Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Green, Green Grass of Home

People make fun of Iowa. I don’t exactly know why. Usually it’s people who have never been there, which makes it all the more objectionable. Frankly, it offends me! While I certainly love the green rolling hills and lush woods of our backyard in Maryland and the proximity of the city, which I find endlessly entertaining ... Iowa is not without it’s charms!
I love going back to Iowa!
I love the strong sense of community you feel there, no matter how long you’ve been gone! I love how new friends become like old friends in the course of an hour at The Bar and old friends quickly become new again. I love the vast expanse of green fields. I love that you can look out into the backyard and realistically visualize a pick up game of kick ball ... and it happens! I love that we know the neighbor lady! I love driving by the bakery and smelling the goodness from inside the car! I love hearing the rumble of Harleys and recognizing the drivers! I love that Grandma might actually be the passenger! I love that the lines between friends and family are very, very blurry! I love that we’re huggers! I love that everyone is welcome at the table, no questions asked. I love that the little kids we used to pay 4 bits to go get us a beer out of the cooler are now old enough to buy us beers in the bar. (I said they are old enough to do so, not that they do!!!) I love that my nieces and nephews “get” me! I love that my nephew, Justin, is perfectly willing to help demonstrate the Hands-Free Underwear Adjustment Dance at the drop of a hat. I love that I don’t know the exact number of people in my family!
I love that they all want to visit DC!
Don’t ever make fun of what you don’t understand! And you should never assume anything about a culture you’ve never visited. There’s no reason to make fun of Iowa: You are more than welcome to laugh with us!!!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Carol & Aaron .... or I Told You My Nephew Has a Boob Fetish!

This is my ol' gal pal, Carol, innocently posing with my nephew in LeMars Iowa!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

All the Damn Vampires

Remember in The Lost Boys when Grandpa casually remarked, "One thing about living in Santa Carla I never could stomach... all the damn vampires."? Well, that's how I feel about living in this area. One thing about living in DC I never could stomach... all the damn humidity. Seriously! I have to use 3 different kinds of deodorant and a bottle or two of baby powder just to walk from point A to point B. It's craziness!! I step outside and before I can finish the thought, "Say! It's kind of nice out here!", I'm soaking wet! It's like walking with weights on my ankles through a steaming hot, gigantic bowl of soup! And since pee stains and sweat stains look amazingly similar, I have to make smart wardrobing decisions as well. What, exactly, does one wear to walk through soup and still remain cool and dry?
There was the time I went on a "date" with my husband, Handsome. I had buffed and puffed and primped and - above all else - powdered the hell out of myself! We had just sat in the car when Handsome remembered something in the house. I stayed in the car while he ran inside and I decided to take the quick opportunity to ... shall we say ... relieve some pressure while he was gone. So, when that happened, a puff of smoke blew up from betwixt my legs and I was horrified and frightened!! You hear those stories about people spontaneously combusting and I thought, "Oh Lord! It's happening to me!! I am literally burning from the inside out!!"
Then I remembered the powder!
So, while I was sitting in the car in a baby-fresh cloud of "smoke", my husband returned to find me laughing hysterically to myself!
Sometimes I think he would rather just deal with all the damn vampires!

