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LJI exhibit A: topic 4

yummy beer!, yummy
While Kathe wasn't by any means the hugest fan of watching sports, she certainly enjoyed them on occasion and she admired the hell out of specific players. One professional sports player whom she adored as a favorite was John Stockton.

At the height of her and Joe's enthusiasm as Jazz fans, the primary (and possibly only) reason she allowed him to talk her into purchasing a small ticket package was the fun, exciting realization she'd be able to see John Stockton play in person up to 20 times during the season.

Kathe couldn't be there in person for Game 6 of the 1997 Western Conference finals to see Stockton's 3-point shot at the buzzer to take the Jazz to the NBA finals for the first time ever, but her living room cheers were loud enough for the neighbors on both sides to hear easily. And she knew she tried the patience of several relatives and friends with her frequent retelling in the following days of the momentous basket and how much she whooped and hollered in celebration.

Stockton's teammate Karl Malone was more often front and center in the franchise's spotlight, but no one else on the team could compare in Kathe's eyes - she felt he was the epitome of what a great ball player and teammate should be in the game.

Though Kathe was too unassuming to ever say so or maybe even to see it, she and Stockton had a fair bit in common. They were the backbones of their respective "teams", and they constantly and unwaveringly provided support and assistance to the folks around them. Those close to each loved them with their whole hearts, and both were respected by many people who knew them.

When she was diagnosed with late stage cancer, Kathe used to talk to her daughters about these dreams she had where armies of tiny good guys were taking out their swords and spears and whatever other weapons they could wield powerfully to engage in warfare with the treacherous cancer bugs taking over her body.
Some of the images were strongly reminiscent of the premise in a movie called "Innerspace", and in a fanciful moment between themselves, Kathe's daughters speculated that if we lived far into the future where cloning was both possible and safe, John Stockton himself may have been willing to have his clone miniaturized and sent forth to do battle with those cancerous demons.
The idea would have caused Kathe to give a wide, pleased grin.

this is my entry for Week 4 of LJ Idol: Exhibit A. stay tuned for a later update for where you can vote for this and other submissions after the deadline for entries passes.

LJI exhibit A: topic 3

corn-punkin-beet-lettuce morph
It was about October 20th, and the night air was mild - one of the last gasps of our Indian summer for the year. We were headed back to the dorms after our run to Del Taco, pretty much our go-to place for late night munchies back in college. It wasn't that we were so crazy about the food, but it was one of the only places open 24/7 in town then.

Leslie* was driving, and there were four of us in her black Ford Escort - her, Kris, Megan, and myself. Out of nowhere, Leslie exclaimed, "We need pumpkins!" and the next thing I knew, she'd detoured and turned onto Washington Avenue rather than going on to Gunnison Drive.

I had no idea what she was talking about. I'd come along for the ride because I was cramming for a couple of midterms, and when Kris asked if I wanted to go, I'd suddenly felt like I could shove half their menu down my gullet. That, and the fresh air and break would probably rev me up to go another couple of hours or so, like I aimed to.

Leslie quickly added, "for Jack o' lanterns!" when she saw on at least some of our faces that we weren't keeping pace to figure out what her announcement had meant.

Megan offered, "But the store's gonna be closed."

Leslie's face fell for a moment, and then she perked back up. "That's okay - they leave them out front. We can just pick some up tonight and come back tomorrow to pay for them."

My tired brain was somewhat befuddled by this proposition, but Kris chimed right in, "What, pay for them? It's a few bucks, max. And they've got tons - they'll never miss them."

Megan's frown was dubious, and I had to speak up. "I need to get back to the books," but Leslie appeared satisfied enough to have at least one cohort willing to go along with her idea.

I further protested, "I don't have the bucks to spare for a pumpkin, today or tomorrow, and I certainly don't feel like stealing one."

"Whatever, Em, just stay in the car then. We'll make it quick," was Leslie's intractable and somewhat predictable response.

Less than three minutes later, we were pulling into the dark parking lot of Albertson's, and sure enough, 1) they were closed for the night seeing as it was just after 1am and 2) they had a huge square enclosure out front, filled to overflowing with pumpkins.

Leslie pulled her little Escort within about twenty feet of the giant bin, and she and Kris scrambled out to start looking for orange globes which would meet with their approval. Megan and I both elected to stay put in the car. I was tired, a bit irritated, and more than a touch nervous they were somehow going to manage to get us all in trouble, so I hoped they'd be quick about it.

Kris appeared to have found one she liked and was cradling it in her arms while Leslie wandered around the bin some more, turning the gourds and looking for one that matched whatever specifications she had outlined in her mind.
After a couple more minutes, Megan (sounding more worried than I felt) told Leslie, "Hurry up! We don't want to be here if a police car comes cruising down the street," in an overblown stage whisper.

"Just hold on a sec! I don't want to settle for just any pumpkin - I need a good specimen to do a prize winner."
Leslie had previously gone to great pains to tell us how she'd won a prize in 5 of the 7 pumpkin carving contests she'd ever entered.

Megan and I met each others' eyes, and I could see she wanted to be out of there at least as much as I did. When we looked for Leslie again, we saw she had hoisted two pumpkins into her arms and seemed to be comparing their weights and heft as she balanced them.

I guess when Megan couldn't take it any longer, she spoke up again. "I swear that might have been a cop car!" about the dark sedan which had passed by a couple seconds earlier.

Now I couldn't say if it was one way or the other, but I was willing to back her up if it would get us out of there any sooner. "I think it could have been too! I think there was a light bar up on top."

That seemed to turn the trick for both petty thieves, and they hustled back to the car, toting their finds along. Both doors slammed shut almost simultaneously, and Leslie hurried to put the car in gear and pull back out onto the road.
It was only when she'd driven about a block that I noticed she'd neglected to turn her headlights back on. "Leslie, you don't have your lights on," and just a fraction of a second later, we heard Megan say, "Oh shit, that one is a cop car!"

