Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Endearing Things

  • Dogs have wet noses, but it's not snot. They kiss you, but it's actually more like being licked. With fine-grain sandpaper. 
  • Babies have rolls of fat on their thighs, but it's gorgeous. They are blissfully unconcerned that they look like the Michelin Tire man and they don't go on diets.
  • Kindergarten kids choose their own clothes sometimes. They think that pink and blue stripes look good with red floral patterns. And that sweat pants were made to be worn tucked into cowboy boots. 
  • White haired ladies do yoga sitting in chairs.
  • Girl Scouts sell cookies from little red wagons.
  • Three year olds might sing their prayers once in while, just for the joy of it.  

Saturday, May 28, 2011


Heaven = Waking up when you feel like it on a Saturday morning and lying there looking at your best friend in the world, thinking that he is even more attractive to you than he was 29 years ago. He opens his eyes and you lie there entwined and talking about anything until someone thinks of pumpkin-pecan Belgian waffles. The slow, familiar kitchen dance commences--spooning at the sink, brushing hips as we turn from stove to fridge, a silent smile passing between us. Waffles that taste as good as they sound, Mason Jennings singing love songs in the background. Does it even matter what we do for the rest of the weekend?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


My husband has become a Wikipedi-holic. No lie. I find more than a bit of irony in this new development.  The man is an attorney–he makes his living by having the facts on his side and his ducks in a row. Legal-eagle by day, he  has taken to recreational “research” by night in one of the most singularly unreliable sources of information known to man. But that’s the fun of Wikipedia.
Anything can trigger a Wiki moment. The more obscure the object of your curiosity, the more entertained you’ll be. The unfathomably enormous pool of useless (not to mention good natured-ly inaccurate) information will astound you. And once you dip a toe in the waters of Wiki-land, it’s like Alice through the Looking Glass. You just don’t know what you’ll find around the next corner.
My favorite recent Wiki-adventure began when I popped a bag of microwave popcorn. Bob looked at the bag and immediately wondered, “Who is Orville Redenbacher? Or isthere even such a person?” Holy Kettle Corn, Batman! This calls for a Wiki-Search! Instantly, Redenbacher trivia filled the screen, a veritable Orville extravaganza, bow-tied bliss. Are you ready?
Orville Redenbacher was a real person, and that’s his real name. Yep. He earned his fortune in fertilizers, then turned his attention to his true passion in life. You guessed it–popcorn. Do you know where selling a whole bunch of popcorn will take you in this great nation? Read it and weep for all the opportunities you could have had if only you had been a geeky-looking-popcorn-obsessed man with a weird name. You could have:
-Been celebrated in the Valparaiso, Indiana Popcorn Festival, baby.
-Appeared in the coveted role of Grand Marshall of the Popcorn Parade.
-Received an honorary doctorate from Purdue University.
-Starred in this classic television commercial (Click below to watch “76 Difference.” Now. It will make your day.)  Classic 1976 Orville Commercial
-Died a wealthy man in your jacuzzi at the age of 88.
Are you inspired to follow your true passion in life? Or maybe just to spend a little time on Wikipedia?
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve Googled or Wiki’d lately? Come on. ‘Fess up.
Photo credit:
http://i280.photobucket.com/albums/kk199/MeatLoffSurpriz6/Heros/OrvilleRedenbocker.jpg This post originally appeared on the Peanut Gallery Speaks. http://www.peanutgalleryspeaks.com/2011/05/wikiddiction/

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

To Bic or Not to Bic--A Hobbit's Manifesto

I hear Summer breathing down my neck. How can I be sure it's Summer, you ask, and not Darth Vader or one of those smoosh-faced-dogs-that-slobbers-a-lot-and-breathes-like-a-chain-smoker? (Relax, dog lovers. I use the scientific nomenclature in the previous sentence only for the sake of journalistic accuracy. If it offends you, get your pug some help for his pack-a-day problem. That's what the Nicotine patch is for.) No, it's summer all right, even though the weather doesn't feel summery yet.  She taunts me, pressures me from behind with an insistent imperative: "Shave your legs already. This is America, not Hobbiton."  I love Summer, truly. But I wish she would back off a little. Why do I feel like I have to justify myself year after year?

Today I speak for the few, the proud, the stubbly--the bold women who find better ways to spend fifty bucks than having a leg wax and better uses of time than sitting on the edge of the bathtub with a razor in hand. Who first generated the commonly accepted equation Hairless=Feminine anyway? No doubt it was a man named Gillette or Barbasol with razors and shaving cream to sell. It probably dawned on him that his market would double overnight if he convinced the female half of the population that they needed to shave something, anything. And women bought into it--big time.

