Saturday, January 31, 2009

Thou Shall Not Covet Thy Wife's iPhone

Or should you. I mean, really. This is one beautiful piece of equipment and whenever she gets out of the car, I can’t help but fondle it. Today when she jumped out of the car to get some wine (in a BOTTLE this time) for a dinner party with the family, the planets aligned, the sun obeyed my every command, and my camera captured the beauty of the moment. Unfiltered, untouched and unaltered in any way. It’s just meant to be held.

From 1-31-2009

Walking On Air

The kids were playing a “jump over daddy off the couch” game last night and I couldn’t resist trying to capture it from my perspective. I just love this one of Em.  It really captures the joy of the leap as only a child can experience it.


My Own Personal Screensaver

Yes, its not a small little Pug and that’s what makes my movie so much cooler. Look at the big tongue on Charmin.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Photo History and Cats

Recently being tagged in Facebook to share 25 random things about myself, the details of which I will spare you, caused me to think about something I hadn’t really thought about much lately. Photography. I love it, and I miss being submerged in it. Not the technical details of it. Or the writing of research papers. Or the tests. I miss the intense discussions of their cultural meanings and their historical significance.

I used to be a cat person. During college I had three cats at various times named Witkin, Sherman, and Arbus. I had Witkin the longest. He was a black cuddlebug. Oh, and needy something fierce. He was named after one of the most intriguing and frightening photographers that I ever learned about in my History of Photography classes, taught by a brilliant photographer, Peter Goin. Joel Peter Witkin was certainly the inspiration for musical artists such as Nine Inch Nails. There are several images that come to mind when I think of him. One of them is The Kiss:

TheKissThe Kiss, New Mexico, 1982

If you look closely enough you will see that is two sides of the same face. There is an interesting story behind much of his work about cadavers, but suffice it to say this was not done digitally. His work provides profound uneasiness that is beautiful in its thought-provoking craziness.

Then there was the insane cat, Sherman, that I named after Cindy Sherman. In all honesty I couldn’t wait to get rid of her; she was a kitten capable of magnitude destruction.

Here is one of Cindy Sherman’s pieces:

Sherman Untitled (#156), 1985

Lastly, there was Arbus, named after the photographer Diane Arbus. Arbus’ photography explored the marginalized, the fringe of society. It evokes a strong sense of “the other” in art.

ArbusChild with Toy Hand Grenade in Central Park, New York City, 1962

It has been fun looking at these images again, even if it does make me wonder what my mental state was really like in college. I mean really, I liked CATS?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Pictures Speak Volumes

President Obama has everyone feeling better in our house these days.

During the Bush years, we were angry:


We felt devastated and frustrated to the point of break downs:


No one could ever get along:


But now. Wow. With President Obama in office, even for just the few days since the inauguration, we are feeling something new. A change in our house. Something wonderful. A sense that we can all get along for the greater good:


Thriftshop Warrior

Thank you, I, Rodius, for the laugh. I had to try my hand at the madness. I was pretty surprised to not see any Public Enemy or Ella Fitzgerald pop up with as much of them as I have. So, here are the rules:

1. Put your MP3/iPod player on shuffle.
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer. (questions below)
3. YOU MUST WRITE THAT SONG NAME DOWN NO MATTER HOW SILLY IT SOUNDS (option to put the name of artist in brackets next to it)
4. Tag at least 10 friends who might enjoy doing the game as well as the person you got the note from.

“Something to Save” – George Michael, Listen Without Prejudice (I guess that means it’s a secret.)

“Rodent” – Skinny Puppy, Rabies (Yuck. That could honestly be true.)

“Southland in the Springtime” – Indigo Girls, Nomads – Indians – Saints

“The Journey” - Godsmack, Awake (Yes, that’s right. The journey of getting our heads in check after eight excruciating years of Bush.)

“Walking on Ice” – Skinny Puppy, Spasmolytic

“Paranoid Android” – Radiohead, Mists of Avalon (This is so true. Greg, I have wanted to tell you this for some time now. Love me anyway. Please.)