We all looked up the street to see the fairly unmistakable shape of a Hooper police cruiser approaching from about four or five blocks away.
Even Kris sounded a bit scared when she asked, "Do you think they noticed your lights were off?"

"I don't know. I can't say for sure. If they saw us before we saw them, then yeah maybe."
As the police car passed us, we all studiously looked straight ahead, avoiding any glances to our left, and when Leslie turned the next corner to take a slightly roundabout route up to Gunnison, Kris seemed to reach a quick decision. She rolled down her window and hoisted her squash up and heaved it as far as she could manage. It appeared to go about eight feet or so and then hit the ground with a meaty thud-splat combination.

Leslie stomped on the brakes and turned to stare wide-eyed at her.
"Hey, if they turned around to come back, I didn't want it here in the car with us."
Leslie stared for a second longer and then sighed and shook her head slightly. She rolled down her window as well and heaved her own pumpkin out, letting it thump to the ground too, then hurriedly drove off.

As I looked back at the pumpkin guts spread out on the pavement, I couldn't help but feel a bit bad for them. After all, they didn't ask to be part of such late night escapades - they were probably just hoping for cozy porches or warm windows where they could hang out for the season.

*this story is semi-factual, and names have been changed to protect the dumb and partially innocent.

this is my entry for Week 3 of LJ Idol: Exhibit A. stay tuned for a later update for where you can vote for this and other submissions after the deadline for entries passes.

LJI exhibit A: topic 2

flavored vodkas!
My son (who is 10) has a definite technique when it comes to picking up his stuff and helping with general clean up.

Any articles larger than a softball get picked up first and readily put away in their designated spots, whether it's a bookshelf, his toy chest, animal net, or the game closet.

Objects that are between the size of said softball and a golf ball will be picked up next and either tossed in the closet, shoved in a drawer, or occasionally thrown under his covers if he can't fairly quickly think of where it's supposed to go.

Items smaller than a golf ball are mostly left to languish, unless I've got time and energy to remind him otherwise.

His response is most often along the lines of, "Well heck, Mom, I didn't know that little stuff mattered too."

When he was littler, I'd hunch down on my knees to look in his eyes and say, "Of course they matter. Everyone and everything can have value, no matter what size they are."

On one occasion after I prompted him I meant the smaller things too, he must have been feeling particularly cheeky. His response was, "I was thinking if I left them alone, they'd band together and find there's strength in numbers. And they'd be easier to pick up then too."
He followed this up with a little grin and sideways look at me. He knew I might not be buying it, but he wasn't above trying to distract me with laughter.

I had to hand it to him - my progeny is almost never short of creative thinking.

this is my entry for Week 2 of LJ Idol: Exhibit A. stay tuned for a later update for where you can vote for this and other submissions after the deadline for entries passes.

LJI exhibit A: topic 1

fortune cookie
"That's too many limes!"

Joyce winced at the unexpected loudness of the announcement and then said, "It's not too many. Last time I used 5, and you drank it up and asked for more."

Tina paused for maybe a nanosecond and replied, "I did? Huh, I must have already been drunk," with a shrug.

Joyce mentally counted to five before she responded again. "Okay well, I like the tartness. If you don't like these, next time around we can do it your way. Will you please salt those rims and bring the glasses over here while I finish mixing?"

After rolling her eyes just a bit, Tina grabbed the tumblers, dipped them deftly onto the salt plate, giving them each a quick twist, and then made a big show of placing them next to Joyce with a grand sweep of her arm and a mock bow. "Here you go, milady."

She could almost always make Joyce smile even right after aggravating her, and Joyce did so now, curtseying in return and saying, "Thank you ever so much, kind girl. Now do be a dear and take the finger sandwiches and petit fours into the library so we may enjoy our repast in more civilized surroundings."

Tina quirked an eyebrow at Joyce, who raised both hers in return, and then they both broke down giggling, sounding much like they did in 10th grade. What they actually had to nosh on were chips, veggies, and dips, and again with an exaggerated flourish, Tina picked up the tray they rested on and proceeded into the family room while Joyce poured the margaritas and then followed her.

After they both sat and took the first sips of their drinks, Joyce waited for the critique which she knew could go thumbs up or thumbs down. Tina took a second taste and then pronounced it, "Not too shabby." Joyce was happy to take it - she knew that Tina in her more contrary moods could have just as easily called it undrinkable or even bilge water.

They drifted into a fine silence then, listening to the radio which was tuned to their favorite "oldies" station, which radio people now seemed to be calling 80s music. It played a lot of stuff from their junior high and high school days, with some also thrown in from their time in college.
The cousins had been close ever since their families had moved within a mile of each other when both girls were about 12, and while they'd had a share of tense moments, most of their time together felt relaxed and easy.

After the Eurythmics "Sweet Dreams" ended, Joyce heard the familiar opening notes of "Ghost in You" from Psychedelic Furs, and she closed her eyes and smiled, relishing a moment of true bliss.

Then she found her eyes drifting to the bookcase and her favorite picture of Tina and herself, taken the summer after high school. Joyce was wearing a sundress with big blue and yellow flowers all over it, and Tina was in her favorite denim shorts with a hot pink halter top. Both girls were barefoot in the picture, as was the young man they each had an arm around. Jack also had on shorts and a sapphire blue t-shirt which set off his eyes beautifully. He had an arm around each girl's waist and was grinning like he had the world by its tail, and both girls also wore big smiles.

As the song faded, she found herself blinking back tears. And from what seemed like a much greater distance than the 5 or so feet away she knew her cousin was sitting, she heard Tina ask, "Am I nuts or does this drink all of the sudden taste like Jack's infamous rum runner punch?"

Joyce couldn't help but laugh. She felt so comforted to know Tina had probably been sharing at least some similar thoughts, and as she sipped from her glass she told her, "No, you're most definitely right. I'm catching a pretty unmistakable hint of Barcardi 151 in here now."

The two girls grinned at each other. It was so nice to have those odd moments where somebody else understood perfectly.

this is my entry for Week 1 of LJ Idol: Exhibit A. stay tuned for a later update for where you can vote for this and other submissions after the deadline for entries passes.

