrack to Into the Woods, and a penguin watch. Eric got a great deal on CS3 from work. Pretty darn cool.

The kids seemed pleased with their gifts, as well. Eric kind of got short shrift this year. The guy owns just about everything, and the stuff he wants that he doesn't own is impossible to find.

We went snow tubing on Wednesday. It was fun, but not delightful. It got faster as it got colder outside. The lines got shorter as it got colder, too, which was also nice.

Today I took my mom to the doctor, did some of her shopping, some of her laundry, and shoveled her driveway and sidewalks. She took me out to lunch. I like that. We went to the Jet Room, a little family-style restaurant at the old airport. While you eat your hash browns, fancy planes wheel up next to your window. She'd never been there before, and she liked it.

Anyway, laundry list over.

I hope you had a fine Christmas, if you're so inclined. Any grand plans for New Years?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Coca-Cola Glass

When I was in Salt Lake City, my sister-in-law said if there was anything of Clint's that I wanted, I should ask. I hadn't expected that offer and didn't have a clue what to ask for, but I liked the idea of having something that was his.

I thought. His Book of Mormon. Well, it was meaningful for him and his family, but not really for me. His music. Hooked on Classics on LP. It screams Clint, but, nah. A fountain pen – maybe. He constantly had ink blobs all over his shirt pockets and desk top. But I just didn't want a pen. I'd probably lose it.

I put it out of my mind. I don't need mementos of my brother. I have my brain.

But my kids don't have a lot of memories of him. It would be nice for them to be able to look at something and think, "That was Uncle Clint's. He liked that."

I asked about his pennies. He always had a bucket of pennies that he played with. They made a clinky noise on the bed as he sifted through them, sorting them, playing a game only he knew the rules to. I didn't want all his pennies; that would be asking too much. Just one for each of us I could keep in a special spot. But Lee said the pennies were stolen when someone broke into their house. They built up the collection again, then cashed them in one year to buy Christmas presents. It made me sad that his pennies were gone.

I popped open the fridge, and there was a can of Coke. It was the only one in there, so I asked if I could drink it. As I sucked it down, I realized it was Clint's Coke. That was his drink, good Mormon that he was. Lee said she should have known something was wrong when he stopped drinking his Coke.

Hmm.

I asked for one of his Coke glasses. He had several. Sarah took one out of his bedroom window for me. Lee told her to get a different one. That one was a new one; I should have one of the old ones. I was glad.

Sarah handed me a glass. It has that traditional Coca-Cola shape – a wide bowl at the top, then skinny like a schooner. It says Coke on one side and Coca-Cola on the other. It was full of dust and dirt. And it was cracked. Just like Clint. It was perfect.

I wrapped it in my neighbor's Hawaiian shirt and my sweat pants and stuck it in my backpack.

Back home I cleaned it up and put it on my dresser. It was a bittersweet feeling putting it there. Knowing he's dead and that's my piece of him in my room. But life goes on.

We rearranged the furniture in the living room to put up the Christmas tree. Kelsey found a penny under the couch when we slid it toward the closet. I told her that was her tip for helping.

She said, "Maybe I can put it in Uncle Clint's Coke glass since you said he liked pennies."

I told her that was a good idea, that she was sweet to think of him.

"Be careful putting it in the glass," I said. "I don't want the glass to break."

"It's already full of cracks," she said, dropping the penny in. It made a lonely clink in the bottom.

We're filling Clint's Coke glass to the rim with pennies.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Random thoughts after the funeral

I'm back. I don't know what to say.

It was nice to see my family and meet Lee's relatives that I only have met through group emails before.

They had a couple of photos blown up huge, like 3 feet tall. When my sister-in-law pulled the protective paper off the first one so I could see, it was horrible. It was so big and bright with Clint's face right next to mine, it was like he was there. It was very startling. The photo was great, and I'm happy they had it at the funeral, but to be so confronted with my celluloid brother took my breath away.

Flying home, there was a problem with the number 2 engine and we had to wait on the ground. I had to haul ass to make my connecting flight, but I made it. They had already started boarding. It would have been such a let-down not to get home on time.

When I looked over Salt Lake City from the sky, I thought, I'll probably never come here again. My sister-in-law plans on moving to Idaho next summer. She and Clint have (she has) a trailer and some land there. Clint wanted to move up there, but Lee kept saying no because the medical facilities were too primitive and too distant.

We went to Marie Callender's one night. I always want to go there. So we did. None of us were very hungry, though.

Clint's old roommate Bob made a box to put the ashes in. He brought it over one night. It's nice to have someone who cared about him make the box. It sucks that there's a box for my brother. Lee sat it on the living room floor. People used it as a foot rest and coffee table. She said that was OK until he was in it.

Lee put me on the program to speak. I didn't know what to say. I scrawled a few things in the morning when I couldn't sleep. Here's basically what I said. I was babbling a bit. I'm trying to recreate the babbling so you get a sense of how nervous I was. I thought my hands would shake so much I wouldn't be able to see my notes. It was almost that bad. People told me I didn't seem nervous at all. People are nice at funerals. So here it is. Some things really didn't come out well. Anyway –



Clint was my big brother. Even though he was a lot older than I was, he still treated me the way brothers treat their sisters, the way Sarah's brothers treat her. It's nice to see that tradition passed down through the family.

Lee mentioned that some things were Clint's fault. I'm going to continue on those lines. I blame Clint for some things. I blame Clint for my addiction to peppermint tea. When I was three, he made me some peppermint tea, and I thought it was wonderful. It was the kind that you add hot water to those little cubes. I started just sucking on the cubes, nasty little things. My parents weren't too pleased, but I thought it was wonderful. And I blame him for that.

I also blame him for my fascination with fire. He used to hold a magnifying glass to the furniture and focus the sunlight on it until it started to smoke. It was great. Once he set his desk on fire. It was scary. But I share that, and it's his fault.

But Clint taught me some things, too.

He taught me to put marshmallows in my hot chocolate. He taught me to add more flour to my chocolate chip cookies so they didn't turn out like cow pies, even if the recipe didn't say to.

He taught me about generosity. He was always generous with his love. With his family. But he taught me about generosity with money, too. Once when I was in Girl Scouts, we went on a walk in the woods to the top of this long hill. It was steep, and really nice, and at the top there was this little chapel. A man built it in the 1800s to thank God for sparing his family from diphtheria. It's a tiny thing, and really pretty, and there's a donation box, of course. So I fished around in my pockets for some money, and all I found was a nickel, but I put it in the box. When I got home, I told Clint about it, and my family's sarcastic, so I said, "Really generous of me to put a nickel in the box." And he said, "If that was everything you had to give, then it was generous." And it blew me away and made me think and he gave that to me.

He also taught me that a large man can run really fast when he's chasing a naughty little girl.

Lee also wanted to apologize to me for not keeping Clint alive longer, and, yes, that's foolish. But I also have a foolish apology to make. I'm sorry you married someone with such bad genes. That's my family. Sorry, Lee.

As an adult, Clint taught me about being a parent. When I saw how he was with his kids, he was always so loving and patient, and I hoped I could be that kind of parent. I haven't always managed it. But I'm trying.

Clint didn't suffer fools gladly. He suffered, and he occasionally made them suffer. But the people he loved, he gave everything he had to give.

Lee, I am so grateful he had you and these kids, Ben, Sarah, James and Daniel. You and your family are the best thing for him, and I thank you for that. I love you.

Whether he was helping make Swedish meatballs for Girl Scouts – and Swedish meatballs, come on; it's no wonder I'm vegetarian now. Blech. He gathered photos and names for my daughter when she was doing a genealogy project and sent it out with Sarah when she came to stay with us for a little while. He did anything he could. He gave everything, and he loved me, and it was my privilege to know him.

Thank you all for coming.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Back to Life

Thanks to all of you who've sent condolences and other kind words. It's been a peculiar week.

For whatever reason, I thought I'd be able to just keep doing what I do. What a dolt.

I spent Saturday fussing with my class's web site, but not doing much building. I couldn't think hard about construction, but I could certainly put bylines in the right style and other BS like that. When I wasn't fussing, I was wandering the house, eating, staring at the fire in the fireplace.

I spent Sunday crying.

Monday was more normal, having to go to school. But I still didn't do much. Same yesterday. I'm supposed to be finishing work on my date rape drug story, but I just can't work up the gumption to call sources or the motivation to sift through statistics.

Today I've managed to go Christmas shopping. Walgreen's had Russell Stover 12-oz. boxes on sale for $3.99. $3.99! I mean, hello – I'm going back tomorrow.

I hate it when people buy that mega-cheap chocolate at Christmas. It's gross. It's not worth the calorie bomb if I don't swoon. And Steamboat Ray's or whoever else's is on sale for $5 for five pounds does not make me swoon.

Not that Russell Stover's is chocolate perfection, but it tastes good and doesn't have any pig hairs in the chocolate creams.

We had a monster snowstorm yesterday. Even Eric's school was canceled. We got the ice storm that moved through south of here, but because it was colder here, we got it as snow. It started icy, actually, and then got five inches of snow on top of it, which made driving pretty horrific. I was so glad Eric didn't have to go to work. He's got a terrible cold and really didn't want to go in, anyway. And it was so nice to just hang. And not work on my final story.