“Stripped” – Depeche Mode, Black Celebration (As in I dream about you stripped of everything?)

"Cigarette” – Ben Folds Five, Whatever and Ever Amen (After Friday night, I could see that.)

“Zenn La” – Deep Space Network, Big Rooms (I guess that means it’s uber confusing. Or maybe those are the words that sort of come from my mouth after a good night of …)

“The Gold It’s In The…” – Pink Floyd, Obscured by Clouds

“Cowboy” – The Sugarcubes, Life’s Too Good (Yippee ki-yay, MF)

“Love Letters” – Sinead O’Connor, Am I Not Your Girl (Good to know.)

“Well I Wonder” – The Smiths, Meat Is Murder (Ain’t that the truth.)

“New Kid (On the Block)” – Barenaked Ladies, Gordon (It must be my youthful complexion.)

“I Know You, Pt. 3” - Morphine, Like Swimming (As long as it’s not “I Know WHAT You DID Last Summer, Pt. 3”, I’m ok with that.)

“Climbing Up the Walls” – String Quartet, Strung Out on OK Computer: Tri (Eek.)

“Tommy” – Ethyl Meatplow, Happy Days, Sweetheart

“Paradise City” – Guns N’ Roses, Greatest Hits

“Kaleid (Remixed)” – Depeche Mode, Policy of Truth

“Flexible” – Depeche Mode, Catching Up With Depeche Mode (I wish I had gotten this one for the last question!)

“Jaded” –The Crystal Method, Vegas (Greatest strength of REPULSION, maybe.)

“Love For Sale” – Talking Heads, Popular Favorites 1984 – 1992 (Greg, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about what I actually do on Friday nights. ;) )

“All the Time” – Green Day, Nimrod

“Bio-Mechanic” – Front Line Assembly, Tactical Neural Implant

“Sheila Take a Bow” – The Smiths, Louder Than Bombs

“Walk This Way” – Run DMC, Raising Hell (Well, this is true. Anything by Run DMC makes me smile. My favorite is You Be ‘Illin.)

“Roads” - Portishead, Roseland NYC Live

“Hem of Your Garmet” – Cake, Prolonging the Magic (Yeah, clothes are stupid and totally overrated.)

“I Want Love” – Elton John, Greatest Hits1970 – 2002 (disc 2) (This HAS to be Greg’s CD)

“Thriftshop Warrior” – J. Ralph, Prototypes in Progress (OMFSM, if this couldn’t be any more perfect for me.)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Thank You, Fog

The fog in our area has been an absolute joy lately. Without the blaring desert sun, all of the variations of yellow have shown themselves.

I love this spot. We used to take our dog, Allegra, here to play. She had a love affair with a tennis ball, and oh boy, would she get muddy in her tousle with it.


This next image makes me feel like I live somewhere besides a desert, and I love that. The fog is my friend, and it is welcome anytime.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

What Is With The Inaugural Fuss?

From 1-20-2009

Charmin has no interest in the inaugural address. The rest of us enjoyed a few mimosas, french toast and sausage. A nice day off for me and I truly enjoyed watching the inaugural coverage.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Yes We Did!

Obama Countdown
created by James Miller

Saturday, January 17, 2009


My mother-in-law bought me a remote control for my K10D this Festivus.  I was learning how to use it and the camera was sitting on the table taking pictures all by itself, which was a very curious thing to the kids. 

From 1-17-2009
From 1-17-2009

Friday, January 16, 2009

Great. Everyone is On Our Blacklist. Now What?

This economy scares the crap out of me. I miss the days of things like, oh, having equity in my house. I know. Call me crazy. I never thought getting to decide between going to Bed, Bath, and Beyond or Linens & Things would be a thing of the past. Choosing between Cold Stone and Carvel? Not anymore. All the “Available Space” signs throughout town gives me the heebie jeebies. And I don’t like it.