LJI exhibit A: topic week 0

fortune cookie
One of the age old questions: who am I? As might hold true for many folks, I don't feel I have a clear-cut answer for this, so what I can do for now is start with "just some facts, ma'am*," and then see what develops from there.

*to corrupt a quote from an old tv show

I was birthed (along with my twin sister whom I've mentioned before) some time ago in the land of "new Zion" as some of us area plebeians and heathens are wont to call it. Growing up a non-member of the primary faith offered some interesting perspectives and challenges - none were particularly traumatic or enormously difficult, but it did give me opportunities from early on to "pick my battles" and to choose between being meek or nippy, stoic or reactionary.
While I often took the quiet and usually higher road, there was more than one occasion where I got fed up and gave a heckler or sanctimonious twerp a piece of my angry mind. For instance, there was the day Howard proclaimed, "At least I get to go to Heaven! You can't go because you don't believe in God or Jesus!"
I said in as steely a voice as my 11 year old self could manage, "First of all, you don't know what I believe. Second, why in the world would I want to go to any Heaven where I'd have to put up with YOU?!"

In short, I figured out early how to speak up and give voice to my opinions, and I haven't looked back much since. In fact, it played somewhat of a role in how I came to find Livejournal. One of the anti-mainstream radio stations in our area is known as X96, and I've listened to the morning show nearly religiously (begging pardon for the facetious pun) for going on 18 years now. For a time they had a regular blog, written by another stalwart fan and hosted right here on LJ. When I started reading it, I noticed there was this whole big website with lots of groups and interests to offer besides the one which brought me here. I signed up for my own account and was off and running.

My participation here has helped clarify and cement a few things for me about who I am and what I think and believe.

- I'm every bit as opinionated as I suspected I was.
- I love learning about other people and what seems to make them tick.
- It feels incredibly rewarding to me to give insights and advice to people in need/want of others' input.
- Not everyone appreciates having their opinions or outlooks questioned.
- Many of us (definitely including myself) tend to be greatly ethnocentric, and it's very eye-opening and worthwhile to learn about others' backgrounds and experiences.
- I don't like cat macros as much as some people, and that almost feels sort of blasphemous to say online. ;)

All in all, I'm very happy to have discovered this place and even more so for all the wonderful individuals and communities which are part of it. For both good and bad, it makes this vast, intimidating world seem a bit less fearsome.

this is my entry for Week 0 of LJ Idol: Exhibit A. stay tuned for a later update for where you can vote for this and other submissions after the due date for entries passes.

Jan. 17th, 2013

lovely eggnog!
I've been having some very mixed feelings about whether or not to do the last season of LJ Idol when it rolls around. I've really been going back and forth on whether it's something I can wholly commit to, and then guess what happens? The nicest little surprise -

The fearless leader/organizer of LJ Idol decides to do a special mini-season, and because it's for a considerably shorter time, that I'm fairly positive I can do!

So this here is my official declaration that I do indeed plan to participate in this fun extra event! :D

Reproductive Rights

CRobin's asskicking boots!
Originally posted by tinylegacies at Reproductive Rights
Originally posted by mountain_hiker at Reproductive Rights
A star-studded cast wants you to sign!


The Bill of Reproductive Rights is an effort by the Center for Reproductive Rights to deliver a thundering statement—backed by hundreds of thousands of signatures from concerned citizens like you—to the U.S. Congress and the President that they must guarantee and protect reproductive rights as fundamental human rights and stop the attacks by politicians who want to take those rights away.

Draw the line! Sign the Bill of Reproductive Rights!

sometimes there's just the right song

Ratatouille on pot edge
this song fits my mood so perfectly today, I can't even tell you.

I've probably posted it before but if so, it's been a while so I'm sure you can deal. ;)
if you don't want to hear the whole thing, the bridge that starts just before 2:10 is particularly nice in my humble opinion.

ALSO, I was very glad to see Gabby Douglas win gold last night and for Michael Phelps to get a three-peat. :D

your help is requested!

lierre's owl!
Will you guys please consider looking at and maybe signing this petition for sanitoid?

*she posted about it in parenting101 if you happen to be a member there.

Help Us Support Planned Parenthood

"thank the decent lawmakers"
Originally posted by theljstaff at Help Us Support Planned Parenthood

Join us in standing up for reproductive health and education. Planned Parenthood, the organization that delivers reproductive health care, sex education and information to millions of people worldwide, has come under fire in the U.S. lately, with many politicians on both state and federal level seeking to end funding (and in a few cases succeeding).

During the month of May, you can send a specially designed Planned Parenthood vgift to your friends to help support this cause. (And if you need someone to send it to, frank is always happy to receive gifts!) There are three variations ($1, $5 and $10) for you to choose from, but they'd all look good on your profile when your friends know that you stand by something so important.


Thank you all for your help in our support for Planned Parenthood. This promotion ends June 1, 2012; LiveJournal is not affiliated with Parent Parenthood. For more information about Planned Parenthood, please visit:

-The LiveJournal Team

(If you'd like to help spread the word that we're raising funds for Planned Parenthood, you can crosspost this entry in your own journal or community by using the repost button below!)

LJ Idol: topic 20

Reid looks up
In 6th grade science with Mr. Gerard, we watched as Mama Beaver slid her slick, black nose out of her tunnel and sniffed. Then she moved her head out further and looked around slowly, perking her ears as as strongly as she could since they served her more faithfully and consistently than her eyes, as our teacher had explained.
We'd finished up a section on biology and the animal kingdom, and he was filling time with short films and movie clips.

After turning her head briefly back around (maybe to hear the sounds of her two kits snoozing?), the beaver headed out of the lodge. She reached a felled poplar tree quickly, and she picked up a twig in her agile front paws. After what appeared to be another quick sniff and listen, she started to gnaw on the twig. It looked pulpy, fresh, and she appeared to be enjoying her snack. Just as she dropped it, her head shot upright quickly, as though she'd caught a whiff of something.
Something Bad.