Here's a morning-after photo of my gazing ball.

I leave Friday for Clint's funeral. I'm crashing on the couch at their house. I'm glad. I was going to stay with one of Lee's friends, but if I'm not at a motel, I'd rather be with family.

I borrowed a Hawaiian shirt from my neighbor Scott. Clint wanted everyone to wear Hawaiian shirts. My sister-in-law T sent out a jar of Wisconsin dirt. I have no idea how she dug it up – the ground is frozen and covered in several inches of snow. Clint said if he couldn't be buried in Wisconsin (and Lee said he couldn't) he wanted some Wisconsin dirt spread over his grave so he could be buried in his native soil.

I'll be back Monday for my final exam. Then I'm done, and I'll make the house merry.

Oh, Eric's dad is having hip replacement surgery today. Good luck, John!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Video and death

OK, I'm trying to post the video again. This is about the sixth time. I swear this is my last try.

Before you see the video, I have to share some bad news. My brother Clint died this morning. I posted in July, I think, that he had been diagnosed with lung cancer. Just last week the doctor said he expected Clint to recover, so he wasn't eligible for Hospice. It seemed like good news. I was skeptical because it seems that people with lung cancer don't ever recover, but I certainly didn't expect this. I'm glad, though, that he isn't suffering, and I'm thankful he has such a wonderful family. His wife, Lee, is the best thing we could have ever hoped for for him.

Now, I'm going to try to post that damn slideshow.


video

Friday, December 07, 2007

My Slideshow

So, as part of my individual project in journalism boot camp, I had to create a multimedia component. I made this slideshow. It's just a compilation of quotes set to an appropriate song. I haven't been able to get the dumb thing to upload, but I'm trying again....

And I just got an error message. So, again, forget it.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Final Stretch

Right, so I've been absent a bit lately. It's the home stretch for school, and I've got a lot to do.

I'm doing a story on date rape drugs. I did a quickie Google News search since I need to supply the teacher with three previously published pieces. Here's a headline I found:

Lawyers in rape trial argue over bag of vomit

Read all about it.
Charming stuff.

Today my fellow editors and I started building our class web site. It's cool, I must say. Except we didn't uncheck the little box in iPhoto that plays music on slide shows, so we have heroin addicts and joint rolling to the tune of "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring."

What would be a good song for our site? I'd say "White Rabbit," by Jefferson Airplane. "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds." "Cocaine." Anything by the Allman Brothers. Others?

In two weeks, I'll be done with school for the semester. Yahoo! I might even visit your blogs again. Well, I've been lurking. But you know that.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Brush your teeth, round and round. Circle small, gums and all....

My mother is recuperating.

I brought her a bowl of chicken noodle soup and a large shot of brandy as she whimpered and dabbed at the spitty blood dripping over her new teeth. Her blood pressure, which had been at 219/63 when she arrived at the oral surgeon, had lowered itself to something about half that.

"I woulda rather had a baby," she said, and started her shaking that is at once laughing and crying.

My brother dropped her off at the oral surgeon in the morning. She was to have five teeth removed. She was beside herself. I'm glad I wasn't there.

My class got out early, so I stopped at home first to get my book and down some chocolate and tea for stiffeners.

I picked her up around 11:30. She wheeled herself out from behind a door and motioned for the bathroom. Her face was horribly swollen, and she looked a little crazed. Wild. Desperate. She wanted me to come into the bathroom with her. My favorite. Nothing out of the ordinary happened in there – other than her washing her hands – so I assume she was just scared.

She shuffled over to the desk, where the sweet young thing with perfectly straight, white teeth yelled, "That will be $325 today, Mrs. Wagner."

My mother couldn't talk. Her mouth was packed with gauze. Lots of it, and it was saturated with blood, which had started to leak around her lips, turning them bright red. She motioned for a pen and paper and made dying-dog yelps, those sad, not-faint-enough cries that tie your guts in knots.

She inquired in her increasingly poor handwriting if that was the full amount. It was not. She wanted to pay the full amount.

Chickie looked at my mother with amusement and pity. She shook her head a little and said she would figure the full amount for her. She had this dubious grin that said it would be such a large sum no one could possibly pay it all at once.

"OK, I've got the full amount for you!" she bellowed. I didn't realize having teeth pulled also yanked out your ear drums. I'll keep it in mind when I'm 82. "That's $751 for all of it." My god. My mother would surely have to sell one of her grandchildren to come up with all that. She wrote the check and howled goodbye to the girl who has yet to learn that old people have been saving money for decades and are considerably wealthier than their tatty clothes make them appear.

Some of the blood around my mom's lips was beginning to dry and turn black.

She whimpered herself into my car and started writing on an envelope. She wanted to go to the store ("kill time," she wrote) and buy some soft food, enough for two days. We started thinking up soft food. Applesauce. Baked beans. Pudding. Soup.

I ran in and bought her food. When I came back to the car, she was taking out her gauze. I'm amazed she didn't get blood all over everything. She repacked herself and we drove home.

She spit and spit and spit and then looked herself over. Then she got laughy-teary again.

A couple hours later, after lots of spitting, dabbing, and bitching, I dropped her at the next dentist who would fit her with her falsies. The bleeding had nearly stopped. I had to leave her there to be home for Kelsey.

I arrived to get her just as she had finished. She was still dabbing her mouth, but her teeth looked great. Nice and straight and appropriately gray-brown for an old smoker. It was weird to see her with straight teeth. She always had crooked, snaggy teeth.

This is my favorite part:

I held the door for her, and she said, "They had to pull another one! That's why it's bleeding again." The oral surgeon hadn't done it all. To have to go through that again, that poor woman. Looks like the dentist didn't tell the oral surgeon about that last tooth. Oops. He didn't charge her.

Well, she could talk again. And she could eat. And, boy, did she eat. She hadn't eaten all day. She's worried she won't be able to get her teeth out to clean them and that they'll stink. She said her teeth are so perfect people won't even recognize her. Ha!

So, she's settling down now. And she looks pretty good in her new teeth.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Another toothy post – no pics

My glorious long weekend is coming to an end. After school, I get to take my mom to the dentist. Two dentists.

Tomorrow my mother gets false teeth. Only five. You'd think the world was spinning backwards or something. She's very upset. She hasn't had good experiences with dentists.

As a child, she needed a tooth pulled. Bear in mind this was 75 years ago, and dentistry has improved somewhat in the ensuing years. Anyway, the tooth wouldn't come. The dentist pulled and tugged and pounded with increasingly large hammers. Finally, he apologized, wiped the sweat from his forehead, put his knee on her chest for better leverage, and ripped the little sucker out of her face. When he finished up with her, he put her bicycle in his car and drove her home. Then he went out for some well-deserved alcoholic reassurance.

When she was pregnant with my sister (only 54 years ago now), she had a similar experience. She had split a tooth in two. She warned the dentist her teeth came out hard. He gave her the condescending smiles that doctors do when they clearly know more than their patients and offered his reassurance that all would be well. An hour later, he was shouting at his assistant to get him a bigger hammer. By the time my mother left, she was reassuring the dentist that all would be well. He said he'd never pull another of her teeth again.

So, today she is calling me in tears, terrified of what will happen. She is genuinely worried she won't live through the procedure. I guess I'll let you know tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Fall to Winter


I could definitely get used to days off.

The morning started with a lazy lie-in. Kelsey climbed into our bed somewhere between 7:30 and 8. Eric ran outside to start moving the wood and raking before the THREE INCHES OF SNOW were to come tonight.

I got Kelsey some breakfast and headed out to help Eric. I think we waited long enough to rake our leaves that most of them blew into the neighbors' yards, who raked for us. Excellent.

Eric cleared the toys and big hunks of wood off the driveway. Together we scooped up the wood chips and smaller pieces that were burnable but don't fit on a rack. A neighbor took down the world's biggest ash tree this fall, and we got the wood. It takes a while to process all that wood. And the sawdust and wood chips are hard to sweep up and dispose of. Anyway, that's done now.

And the raking is done. We did most of the back together, then Eric had to go to work. I did a bit more, had a break, then dragged the kids out to help. You'd think I was asking them to dig a hole to China. But they helped, and I appreciated it. We were all rather tired afterward, I must say.

In the afternoon, we bought Kelsey some new snow boots and a pair of silver flats. Back home, she dressed in her Santa dress and wore her new flats. Very cute.

And now, it is snowing. It's those giant, wet, gooby flakes that make great packing snow. Kelsey and Eric ran out to play and make the first snowball and snowman of the season.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Exhale

Aaaahhhhhhhhh....

The relief felt round the world. I'm on Thanksgiving break. And it came none too soon, either.

So, my friend Kath was here last week. I felt crappy for her that she came during such a busy time. I warned her ahead of time, though. She said she was looking forward to some down time. Well, she got it. Somewhere among the funeral, chasing kids around, meetings, school, and rain, we got to do some sightseeing.

We had a quick look over the Wisconsin River to see if there were any eagles around. No luck. Ah, well. Next we visited the Baraboo Candy Company, home of the Cow Pie. Too bad they don't give tours. I've been sending Kath Cow Pies for years.

