Friday, June 27, 2008

Click on Over

I'm guest posting over at the inimitable Sarah of Slouching Past Forty's place today. Click on over and say Hi! You'll want to stick around, Slouching Mom is one of my writerly heroes.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Worst Day of Martha Sue Flay's Life Up to This Point

Dear Martha Sue,

I'm sorry to have to be the one to tell you this, but it turns out you have not been selected to represent our town in the 1937 Miss Pea Vine pageant after all. I have had a serious talk with Mrs. Pujols about why she would choose to do such a thing as telling you that you were the only serious contender when she knew full well that my own daughter Edna Mae Durset was also in the running and had a decided edge due to all the years my wife spent making her walk around with a volume of my dear departed mother's treasured Bernie's Encyclopedia of Extensive World Knowledge and History and Other Important Things Your Friends Will Laugh at You if You Don't Know set (usually volume 23, Opium - Ostriches) on her head. I'll admit I worried a little when Edna Mae's head started to look a mite flat on the top, but you know that my wife Ida Lou is a determined woman and when she sets her mind to something, it is difficult even for a man in my important public position to dissuade her. Well, imagine my surprise and pride when Ida Lou turned out to be right and all that book-carrying gave Edna the superior posture a girl needs to win a coveted position in a pageant like our own Miss Pea Shoot, which would enable her to go on to compete for the coveted title of Miss Freshly Picked Ear of Corn in the state capital. I for one don't give any credence to the school teacher's notion that the book-carrying and the resulting flatness of head were responsible for Edna Lou's inability to read or count higher than three. As my wife says whenever I try to bring the subject up, "Counting never won nobody a tiara." My wife is a wise woman, and very determined.

In any case, Martha Sue, I hope you will not take it too hard that Edna Mae has been chosen to represent our beloved town of Sprague's Bottom instead of you. I know that you tried mightily to awe the judges with your tap dance interpretation of The Burning of the Gaspee and we were all greatly impressed with your knowledge of the life cycles of the Hungarian Stink Beetle, but the truth is that not everyone in his world can be a shining star like Edna Mae, and most of us just have to settle for living quiet lives and helping other when we can.

To this end, I recommend that you reconsider your answer to the Honorable Reverend Oscopee when he asked you about marrying him and accompanying him to bring the Word of the Lord to the heathens in darkest Africa. It's true that our Rev. Colin is not a romantic sort, but the things he said in his public proposal speech about you being, "A fine, solid, plain-faced sort of girl," who while, "not a beauty or particularly bright," would doubtless "be a help to him in building proper American-style houses for the natives," and "bear strapping children to carry the work on into the next generation," are all true, and doubtless he meant them as a compliment. I'm sure if you went to him and apologized for the things you said about his double chin in front of the whole congregation, he would accept your humble contriteness and renew his offer.

In any case, Martha, please do not hold it against me that I am on the committee for choosing the annual Miss Pea Pod. It may seem strange as my daughter has competed in the pageant for the last twelve years, but after all, I am the town mayor, and it would be a serious miscalculation of my duties to refuse to be on such an important committee in my own town. At least that's what Mrs. Pudelle says. I tell you Martha Jane, she is a determined woman.

Mayor T. Cup Pudelle

Hey, check this out.
If it doesn't make you laugh I'll send you a million dollars. In loose pennies. On an installment plan.

Edited: 7-7-07

Dreamy Nordic Music

If you like the Sigur Ros video, you have to check this out. It's another Nordic band- Nightwish- with a similarly haunting song/video combination. Thanks to Gypsy for the find!

Also, for your viewing entertainment, my sister Katie's bedroom door, taken last Christmas when I was home for the holidays. Katie's door is like the Wittenburg Door, only funny. It's an endless source of entertainment for the rest of the family. Sometimes I add to it (Hey, Katie, do you still have the historical marker -i.e. Captain O' Katie Pants- sign?)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Dooce Learned Everything She Knows About Annoying Her Parents From Me


Translation: Dear Mom, Please cancel my subscription to Guidepost immediately. I am shocked and dismayed to see that they are printing articles about saving the environment. Obviously the offices have been taken over by commie pinko leftist liberals- please excuse my French. 