On the film, we heard the low growl of a wolf, and the beaver appeared to have heard him before she saw his grey fur too. She backed away toward the water with a tremendous slap of her tail, and it looked as though she had a fair chance of making it. That's when we heard a companion rumble to the first wolf's deep timber. She hardly had time to turn and start scurrying - she probably made it no more than three feet before the wolves reached her.

There were gasps across the room, and I heard a couple of sniffles too, I'm pretty sure. The smart ass Howard said something like, "yeah, way to take her down!", but he piped down when he got no reinforcing remarks or guffaws, and the rest of the class seemed somber.

At the time, my breath caught and I blinked a few times rapidly, to stifle some tears but maybe also in an effort to dispel the image a little. I was well aware that nature meant predators took down prey, and cute, sweet animals died along with the fierce, mean ones, but it's another thing to watch it played out on film and have the reality made so undeniable.

These many years later as a mom myself, my thoughts returned to that film with a slightly different take. I wonder now if her last images were of her cozy lodge, her papa mate, and her two young kits born that spring. Did she envision that he'd made it home to them safely, and they were all there snug together? I can only think it might be the one picture she could conjure that would keep any mental pain from exceeding the physical. It had been over within moments.

this is my entry for Week 20 of lj idol (season 8). stay tuned for a later update on voting information for this and other submissions after the due date for entries passes.
I also want to take a moment to thank you for the ongoing support and feedback - it's been both overwhelming and incredibly rewarding.

LJ Idol: topic 19

lj idol season 8
Joey dragged her grimy, dusty keds toward the back door, knowing all that awaited her inside besides a nice salami sandwich was a bath and probably her grandmother with nagging, overly detailed instructions on how to get cleaned up and make herself presentable for her birthday party that evening. As she softly pushed open the kitchen door, trying to limit any squeaks and other telltale noises, she spied the expected sandwich on the table. Instead of Grandma Pearl though, she saw a sheet of paper had been laid by the sandwich plate. Joey breathed a relieved sigh and went over the sink to rinse off the surface layer of dirt on her hands.

After she poured herself a glass of cold milk and set it on the table too, she sat down and took a large bite of the sandwich - gently peppered salami, pickles, and mustard, just like she'd anticipated. She smiled to herself and took a swig of milk before turning her eyes to the paper. It was a handwritten note from her ma, and while she'd been happy to realize she'd escaped her grandmother's close scrutiny for the time being, she started to frown as she read.

"Dearest Josie" (she didn't like that nickname, but she didn't despise it as much as Josephine, and her mother disliked Joey almost as much so it was their compromise)

"Grandma couldn't come over this afternoon because she's too busy getting things ready for your party. I told her it was fine, and now that you're 12, you'd be more than able to handle getting yourself cleaned up and dressed on your own.

You need to be ready by 5 - Dad should be back by 4:30, and I'll be home not too long after. Your dress is ready and hanging on the back of your door. Please be careful not to tear it when you're putting it on.

Love, Ma"

Joey checked the clock above the stove as she ate more of her sandwich and saw it was closer to 3 than 2:30. After she swallowed the rest of her sandwich and gulped down most of the milk, she sighed and pushed back her chair to walk to the little offshoot of the kitchen that held the washer, dryer (hardly ever used in summer), and hampers for their dirty clothes. She pulled off her t-shirt and shorts and tossed them toward the green hamper - the t-shirt made it, but the shorts fell to the floor in front of it. She shrugged and shuffled down the hall to the bathroom. She kind of wanted a bath to soak her bruises and ease the ache in her legs, but she figured she might end up staying in it too long or even dozing off, so she opted for a shower instead.

Several minutes later, she rinsed her hair and rubbed two of the dark blonde strands between her fingers for the squeak her ma had told her meant it was clean and all the soap was out. Joey wrapped a towel around her thin torso and stepped out of the tub. She rubbed a hand over the steamy mirror and peered at her blue-green eyes in its reflection - both her ma and dad called them pretty eyes, and said she looked pretty too when she cared to bother with her clothes and hair, but as long as she could remember, she just didn't want to. Now that she'd been 12 for a day and some hours, she didn't sense any magical change that made her feel differently. Given her druthers, she still wanted to fish, explore the acres of woods behind their field, and chase rabbits and squirrels with her hound dog Huck, joined by her friend Jimmy as often as his ma and chores would allow.

Joey pushed open the door to her bedroom and wandered in to sit on the bed next to the clean drawers and slip her ma had laid out for her. She pushed her legs through the underpants and pulled the slip over her head, and as she peaked out over the neckline, she spied the fluff of aquamarine hanging on the back of her door. Her arms slowly dropped to her sides, her mouth forming a big "O", and her brows drawing together as her mind's worst vision of her birthday dress seemed to be growing more sequined and poofy before her very eyes.

The last time her ma had her try it on for fit and measurement, it had been a simple cotton dress featuring an unadorned bodice with a scoop neckline, and an A-line skirt falling from the banded waist. But now, sequins were arranged in a huge butterfly on the bodice, the neckline had been altered to a sweetheart cut, and by far the most atrocious change in Joey's mind was the seemingly endless layers of tulle that had been stitched to and draped over the skirt so that now it appeared to poof out to at least two whole feet!

Joey hadn't loved the dress before - she felt she was unlikely to love a dress ever in her life - but she could tolerate it due to the color which recalled the ocean in some of the illustrations and pictures in her favorite books, and she did appreciate her mom making her something rather than foisting something from the "Young Lady Shop" in the one and only department store downtown on her. But this, THIS right here in this moment was far worse than any ornate, frilly dress her ma and grandma might have selected from Lloyd's.

As her head dropped and she fought back both the tears and howls of despair, she spied her new shoes set out next to the doorway. Another piece of paper was tucked into the right one, and she bent down to pluck it out and collapsed back onto the bed to unfold and read it.