After that it was a quick ride back across the river on the ferry for a walk in the woods at Gibralter Rock. Yes, that's how it's spelled. This is Wisconsin, after all. Kath had seen our pictures on my blog last summer and wanted to go, so we were off.


Kelsey got a bit nervous because it's gun deer season. You could hear shots in the distance. Walking in the woods at dusk on public hunting grounds is not such a good idea. But after she got good and worn out walking up the hill and seeing the sun setting in the distance, she loosened up and had fun.

We picked up my mom on our way home. She had wanted to take Kath out for a Friday night fish fry. My mom was tired, though, and started crabbing before we ever got out the door. It set me on edge. Then Kelsey started whining about being hungry. Eric got our name in at the Great Dane as we drove over. Then we waited. And waited. And it was loud, so my mom bitched about that, too. Kelsey started crying because she was so tired and hungry. Then there was nothing she wanted to eat once we finally were seated. And my mom pissed and moaned about the menu not listing the fish special, so when the server took our order, my mom ordered a hamburger. Color me exasperated. She did get the fish after I asked about it. And then she bitched that it was greasy. Yeah, it's deep-fried, duh. Kelsey ate Cheerios. And we had dessert. So my mom complained about eating too much. Gah! I was glad when that night was over.

Next day was the funeral for Lynda. I cried the entire time. I felt like an idiot. Nobody else cried that much. I never used to cry so much. What has happened to me? I cry now. It's like I'm making up for decades of dry tear ducts. I had it under control as the thing wrapped up. The minister talked so much about Jesus and so little about Lynda that it depersonalized it a bit, and I settled down. But then it was over and Kira and Paul walked down the aisle holding hands, and that got me going again. I composed myself fairly quickly, then Kayleigh started crying. That was it for me again. It was exhausting.

The rest of the day was fatigue. Kath and I took Kelsey to the mall to buy a birthday present for her friend.

That was the extent of Kath's adventure here. Poor girl. It's a good thing she got to do some cool stuff with her friend Cindy before she came to our house.

Sunday Kath left to spend a day in Chicago before her flight to Vancouver. I'm sure she'll have a great time in Vancouver.

I had a ton of homework to do, and it was frustrating homework, too. I also had four stories to write for the paper. Homework got done, two stories got done.

So today, I'm happy to just breathe. I left my class early since almost everyone else had, too.


Here is a gratuitous pic of Kelsey in the leaves.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Crazy 8s

Laurie has tagged me with the Crazy 8s meme. So here you go.

8 things I’m passionate about

1. Eric. He is the nicest person I’ve ever known.
2. Kayleigh. She has a depth that attracts and frightens.
3. Kelsey. Her joy and enthusiasm are uniquely inspiring.
4. Whatever project I’m working on. Until I get sick of it.
5. Doing things well. It’s OK to call me anal and picky. (Are you laughing?)
6. Fall in Wisconsin. Leaves, apples, crisp air, family fun days.
7. Going places. Not fussy.
8. Art fairs. Starving artists make the coolest stuff.

8 things I want to do before I die

1. Publish a book, play and/or screenplay
2. Visit every continent
3. Visit every state in the U.S.
4. Know my grandchildren
5. Build washboard abs
6. Sleep under the stars. No tent.
7. Swim with a whale
8. Stop eating so damn much

8 things I say often

1. [expletive of choice]
2. Kayleigh, turn the basement light off.
3. Kayleigh, turn your bedroom light off.
4. Kelsey, close the back door.
5. Kelsey, close the front door.
6. Cool
7. Um
8. Sorry

8 books I’ve read recently or am still reading


1. Three Dollars, by Elliot Perlman
2. Round Ireland in Low Gear, by Eric Newby
3. Ten Little Indians, by Sherman Alexie
4. Hungry Planet, by Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio
5. Fat Land, by Greg Crister
6. The Handmaid and the Carpenter, by Elizabeth Berg
7. Working with Words, by Brian S. Brooks, James L. Pinson and Jean Gaddy Wilson
8. We Are All Welcome Here, by Elizabeth Berg

8 songs I could listen to over and over and do
8? Are you kidding? How about 88? OK, my cheeky 8, and if I were feeling really cheeky, it would be along the lines of 69 instead of 6 feet under, so count yourselves lucky.

1. Better Off Dead, by Elton John
2. Dust in the Wind, by Kansas
3. Who Wants to Live Forever, by Queen
4. In Too Deep, by Genesis
5. Intensive Care, by Bondi Cigars
6. I Scare Myself, by Renee Geyer
7. Don’t Wanna Be A Nutcase, by Vika and Linda
8. The Cliffs of Insanity, by Mark Knopfler

8 things that attract me to my best friends

1. They put up with me.
2. They are funnier than I am.
3. They are smarter than I am.
4. They are nicer than I am.
5. They are more positive than I am.
6. They have more energy than I do.
7. They tell me to get off my dead ass.
8. They inspire me to be more like they are.

8 people I think should do Crazy 8s
I don't think I have eight regular readers whose links I know who haven't already been tagged.

1. Sarah
2. Christian (yes, this is girly, so let’s get a man’s perspective)
3. Kath
4. Swearing Mother
5. Crystal

Monday, November 12, 2007

Fruitcake

Yes, it's getting to be that time of year. Yule logs and fruitcakes.

Way back when, Eric and I had our first Christmas together. It was a quiet day. He gave me my very first CD – Elton John's "Captain Fantastic," my favorite album of all time. He had a silver necklace of mine repaired and had the jeweler put an amethyst on it. It was supposed to be a garnet, but they did it wrong. I didn't mind, but I hope he got his money's worth. I gave him a children's book – "Love Is A Special Way of Feeling," by Joan Walsh Anglund, and a Hallmark Keepsake Ornament of two little foxes in a log. It says, "Our First Christmas Together, 1990."

But before the holiday, we visited his parents. His mother, Maxine, had a box ready for Eric's sister Marcia and her family. It was full of cheese and sausage, a very Wisconsin gift for the Missouri family. But she also had a loaf of fruitcake for them. Wrapped in aluminum foil. I thought, "God, why would you do that to them? Nobody wants a fruitcake." I turned my nose up as high as my skinny neck would let me.

Of course, there was fruitcake for all of us that night. Eric assured me it was very good. It wasn't like other fruitcake, he said. It looked pretty solid to me, brickish, black. How we suffer for love.

Eric cut me a slice. A small one. I politely put it in my mouth, preparing the I'm-not-very-hungry speech and hoping I'd be able to keep a nice face on.

But it was good. Very good, actually. I had more. And more. And more. It was delicious.

And I looked forward to it every year. I even asked for the recipe. I got that same old reply: "Oh, I don't have a recipe!" I thought she was being unnecessarily modest.

And just over five years after my first bite of her fruitcake, Maxine died, without ever having revealed her secrets to tasty fruitcake. Christmas came, the first without Maxine, and the first without my dad. I looked to Christmas sadly, missing our parents and missing the traditions that would be different that year, including the fruitcake.

I decided to try to make some, but I didn't quite know where to start. I knew she used dried fruit instead of that nasty candied fruit. Candied fruit is proof that God is vengeful.

John, Eric's dad, said he knew Maxine's fruitcake secret. Oh, happy day!

"You get a cake mix, any kind, it doesn't matter, and add a cup of dried fruit and nuts," he said. Um, sorry. A cup? Usually guys are OVER-estimating sizes.

So I got a yellow cake mix and dubiously stuffed it full of prunes, dates, dried apricots, raisins, golden raisins, walnuts and pecans. I chopped probably half a bushel's worth. I'm not kidding. I poured it into the prepared cake batter and wondered if it was enough. So I added more. And more. Until finally, it was fruit and nuts barely held together by batter. It was rather hard to stir by that point. I jammed it into pans and baked it. It took forever.

When it was finally finished, it didn't look right. Yellow cake was not the cake mix. I was disappointed.

Eric's family was all here for Christmas. His sister Laura looked at it and frowned and said it didn't look the same. She was disappointed.

I joked, though, that I would wrap it up in aluminum foil and in my best Maxine handwriting say on a slip of white paper, "Merry Christmas! All my love, Mom." Marcia said I was mean. She was maybe joking.

So we gathered and remembered and ate fruitcake. It was not the same as Maxine used to make.

But it was so close you would never have guessed she hadn't made it. It tasted just like it. It felt just like it. It stuck in your teeth just like it. It made a rock in your stomach when you ate half a loaf just like it. Not that I would ever do that.

In the following years, I tried other variations. Chocolate cake mix. Spice cake mix. Almonds. Macadamias. Chocolate chips. No raisins. Adding coffee or orange juice to the mix instead of water. Some worked, others didn't. But I always thought of Maxine when I made it and when I ate it.

So, here is Maxine's secret recipe:

Take a cake mix, any flavor, it doesn't matter. Add half a bushel of chopped pecans, walnuts, prunes, dates, dried apricots, raisins and golden raisins. Add anything else you think is good in fruitcake, but no candied fruit – because candied fruit is proof that God is vengeful. Pull out your paint-stirring drill bit and stir. Pack it into loaf pans. Bake forever. Cool. Wrap in aluminum foil. Write "Merry Christmas! All my love, Mom" on a slip of white paper and tape it on the foil. Or something meaningful and sentimental to you. It keeps well, but why would you want to save it? It's so tasty, you'll have it eaten in no time. And if you eat half a loaf at a time, you deserve what you'll get over the next day or so, and it ain't pretty. Not that I would know from experience, of course.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Pumpkin Pie

Ahhh.... Mmmm.... Smell that? Pumpkin pie. My first of the season. I have to wonder, though, how old that evaporated milk was. Ah, well. The smell of that pie is filling the whole house. I can hardly wait to eat it.