As a good Republican I know that anything that includes the words "green" or "planet" must be liberal tripe designed to warp the very fabric of the universe.

Sincerely,or rather, Cerely,
Yr. dtr

My mom gets me a subscription every year to the Christian magazine, Guideposts. They're all about the Power of Positive Thinking at Guideposts and they also favor miraculous events. She claims it's because I used to steal hers before she got a chance to read it every month when I was a kid, but I think she's really hoping that it might influence me for the better now that I live in the land of godless heathens (California). I came across something Dad would definitely NOT approve of in one issue (because, global warming-a huge conspiracy!! According to my dad, no sane person would be tempted to believe in such an outlandish idea, besides, Rush Limbaugh says it's not true, and in my parents' house, Rush's word is law.) and I felt the need to alert her of the danger. She loves it when I do that.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Sinus Infraction

Medical Profession (as a whole): You're a hypochondriac with allergies. Use the damn nasal spray we prescribed for you a year ago and stop bothering us.

J: Oh... you mean that stuff isn't actually effective unless I shove it up my nose on a regular basis? I thought maybe just keeping it on my desk in close proximity to my computer where I spend much of my time would help.

M P: ....

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Sinus Infection: Round Two

I want to chop off my own head. Is that considered a standard treatment?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Some Great Distractions


Baby fawn rescue. Awwwww. I especially love the one of the fawn splayed out like Bambi on the ice.

Fuzzy duckling. Snoring. Ridiculously cute.

Lolcats, of course. cat

Faces in Places A cool photo blog anyone can contribute to.


A store I need to visit next time I'm in NYC.

Some of my favorite online paper stores: Papermojo, Hollander's, Paper Source, of course, Paper Studio, The Japanese Paper Place

Lara Cameron's Pattern tester. A fun toy that lets you design your own fabric, although as far as I can tell she doesn't do custom orders any longer.

A Google Image game (which I suck at). It shows you a bunch of Google images and you have to guess the search word that prompted them.

Dafonts, a very cool website with reams of free fonts you can download.

Just Plain Useful

Yelp I've been surprised several times lately to recommend only to be met with a blank stare. Everyone should know about this great resource. You can search local businesses for reviews (or write your own) by customers. I've used Yelp to find everything from an auto mechanic to a hairdresser.

Library books. The coolest app for Macs; it's a free download that keeps track of your library books automatically and tells you when they're due. Unfortunately my current library doesn't work with it. :(

Sigur Ros

This video is so hauntingly beautiful.  The band is from Iceland, which makes perfect sense to me somehow.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Blog Silence

I'm leaving tomorrow to go back east for the funeral. I won't be posting at least until I get back, maybe not for a while then. It seems appropriate somehow- five days of silence. Five days to honor a life that was joyfully lived even though it was too short.

If you pray, please pray for me. I'm at the end of my rope now and unsure as to how I'm going to manage to be strong for anyone else over the next five days of travel and heartache. Pray for Ann Marie and Rip, for their remaining four children, and their extended families too. If you don't pray, well, do it anyway. Please? It can't hurt, right? Even if you don't believe anyone's listening?


Edited 6-19
Part one is here
Part two is here
Part 3

Two days ago, Joanne Lambdon* called my mother, frantic, begging for prayer for her grandson, Aiden, who was being worked on by paramedics. Visiting friends with an inground pool; he'd somehow wandered outside by himself, while everyone was in the house, and fallen into the deep end. His mother, noticing his absence, found him and quickly pulled him out and started CPR, but it was too late. He was already gone.  

*name changed to protect family's privacy

Aiden's safe, now, and in the arms of One who loves him, but his absence will leave a hole in his family that will never fully heal. And right now, I cannot even imagine the depth of the grief and despair that has invaded the lives of these people that I love. 

This is what requires faith for me, trusting that God has a plan and that this- even this -will be redeemed one day. Not while we live on this earth, surely, but someday. He promised. 

But how do you balance that promise of what's to come with the reality of having to let go of the child you brought into the world? 

How do you adjust to life without your beloved brother, nephew, grandson? 

How do you base the rest of your life on a faint glimpse of hope that one day, Paul's assurance that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us will be proven true. 