"Josie (she noticed no endearment in this one - a small part of her respected her ma's choice not to sugarcoat the bitter pill to follow)

I know you said you wanted the dress simple, but Grandma and I got to talking, and we agreed it needed to be dressed up, made fancier and more fit for a princess for this occasion. So we made some small changes (Joey was unable to stop a snort at that), and we ask you to be the wise, generous 12 year old we know you can be and wear it for one evening, to please your grandma if nothing else."

She could easily see where Grandma Pearl would say the dress was good enough for a princess, and her school chum Caroline would have probably agreed and given her eye teeth for such a dress. If Caroline were there right that very minute, she gladly would have pushed the dress into her accepting arms, eager to give to someone who'd be thrilled to wear it.

Joey was unable to hold in all her tears as she finished reading, and a few dropped onto her hand as she got ready to crumple up the paper and hurl it at the offending garment. But before she could, she noticed the addition toward the bottom of the page -

"Turn over"

She barely had time to register that was her dad's handwriting and not her ma's before she had the paper flipped over to read what might be there. And as she took in the words scribbled on the other side, it was like a punch to her ribs and the last straw in this ridiculous assault on what she'd wanted. Her dad had written,

"Joey honey, your ma was up until the wee hours finishing your dress per Grandma Pearl's instructions. I know you're probably unhappy with the changes, but we need you to wear it.

And just in case a nice request doesn't work, make no mistake young lady - you will be wearing the dress to the party. I love you, and it's just for one night."

Joey could barely believe what she'd just read. Not her dad! Her stalwart, dependable pal who took her firewood collecting and birdwatching so she could avoid trips downtown or to her grandparents' stuffy house. Not the guy who'd patiently showed her how to tie the best flies for trout and helped with her whittling until she could make a respectable pipe or whistle on her own.

Outright anger was overcoming her tears, and she stomped to her dresser, pulling out a clean shirt and jeans, flinging off the slip before quickly pulling on her regular garb. Dressed once again, she grabbed the offending note and a stubby pencil from her dresser to add her own message beneath her dad's heartbreaking words,


With that, she flung the pencil and paper back down and stormed to the kitchen where the clock now read about 4:10. She rushed out the back door, calling for Huck as she started to run. By the time her dad made it home, she could easily be a mile or so into the woods; it would take him at least another 30 minutes or so to track her down, maybe more if she really put her mind to it. And that was just the spur she needed to pump her legs extra hard and eat up the grassy ground to the woods as fast as she'd ever done, Huck close by her side and eager for the run and whatever might follow.

this is my entry for Week 19 of lj idol (season 8). stay tuned for a later update on voting information for this and other submissions after the due date for entries passes.

good sharing

fun messages
I got permission from sleepflowered to share her great, timely post re: abortion and recent events in Canada (her home country), but the message might resonate for all women and people interested in seeing women's reproductive rights and health protected.

Please, do take a minute to read her post if you can, and then give yourself or another woman you care about a big, safe hug.

She left her post unlocked so it might reach a larger audience, so I'm doing likewise.

LJ Idol: topic 18

lj idol season 8
They were laid out before us on the counter, four beautiful, inviting pies. Each had had one small slice removed the night before for us to savor and appreciate prior to today's festivities, or debacle depending on how you chose to look at it.

My sister Terri had selected the french silk; Casey had (a little foolishly in my opinion) opted for the pecan; Kelly had chosen apple (also a questionable choice); and I'd gone with the lemon supreme.

Now we were all in the midst of making last minute preparations, such as they were. For my sister, that was tying her long hair back, and I'd already slid a headband on and was in the midst stretching my jaw muscles and twisting my mouth around in various contortions. Kelly was swishing some water around his mouth and then spitting it into the sink, and Casey occupied herself talking smack, saying things like,

"Kelly, you don't stand a chance - you're slow at everything!"

"Terri, you're too prissy to be down for this." (She didn't know my sister all that well.)

"Red (that'd be me), that lemon is gonna make your mouth pucker so much, you'll be done before you've made it halfway through."

I knew this is just what Casey liked to do, so I smiled and shook my head slightly, not at all put off by her antics.

It was just a few minutes before "high noon" so we decided it was time to pick up our pies and carry them to the picnic table in the back yard. Casey and I sat on one side, and Kelly and Terri took their places on the other. Wendy stood at one end of the picnic table, and Megan at the other - they'd agreed to be our judges, and we'd agreed to abide by their decision as binding and final. We had to keep our hands outside the pie tins, and we had to reach the bottom of the pie to show the tin's surface beneath. We'd also decided that if someone barfed before a winner was declared, they were out.

Wendy kept an eye on her watch as the second hand swept to mark noon, and as it did, she dropped one hand and hollered, "Go!" Four heads dropped close to instantaneously into four pies as we proceeded to try to demolish them as best we could, openmouthed and shameless. I first tried to take large but still manageable chomps and chew them quickly, but as I spied my sister working furiously on her chocolate silk at a pace that seemed much faster, my competitive streak kicked into high gear and I decided to gulp and swallow what I could and then work on chewing what didn't go down.

Contrary to Casey's words, I had next to no time to appreciate the tang of the lemon curd over the rich cream of the cheesecake base as I had enjoyed it on many prior occasions - I couldn't afford to divert energy or concentration to anything outside of biting, swallowing, chewing, and swallowing some more. Almost before I knew it, Wendy was raising her hand and saying done, followed less than a split second later by Megan declaring the same.

I guessed correctly that Wendy had raised her arm for Terri, but it took me a few seconds to realize Megan had done so for me as she'd seen the bottom of my pie tin the last time I'd lifted my head. For a moment, I was sad to realize I'd finished second, but then I was glad enough to realize if I had to lose, at least it was to my sister. Although I hadn't said anything to Casey, I'd have placed a bet on me or my sister to win - she didn't know how deep competition could run in our blood, and pitting us against one another was a sure way to bring out the fiercest drive in both of us.