The ultimate slap in corporate shut downs for us, namely Greg, is the latest announcement that Circuit City is going out of business, all 567 of their stores. Kaput. Bankrupt. Doors closed. If this announcement doesn’t make Greg pull out his hair, errr, wait… If this announcement doesn’t make Greg go screaming to the first place that will outfit him for a straight jacket, I don’t know what will. Seriously. You see, my dearly beloved has, one by one, stopped shopping at the electronics stores in town because of one thing or another. First it was The Good Guys. There is a long, sordid story about a hefty Sony Wega and a warranty wrapped around that place. We walked out of there and never went back. Then Best Buy came to town, and we gave them a shot. Wow, did they screw up with us. There’s a LONG story about a potential computer purchase and what Greg has deemed as the worst possible customer service in well, the history of all customer service anywhere, anytime. Worst Buy, as Greg and others affectionately call it, is a place where his ashes would be spread if he were Superman and Lex Luther got a hold of them. Taking him there would be like leading a vampire to light, a kid to a vaccination appointment, Wonder Woman to Cheetah. You want to get back at Greg for something? Trick him into thinking you are taking him to The Outback for Alice Springs Chicken but take him there instead.

So, the last electronics shop we were allowed to shop at in town is closing its doors. Sure, we can and do the online thing. But going to an electronics store is like getting to test drive a car before the big purchase. And let’s face it, Amazon took customer service lessons from Worst Buy. I swear that place is run by one person who laughs all the way to the bank, but pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.

So, the only place left to go electronics shopping is on our blacklist. Now what are we going to do to get our hands-on electronics fix? Anyone want to carpool to Sac?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

It Wasn’t ME!

When I was a child there weren’t any kids my age in the neighborhood, so I spent a lot of time doing imaginative play. This included the invention of my very best (and imaginary) friend, Michele. I know this is fairly common among young children. What I’m not so sure is as common is how I would play with Michele. I would actually BECOME her, ring the doorbell, and say to my mom as she answered the door, “Hi. Is Susanne home?” And then my mom would say hello and tell me that “Susanne” was playing in her room, and off I’d go to play. Some days my mom would tell “Michele” that Susanne was in her room cleaning and would ask her to go help out. I hate to even admit this worked to get my room clean, but it did.

But just as Michele could get the credit for helping to get my room clean, she was also my scapegoat at times. Growing up my parents had a crazy dark shade of blue paint on their bedroom walls. Thank you 1970’s. One day I snuck into their bathroom and took one of my mom’s lipsticks. I then proceeded to draw a line with the lipstick on one the dark blue walls. Oops. Since it wouldn’t come off, I snuck back into the bathroom and got a big ass jar of Vaseline. (In hindsight I really don’t want to know any more about that jar.) I took a big swipe of the Vaseline and tried to use it to clean the lipstick off of the wall. As you very well may have guessed, that only made matters worse. Now there was a dark red line AND a gigantic, smeary grease spot around it. When my mom walked in and saw me rubbing the oily substance on the wall, she asked me what happened? My response was simple. “Michele did it.” Now my very cool mom just replied, “Well, tell Michele next time don’t use Vaseline. Next time just come and get me and ask for help.” I told her I’d pass along the message and off I went. That was the last time we spoke about it.

Fast forward about three <gulp> decades. Greg started an imaginary character in our house called “Mr. Finger.” This is the guy, also known as your index finger, that tickles you as you walk by. The kids ask Mr. Finger to tickle them all the time, and Mr. Finger says “I’m gonna get you!” The kids go crazy and run around the house as Greg chases them and tickles them. I really wish Greg had discussed the creation of this character with me first because I could have undoubtedly added some rationale to his naming style and perhaps come up with something a little less cryptic when summoned around others. In public asking for “Mr. Finger” to come and get you can sometimes make us the recipients of some awkward stares. Any other name would have suited me, really. Mr. Tickle. Tickle Monster. The Tickleulator. Ticklemeister. Tickle Man. Tickle-man-o-rama. Tickleita. Ticklenator. Ticklearino. You catch my drift. ANYTHING else.