Eric's got a fire in the basement, and he is snuggled up next to Kelsey, spending some daddy time with her.

Kayleigh is asleep. She either has a bug or the events of the last couple days have caught up with her. She's staying close to the john today.

I'm supposed to be writing stories. I also have a test tomorrow. And my show comes on in a couple hours. I'm not very worried about the test. It's just a grammar and style exam. I don't always write in perfect AP style, but I know the rules pretty well, and mistakes are easy to spot on a multiple-choice test.

Well, back to my articles. Be well.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Cancer kills again

Today Lynda died. I drove past her house last night, and it was completely black. It was a bad sign.

Lynda was diagnosed with lung cancer about six months ago. If that. I can't remember. I felt so bad for her. Her daughter Kira is one of Kayleigh's best friends. Kira has some problems, and this will certainly not help. Lynda worried about her so much. And now Lynda's gone. I think it will be a hard adjustment for their little family.

Kayleigh said, "Now I'm the only one in my group of good friends who has both parents." I hope she's not tempting fate. And I hope at some level she's grateful.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

My brother

My brother Clint was diagnosed with lung cancer earlier this year. Because he is in generally poor health anyway, they've had a hard time tracking down exactly what he has and the extent of its spread. Yesterday they went to the Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City.

Here's what they had to say:

He has bronchalveolar cell carcinoma, a rare form of adenocarcinoma. Non-small cell. In both lungs. Stage 4. The spellings of those seem to be questionable. You'd think doctors would agree on spellings of diseases. Unless if you stick an O in there it changes it altogether. I don't know. Whatever.

He will have two more tests, one today and one next Tuesday. After these two tests, the doctors will choose what kind of chemo would be the most helpful to him.

Without any treatment, life expectancy is about a year. With treatment, who knows? My sister-in-law says that is the miracle of hope.

Oh, looky. My sister-in-law just sent me another email. Here's what she said. It's scary.

***************UPDATE, NOTICE**************

None of the stuff below is mine. It is straight from an email from my sister-in-law. Sorry it wasn't clear.


The test Clint needs to have next Tuesday is a brain MRI. They want to see if the cancer has gone to his brain. If it has, I don't know what the treatment will be. If it hasn't, that is the really great part. If the cancer is just in the lungs, Dr. Ackerley at the Huntsman Institute will see that Clint qualifies to be part of a study group. That means that the medications will all be free. The two medications
that will probably be the best for Clint are some of the most expensive in the world.

These two medications are what most doctors try after all other chemo and radiation have failed. They are seldom used both together. The study is to try out the two medications together and before any regular chemo. The one that is given by IV is given once every three weeks. The pill is something Clint can take at home every day.

The test that Clint needs to have today is a simple CT scan, just because it has been a while since he had one.

"Expect a miracle."

One of the miracles is the relief I finally feel. We have finally found the right doctor and the right set of people to help us. It has taken months, since April.

In review, I think I am the member of my family who is most a peace with what happened yesterday. I am so much happier because the weight isn't on me anymore. It is on the medical profession, on the right bunch of people of the medical profession. All the other doctors we have seen up until now didn't lift my load, but Dr. Ackerley did. I have been looking for him for a long time.

When I called your mom last night, it was hard. She cried. I told her I felt like a Trojan horse, full of bad news and trouble.

Will you please see that Cynthia is told?

Lee

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Oops

Ugh. I just saw that I made a mistake in a story I wrote. A $4 million mistake, give or take a few hundred grand. I don't know precisely when the paper goes to the printer, but I think it already did. Crap.

And I keep forgetting about another story I'm supposed to do. That it keeps slipping my mind annoys and baffles me.

When I was an editor, I couldn't stand people that didn't write what they said they would.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Getting Excited

Kath is in Chicago! I met Kath online a number of years ago. We were both fans of an Australian TV show called SeaChange. In 2004, a group of us fans met up in Brisbane. I stayed at Kath's, and next week, she'll be staying with me.

Kath is on a massive trip through the U.S. Eleven weeks here! Wow.

She started her trip in Colorado, carving a pumpkin, which she thought was revolting, seeing the beautiful countryside and getting to know greater Denver.

She's the last of the listchicks to visit, and I'm very happy to be seeing her again.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Why iTunes Is Evil

I load all my favorite music into iTunes. Just like everyone else does. Then I listen to it while I work.

Problem: I get far too involved in the music. It's so distracting that I can't work. It's music I love, after all.

I have to go make dinner. I have to call someone for a story. I have to take a shower. But I can't – BECAUSE I HAVE TO LISTEN TO THE END OF THIS SONG. Then the next one starts. And I have to listen to that one. And by the end of the day, I've listened to some great music and done nothing I was supposed to.

Now, I'm going to go order a pizza because I haven't made dinner. I'll just wait until the end of this song.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

My Bipolar Day

Cliche for the day: Life is full of ups and downs.

Add to that the unpleasant experience of hormonal fluctuations in the female of the species. What do we get? Frightened men and frustrated women.

I knew when I woke up yesterday that I was off to a shaky start. The song in my head was "Addicted to Stress," by Jimmy Infantino.

As I let the lyrics swirl through my emerging consciousness, I remembered I hadn't done enough work on my audio project. I had listened to Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and made a few notes. I had written a lead and tried to make a rough outline of what my group should report on, including soundbites from the speech. So it was something, but not, you know, finished, thoughtful or cohesive. I tried to work on it a little before school, but mornings are chaos.

My two children were staying home sick from school. Have I mentioned illness makes me nervous? Yeah, I'm psycho. The neighbor kids arrived to walk with them. We chatted a bit, and I sent them on their way.

The van was in the way of my car, so I took the van instead. It's amazing how unused to it I am already. I couldn't even remember how to turn on the radio.

I get to school, and a girl is talking to the TA about something being good enough since it's just a rough draft.

"Going for the bronze?" I asked. The TA laughed. The girl didn't get it.

"That's what I'm doin'," I said. I sat.

My TA asked if everything was going OK or something to that effect. And I got teary. God. How embarrassing.

And everything had been OK. But those niggling doubts about ever being satisfied had hit me in the morning. I feel sometimes that writing about lifeless board meetings is not just unsatisfying, it's actually damaging my desire and ability to write the things I really love to write. So why should I put myself through this? Get an easy job that ends at 5, take the money and run. It's not as though I'm ever going to win the Pulitzer.

So I worked with my group on this project. It's hard getting three of us to agree on what's important. We got it done. It's nothing spectacular. As I listened to the other groups working on their projects, I felt again that pang that says, "You can do better than what you're doing. What is your problem? Where is your passion? Objective doesn't mean boring. Put a little life in your words or hand the keyboard to someone else." Oh, well. It was finished.

My TA stepped outside with me when I left. She asked if I wanted to talk. I shook my head and got teary again. I hate being so female. I told her I should just go be a bricklayer. She said, "Don't do that." She said I had a talent that I should pursue, and if I get some experience and find I don't like it, I can go be a bricklayer then. She said I was doing great work. It was nice to hear.

She definitely picked me up a bit. And things only kept improving.

Got home, Kelsey was effectively healed. Kayleigh was apparently recovered from her Halloween hangover, as well. So I said, "Let's go get Chinese." And we were off.

Then something truly miraculous happened. My kids ate. Real food. All of it. Stuff they wouldn't even consider eating if I made it. Egg rolls. Egg drop soup. Tofu and veggies and fried rice. They were happy and chatty. It was so pleasant. What a feeling, contentment. Nice.

On the way home, we stopped by the newly remodeled pet store to get some bedding for the rats. And the store had bunnies. In open cages. I put my hand in one, and this little rabbit came and sniffed. He licked. He nibbled. I've never seen a rabbit so curious and unafraid. The kids were delighted. We all held him. Our rats are getting old and we didn't know what we'd do about more pets. I don't want a dog. Kayleigh can't have a cat. Rats die so fast. Guinea pigs are such chickens. But suddenly there was this rabbit that liked us. I put some money down to hold him and we drove home thinking up names. I told the kids Dad had to agree to it because it's his house, too.

Eric was thrilled. He used to have a rabbit. When he heard about a friendly, lop-eared bunny, he came as close to bouncing off the walls as he ever does.

So after dinner, we picked up our bunny, and we got him a friend, too. Their names are Raven and Basil. Raven is a black lop, Basil is a black and white lionhead. We let them run around the hall this morning. They're so cute. And so soft! At the store, Raven was the laid-back one. At home, he's been a little skittish. Basil has been very curious and got comfortable with us right away. I think Raven will take a couple days of interaction to settle in more.

But before Eric got home, before we bought bunnies, he saw Doug, my former advisor, in the hall at work. Doug looked at him funny.