In spite of my strong inner-Hobbit and my latent hippie side, I buy into it more than I care to admit. At least half of me longs to be like my ninth-grade Social Studies teacher, Ms. Byars. She was young and hip and had a gift for generating stimulating discussion among twenty-five kids who had never heard of Anwar Sadat and thought Camp David was a summer rec program, but could recite a detailed biography of Mork from Ork. Ms. Byars made us think, but most of the buzz around school focused on her hair. Not the long russet curls on her head--no, we fixated on the tufts underneath her arms and the fur on her legs. Most days she wore batik skirts, often with a tank top. Unabashed by our whispers and stares, she lifted her arm to write on the blackboard or pull down the world map. I watched, amazed at her unapologetic "natural" look. She was sensational.

Sometimes I can pull off a Byars-esque confidence and reject the razor for a time. Especially in winter my Hobbitness asserts itself. Hobbits, you remember, are hairy little beings right down to their feet. They are content to stay at home (but surprisingly tough when cornered) with a crackling fire, warm meals, slippers, and their fuzzy extremities. That's me from November to March. Easy. I wear long pants in the winter anyway, right? Every Spring I vow not to bow to the arbitrary standard of feminine beauty established by the corporate marketing machine (hiss), but when the sun comes out my conviction crumbles. I cave to societal pressure and grudgingly buy the three-pack of shaving gel at COSTCO. Principle loses to peer pressure once again. Pathetic, I know. The only shred of rebel attitude that remains is this: I will not shave every day. Once a week. Period. OK, maybe twice if we're vacationing at the beach.

So if you see me at the pool with my Day-6 stubble, get over it. Respect my small hippie-hobbit act of defiance. Or try it for yourself, and tell your friends to break the shackles of smooth-legged servitude. Join me to lead a revolution! I have a dream . . . Give me your tired, your poor--your stubbly sisters yearning to breathe free . . . When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one woman to dissolve the bands which have connected her to her razor . . . We the women of the United States, in order to establish Justice, preserve sanity, and secure the blessings of Liberty from shaving . . . Somebody stop me. Don't feel compelled to join my crusade. I can assert my right not to Bic without fear of persecution. This is America. I'll wave my freak-flag alone--o'er the land of the free and the home of the shaved.

Photo credit: http://www.freefoto.com/images/1210/11/1210_11_58_prev.jpg

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Mamma Mia, I'm My Mamma

I knew my mom really loved me the year that I made the Plaster-of-Paris pin at school. Mr. Callahan had mixed up an extra-runny batch of plaster. The idea was to pour a thin stream out on wax paper until it spread into a circle that would harden so that we could etch a Mother’s Day greeting on the surface.  My classmates poured out lovely, symmetrical discs of pristine white.  Mine turned out looking more like an amoeba. I vowed to redeem myself by decorating it with stunning artistry.
My attempt at a smiley face turned out as oddly-shaped as the amoeba and the word “Smile” somehow did not end up centered. The letters slanted up from left to right, each a little larger than the last. I half-heartedly painted it blue and glued a safety pin to the back hoping to transform it from a plaster protozoan into an accessory–legit jewelry. Even at that tender age I recognized the truth: I had created something heinously ugly.  My awkward offering embarrassed me, but for lack of any other gift, I handed it to my mom on Mother’s Day morning.  She ooohed and aaaahed over it appropriately and told me that she loved it. Parental perjury. I didn’t believe her until she emerged from her room an hour later, all dressed for church and sporting that monstrosity of a pin proudly on her polyester dress. “I chose a blue dress to match the pin,” she told me with a smile.  And she wore it to church, by golly, and kept it on all day. I wasn’t sure whether I was pleased or mortified, but I knew that mom loved me.
I have never forgotten that she wore the pin. Stuff like that sticks—unwritten lessons on giving love and receiving gifts and wearing parenthood in public without apology. So yes, I wore the orange and green macaroni necklace my son made in Kindergarten to church, and even heard myself ooohing and aaaahing before saying, “I love it” like a play-back of my own mom forty years ago. The tissue paper “stained glass” salad-dressing bottle is still my favorite vase and the popsicle stick ornaments will be on my Christmas tree every year until I die. They remind me to relish the sweetness of unshapely grace and to embrace every expression of love—even the ones that look like amoebas.
What unspoken parenting lessons did you absorb when you were growing up? Do you find yourself doing and saying the things that your mother did?
This post originally appeared at The Peanut Gallery Speaks