Right now Emily has this highly annoying habit of talking while I am reading her a story. She does it almost every night before bed time. It drives me crazy. I mean really, why do I bother killing brain cells reading the My Little Pony book she picked out for the eighteenth bazillion time if she isn’t even going to pay attention? Infuriating. I always ask her to stop but her mood dictates whether or not she will. So I skip sentences, sometimes pages to just get to the end to make the madness stop. One night I put the book down and told her that it was very rude to talk through the story. Emily looked at me and said, “It wasn’t me, Mommy! It was Mr. Finger!” Then her hunched over index finger came up and said in a strained deep voice, “Sorry!”


But I don’t think this behavior comes from my genes. I actually find Greg accountable for teaching her how to deflect blame. She’s watched him at least 356 times place responsibility for some suspicious (and bodily) noises on our dogs.

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Dangers Of Craigslist

We all know and love, and if you don’t, you should get acquainted. Susanne and I are big craigslist users for both buying and selling. On several occasions I (note I said “I” not "we") have been shafted while waiting to meet people for something Susanne has arranged to pickup or sell. That is one of my huge pet peeves.

It’s one thing to not show up at someone’s house (as rude as that still is, I might need to run an errand, say to pick up some wine) it is a completely different beast to arrange to have someone drive to a location DURING THEIR LUNCHBREAK and wait in a parking lot for you while you decide that you really didn’t want to pay $3.50 for a CD. If I find you, I WILL let the air out of your tires. So as I said, we use it to get good deals when we can.

Susanne got a bread maker at a garage sale last summer and made so much bread that not only did she burn out the motor, but the county put up a “No Feeding The Ducks” sign at Virginia Lake. So there we are without a bread maker for several months. Well, today she made contact with someone on craigslist with an Oster bread maker at a price we just couldn’t pass up. She called me around 4:45pm from the van with both kids loaded up saying she was sitting in a parking lot waiting to meet this total stranger to buy a bread maker. Now I am not the worrying type, but follow me here.

Five o’clock rolls around and I pack up from work and head home. On my way I call Susanne’s cell phone. It rings and rings and goes to voicemail. No big deal. She must be home. So I call home. It rings and rings and goes to voicemail. Hmm. Strange. Ok, so I call the her cell phone again and no go. Ok, so the kids finally succeeded in locking mommy in the closet by propping the batwings against the doorknob.

As I said, I am not a worrier by any means, but I was a bit concerned at this point. Susanne is ALWAYS home when I get back from work, or is available by phone. I mean, either she is

  1. Locked in the closet
  2. Has run away with one of my co-workers or
  3. The craigslist guy has kidnapped my wife and children

I know that option 2 is most likely, but I am still a bit worried.

I pull into the driveway and the lights are all out. I hit the garage door opener and the van is in the garage. So they are home, but the lights are out and they are not answering the phone?

I get out and walk up to the front door trying to get the key in the lock. The porch light is out (another of Susanne’s pet peeves). The house is quiet. Any of you who have toddlers and understand the 5pm witching hour know why that means SOMETHING is wrong. Is it so far off to imagine that some crazed nut job made my wife drive my family back home and is being driven insane by my children who are making him run in circles with them to the point of vomiting?

I manage to get the key in the lock in the dark, and as I crack the door open, I see something that terrifies me and makes me scream like my wife seeing Iron Man in the shower.

I nearly peed my pants.

You win Susanne. You win.


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Care For A Sip Of Bubble Bath

I will only say that I tell them over and over again how gross this is and tonight I just had to get it on film so when they are old enough they can see this and go…”eeeewwwww”

Where’s the Mop?

Along with our devil duckie positioning, Greg and I have other little ways of trying to surprise the other. Over the last year or so, a certain little rubber lizard has found its way in various places throughout the house. The goal is to try and surprise the other during its discovery. I have found it in our breadbox. Greg has found it in a clean sock while putting it on. It has been placed in the center of toilet paper rolls, in my box of tampons, in coffee mugs, in shoes, and under pillows. So you see, it has made its rounds. It is not meant to scare; it is meant to put a smile on the face of the discoverer.