"Did Amy get an email from Rachel?" Doug asked. Eric doesn't read my email. He didn't know. Doug said he'd know if I'd gotten this one.

Last week was the Associated Collegiate Press national convention, held in Washington, D.C. My paper was a finalist for the Pacemaker, the Pulitzer of American college journalism.

My newspaper won. Our paper. First place. That newspaper that I poured as much of me as I could into at a time when my family needed me the most. That I was bummed about because I didn't have more to give because I knew I could do better. That I let my grades at school slip for (OK, I got one AB instead of an A) because I thought my stack of quality papers spoke louder than a slightly higher GPA. We won.

I was shocked. Delighted. I wish I'd been there. The Clarion had never won the Pacemaker before. People told me I was doing a good job. I can believe them now.

Maybe I won't go be a bricklayer. Not just yet.

Chocolate hangovers

I love Halloween.

Kelsey arrived home at 8. She was buzzing like a kid on Halloween. Uh, yeah. She made quite a recovery. She had filled her pumpkin twice. (She had an extra bag along in case that happened.) I told her dump it on the floor so I could see what she got. It was an enormous amount of candy. Gol.

Taking each piece out individually, she started giggling and screaming.

"OK," she said. "I got two awfully strange things: Fritos and Ritz Bits." She placed them on the floor between the Crunches and Snickers, seemingly unsure how to arrange these salty items among the chocolate sweets. "Ooh! I got an eyeball!"

I love Halloween.

Kayleigh had been hedging about going. She's 13. Last year's Halloween sucked. But she finally decided to give it another go. She dressed as a Pokemon trainer, just like all her friends. I ran around picking up the gaggle and dropped them off at Zoe's. Zoe lives at the far end of the very long street in our neighborhood. She knew the good houses to go to on the lake that give you full-size candy bars. Indeed, Kayleigh came home with six full-size candy bars. Cool. They also figured out that if they went in two separate groups, they got more. People give more if you don't have a large crowd. Good thinkin'. So Kayleigh came home with quite the loot, as well. Among other items, she had – hold onto your dentures – 29 Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.

We had six children come. Six! And two of them were my nieces who make a special trip over here every year. Unbelievable. We have a vat of leftover candy, and you know who's going to eat it? Yes, I am. Of course, me. Because I am completely lacking in restraint, common sense, and good manners.

I love Halloween.

Kelsey is mostly recovered. Her face is still a little swollen, but her fever is gone and her energy is back to normal. Kayleigh woke up not feeling well today, though. So they were both home with the same crap.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Not the day I had planned

Kelsey came home from school very tired. She settled into the couch and looked at me with a saggy face. Kelsey doesn't get tired. Even when she's tired, she's not tired.

What is it about holidays that makes kids get sick?

I held her for a while, feeling her forehead every minute or so. The heat on my palm and against my lips climbed every minute or so. Fuck.

She asked for her sick meal: oatmeal and hot apple cider. She ate lots of it. Then her head started to hurt. She parked herself in front of the TV and watched insanely frightening Halloween programs that absolutely should not have been on that time of day. She loved it. In her sick way.

Today, her temperature is still kind of up there. She doesn't feel awful, but she doesn't feel normal. Eric talked to her teacher, who said to send her to school but come and get her after the Halloween party. She really, really didn't want to miss the Halloween party and parade.

Shit! The parade is in half an hour and I haven't even attempted getting ready. Pardon me....

***UPDATE***

I picked Kelsey up from school at 10. She still has a fever. Now her glands are swelling to the point of making her look like a little mumps chub. She's cheerful enough, which is encouraging. I suppose she can watch more horrible Halloween movies while I do my homework. She got to go through the parade and have her party, and now she can just relax until tonight. Unless she is barfing or unable to walk from fever, she will go trick-or-treating.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Halloweeen Eve

It's getting very fallish here. The leaves are gorgeous and falling a bit more heavily now. August through October are pretty much ideal and a great reason to live here.

Last night, Kelsey carved her pumpkin. She got a bit tired, so I did the mouth. But she did the scooping, which I hate, and most of the carving. She had drawn a very complicated pattern, so I encouraged her to rethink it. In other words, I said no. It turned out pretty cute. If I can find cords, I'll post pictures later.

We roasted the seeds with a little salt. One year, we had a lot of pumpkins and the seeds were huge. We roasted them in butter and salt. Oh, they were so good. And we all had the runs for a couple of days from making such piggies of ourselves.

The pumpkin patch we usually go to was closed this year. Apparently our horrible weather made for a bad pumpkin harvest. I guess they just didn't bother. We ended up buying our pumpkins at the grocery store, which is just not as fun.

Today I bought more Halloween candy. I had bought some, but we ate it. Then Eric bought some, but we ate it. I nearly killed a bag of Butterfingers myself this afternoon, but I stopped after, oh, eight bars or so. I know! I'm horrible. But I hadn't had a Butterfinger in so long. And they were so good. But now I don't feel so grand. My head will swoon a while, I think, and I will likely skip dinner. Uch.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

An annoying irony

My house is messy. It's almost always messy. The floors stay pretty clean because there's so much junk on top of them that the dirt can't reach.

But the kitchen. It gets frustrating. This morning, Eric started washing the stuff that can't go in the dishwasher. Zip-lock bags. Reusable plastic containers. Spatulas full of egg. I worked on clearing the crap off the bench. And the crap under the bench. And the crap beside the bench. Eric scoured the counter tops.

It looks much better in there.

But now it smells funny. And that's just wrong. What the hell happened? When you clean, it is supposed to smell better, not worse. We must have hydrated something that had died and dried without odor. But add water, and *PING* it reeks.

Maybe messy isn't so bad.

Well, yeah, it is.

Friday, October 26, 2007

I go both ways

These online personality tests are the most girly thing about me, I think. They're silly and fun, and often the results are too close for comfort. I stole this one from Laurie.

You Are: 50% Dog, 50% Cat

You are a nice blend of cat and dog.
You're playful but not too needy. And you're friendly but careful.
And while you have your moody moments, you're too happy to stay upset for long.


I really thought I'd be more of a cat. I'm still getting used to the side of me that likes people.

It's a drippy day here. I used to love cold, gray, damp days. I loved the sound of the world, so muffled and still. And the smell of wet leaves and dirt. I loved being just about the only person outside, having the world to myself. It's comforting. But these days, I think I'd rather have the sun.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Happy birthday Kath, Laurie, and Erika

First, let me wish a very happy birthday to Kath, fresh off the plane from Australia! What a way to celebrate! Jet lag! Kidding – I hope you had a great day. Laurie, happy birthday to you, too. I hope you enjoyed your day off. Of course, as with Kath, I forgot to mail your card, and the freebies I found on Yahoo sucked. But I was thinking about you. Erika, you're a teenager. Hahahahahahaha! Happy birthday. Have a good party.

Back to me...

Yes, I do actually still exist. What a busy week, though. I'm glad it's winding down to a less hectic pace. I've had homework stuffed down my throat and up the – well, I've had a lot of homework. The professor even sent out encouraging emails.

We're working on our "individual stories," which is two-and-a-half months of work on one subject, interviewing scads of people, finding reams of primary documents and a puddle of secondary documents and turning it into a mere three-page article of interest to the university population with an accompanying multimedia component. As we work, we hand in bits and pieces. Last week was the primary documents-only story. This week was the first interview-only story. In a couple of weeks, it's the first draft of all of it. This is in addition to our regular homework and lab work. Ain't college a kick in the pants? I really should have finished when I was younger.

This week we finished our "major stories," not to be confused with the aforementioned "individual stories." We took several pages of "facts" – "inspired by actual events" – and quotes (same deal) and wrote a persuasive piece, such as a newsletter story, press release or ad package, and an informative piece, such as a two-minute television broadcast, local newspaper hard news story, or major newspaper feature story. I wanted to do the feature and the newsletter. I ran out of time and went the easy route with the local hard news and press release, which apparently most people did, as well. That poor TA having to read all that crap. Not that it's all crap. But story after story of the same stuff – gawd.

Today we made a newsletter in InDesign. I used InDesign last year, so it was pretty easy. We had to work in groups. The TA put another guy in our group who had used it before, then she changed us around so the two of us wouldn't be together. Darn. The third person in our group got kicked out of the group because she didn't show up for the tutorial on Tuesday. She had to work alone. Technically, the TA could have just given her a zero. If you don't show up on a day that an assignment is made, you get a zero. Damn. Makes you show up to class, I tell you that.

So that's the thrilling tale of school. How about the exciting tale of work? Sure, yes, of course. Then I'll come to the enthralling personal life. Hey!

So, work. Um, the photographer has failed to show up twice in 10 days. It's not like I ask a lot. My predecessor warned me he gets in a snit if you do the photos yourself. So, he said he'd be there, then he wasn't. On two occasions he said he couldn't be there – for one he just didn't want to get up that early – so I planned on photos myself. No problem. But my little camera died a couple weeks ago, and I didn't want to haul my giant camera around. And he said he'd be there. But he wasn't. Irritating. Anyway, in the couple of weeks that I've had so much school work, I've had quite a lot of newspaper work, too. It does get a little dicey. My head and stomach have been in rather sad shape, but I'm still sane.

Now, my personal life.


