Thursday, April 30, 2009

Eight Things

I read Lainey-Paney's Eight Things Tag post and decided to tag myself. I'm just that kind of girl sometimes.

Eight things I look forward to
1. Snuggling morning and night with Johnnie
2. Hugging and kissing Emily, Lucy and Erin
3. Playing with the girls (Erin, Emily and Lucy but also Holly when I can)
4. Deciding my own schedule
5. Clean sheets and the cool side of the pillow
6. Springtime
7. Smelling fresh laundry, especially if it's been bleached or hung outside to dry
8. Reading a good book

Eight things I did yesterday
1. Finished two writing projects for two of my clients
2. Went to my first-ever Weight Watchers weigh in and meeting
3. Had lunch with Johnnie
4. Made a bunch of phone calls I didn't want to make
5. Kinda organized my desk and opened mail
6. Put a big container of salad together for dinner and future dinners
7. Played with/hugged and kissed our girls (three out of four)
8. Two laps around the mall with Erin and the girls

Eight things I wish I could do
1. Travel as much as we would like to
2. Sing better
3. Run (my knees complain)
4. Walk a full marathon
5. Write a great book or even just a good story
6. Not work at all (and Johnnie too)
7. Spend more time outdoors and exercising
8. Learn more languages

Eight shows I watch
1. Desperate Housewives
2. Chuck
3. Two and a Half Men
4. House
5. Castle
6. Grey's Anatomy
7. Scrubs
8. Ugly Betty
... but wait! there are more!

OK, now if you're up for it, take up the Eight Things tag and run with it. Let me know you've done it in the comments so I can come and read what your eight things are!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Worldless Wednesday

In Washington state last July.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Random Thought Tuesday Addendum

Dear Lord in Heaven, I used the "u" word. I have been working on a brochure for one of my clients for the past couple days. After seeing and using the words unparalleled and exceptional, I (hanging my head in deep writer's shame) actually used the word "unprecedented." I wrote about it here and now I have joined the crush of media who have used the word.

I also hate the phrase "24/7," especially in commercials, but it is sometimes the most effective phrase to describe around the clock service or whatever and it doesn't bug me as much in writing. So I have used that one too. Sigh. I have now officially compromised my copywriting ethics and confessed this indiscretion. I feel better already.

Random Thought Tuesday

I haven't ever participated in blog-wide organized efforts for Random Thought Tuesday, Wordless Wednesday or Haiku Friday mainly because I seem to be random on Friday and think up Haiku on Mondays. That I'm a bit off-schedule these days shouldn't surprise anyone. But today I have a bunch of random thoughts, so here it goes!

Our daughter Erin, her good friend Courtney and another MOMS club member went to a regional luncheon in White Plains, New York over the weekend. They left on Friday and came home late Sunday evening. Courtney's husband Jon worked from home/took Friday off to take care of their three children and I had Emily and Lucy until Mike could come home on Friday afternoon. I figure that the other woman had similar arrangements for her two children. After Friday, it was totally Daddy Day Care for the remainder of the weekend.

I was remarking to Johnnie how cool I thought it was that Erin and Courtney got away for the weekend. Putting myself in their shoes, it never occurred to me to get away for an all girls weekend when Erin was little. It just wasn't done back in the late 70s or at least not done by the women I knew. I applaud Mike and Jon (and the other husband whose name I don't know) for taking care of the kids and giving their wives a break. What a healthy relationship and a great way to keep balance in their marriages. Yeay everybody!

Dear People Walking In Our Neighborhood,
If you're going to walk early in the morning or after dark in the evening (heck, really anytime), make sure you're observing at least the minimum safety rules: walk toward traffic, ride bikes with traffic.

If you're out when it's dark, wear something reflective (even sneakers have reflective strips on them) and light color clothing. I'm tired of dodging you people walking on the wrong side of the road (although I'll keep ever vigilant since few seem to get this concept and I'm not interested in a manslaughter rap) wearing all dark clothing. Just because you can see our car (lights, get it??) we don't always see you! Yes, you'll feel like a dork when you're getting dressed with blinky buttons and a dayglo yellow or green vest but they help those of us who are driving in a state of sleepy stupor early in the morning.