We were all a mess from the almost the tops of heads to the first third or so of our t-shirts, but we were also wearing goopy, goofy grins at the fun we'd had. Kelly's had kind of seasick quality to it, as he looked to be battling to keep his gorge down.

Casey restated the idea she'd shared the previous night, when we'd been deciding something fun and silly to do. "Just try doing that with cake! There's a reason it's pie-eating competitions that have ruled county and local fairs for so long." We all nodded and clapped vigorously in agreement, being sure to do so hard enough to spread some of the mess to our esteemed judges.

This entry is in way of a small homage to xo_kizzy_xo, whose pie-making skills and dedication I find inspiring and admirable.

this is my entry for Week 18 of lj idol (season 8). stay tuned for a later update for where you can vote for this and other submissions after the due date for entries passes.

LJ Idol: topic 17

lj idol season 8
The first time Jake woke up, his vision from his right eye was bleary with sleep. From his left eye, he couldn't see much of anything. He tried to raise his left hand to that eye and found it weighted down and covered in a bulky bandage with the exception of slots which freed his thumb and pinkie. Then he looked over at this right hand and found that one unbandaged (though there was a swath of white on his right forearm) and lifted that one to gingerly feel around his left eye. As near as he could tell, it was pretty well swollen shut, which explained why he could hardly see out of it.

As he took in as much of his surroundings as his limited vision would allow, he gradually grew aware of the steady beeping noise that had been there all along but just now made itself known as the familiar noise of a medical monitor to his tired brain. Seeing the plain, pale blue walls and utilitarian chair and wall-mounted TV, it started to come together that he must indeed be in a hospital room. That was about as much as he could process before he felt his vision fade again as his one fully functioning eyelid drooped and closed on him.

The next time he was aware of his right eye opening, the left eye seemed a little more ready to help out its partner, and he felt like maybe he was seeing around 30% through that one, give or take. He again lifted his right hand and felt the area carefully, and it did feel as though the swelling had gone down considerably. As he lowered his hand, he noticed the chair this time was occupied by a woman with her head tilted down toward a book - it was his mom, who went almost nowhere without one when she knew she'd be staying some place for a while. He felt the slightest bit taken aback to see her as opposed to the empty room from before, but that was quickly overshadowed by how much lighter his heart felt to have her there.
He was just about to test his voice when she looked up, saw he was awake, and smiled and called his name. She stood and came immediately to his bedside, saying "It's so good to see you awake." She bent down to kiss his cheek gently and then pressed the call button for the nurse.

His mom said the nurse's name on shift was Sheila, and she must have been close by as rather than ringing back, she was coming in the door less than a minute later. She said, "Good morning, Nancy," to his mom and then turned to him. "Well, it's great to see you awake and seeming much more alert. How do you feel?"

He thought for a few seconds and then managed to croak out, "Sore. Thirsty. Maybe hungry too, but I'm not sure." His mom lifted a water glass from the nearby tray for him to sip from, and Sheila said, "Well, I'll let your mom fill you in somewhat while I page the doctor - he wanted to see you as soon as you were awake and it looked like you might stay that way."

Jake turned to his mom as Sheila left and said, "What happened?"

His mom asked him in turn, "Do you want to tell me if you have an idea first? And then I can take over and fill in the gaps, as best I know." As she said this, she lifted the straw to his mouth again so he could sip some more water while he considered this.

Jake thought again and then said, "I was skiing with Gary, wasn't I?" At his mom's nod, he went on, "Gary mentioned wanting to ski Double Down, and I stupidly insisted I was up for it too."

His mom's eyes started to tear up as she set the glass down and grasped his unbandaged hand in hers. He told her, "I'm sorry, Mom. I know it's been a lot of years since I skied - I guess I took that adage of it's just like riding a bike a bit too much to heart."

She leaned down and pressed her cheek gently to his and said, "Sweetheart, it's okay. I'm just glad you're still here, and today it's looking like you're much more likely to make a good recovery." Then she went on to ask, "Do you feel like you're ready to hear what Gary told me?"

Jake nodded as vigorously as he felt was safe. He didn't like having a fuzzy memory, and now that he had the gist of what had happened, he thought he'd do much better getting as clear a picture as he could. What's more, he knew he could count on his mom to give him an unvarnished account - it was one of the qualities he appreciated most about her, that she told things straight out.

"Gary said he'd be happy to do it another day, but you insisted you were game and that you didn't want him to miss out on one of his favorite runs because you'd decided to tag along. And before he could lead you in the other direction, you'd started down the steep decline, so he had no choice but to follow.

Apparently the first third of the run went alright, and then you hit an icy patch or something and sped up quite a lot - Gary had a hard time keeping up, but managed to keep you him in his sights most of the time.

Even though the accident happened quickly, he said it was like one of the slow motion or stop action films where he saw what was probably coming and could do nothing to stop it. One ski started to get away from you, and just as you looked like you'd pull it back under, more ice or something caused it to go completely sideways and you slid into a tree with your legs, hard enough that your head bounced a little and hit it after your torso kind of folded around it."

His mom paused to breathe in slowly, lift the glass for him to have another drink, and grab a tissue.

"He skied up next to you and felt for your pulse, didn't know if you were conscious but told you firmly, 'DO NOT move' in case you were. Then he skied a little bit further on until he spotted another skier and asked them to go for the patrol and let them know there was an injured skier about 20 yards up the mountain from where they were. Then he sidestepped his way back up to where you were, took off his jacket to cover you and checked your pulse again, and then stood out of the treeline for the patrol to spot you two more easily.

He said it felt like the proverbial forever, but it was actually only about 12 minutes until the ski patrol came in sight and over to where you were. It took another half an hour to strap you to their board and tote you safely down the mountain to an ambulance."

Here his mom stopped to wipe her eyes and blow her nose; she asked Jake if he had any questions. He did, but he shook his head slowly because he wanted to let his mom finish, and he also knew that what he most wanted to ask was likely to be coming soon if not next.