Me: I shared my personal life with my class. This story made Kayleigh about die laughing. It was fascinating watching her figure it out. We were playing two truths and a lie in lab just to take a break from the stress and reacquaint ourselves with each other. I went first. Can you guess the lie? I am vegetarian, I am 16 years younger than my husband, and I haven't had sex in over a week. We all had a good laugh, and as my classmates started guessing, they laughed more.

Kayleigh has been having a problem in science. She's a quiet kid. She does not respond to strong personalities, especially boys. If she is picked on in any way, she withdraws entirely. So, her team in class is Kayleigh and two boys. One of the boys is aggressive. To Kayleigh, that means he's not allowing her to do any work. She tries, and then he butts in. So after a while, she gave up. Then the teacher started telling her she had to participate, which only further frustrated her.

Last week, she was trying to do something and this boy swore at her, so she just leaned back in her chair and stopped. The teacher came over and told her she had to be a team player. I called him this week. He was "baffled" and "shocked" that she would say such things because he doesn't see that at all. He only sees Kayleigh being aloof. She hasn't done anything all semester, he said. I said, "She's done nothing?" (How does she get all those As on her report card?) He said the only time she's done anything is when he tells her she has to. I told him she will not participate when she's being treated the way she is. He simply does not believe it's happening.

I mentioned that science is one of her favorite subjects, that she gets straight As in school, but that she has given up in his class because she feels defeated. He insinuated she was lying to me. We will see where this goes. I asked him to change teams after this project is done. He said he would but that he doesn't like doing that. I couldn't believe he'd have the same three-person team all year. Why do they need teams anyway? Can't these kids learn to use their brains all by themselves?

I don't think this teacher will ever understand a shy, smart, 13-year-old girl. His whole perspective is alpha male football players. She's expected to adapt to that personality. It's no wonder girls lose interest in science in middle school if that's what they're faced with at school.

Kelsey cried today because she can't eat Milk Duds. She gets her expander off in a week, then she can have Milk Duds. The day after Halloween. She's going to be a witch, named "The Little Enthusiastic Witch." I have no idea.

Eric is off all his mind-altering meds. The ones he was on were making him numb (his back and knees, mostly) and he was walking into walls. Not good. They seemed good otherwise. He was able to concentrate and sleep. He's been off all the PTSD meds for several months and is mostly OK, although not completely. Dealable, though. The side-effects of those are nasty, and he feels he can handle life without them. I think his behavior was better on them, but he just felt too weird. And as I said, he's doing all right without them. I don't know how he can keep going through withdrawal time and again. They want him clean for a month, then they'll try something else. He thinks speed is what he needs. That's what he'll get if this next drug doesn't work.

Tonight he said he feels like he's going back to being himself. And he doesn't like it.

I took my mom to the dentist this week. She'll be getting partial dentures. Two grand. She is happy it's not as much money as she was expecting. Tomorrow we're going to Pedro's for lunch since the kids are off school. I couldn't take her yesterday because of all my stupid homework.

They finally got a good look at my brother's lungs. It's definitely cancer, but a slow-growing kind, and he's probably had it for years. They can't do surgery because his health otherwise is too poor. I'm not sure what they'll do for the cancer. His wife said with this kind of cancer, because it's so slow-growing, something else usually kills you first. How cheery.

There's the news you had to have.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

I've been following Laurie's worried posts about her dog Boscoe, who's been falling down, puking and pooping all over the house. Poor guy. Poor Laurie and Doug who have to clean it up.

Of course, Laurie's stories are reminding me of a day I spent at my sister's house.

It was Passover, which I always hated because we always had lamb (I hated lamb), and we couldn't eat anything leavened, and I swear I always wanted something leavened.

Anyway, I was asleep on the couch after the damn lamb, and the dog was jumping on me and whining. I sat up, and she dashed away and puked. Then she ran back. Fun. So I went to let her out, stepping in a cold pile of hurl on the way to the patio. She stopped in the kitchen to take a dump. Then she puked again. Then I stepped in another couple piles, one cold, one warm.

You have to realize that I don't handle vomit well. Even dog vomit.

I let Garbo (she was part of a litter found in a garbage bin) out and worried that she'd be so ill she wouldn't come back in. So I traipsed down to my sister's room.

There were voices, muffled. I was glad they were awake. They were not glad I was. Experience tells me they were enjoying each other's company in a rapturous manner. At the time, I hadn't a clue.

Knock, knock. Silence.

"Cindy? Cindy?"

Grunts, shushing. "What is it, Amy?"

"Garbo's sick."

They didn't seem concerned. I had spew and poo between my toes. I was not engaged in sexual activity. I was concerned.

Lewis finally emerged. How oddly they dressed for bed, I thought.

Then Lewis found a pile or two with his feet. Cynthia said she'd clean it up in the morning.

Oh, the smell was tremendous. I didn't want to sleep in that stench. Over massive objection from Lewis, I talked them into letting me sleep in their room on the floor. The boys' room smelled like pee, so I didn't want to sleep there. My parents were in Rebecca's bed, and Rebecca had her floor. Poor Lewis. Poor Garbo. Garbo got the bathroom, where she could be locked in and it was easy to clean the floor.

And I got to share the story with the world almost 25 years later. Or thereabouts.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Rock of Ages



My cousin sent me this link of a rockin' parrot. I think this bird might be a pig because it sure is a ham.

The other day I was looking to see if I still had A-to-Z music. When I was a teen, I decided to try to get at least one album that started with a different letter of the alphabet. I accomplished that at some point, but in the years that have followed, I've gotten rid of some of my music. I never, ever listened to most of it, and it was taking up space, a lot of it was on tape, and I was in the mood to purge. So, I couldn't find an N, X, P, or Z. But in looking for the music, I found a tape of me and my parents when I was four. If I ever figure out how to get it onto the computer, I'll post it. It's fun to hear my dad. I remember the last time I found it, I cried when I heard his voice. I'm not really a crier, so it surprised me.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Eric, on perspective

Him: "Come and lift this. I think this is what's hurting my back."

Me: (lifting backpack) "Jesus. Why do you put all that stuff in there?"

Him: "It's not all that much, it's just everything."

Monday, October 15, 2007

Heidi

"I'm wearing new argyle socks today, and I'm pretty happy about it." –Heidi

I talked to my friend Heidi today, and I'm pretty happy about it. Heidi is smart and funny and crazy and always manages to make me smile. She is 10 years younger than I am and in a lot of ways has been my mentor. WWHD?

I hope and believe that I've been a good influence on her, too.

And someday, Heidi and I are going to take over small newspaper publishing in south-central Wisconsin. Because we are that good. We do say so ourselves.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

I'd like to thank the Academy...

Please forgive me. I've been given a couple of blog awards recently, and I haven't posted them or my most humble gratitude in receiving them.

Laurie has bestowed upon me the Breakout Blogger Award. This award is for those bloggers who've had an increase in readers and commenters. So thanks to Laurie for the award, and thanks to all of you out there reading and commenting or reading and lurking. I'm pleased you're here.



Thanks also to the Rotten Correspondent for the Rockin' Girl Blogger Award. I'm tickled rockin' pink. It's edgy and girly and cool.



I had trouble posting them when I received them, but I suddenly got a brain and figured it out.

Thanks again.

Friday, October 12, 2007

I will never be bulimic



It's possible that some of these photos were altered. For the sake of these women, I hope so.

As for me, I'm excellent at bingeing, but not purging. I like to eat. I like to eat often, and I like to eat junk. And once it's down, it does not come back up, as evidenced by my thighs and butt and gut and everything else on my increasingly soft body.

My mom is quite heavy. She jokes she is an "anorexic reformed." She and some equally plump friends decided, about 25 years ago, to open a health club for fat people. They were going to call it Porkies. You had to be fat to join. They hated it that only in-shape people went to health clubs and intimidated all the fatties away. They never followed through, though.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Chillin'

We've had amazingly warm weather this fall. But yesterday we turned on the furnace. We would have skipped it, but we hadn't brought any wood in the house yet, and Eric had to work here most of the day. He didn't want to shiver in his dark corner for hours.

The house always gets that first-furnace-of-the-year smell. Hot and dirty. The house always seems so quiet once we hunker down for winter, too. The windows and doors are closed, and the rush of hot air from the registers dampens sound.

Today I got home and Eric asked, "Did you smell it?" I didn't. I was on the pot. It's not a nice question when you're having your home-from-work wee.

"I made a fire," he said. He smiled. I could tell he really would like to jump up and down and yell YEA!

After I took care of business and had some lunch, I went down to the fireplace with him. He wanted some oohs and aahs and to rub the heat into my skin. But then he had to go to work, and I had two precious hours alone.

I could work. I tried. Our stupidfuckingwireless was apparently heaving with whatever bug has been making its rounds in town because you could watch the little icon wavering. I moved from one spot to the next, tried upstairs – nothing.

Eventually I just made my way back down to the fire and closed my eyes. I had stayed up late. I cover the school board meetings, and at 11:15 or so, they were, oh, maybe a third of the way through the agenda. They finally recessed since all of us are too old to stay up so late. But I, I, I had to come home and work on a paper I wasn't finished with, due at 8:50 a.m. in hard and electronic copies. Also at 8:50: my little group's media analysis presentation. (At about 8:10, I realized the final outline was nine pages long. It was supposed to be two. So I whipped out my ruthless editor and hacked it down to a page without even trying. I squeezed a half page back in and had to leave or I'd be late. Late means zero credit. I don't like zeros.)