Hoping not to meet you by accident,


A year ago in the fall (it was quite dark out) I actually stopped at 6:18 am and lectured a man in our neighborhood who was on the wrong side of the street in navy sweat pants, black jacket, dark gloves and hat. I was within 100 feet of him when I finally caught his reflection in my lights. He put the fear of God in me and with the adrenaline rushing through my veins I slammed on the brakes and backed up to give him what for. He apologized but I didn't get the feeling that he really understood how close to meeting St. Peter he had come. Scared me plenty.

The state of disorganization around our house continues unabated. Glorious Annie is here painting and I'm looking forward to moving furniture back into place, at least in the family room and living room, by the end of the week. And I can't wait until we have our bedroom back but it will probably be a couple weeks or possibly more. When one of us isn't sleeping (yes Johnnie, I'm looking at you), then none of us sleep, including the dogs. If we are back in our bedroom then there's an extra bed available somewhere for the sleeper or non-sleeper to escape.

With the incredibly warm weather in the past few days (we've been in the 80s and it's only April!), my pink tree is blooming. I'll take a picture and perhaps it'll be up in time for Wordless Wednesday!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Lovely flower, indeed

We (really Johnnie) were taking down the shades in the family room in preparation Annie the Magnificent Painter's visit tomorrow. Our house renovation has progressed to a point that we're essentially living entirely in the kitchen, except for sleeping. We're sleeping in the guest room because of the bathroom remodeling (gutting, new dry wall, tile, TWO sinks!). New carpet was installed in the family room and living room (adjacent and connected to each other) this past week but we didn't put furniture back because of Annie's impending transformation with paint this coming week.

Anyway, I was looking out the window into the ravine behind our house. What's that purple flower in the creek? Got out binoculars. Hmmmm. Still looks like a big purple flower. No others anywhere nearby ~ just lots of skunk cabbages carpeting the floor of the ravine.

Me: wanna take a walk?
Johnnie: eh, maybe in a few minutes
Me: will you go then or will I just wait and then you won't really go with me
Johnnie: um, maybe in a few minutes (he was playing Canfield solitaire on the computer)
Me: OK.

Few minutes pass while we both play Canfield. Tired of this, I got up.
Me: I'm going for a walk.
Me, now downstairs: are you coming or should I go alone?
Johnnie: I'm almost coming.
Me: well, I'm going now. See ya.
Johnnie: OK, here I come.

Wisely I put on old tennis shoes and grabbed the camera to document the beautiful purple flower and anything else we found of interest. We proceeded down the bank to the floor of the ravine ~ it's about 50 feet from our yard to the bottom. Balancing on decaying logs and walking in between the skunk cabbages and awakening ferns we made it to the creek.

Johnnie: It's a bucket.
Me: Oh, man. I was really hoping for a purple flower. Something exotic.
Me: Could you hold the camera?
Johnnie: Are you going in?
Me: Yeah, if nothing else, it shouldn't be left in the creek.

Here I am, approaching the flower and as an added bonus, a green snow boogie too. (Who even knew that snow had boogies and that they were green!)

Poking the fallen branches and leaves to see if there's anywhere I can stand without sinking into the water. Not much but I found a couple places for my feet. Have I mentioned that I'm not all that coordinated and steady on my feet in situations like this? No?

Uh oh, kersplash! The water's really cold and the bottom is squishy. Totally overshot the flower and landed on the opposite bank. It was really funny to both of us.

Retrieving the bucket and snow boogie.

Turns out the bucket has a crack in it so it won't be a good summer water bucket outside for the dogs. Ah well, still better in the trash than in the creek.

Squish back up the bank and into the garage to remove my soaked shoes and socks. Somehow I never got my clothes wet. More good luck than good planning, that.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


I read somewhere quite a while ago that women say "sorry" about five times more in a day than a man. Truthfully, that kinda ticks me off because I think it's been put into our brains from the time we were little that we should say "sorry" even when it's not our fault or maybe it's no one's fault. Sometimes I think we're saying "sorry" just because we exist. See what I mean?