She proved him right as she spoke again to let him know, "This is your third day here, and this is the longest you've been awake since they brought you in. You have a serious contusion above your left eye, but based on how you're looking at me, it seems like you're going to keep the vision in it." At this, she paused to smile tearily but happily at him, and he gave the broadest grin he was capable of in return.

"You broke your right thigh bone and your left forearm. You have a number of bruised ribs, and one of them is broken - a second one might also have a very small crack. The doctor can give you a complete rundown of everything, but those are the gravest injuries, and now that you seem ready to stay conscious for longer than a couple of minutes, maybe the doctor will be able to rule out any permanent brain injury."

He looked at her with his eyes as wide as they could open, marveling at her bravery and strength and said, "I'm sorry I put you through this, Mom. And Gary too."

She shook her head and told him, "Please don't worry about that. Conserve your energy for resting and recovering. Gary's been here each day, and if it's alright with you, I'll call him and tell him you may be up for an actual visit later, after you've had something to eat and another rest."

He nodded, saying, "That'd be great. Oh, and tell Gary I'm sorry I was too big for my britches, and next time he can feel free to kick me in them if I'm so hell bent on still proving myself one of the big dogs." With that, his mom clasped his hand again and he was able to return it with a squeeze of his own.

this is my entry for Week 17 of lj idol (season 8). stay tuned for a later update for where you can vote for this and other submissions after the due date for entries passes.

LJ Idol: topic 15

lj idol season 8
I don’t get preoccupied these days like I used to. I was pondering and sort of racking my memory to try to come up with a time I was sidetracked when it suddenly struck me that my attention had been diverted fairly recently by a bit of an odd item.

First, a little relevant background: I found LiveJournal in a slightly roundabout way through my favorite radio station. I used to regularly read their awesome blog that a fellow named Atropos was kind enough to write for them, and he hosted it right here on LiveJournal. One day when I was at loose ends, I started poking around more on this site I knew pretty much nothing about. Up to that point, it was simply where I knew I could read funny updates centered around a radio show I’d been a fan of for better than twelve years. As I explored, I found this forum full of an amazing variety of online communities and journals. I rapidly became engrossed and made an account almost immediately so I could start jumping in whole hog to a few of the groups.

A couple or so years ago, real life started to interfere too much for Atropos to be able to keep up his daily blogging efforts, but I was well and truly hooked by that time. Even though the blog has mostly fallen by the wayside, I remain firmly enamored with both the radio show and LJ. The show which airs during morning drive time has been in place for probably close to twenty years now, and for that whole time it has carried the moniker the “Radio from Hell” show, or just Radio from Hell which is also abbreviated to RFH quite often. They’ve pretty much always been a highly rated morning show in this market, and they’ve even been number one for some time. I’d guess that most marketing professionals would tell you that you don’t get to the top or stay there for long unless you’re regularly coming up with fresh ideas to keep people entertained and returning – the RFH team hasn’t ignored that wisdom or failed to adhere to it.

One of our very successful local breweries Squatters recently teamed up with RFH to accomplish something both have been dreaming about doing for a while now – make a “radio from hell” beer. It had its maiden production run on Feb 7 and sold out close to immediately in every liquor store to which it was distributed. I was slightly crushed not to lay my hands on one of those precious bottles, and then I heard them say about the middle of last week that the second and much larger production run would happen this past Friday. So Saturday as I’m out running errands, I put the biggest area wine store and the Squatters store both on my “to visit” list in the hopes of procuring a bottle or so. The wine store was first on my driving route, and the very nice cashier told me they hadn’t received any bottles from the second run yet. He’d even been kind enough to give up the bottle from the first run he'd planned to purchase for himself to another fan of the show – the RFH friends of the program, as they’re commonly called here, are nothing if not generous when the chance presents itself. He further went on to tell me he did know that the Squatters store down the road did have some in stock, so I pretty much skipped my way back to the car, knowing that I should soon be able to purchase this sought-after elixir.

Sure enough, when I got to the store, the top shelf of their cooler was close to fully stocked with bottles of the RFH “red as hell ale”. And I am now the current happy possessor of a few of those bottles. I hope to crack open one (or two) with my sister this weekend in honor of her birthday.

this is my fifteenth entry for Season 8 of lj idol. stay tuned for a later update for where you can vote for this and other submissions after the due date for entries passes.

LJ Idol: topic 14

lj idol season 8
My sister and I spent a large chunk of 4th grade in Hawaii as my dad’s stay there for his job was extended from 3 months to the better part of a year. We enjoyed the different culture and environment for the most part – it was great to be able to wear shorts much of the time and to rarely have to worry about lugging a coat along with our books and other items. The lunch exchanges were made much more interesting by the vast array of foods kids would bring that we had little or no experience of, such as poi, papaya slices, and pickled or dried fish.

For me however, the highlight which made the whole school experience worthwhile had to be when we heard Beverly Cleary was coming for a visit. I loved all the Henry Huggins and Ramona books, and the fact that she was going to be at our very school had me giddy with anticipation. Then the small ax fell. We found out that due to her tight schedule and personal preferences, she’d have time to talk with only a small group of students after speaking briefly to the whole student body in the gymnasium-slash-auditorium. So it was determined that two names would be drawn from each class to select the children to attend.

As the names were written on slips of paper and dropped into a hat, I had no big hope that mine might be one of the two drawn from our class. As I recall, Jake somebody was the first one chosen. Then just as our aid reached into the hat a second time, it flashed into my mind, “it’s going to be my name.” I wasn’t 100% certain, but I did have an undeniably prescient feeling it would be me who would be the second attendee. Sure enough, when she opened the slip, she read my name aloud from it. I’m pretty sure I jumped up and down at least twice before I managed to contain myself to merely grinning hugely and mad giggles of happiness escaping me from time to time.

When the day arrived, my mom had made sure that my favorite green plaid dress was washed and ready to wear, and I even put on the dreaded tights under it because to my 4th grade mind, it was sure to look more “professional” and make a better impression. I hardly ate any of my lunch for the lump of excitement taking up the better part of my throat. After the short assembly, we were sent back to our classrooms, and then the assistant principal came around to gather all the selected students and take them down to the small library where Mrs. Cleary was waiting.