Even if you can reconcile yourself to that future hope, how do you go on living this life, torn between the children remaining, and the world they inhabit, and the one who's gone ahead, and the promise of a world where he is restored? 

I don't have any answers, and my heart is broken.

Aiden: Part 2 in a series

Part one is here

Part 2

When I was eight, my family moved back into the house in Rhode Island we'd owned since before I was born. We'd been in living in Venezuela for three years, which is a story for another time, and we slowly picked up the rhythms of a life that was not completely unfamiliar, since, being friendly with the family that was renting our house, we'd visited every summer and played with our friend Jennifer Lambdon*, who lived across the street.

*name changed to protect the family's privacy

Jenny was exactly in between my sister, Lib, and myself in age but since she and Libby were in the same class at school they quickly became better friends than she and I were. Left out, I started to follow her older sister, Ann Marie, around. Three years older than me, Ann was the epitome of older-kid coolness. For some reason, something about my dorky nine-year-old self appealed to her and we became fast friends. We argued and fought like sisters, frequently- when our younger sisters were fighting- being angry at each other on principle alone.

Often all four of us would play together and those halcyon days- playing elaborate imaginary games indoors, riding our bikes and climbing trees in the summer, sledding and making snow sculptures in the winter- make up some of my best memories. There were many nights when the four of us would sleep over at one house, or swap houses, with Jen staying at my house with Libby, and Ann Marie and I having a sleep-over at her house. Our parents had quickly became close friends as well and spent hours eating dessert studying the Bible at the Lambdon's house while I relished the chance to stay up late and watch The Man From U.N.C.L.E. reruns after my brother and sisters went to bed. 

As we grew older Ann and I grew apart. Or rather, she grew up and I, being on the slow 'n steady plan for life (you know, like the tortoise), was left behind. Ann was starting high school and starting to think about dances (what-ever), and boys (gross!) and I was still happily climbing trees and not-washing-my-hair (I never did outgrow the former activity, but do I wash my hair on a regular basis these days). Teenaged concerns were so boring and I became frustrated with Ann, as I'm sure she did with me. We continued to be part of each other's lives, since our families were so intertwined, but there was a gulf between us that was unbridgeable until years had passed and I had grown up a bit.

Back on common ground, we renewed our friendship, but saw each other less often as Ann married and moved to another state and I tried to figure out how to navigate the waters of adulthood. The bond was still there though, and when we were together the years fell away and we were bff's again. Over the years, our families had grown inseparable and there were frequent Lambdon/Davenport get-togethers. Summer cookouts, Christmas eve dinners, weddings, and baby showers bound us all together more and more tightly as the years passed. I remember the excitement of Ann's wedding to Rip, and how happy she was; the announcement that she was pregnant with their first child; my sister Lib, and Jen, friends since first grade, having their first babies only a few months apart. The faith the two families shared was the rock to which our ties- closer than family's in some ways- were anchored.

The last time I saw Ann Marie was exactly three years ago. I was moving to California and she and her family came to a cookout/pool party in my parents' backyard. She had four kids by then, three beautiful boys and an adorable little girl, all fair-haired with their mother's blue eyes. The youngest, Aiden, was barely walking. After I moved away, Ann and Rip, her parents, and eventually one of her older brothers, all moved to Pennsylvania where Jen and her husband Doug had settled. My family was sad to see them leave New England, but the bonds held strong as my parents bought a retirement home in South Carolina and frequently detoured on trips there to visit the Lambdon's in Lancaster, and my sister and Jen made regular visits to each other- their little boys quickly becoming the best of friends. Ann Marie and I weren't in direct contact, but we were kept abreast of each others' lives by our mothers and sisters, and I always held out the hope that maybe, someday, I would be able to squeeze a trip to Pennsylvania into one of my visits back east. This week I am going to Lancaster. I am going to see the entire Lambdon family, something that hasn't happened in years. 

And in a cruel twist of fate, I can only hope that when I wake up tomorrow morning the whole thing will have been a bad dream, and my inbox will be empty of travel emails. I would give anything to untake this trip, to undo the reason I am making it...