We have a friend, a woman, who says "sorry" so much and for entirely inappropriate reasons. At first it's endearing but then it wears on you and you have to wonder what kind of self esteem this person has and where it went. After learning more about her, it turns out she had an awful stepfather who berated her constantly in favor of his own daughter and her brother so she became so self effacing as to just curl up and become invisible.

I'm the first person around to say "sorry" when I believe whatever has happened is my fault. But I also try to look at the situation objectively and work to not say "sorry" when it is absolutely nothing I have caused or did. Such as passing someone on a narrow sidewalk, inadvertently stepping in someone's way at the grocery store or in a smallish hallway. Almost instinctively, I'll start to say "sorry." Not really appropriate. I didn't make the sidewalk narrow or get there at the same moment by design. So I try to remember to say "excuse me" or something similar instead. It doesn't always work but I'm doing my best.

I think that constantly saying "sorry," especially when it's unwarranted or just tumbles from my mouth without thought shows a lack of backbone and self esteem, at least for me. I've fought back from years of low self esteem so anything that takes it away from me without my knowledge bugs me. It also diminishes me, ever so little, in my own eyes and perhaps in the other person's eyes.

During our bathroom remodeling project, I feel like I'm always saying "sorry" to Johnnie: for not being able to help as much as I'd like, due to writing project deadlines, because my hands aren't strong enough (that dratted arthritis thing) or I just feel guilty because I'm not helping as much as I should (regardless of whether I'm capable or not). We are continually tripping over each other and all the tools, boxes, bags and construction paraphernalia so we both tend to mindlessly say "sorry" rather frequently these days. That's not from weakness but more from courtesy and love.

I guess "sorry" is more of an it depends kind of thing. But it really does bother me that so many women say it so frequently, especially when it's not the right thing to say. Your thoughts?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Momentous events

Our remodeling efforts continue and eventually there will be pictures to chronicle the entire event. The shower base gets set in place tonight and that's a great step forward. Then we can work on walls and floor to begin pulling everything together. Our timeframe is really tight and poor Johnnie looked stunned when I mentioned earlier this week that the carpets would begin going down next Wednesday. I think he thought he had another full week before all that. In one way or another, we'll be ready.

The momentous events today include my piano, skunk cabbages (or at least that's what I call them) and wood violets.

My parents and grandmother bought the piano for me when I was eight years old, in 1958. It cost them $800 and I know at the time that it was a big financial stretch for them. I have hauled that thing to 10 different houses or apartments in the ensuing 51 years. I took lessons for about six years and then our daughter Holly took lessons for a while too. Erin tried lessons for a while but never enjoyed it and eventually went to the baritone horn instead. The piano has languished in this house for 15 years with occasional playing by me (occasional = once every couple years) or when Holly is home for Christmas and we prevail upon her to play just a little. Erin and Mike don't want it and don't have room for it. Holly and Mike are in San Francisco and it would cost a small fortune to get it out to them and, I believe, they really don't want it either. Neither does anyone else in the extended family. So we sold it.

A nice grandma and grandpa bought it for their grandson who is six and is just learning to play the piano. They're thrilled, the little boy Joseph is excited and we're relieved. Yes, it's sad that it's gone from our lives but someone else will enjoy it and learn all the magical things that music brings to a person's life. So another chapter is closed for us and more room is now available in the living room. Yeay.

It's a beautiful sunny, 55 degree day here and I went out to snap spring pictures. We live on the edge of a creek that has carved a deep ravine behind our house. I watch the ravine all year but especially love it in the spring when the plants on the ravine floor awaken and sprout all over again. The area is rarely inhabited by people but we see lots of wild turkeys and deer all year long. The shot here is of the ravine and shows the skunk cabbages (or whatever they are, maybe someone can set me straight on their correct name) just beginning to green up. Such promise and such a beautiful springy green color!

In some yards there are blankets of wood violets under trees. They're so dainty and so potent, despite their tiny size, especially in mass quantities. Since we fight with our wood violets except in the wild areas, we don't have many in the grass. But I love to see them poke their violet flowers out and let us know that more springtime is on the way. Yet another promise that new life and a new season of warmth approaches. I hope it is springtime wherever you are and that you are feeling the budding of the new season within yourself.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Phrases that make you go "huh?"