She had dark hair with lots of silver mixed in, and it fell in friendly, soft curls around her ears. She reminded me some of my maternal grandmother, but she was a little younger and appeared much more amenable and approachable. She was also quite stylish from what I remember, in a dark blazer over a ruby red blouse, with a lovely pleated skirt. We sat in chairs in kind of a semi-circle around her, and I somehow got lucky enough (again! I could hardly believe it – as an adult, if I hit that kind of lucky streak again, I’d probably head to a casino or buy lottery tickets) to sit on the second row almost directly in front of her chair.

Her voice was warm and firm but not loud, and she told us how she wrote from what she remembered and loved from her childhood combined with her children’s. We had each been told ahead of time to write down one or two questions we might want to ask. When it came my turn, I didn’t know if I’d even be able to speak loud enough for her to hear, I was so nervous and thrilled, but I did manage it. I said, “Did you have a dog growing up? What was it like?” and then she told us a little about the neighborhood dog Jasper, and how he did in no small part help to inspire Henry’s dog Ribsy. Afterward, she took the time to shake the hands of all the kids who wanted to, and I doubt I’ll ever entirely forget the cool but responsive grasp that took my smaller hand into hers.

this is my fourteenth entry for Season 8 of lj idol. stay tuned for a later update for where you can vote for this and other submissions after the due date for entries passes.
and thank you for all the great support I've been receiving throughout this process. I know that other writers along with myself appreciate you taking the time to read and participate.

LJ Idol: topic 13

It can feel like a rough day emotionally when events going on in the world make a person want to cry and laugh by turns, and right now I’ve kind of got that going on in spades.

In the midst of trying to settle on what to write about this week, I came across this heartbreaking story. In case you don’t have time to read back, the mother to these poor boys went missing in December of 2009 from her home in our valley, and numerous leads have so far lead to dead ends and nothing solid in the ongoing investigation.

To make unimaginably difficult circumstances that much more tense, some of the family members involved have gotten stranger and more extreme in defense of their loved ones as the situation has continued. Now for it come to this today, words are inadequate for how discouraged and bereft this has me feeling.

And as I can’t bear to stay in this state of mind, it reinforces for me that I need to share this more uplifting story as well. The fact that several people jumped in frigid river waters seemingly without a second thought to assist in rescuing this family helps to reassure me that there can still be tremendous and abiding goodness at work in this world.

All the children involved in this second story are making incredibly strong recoveries, as attested to by this clip from Ellen DeGeneres’ tv show, should you care to watch it. I think it’s good for our hearts and our spirits to be reminded that as much as the bad stuff can seem overwhelming, there are moments with almost an incandescent brightness that can edify and lift us up to think this crazy, unpredictable game is worth continuing. I know for me, I have to search out those moments every so often, and hang on dearly to the love and buoyancy they offer up to counteract the darker times.

this is my thirteenth entry for Season 8 of lj idol. stay tuned for a later update for where you can vote for this and other submissions after the due date for entries passes.

LJ Idol: week 12

We often learn as children that young hearts can be particularly defenseless and easy to bruise, and as a parent that may get reinforced tenfold when it seems you feel your child's pain more than your own. Fortunately, I discovered a handy dandy item early on that can work wonders as a makeshift bandaid for all sorts of small(ish) injuries.

The tools you'll need to gather:

Two slices of honey whole wheat bread
Jar of creamy peanut butter
Jar of either grape jelly or strawberry preserves, whichever’s on hand
Butter knife

Lay the two slices of bread on the cutting board.

With the knife, scoop out approximately a tablespoon’s worth of peanut butter and spread on one slice of the bread smoothly and evenly. Scoop out as much more as it appears you need to cover the rest of the slice, until the entire slice is neatly covered. For reference, the peanut butter almost glistens when you’ve achieved optimal, near perfect coverage. This can take a fair amount of practice, so don’t feel discouraged if you don’t get it every time or right off the bat.

Now use the knife to scoop about half a tablespoon of jelly to start for the other slice – much more and you risk losing it off the knife, so you might want to stay over the bread when doing this to catch any spills. When using strawberry, you may be able to pour an appropriate amount directly onto the bread. Spread the jelly or preserves evenly across the second slice of bread, scooping more as needed.

Once you’ve covered the second piece, you can flip the peanut butter side over to place it on top of the jelly side, or you can pick both pieces up together and join them gently but somewhat firmly. You can now either cut the sandwich according to the soon-to-be partaker’s preferences or not at all if they like it whole. The sandwich can go on a sturdy napkin or a small plate*.

And you’ve now completed the edible item that can be much more than just the simple sandwich it appears. It has not just helped fill my little guy’s belly and nourished his body – it’s served as an ongoing source of comfort and reassurance too.

What did he want to eat after breaking his wrist in the first grade? A pb&j sandwich.
What did he request after coming home from the doctor’s with a diagnosis of bronchitis? A pb&j.
What did he ask for shortly after finding out a hoped-for Disneyland trip wasn’t going to happen? Well, first he asked, “Can we do SeaWorld instead?” But the pb&j was very next on the agenda.

I don’t know what it is about this simple food that can make it so reliably soothing, but it’s held fast through at least three generations, and I sort of look forward to see how it might hold up for the fourth some day.

*disclaimer if needed: one of the beauties of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is that it can be made pretty much any which way, and it's hard to mess up. there are probably as many ways to do it as there are varieties of spreads that can go into one.
This is just the way I've tended to do it for better than eight years now, in large part because my kids seem to like watching me make them sometimes almost as much as they enjoy eating them.

this is my twelfth entry for Season 8 of lj idol. stay tuned for a later update for where you can vote for this and other submissions after the due date for entries passes.

LJ Idol: week 11

lj idol season 8
fair warning: I don't spare many of the graphic, bloody details in this post.
and my daughter's name has been altered for privacy reasons.

lengthy entry and some gross detailsCollapse )