Monday, June 9, 2008

Aiden: Part one in a series

Part 1

I don't talk much about my beliefs in this space. It might give the impression that they are a small, unimportant part of my life but that's not the case. In fact I think the reason I am hesitant to blog on topics pertaining to Christianity is that what I believe is such a foundational part of who I am that I don't want to bring the subject up in such a public forum unless I'm sure I can do it justice.

I'll admit that another reason is that I've begun seeing Christianity from a new perspective as an adult than I did as a kid whose world was hedged by church and Christian school; who believed everything adults told her. Unless they were, like, liberals? Who were obviously evil and trying to ruin EVERYTHING all the time, just because. I sometimes want to invent a new title and retire, "Christian," forever, because it has such negative connotations for so many people, and for good reason.

My journey from classic obedient-eldest-child, to independently thinking adult was completed when I left the state I grew up in and moved across the country (to what my loving, very conservative parents refer to as "The Left Coast."). I still struggle, when they don't coincide, to balance what I was taught with what I can see to be true. I suspect it's easier in many ways to reject the unquestionable beliefs you were taught as a child altogether, than to try and reconcile them with a world that doesn't always quite line up. 

I don't know if God created the earth in seven literal days, or over seven ages of geological layers. I'm doubtful that members of proper churches will make up the majority of heaven's population. But I know in a way I can't explain logically, in a way I've known since I was very young, that there is more to the universe than chemicals and biology. I know that there is something infinitely greater than I am and that that being is good, and loves me. 

In a lot of ways that knowledge forms the bedrock of my faith and who I am. I believe that Jesus is the son of God and died for me, but if you proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that Jesus was a fraud and the Bible was a collections of madmen's ramblings I would still stand on this rock. It does not require faith for me, it's something I've tried to run away from, in fact, but I never could get far because I know that there is a God (label that how you will) the way I know that my hand is my hand, or that pie tastes good. For good or ill, I can't escape what I know to be true.

That is not to say that I don't spend a certain amount of time railing at the heavens, screaming at God for answers that will not let themselves be found; begging to understand how there could possibly be any redemption in some of the things that happen in this world...

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

No Mom, I Am Not Smoking the Wacky Tobaccy, I'm Just Naturally Weird

inspired by a fomato card

dear george,

for your graduation from veterinary school i wanted to get you something special. at first i thought a fur coat might be nice. but someone told me that you only like fur on your patients, which is just as well since i know your favorite animal is squirrel and i could not find anyone selling squirrel fur coats.

next i wanted to get you a season's pass to sea world. but your mom told me abut that time you got sprayed with whale snot and were so traumatized you swore never to go to sea world again and anyway i read that it is politically incorrect to enslave the whales.

now i am out of ideas.

this is just like that time you turned 21 and i wanted to get you something extra special so i bought one of those beer hats that has straws on the side but then you told me the day of your birthday that you were converting to mormonism and shunning the evils of drink.

i still have that hat. sometimes when i am feeling down i put it on and sorrowfully drink beer out of it while telling myself over and over what a poor friend i am and how i let you down by not getting you that special mormon underwear that you really wanted.

it also reminds me of the time when we were kids and you told me my magic superpower was hiding in the closet for a long time and then locked me in to show me. those were fun times. sometimes when i wake up in the night sweating and scared from that dream of being locked in a small dark space i think of you and all the wacky shenanigans we got into together.

but back to your graduation present. maybe it would be rude to get you a graduation present when they are not letting you officially graduate because of that incident with the koala and the schnapps and the mormon underwear. (how are your petitions to be let back into the church going?) but i think it still counts though even if you can't walk across the stage and your name is not in the program and even though you had to agree that you would never never tell anyone what school you went to or they would revoke your conditional diploma. besides i am sure there are lots of veterinary clinics that would be happy to hire you even with the warning they wrote on your transcript.

well it looks like i will have to get you something practical like a turtleneck or jar of elmer's glue or a poster of jon bon jovi. i hope you will like it because it came from my heart even though it is not as special as a beer hat with straws.


Sunday, June 1, 2008

Is it Just Me?

I came across an old video of Luke from last summer's family reunion. Am I biased, or is my nephew even cuter when he's trying to be naughty?