Apparently, Greg wanted to crank the fun up a notch or two. Last night he scared the crap out of me and then laughed so hard when he heard the scream (and the ensuing expletives) that he had to wipe the tears away from his eyes. Apparently fun was no longer had by the simplicity of putting a smile on my face. He needed mass exodus by my bodily fluids for his amusement.

Before I tell you how he managed to shave several years off of my life, I have to tell you about what Santa left Braedyn this Christmas. Our super-hero obsessed boy got a full-size cardboard cutout of Ironman. He was totally wowed by this present. Well, he was at first. It lasted in his room a couple of days, but then he said it scared him at night. We reminded him that Ironman is a good guy, but he didn’t care. So, our friend spent a few nights in Jacob’s room. Then he got dragged out to the living room. I tried to put him in the playroom, but Emily carried him back into the living room. Which in and of itself is a very humorous sight.

Last night after a couple of highly interrupted episodes (thank you Braedyn and Emily) of the first season of Six Feet Under (thank you Netflix), I announced it was time for me to go to bed. I got up, walked to our bathroom, turned on the light, and saw this as my eyes adjusted to the light:


All I have to say is thank goodness it happened on the linoleum, and hooray for the fact that we have a mop and Greg knows how to use it. Oh, and I’d like to remind my dearly beloved that revenge is a bitch. Watch out!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Church Pews Are Built For Speed!

Emily loves to run and be chased. Such that part of her nightly routine is to come into Braedyn’s room, kiss us goodnight, then stand in the doorway as though its the starting line of the Olympic 100meter dash and tell me “Say Ready Set Go daddy!”. Of course I comply and she races off back to her room. She loves to play this game. This is relevant to the story. I promise.

If you have read much of this blog, you realize we are not a religious family, not in the least. So you can imagine the terror that gripped Susanne and I as we realized that our children had never been in, trained to behave, or had any concept of a church as we tromped into a friends full Catholic mass wedding ceremony.

Oh, the terror. Not the wedding, but our children.

We were smart (not smart enough to leave the kids at home with a babysitter mind you) enough to sit in the last available row. I won’t go into all the horrifying details of the loud talking, the pointing, the “I want to go home”, the “I need to go potty” just as the marriage vows are about to be spoken (yes, I missed the “you may kiss the bride", but I got to see everything else).

As you may know a Catholic mass is not a short affair. Let’s just say that by the end of the ceremony, our jackets, bags and such were at one end of the pew, Emily and I at the other end, and Susanne and Braedyn were in the last row of ANOTHER section of the church, in the last row.

Now mind you, my children are not misbehaved, they just have no understanding of what a church is and that is a story for another day.

But here we are. Emily and I, flipping through the hymns book (I have no understanding of the fascination) when it slips through her fingers and mine and plummets to the floor. You would have thought the Unknown Comic was Gang-Gonged by the sound it made when it hit the floor. I was not laughing, I promise you.

But then Emily decides she is going to stand up on the pew and show me her “tricks” which include leaning over the back of the pew and nearly flipping over, standing on one leg, and then running off to the other side of the pew. Now you must understand that I am TRYING my damndest to settle her down, and have dragged her out of the church twice already, which seems more disruptive than her current shenanigans.

So there she is, my angel, my little princess standing halfway across the church on a pew swinging her hips and giving me the “you can’t get me” body wiggle during a full Catholic mass wedding when she looks at me an says “Say ready, set go daddy”.

I couldn’t help but chuckle. I think people prayed for my salvation. I just wish I had the balls run down the pews.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Family Awesomeness

Jake came over to play the guitar today to let us hear his progress.  He is teaching himself to play.  So here I am listening to my oldest son playing the guitar and getting the most awesome family cuddle time at the same time.  How could it be better?  The wife was getting me a beer.

Friday, January 2, 2009

We’re at the Doctor’s – Don’t Touch ANYTHING

So, Emily has what I thought was a cold for the last few weeks, so after an exceptionally crabby morning with her, we decided we had better make sure there isn’t some ear infection or sinus infection lurking. I really do try to ride these things out, but my kids have a nasty habit of not showing typical signs when there is an infection. You know, rubbing the ears, fevers, screaming “take me to the doctor, my ears hurt!”