Anyway, there I was on my futon in my dark, silent basement, feeling the warmth of the fire and the softness of the pillow, and I was gone. I must say, it's a very nice way to spend 20 minutes on a fall afternoon.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Candy(wo)man

After I dropped a bill at the post office, I stopped by Walgreen's to see if they had any Cow Pies. Eric kindly brought me one over the weekend. I had stayed home to do homework while the family went out into the world and had fun. Cow Pies are like giant Turtles, except so much better than Turtles. The chocolate is thicker and tastier, the caramel is the perfect viscosity, and the nuts are big and fresh. And because the factory is only about 45 miles from our house, our Cow Pies are especially fresh. Alas, Walgreen's had no Cow Pies.

But they did have a new candy bar from Hershey's called Reese's Whipps. It is touted as having 40% less fat than the leading chocolate candy. The package made it look like a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup in stick shape. So I got one to try.



I got it home and looked at the nutrition information. Sure, it has less fat than Reese's cups. But it actually has more saturated fat than a package of two cups. It also only has two fewer calories than two cups. Nutritionally, it's hardly a winner.

Sadly, the same is true of its taste and texture. It's much like a Three Musketeers, just denser and a little grainier and with a mild peanut-buttery taste.

It was a disappointment. Thumbs down. I'd really rather have Reese's Peanut Butter Cups or the seasonal shaped peanut butter cups/bars they make. The seasonal bars have thinner chocolate and they're fresher. Delicious.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Bye-bye, Ben

My nephew Ben left on Wednesday. It really sucked.

He came out here from Utah in February, a few months before he wanted to. The idea was for him to come and live with my mom and establish residency. After he earned residency, he would go to MATC in the networking and security degrees. He looked all over the country, and MATC was the only school that had what he wanted. It was also very convenient that my mom lives 5 minutes from there, and she wouldn't charge rent.

He came out early because my mom had a heart attack and was feeling scared.

Ben is a great guy. He's fun and smart and thoughtful, and he had a good plan. He really has his head on right.

But then my brother got sick. Well, sicker. He'd send someone with Munchausen's into a fit of jealousy. Anyway, my sister-in-law wanted him to come home and help. Ben came out early here to help, and now he went home early to help.

The thing that pisses me off is that he was working toward something. He had a good plan, and he was actually doing it. He has three siblings, all adults, two of whom live at home. Are they useless or something?

We had a party for him at my mom's last week. I cried when we hugged goodbye. It made him cry, too. I felt bad, but I thought it was good he knew someone was crying for him.

We stopped by Tuesday night to take some pictures because we all forgot to at the party. I got two pictures, THEN MY CAMERA BROKE. This really has been an annoying week.



When we said goodbye again, he said, "I'll take good care of your brother for you." I said thanks, but I wanted to say, "Take care of you, too." We were already getting teary again, so I kept my mouth shut, or it would have been gushers.

He left at 2:30 on Wednesday.

So, that's my week. Two dead people, one dad rat, one broken camera, lice, and an absent nephew. And today I'm staying home to do homework instead of going on a walk in the woods with a delightful stop at an apple orchard. I better get a lot done. So enough of this blogging!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Nit picking

Kelsey has lice. Gross.

We got a note on Monday that a kid in her class had lice. We were supposed to check her. I didn't bother.

But a couple days ago, I noticed her hair was awfully icky, she was a little weird and was scratching her head.

Last night, I saw something brown on her scalp. Then it was gone. This morning, I looked in her hair and saw some bugs. Eric plucked them out and said they were nothing, just crud. They looked like bugs to me. When she got home, I looked again. More bugs. Definitely bugs. Not just crud. And she had red marks on her neck.

So we got the Nix and the nit comb and the egg comb and tossed her in the tub. Eric sure believed me after that. Holy infestation, that was an experience.

Now, every itch is a louse. Every mole on our skin is a louse. We've looked through our hair, examined our scalps, but only Kelsey has them. So far.

I've never had lice. I've never lived with anyone who had lice. I feel bad, but I don't even want to hug her. Eew. I might get cooties.

Poor kid.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Channeling Kubler-Ross

Our rat Rosey died yesterday. She was an old lady. We knew our rats didn't have a lot of time left. Rats only live a couple of years, and these three have lived longer than the other rats we've had. Rosey had been noticeably failing for a couple of weeks, but was not in any apparent pain or in imminent danger of death until about Sunday. She got a lot weaker and wasn't eating much. When you picked her up, she just cuddled against you instead of trying to climb up onto your shoulder or into your pocket or your hood. She started aspirating blood, too.



















We all took long turns holding her and taking her outside, which she always loved. I didn't let her run around on my bed since she was so exhausted and might spray blood on my sheets.

Yesterday, I picked her up and held her a long time. I cried. I thought it was stupid to cry over a 2-year-old rat, but I couldn't help it. I hated seeing her failing, knowing she was dying.

In the afternoon her breathing became very noisy. It made doing homework very difficult--impossible, in fact. I finally went to my bedroom and closed the door so I couldn't hear her. I thought I should just hold her and let her die in my hands, but there was no way of knowing if she'd sound like a nut cracking for five minutes or five more days, and I had a lot to do.

When Eric and Kelsey got home from soccer about half an hour later, she was dead. Her body was still warm, which was pretty creepy.

Kelsey and I went to the deli to get some milk and comfort food, and she cried the whole time. The people who worked there were very understanding. One guy asked her, "Where's Rosey now?" He meant it in a religious or metaphysical way. She said, "She's in a Kleenex box on top of her cage."

We wrapped her body in a pretty pillow case. Eric dug a hole in the dark between the day lilies while we held flashlights so he could see. Kelsey and I bawled. I set her in the hole, and Eric and Kelsey sprinkled the dirt over her. We covered the spot with a chunk of purple quartz that Australia Sam stole from Devil's Lake. (It was too big and heavy to fit in her suitcase, so it stayed here.) And that was that.

My sister's brother-in-law died of a heart attack this week. I think he was about 60. I haven't seen him since I was in single digits. My mom's friend Margery died on Tuesday. She was 98, so it's hardly surprising. I always liked her.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Evil Greg

No, not my niece's husband--that Greg's a pastor or minister or vicar or priest--what do they call you in the Anglican church? Anyway, say what you will about men of the cloth, but he's not an evil man by any stretch. He's a good guy. And I'm a harsh critic.

Rather, meet Evil Greg. Evil Greg wants to buy an old missile base in eastern Washington to use as his secret lair. I don't know how secret it really could be since it's a public sale--on eBay, for cryin' out loud, and if that doesn't shout evil, I don't know what does.

Doesn't everyone want a little place they could escape to (secret lair)? Wouldn't everyone like some pampering (minions)? Someone to do your dirty work (cleaning toilets) for you (henchmen)?

I don't know Greg's story. Apparently he's a geeky guy who somehow scored a gorgeous wife who understands his need for global domination.

Because I'm 46% evil myself, according to an online quiz, I donated to Greg and spoiled his pouty rant about no one giving him any money.

Want to help Greg become an evil genius with a secret lair? He's just starting out. You could be a Mini-me. Go on.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

No Teetering

In my two years at MATC, I worked hard. It was fulfilling and occasionally frustrating. Last year, I worked less hard. I had to or my husband or I or both of us would likely not be alive right now. It was a little disappointing to put some slack in the rope, but life is more important than perfect grades and perfect newspapers.

I wrote this last year:

LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
A quick word from Amy Knapp

“Kelsey wants you to say goodnight,” Eric said when I walked in the door.

“She’s still awake?” I asked. It was late.

I set my backpack on the kitchen floor and laid my coat on top of it.

“Welcome home, love.”

My husband held me a moment and sent me to our waiting 7-year-old. Her 12-year-old sister was already sleeping.

I made my way down the dark hall and slipped into my daughter’s room.

Sitting up in bed, she said, “Hi, Mom.”

“Hi, babe,” I answered. “How come you’re still awake?”

“Why did you get home so late?” she asked, blinking and wrapping her warm arms around my waist.

“I had a lot of work,” I said.

I took a deep breath, smelling her sleepy scent mingled with cheap shampoo.

She slid her hands into mine as I sat on the bed. “I wish you didn’t have to work so much,” she said, and I bowed my head in guilt. “I wish you were home like you used to be.”

I held her soft, sad face in my hands for a moment. She closed her eyes and reclined onto her pillow again.

“I know it’s hard,” I whispered. “I don’t like it, either, honey. But it won’t be like this for much longer.”

I kissed her forehead and rose from her bed.

“Mom?”

“Yeah?”

“I love you.”

“I love you, too, babe.”

I looked at this little child who needed her mom to give her a kiss before she could fall asleep and silently pleaded with myself to honor the sacrifices my family was making so I could finish school.

“Goodnight, hon,” I said.

“Goodnight,” Kelsey answered.

Here’s to all the moms and dads and everyone else striving to balance a family and school and work. It’s hard, but it’s worth the effort, and so are you.