I love the idiosyncratic phrases that weave their way into the American culture that people hear all the time but rarely think about what is actually being said in a literal sense. It's no wonder that our language is difficult to assimilate for people coming from other cultures.

Such as:
  • more than several - This is a favorite of Johnnie's brother who uses it in sentences frequently, as in "I have gone to this house more than several times to contact the owner." Johnnie's brother nearly flunked college and then went on to get three master's degrees and is just a couple credits away from his doctorate. He is now renovating houses for a living and a more scholarly person/handyman/remodeler you would never hope to meet. If he doesn't have eight $20 dollar words in a sentence, he's just not trying hard enough.
  • A bit of a language tangent: Once this same brother twisted his ankle on a rut of frozen mud. His very serious explanation, "I stepped off the precipice of a rut." Uh, OK, I suppose that's true but it's tough to visualize a rut of mud actually having a precipice. However, it gives you some idea about his language skills. Endless amusement for Johnnie and me.
  • thinking in my mind -- I love this one. You'll hear someone say, "I was just thinking in my mind that I should call my old friend ." It begs the question: where else would you be thinking but in your mind? On your elbow? Out your butt? (guess that one is a definite possibility for some people).
  • visualizing in my head -- a close corollary to the one above. "Yeah, I was visualizing in my head how I might rewire that closet." Um, once again, where else could you be visualizing since that's almost exclusively a human trait (thanks to those opposable things on our hands and the intelligence most of us receive at birth). Tough to visualize in your tummy or perhaps in your ear.
  • Yeah, no -- typically spoken when asked (a) two questions back to back without a chance to answer in between or (b) acknowledging and then responding to a question such as, "Are you going with me to the store?" "Yeah, no, I think I'm gonna stay here and rewire the closet."
  • watch your head and watch your eye -- spoken as caution to someone who may be in jeopardy of hurting themselves. Exactly how do you truly watch your own head or your own eye?
Two other language anecdotes:

When I was in my teens in the 1960s, I went with my dad to a nearby party store while he picked up some liquor and beer. I was browsing the book rack and picked up a book that looked interesting. The title was Have you had it in the kitchen. I took the title to mean a libidinous licentious romp in the kitchen. I was sorely disappointed to realize it was a feminist manifesto to help liberate women from their housebound shackles. I've never forgotten the double entendre of that title.

Another similar episode happened more recently. The book title is Getting Into Your Pants. Again, it could be quite titillating depending on who is saying it and whose pants they want to get into. Alas, it's a diet book to help people, particularly women, get back into their own pants. Sad, isn't it?

Thursday, April 2, 2009


I Googled "unprecedented" just now and there are 25,200,000 references available. The word has, obviously, been in and around our vocabularies forever. However, it seems to be getting (forgive me) unprecedented use in the past few years.

Examples from the top 20 Google listings:
  • The 2000 election was unprecedented in the Gore/Bush battle for the presidency ...
  • Treasury Secretary Geithner will push for unprecedented new regulatory powers ...
  • Microsoft's Ultimate Office Deal offers unprecedented savings for ...
  • World Bank under Cyber Siege in 'Unprecedented Crisis' ...
  • Leading through unprecedented times ...
  • Unprecedented size, scope in president's proposal ...
  • An unprecedented investment opportunity ...
  • Study finds unprecedented growth in climate change lobbying ...
... and let's not forget how many times we heard "unprecedented" in connection with this past November's presidential election.

Enough already! I don't know about you but I'm quite tired of that word in connection with anything. It has become a one word cliche unto itself since the (dare I say it) unprecedented 2000 election.

As a refresher*:

un⋅prec⋅e⋅dent⋅ed – adjective without previous instance; never before known or experienced; unexampled or unparalleled: an unprecedented event.

Synonyms include:
So why can't journalists use something other than unprecedented to freshen their writing? It's a lazy habit, according to me. Maybe some of the occurrences have been unprecedented but, c'mon, find some other words to describe them. My ears are literally calloused from hearing the U word so darned often.

Please join me in my extraordinary, freakish, idiosyncratic, unparalleled protest against the use of unprecedented.

Thank you.

*definition and synonyms courtesy of