I love my pediatrician, and the office staff is great. But I always hate going. Why? Frankly because of all the sick kids running around. I just want to force my kids into something akin to a straight jacket and a gas mask, only freeing them when the doctor is ready to inspect them. Sigh. Today was no different. Well, it was no different in that regard. The white board markers and erasers that each kid runs around with after wiping their snotty noses get picked up by Emily and used. She wants to touch everything in the bathroom. And all the while I am practicing my breathing exercises, the ones intended to slow the onslaught of panic.

What was so glaringly different today were the parents in the waiting room. First, there was this lady a little girl called “Grandma” that absolutely reeked of cigarettes. It was so horrendous I couldn’t sit even two chairs away from her without fighting the gag reflex I hadn’t felt since I was pregnant with Emily. But damn it all, she sat next to the terrarium with the frog named Blue in it. Emily really wanted to see the frog. The little bugger was hiding, but I couldn’t stay seated there long enough to try and find him for fear of passing out from holding my breath for too long. Seriously, she was a walking, stinking poster for why you shouldn’t smoke. At least a fart dissipates. Sadly, I overheard the doctor talking about the little girl and referencing RSV. Um, hello, maybe not hanging out with the walking ashtray would help the little girl’s breathing. But hey, I don’t have a medical degree. Don’t take my word for it.

But uber stank wasn’t the worst of it today. Crazy tattoo man was. Before I go any further, I consider myself open-minded and hip when it comes to tattoos and other forms of body art. If I weren’t so freaked about the needle part, I think I would have been inked a few times. I love my friend Eileen’s flowery sleeve, and I totally find Greg’s tattoo hot and sexy. This guy? He was scary. At first when I saw him, I thought, there’s a young, hip guy with a couple of young kids. After watching him and inspecting him closer in the waiting room for a while I learned that hip wouldn’t exactly describe him. Scary. Possible white supremacist? Those are likely the more accurate ways to describe this guy. He had boots tattooed at his sideburns; he had the word HATE on his right-hand knuckles. He had skulls on the top of his hands. The other bits of ones peering out over his shirt were unrecognizable to me.

So, then I watch him interact with his kids. By drawing blood-laden happy faces on the big white board. Seriously, I could handle all the metal rings he was putting in their faces (again because I think piercing is cool in its own right). The blood around the mouths, the black eyes, and the bullet holes? Not so much. Maybe at a night club, but is it really the smartest thing in a pediatrician’s office with a bunch of toddler’s running around? Then he gets so wrapped up in his own drawing, he doesn’t see his son sneak off into one of the patient rooms. I have to admit, I was so wrapped up in his drawings too and didn’t see him sneak off either. After he finds the younger son, he takes him to the white board to show him is masterpiece, instructing him NOT to mess up his pictures.  Yeah, the ones on the white board. In a pediatrician’s office. That is there for the kids to draw on. And spread germs.

Then frighteningly enough, the kids open their mouths and out come words like “idiot” and “bloody”. The younger kid couldn’t have been older than six, and he and his older brother are totally into their father’s drawings. So much so, they make their own scary images. OK, OK, OK. Braedyn likes to draw monsters and scary things too. He likes to draw things with claws. But truly, there was a marked difference between the level of discussion Braedyn has about his scary pictures and the ways these kids interacted with their father’s drawings. Seriously, someone please sign this guy up for the father of the year award. He probably has his sons’ first combat boots bronzed on his mantel. Maybe I am being overly harsh with this guy. Maybe he’s had a rough life, and he’s turning himself around for his kids. That may be true, and if it is, I’m truly sorry for jumping to conclusions. In my own defense, it was like sitting front and center, in the smoking section, for a train wreck.

So, after seeing the doctor, we learned that Emily is actually dealing with allergies. Her “cold” showed up soon after we stopped her allergy medicine for the winter. Apparently, she doesn’t get the medicinal break and we don’t get the financial one. So we walked in with something not contagious and walked out with who knows what. At least when we left we could breath fresh air.