Rebecca's Tale by Sally Beauman

Many, many years ago the lovely-voiced Jean Marsh read to me in the car for six hours. She read Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. We drove together down the windswept Cornish coast to Manderley, while Kate Bush's Wuthering Heights played softly in the background of my brain. I enjoyed Rebecca very much, but it was, seriously, an extremely long time ago and I feared I remembered dreadfully little of the intricacies in the story (turns out I recalled quite a bit). I remembered being disappointed that the enchanting Rebecca was actually rather unpleasant. But I remembered loving the story! I do enjoy a period piece and a mystery. I love being swept away into another time and place and, frankly, I specifically enjoy an author who will let me fill in the dirty little blanks. I have a perfectly vivid imagination and I love authors who appreciate that in me. Rebecca truly was a glorious journey!
Then, Rebecca's Tale by Sally Beauman beckoned me from the shelves of the local bookstore. It said, "If you've read Rebecca and loved it....". Well, that seemed about right, so I picked it up.
While I was a bit tentative about jumping into a 450 page book with tiny little words (Jean Marsh, where are you?), I was terribly excited about going back to Manderley and the sea. I was also worried that it had been too long and perhaps I would be lost. The story takes place twenty years after the death of Rebecca, however, so my decade or so of absentia fit all too well into the premise of the tale.
It was written in four parts by four unique characters who all have dissimilar motives for investigating the long ago mysterious death of Rebecca de Winter. The first two sections are beautifully written from the points of view of two different men who are somewhat obsessed with Rebecca for much varied reasons. I enjoyed these two parts immensely! The writing style was enchanting and intriguing and I was immediately thrilled to go back in time.
The third section, however, the section written by Rebecca herself in the form of long lost diaries ... well, that section made me dislike Rebecca all over again! Curses! I really wanted to love her. I wanted to see beyond her beauty and charm and find a splendid soul inside. I was disappointed, to say the least!
The final chapter, written by the comely Ellie Julyan was pleasant enough, however I felt the author (Beauman, not Ellie) wrapped things up a little too neatly in the end. I wish she would have left a little to my own active imagination. I wish she would have left me wanting more. Sadly, she did not.
So, while Kate Bush's haunting voice faded into the darkness and I closed the book and drifted off to sleep ... last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again....

Friday, July 18, 2008

Time in a Bottle ... Linda

The Voices in My Head have had “Time in a Bottle” running on a continuous loop for the last year and a half or more. Since we first received the news that my sister-in-law, Linda, was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). I suppose it’s a common wish, that we could capture the special moments of our lives and put them in a bottle that we could open when we needed to most. If we could only pack up the pieces of our lives and put them into little boxes labeled “this” and “that” and “things we’ll never need” (thank you, Rick Rock). Maybe add another box for “things we’ll never forget”. If we could only have a few worn leather satchels in which to carry our memories, we could open them when life suggests we still need to remember.
We do, to some extent, of course. Sometimes we are lucky enough to capture those moments on film and we put the images in pretty frames to set around our homes. It’s a visual aid, of sorts. We will always have our memories, but these are like proof to us! We can share our memories with others. If you look around the room, your memories are smiling back at you, and because of this, you are never alone. Never sad or lonely.
That’s the idea anyway.
I remember the first time I met Linda, although I have no photographic evidence of the occasion! It was a summer evening in Iowa. Linda stopped by Jerry’s house to “see his new girl”, which I thought was terribly funny at the time! She was wearing black shorts and an orange t-shirt, little black Keds with white rubber trim and orange socks. Her long brown hair was in a high ponytail captured with two ribbons, one orange and one black. She was probably right around thirty at the time, but she looked much younger! She looked like a little junior high cheerleader, I half expected her to jump up and touch her toes, “Go Tigers!” She certainly had the pep to pull it off!
She was squirrelly and giggly and I loved her instantly!
Linda was sitting on the shabby green carpeting, seeming not at all to mind, when we heard a knock on the door. Jerry’s house (shared with three other bachelors) was across the street from one of the Wells Blue Bunny ice cream plants, and at the door stood one of the night watchmen. He questioned us about 2 little boys sleeping in the car in front of the house. Linda got that look on her face ... that “Doh!” look that she shares with all her boys. That look that seems to suggest, although they just got caught with their hand in the cookie jar, they find it just as funny as the rest of us!
Linda ran out to the car and I thought that was the last of her for the night. But I was wrong. She was back in 2 minutes with the standard family line I’ve come to expect, “They’re fine!”
That was the first of a million memories I have with Linda. We are going to visit her next week and I couldn’t be more thrilled! ALS is a tragic, heart-wrenching disease that is stealing my friend and sister, but I refuse to let it steal our time. I can’t wait to see her! She is a frail fraction of the vivacious woman she once was, but she is still Linda! She is still our champion and muse! I can see that little bubbly cheerleader mom in there and she is beautiful!! She’s still wacky little Linda who makes us all laugh and keeps us all in line! She’s still my hero. She’s one of the thirteen reasons I married into this big ol’ crazy family and I want to capture each and every moment we have together.
If I could save this time in a bottle, I really would save every day like a treasure, again, just to spend them with the people I love.
Linda, I will see you in a few days!! I love you, girl!!