I will be damned if I go through that shit again. Today, despite having hard-working, intelligent classmates at the U, I spent my time kicking a soccer ball around the back yard, holding our dying rat, pointing out weeds to Kelsey (where aren't there weeds?), searching for a penny made the year I was born, and doing some homework. I did not spend the day doing homework, more homework, further homework, writing stories for the paper, researching facts for those stories for the paper, or attending a church service to write a pseudo-news story (free ad disguised as a news story--unless I did that research to turn it into news). When the thunder started, I was lying in bed, holding my sleepy child, who turned toward me and found my head just to be sure I was there, keeping her safe from the thunder. I wasn't just getting home.

I would have gone to the church service, but Eric was so frazzled, I didn't even bring it up. He did wonder why I was so nicely dressed, however.

And now, I'm about to be nicely undressed. Goodnight.

Stealing the stolen

The Rotten Correspondent stole this quiz from someone, so I'm stealing it from her now. What flavor ice cream are you?




You're as popular and relaxing as vanilla ice cream. You go with the flow and get along with all sorts of people. You appreciate peace and simplicity, so you sometimes find crowds and loud noises overwhelming. You are a chilled-out, calming influence on the people in your life, and your friends appreciate how supportive and flexible you are.

I'll have more to say later. I'm clearing brush from my yard and getting poked in the eye from twigs I haven't noticed and opening my mouth and closing my eyes so I may have a big surprise. You really have to watch out for those smiling 8-year-olds. It was a doughnut hole, by the way.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Scourge

I don't know about you, but cancer has got me a little scared.

Yet another person I know just died from cancer. She was 40. I worked with her at the book store when I was in college the first (second, third – depends on how you count) time. She was a pretty thing, smart, spoiled. I lost track of her after she moved to Milwaukee, but I saw her picture in Madison Magazine last year or so, as she was ever the mover and shaker.

It's quite a shocker. In my inferiority-complex way, I never think of the elite as being quite as normal and feeling and vulnerable to the mundane as the rest of my social circle. It's rude of me, really. But there she was, the trophy wife who couldn't buy or beautify herself out of her illness. I'm upset with myself, and feeling terrible for her and her family – she who will never see her daughter grow up or her husband grow old; her husband and daughter, mother and siblings, and the rest of her relatives and friends who watched her struggle with cancer for nine years.

I've thought about her over the years, wondering what she was up to, where or if she worked. Surely she was doing something glamorous; she had doors open to her simply by virtue of her birth, surname, and good looks. But fighting cancer is never glamorous.

It took us a while to like each other. But we did. I wish I'd seen her again before she died.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Bias? I Stitch You Not

Yesterday I bumped into a very kind neighbor at Kayleigh's school open house. We like each other, but on matters of politics and religion, we diverge – a lot.

She said she was excited to see my byline on the lead story in the paper (thank you very much), but said she read it very carefully to look for any bias, any slant, any tiny hint of how I felt. She found nothing.

[Do a little dance, make a little love, gitdowndanight, gitdowndanight]

So I guess I'm doing OK. It was nice to hear. I get so frustrated sometimes. And I've certainly made mistakes. [shudder – And no, I won't give any details.]

Saturday, September 22, 2007

On Being ... Worried and Wishful

I've been watching this cool video series the Washington Post has on their Web site. It's called OnBeing. It's ordinary people talking about their lives. The pieces are neatly edited and the results are pretty amazing. Check it out. A couple have made me cry, but that's pretty easy these days.

I can't believe I've only been in school three weeks and I've already had a meltdown. I just remember last year when I was working so hard and my family was suffering so much. I'm afraid of reliving last year. Despite assurances from my husband, I can't help but worry. It was quite a smack.

I hate telling my kids "not now." And I'm mad that I'm stuck in my bedroom studying when it's so absolutely perfect outside. And I hate it that I have so much to do that I feel guilty if I do anything else, even though I know I need to do something else.

I want to wander through a corn maze with my kids and my man. I want to walk around Devil's Lake. I want to help my mom with her yard work and rub her sore, swollen feet. I want to make an apple pie. I want to go horseback riding.

And, hell, as long as I'm wishing, I'd like to be 30 pounds lighter and have thicker, curlier hair and a straighter face and more smiles and more patience and a clean house with no invisible holes that invite mice every fall (Gah!) and loads of money in the bank so I could travel all over Europe next summer, my last summer of freedom.

Oh, well. If wishes were horses, I'd probably get trampled in a stampede.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Fantastic Feats on a Keyboard

Today was my first volunteer day in Kelsey's second-grade class. Last year, I worked with kids on reading in their groups or individually. This year, I wanted to do something that took less time, less commitment, and that didn't involve working directly with the kids. (Aren't I a bag?) So I volunteered to do publishing. Right up my alley.

I type the stories they write into Word. Today's stories were their autobiographies. They're so damn funny, I could hardly contain my laughter at times.

My name is XXX! I am in secint grade! I have 2 bruthers! I have a mom! I have a dad! My parents are divorst! I have a cat! My favorite TV show is Hana Montana! My other favorite TV show is High School Musical 1 and 2! I like to play with my freinds! I like to play soccer and singing!

etc.

Some kids wrote four pages. Kelsey, love, wrote about four sentences. I remember her coming home from school and complaining about having to write things about herself. She said she wanted to write real stories and that other kids were writing dumb things like what their favorite TV shows were. Having read the stories, it's an interesting perspective and retrospective.

Anyway, I sat there typing away. Their stories were in a pile on my little desk. I just read them and typed them in. Finally, one kid leaned over.

"You type really fast!" she said in a loud whisper.

"I do, don't I?" I am useless talking to people.

Another kid turned around and watched me. A look of astonished admiration lit his little face.

"How do you do that?" he asked me, watching my hands.

"I've had a lot of practice," I said.

"You're not even looking! How can you do that?" He stood up and moved his face from mine to my hands to the computer screen.

"Well, I--"

"You're not looking," he said again.

I smiled. There was a time when I couldn't do that. Ages ago. "I've been doing this a long time," I said.

He tired of me then and started pestering Kelsey instead. I told him to get back in his seat. He did. God, I'm powerful.

It was fun to be in the class. Kelsey wanted to sit in my lap. I like it that she will show affection in front of her classmates.

I only took typing in high school because I found out from my friend Heather that Jeff, the object of my obsession, was in it, and I would do anything, including completely screwing up my schedule to switch into typing, to be around him. I didn't exist to him, of course, but I got to be near him, for whatever that was worth, and I learned how to type.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Tampon update

Last year, I wrote a little about a site that taught you how to make cool and disturbing things out of tampons. Those bloody heart earrings. Wow. Anyway, at the time, they didn't have a particular tampon craft I'd always wanted to make, the pan flute. I believe I mentioned it here. Well, someone must have been reading my blog because guess what's there now! Yes, indeed, complete with video. They still don't have a slide whistle, though.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Nice Meme Cookie

First, I am delighted to say thanks to the Rotten Correspondent for bestowing upon me the Nice Matters Award. Isn’t it pretty?

I’m going to pass it on to Marcia and Sarah, a fabulous mother-daughter pair, and Kath, whom I can’t wait to see in only a couple of months. Marcia has been a wonderful support and ceaseless cheering section for many years. Thanks so much. Sarah followed in her footsteps. I’ve watched her grow from a girl to a woman. It wasn’t an easy path, but she always had smiles, hugs, and love for everyone around her. I love you both. Kath, you always have a kind word or a swift kick whenever anyone needs it. You’re thoughtful and practical and fun. Can’t wait to see you.


Next:

Laurie has meemed me.

List a character trait for each letter of your name. Any name you wish, as long as it’s yours. So, I might be Amy or Jean or Veggieburger or [censored]. What do you think? Amy is short, but with Veggieburger, I’d get to talk about myself a lot more, which is what memes and blogs are all about. I’m lazy – and I have no L for lazy in any of my names, so …

A: accidental. Yes, folks, fifteen years separate my closest sibling and me.
M: minty. I love mints in fun tins. My current box is Impeachmints, featuring our president on the cover. If only.
Y: yawning. I’m tired.

I’m meeming Kath, Sarah, Marcia, and SOTJ. If you've already been meemed, well, just ignore me.


A little story for you:

I’m a nosher. Today I’ve eaten probably 15 Tootsie Rolls as I’ve been reading textbooks and writing stories. Yesterday I had a similar number in addition to some Snickers snack-size and a few butter cookies.

Although I worry about my kids picking up my bad habits, I didn’t know I had to worry about my computer.

When I’ve gotten up from bed, where – as I’ve said before – I do my best work, I’ve noticed little wet spots. Odd. I mean, wet spots in bed are, well, you know. But I don’t get that excited from learning about formatting annual reports. (Does anyone?) So it really couldn’t be me.

Turns out, it’s my computer. And they’re not wet spots, they’re grease spots. Apparently I left a significant chunk of butter cookie on top of my backpack and set my computer on top of it. The cookie stuck. As I’ve shifted my computer from one spot to the next, I’ve left crumbly, greasy, delicious, melt-in-your-mouth butter cookie behind.

My computer has no spam, but it does have cookies, and it’s time to clear them.