Time in a Bottle

Time in a Bottle
by Jim Croce

If I could save time in a bottle
The first thing that I'd like to do
Is to save every day 'til eternity passes away
Just to spend them with you

If I could make days last forever
If words could make wishes come true
I'd save every day like a treasure and then
Again, I would spend them with you

But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do once you find them
I've looked around enough to know
That you're the one I want to go through time with

If I had a box just for wishes
And dreams that had never come true
The box would be empty except for the memory
Of how they were answered by you

But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do once you find them
I've looked around enough to know
That you're the one I want to go through time with

Monday, July 14, 2008


A dog is like an eternal Peter Pan, a child who never grows old and therefore is always available to love and be loved.
-Aaron Katcher

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Mike's American

Let me just say, for the record, I really don’t eat a whole lot of red meat. I am an animal lover and really, really WANT to be a vegetarian. The problem lies simply in my lack of love for vegetables. I am conflicted! I love the taste of meat as long as it doesn’t require gnawing on a bone, I just wish it didn’t have to come from adorable animals ... not that I would enjoy eating rat meat, either, I’m sure.
All of that being said, however, last night I ate the best steak I have ever wrapped my lips around! Seriously!
We went to Mike’s American in Springfield Virginia to celebrate my sister’s 9th wedding anniversary. Not only is Mike’s a beautiful venue, but the staff was impeccable and the service was amazing. The food was delectably out of this world!! Orgasmic, even!
I started to get the feeling it was one of the Great American Restaurants, although I didn’t know that going in. A trip to the immaculate restrooms led me past the rack of Great American Restaurant postcards and my suspicions were confirmed! I have always enjoyed The Carlyle for Sunday brunch and amazing calamari and Coastal Flats for a terrific crab sandwich, but the meal at Mike’s was unbelievable!!!
I love their funky uniforms which consist of some disco-pocketed jeans or black shorts with collarless “blouses” made of ticking material. One waitress joked that she looked like a mattress, but I complemented her lack of pee stains, and I think she felt better.
Everything was perfect ... the atmosphere ... the food ... the staff ... and the fact that somehow they designed it so that every third or fourth table would contain a person who looked exactly like someone from my past! Check it out, it’s wild!! Very tastefully, deliciously wild!!!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Actual Phone Conversation with Rick Rock

Rick: ... in the woods, what is this?
Me: In the woods? What are you talking about?
Rick: Oh, I'm looking at my boss's calendar.
Me: He's got a walk in the woods scheduled on his calendar?
Rick: Yeah, he's got an appointment with a clown!
Me: You might as well clear the rest of the month, then, he's not coming back.

there's a (slight) chance i might be going to hell

When I started reading this book, I thought, "Lord, this Laurie Notaro really spreads her similes on each page like Skippy Super Chunk peanut butter on dry toast." But after awhile, I started enjoying the humor and whimsy of this silly little tale. It's ridiculous and crazy, but still a lot of fun. I did find myself chuckling a bit throughout. It's a total chick book, but I guess I have to admit, if only to myself, I am a chick. It had all the makings of a relatable story, with insanely embarrassing situations and lot's of dog interaction. I liked the main character, Maye, although I read "maybe" for the first three quarters of the book! It's just a fun little read. I didn't put it down and walk away a better person or anything, but it made me smile and I could use a little happiness in my life like a prepubescent wunderkind could use acne medication!
Just read it, what the hell.....