Jul 31, 2008

What's that smell? . . .

I love to cook.

My dad loved to cook.

My grandma loved to cook.

It's in my blood.

There was a time however, when I probably could have used a transfusion.

I wasn't always a very good cook.

There was the time I made mint cookies.

Extracts hadn't been invented yet, so I went in the yard, found the mint plant, pulled it out of the ground, shook off the dirt, tore the leaves off, and carefully placed a few in the center of each little lopsided ball of dough on the cookie sheet.

They smelled so good before they were put in the oven.

They smelled like a grass fire while cooking.

They smelled up the trash can until collection day.

Years later I decided to give cooking another try.

Actually I had to wait for my parents to forget about the mint incident.

It took a long time. Anytime I even went near the kitchen they would jump up and start shouting and waving their arms all over the place, herding me out the door and back to my room.

I spent half my childhood in my room.

I had a burning desire to cook.

My dad used to say I had the desire to burn what I cooked.

He was the comedian in the family.

I asked for an Easy Bake Oven and a Kenner Big Burger Grill for my birthday every year. I got the Kenner Big Burger Grill, but they wouldn't let me have a light bulb to cook my food. I was a smarty pants though, and I used a flashlight, but soon found out that the Kenner Big Burger Grill was not intended to be used as a slow-cooker.

My next cooking experiment was a watermelon cake.

It was for my mom's birthday.

I made it in a mixing bowl so it would look just like half a watermelon.

It looked like a watermelon alright.

But I never had to use a hacksaw to cut any watermelon I ever ate before or after that cake.

Somewhere between the mixing and the baking I unknowingly discovered the chemical properties of petrifying food. It was a one time thing. I haven't been able to do it again. Many years passed before I got even a glimpse of a kitchen again. In fact, it was right after I got married.

My husband had no idea.

I made him this.

For a while he kept the emergency number for the Poison Control Center on speed dial, and the phone next to his plate at every meal.

Just in case.

After a few near misses, and the bad chicken scare of 19-something-something, I got the hang of things and became the resident, Martha Stewart - Julia Child in my neighborhood.

Nobody who knows me today would ever guess that I am the reason for all those ridiculous warnings on food labels. Thank me all you want.

Picture courtesy of cyco4toys on eBay.

Jul 30, 2008

A Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On . . .

We had an earthquake in my neck of the woods yesterday.

I have lived in California all of my life and suffered through more earthquakes than I care to remember. They're sneaky little devils. They come with no warning signs.

My middle sister broke a couple ribs during the 1994 earthquake.

She has always been the type to panic first and think last.

At the time she lived in a very cool, Turn-of-the-Century house that she and her husband had gutted and were remodeling. They were living in the house while it was under construction. The earthquake hit and my sister attempted to make a mad dash from her bedroom, wearing only socks and not much else. She had just gotten out of the shower and was getting dressed when the shaking started. She stumbled towards her daughters room in a complete and utter state of panic, screaming and babbling that they were all going to die. She almost made it. On the way she bounced off a desk in her path, sliding and skidding on the smooth wood floors all the way to the staircase where she executed a perfect swan dive right off the edge and down the stairs, falling in a nearly naked crumpled heap at her surprised husband and daughter's feet. During the remodel they had removed the railing and there was nothing in its place to stop her. Her husband took her to the hospital where she was patched up by the doctors in the emergency room. I think she was given a lifetime supply of Xanax that day.

I think about that every time an earthquake happens since then.

Fortunately nobody was hurt in yesterday's earthquake and everybody and everything is fine.

I don't think I will ever get used to them. They get to me every time.

Jul 29, 2008

Lunch date . . .

I was on my way to meet my sister and her best friend for a lunch date. The DHL truck in front of me was practicing drifting. It had wonky wheels.

This is what the freeway looked like after I passed the street sweeper cleaning the middle of the freeway. It might have been his first day on the job, or maybe he just didn't feel like getting his truck dirty. I'm pretty sure most of the dirt and trash collects on the sides of the road, but that's just my opinion. I wonder if it swept up the ladder I saw a mile ahead.

This is Frannie. She's my sister's best friend. I like her too. And not because my sister says I have to. I like her all on my own.

This is my sister, Linnie. I like her too. Because she says I have to. Not really. I like her well enough on my own. All of the time. Forever.

Here's the two of them together. We met for lunch because, a couple years ago Frannie moved back to her hometown, 5 states away. We miss her very much. The three of us used to go on a Girl's Trip every November. We still go, but it's not the same without her. I have no one to bug. My sister is used to me and knows all my jokes and all my stories. Plus she really hates it if I poke her while she's driving. Frannie didn't mind. She liked it. At least I told her she did. I'm pretty convincing that way.

This is what happened to Frannie when she moved back home.

She lost her California tan.

Oh, and she added some sparkle to her ring finger. She got married! I couldn't be happier for her. Her hubby had to go through a lot of Cracker Jack boxes to find this prize. It didn't really come from a Cracker Jack box. It came from the most beautiful ring in the world place. I'm going there for my next vacation. I told her that in some countries if you admire something someone has they are supposed to give it to you. She told me not to admire it.

This is what the freeway looked like on my drive home. Where's a street sweeper when you need one?

Jul 27, 2008

Another year, another birthday . . .

The family celebrated my mother-in-law's 79th birthday this weekend. I made the cake. Those are two cherries on the top. They look kind of like eyeballs. This cake was as tall as the Empire State Building and weighed as much as an elephant. It took a village to carry it to the table. It wiped out an entire crop of coconuts in Thailand. It had a lemon filling and a marshmallow-like frosting. I'm sure it tasted great, but I like chocolate.

So I ate this piece of cake.

That's the birthday girl and a few of her 8 grandchildren.

This guy crashed the party. Not really. That's my brother-in-law. Someone spiked the punch and he put on a fashion show for us. The jacket belongs to my sister-in-law, but the "High School Musical" bag is his. Not really. But I bet he secretly wishes it was.

Happy Birthday, Tita. . . and many more.

Jul 26, 2008

A Beanie baby . . .

It's not easy to see, but I'm wearing a school beanie on my head. A half beanie. It was a law. Probably the 11th Commandment, that I forgot to memorize.

Only girls wore them.

Legend had it that our heads would fall off, or something, if we didn't wear one.

Sometimes I would wear it to sleep just so I didn't forget to wear it to school the next day.

Sometimes it would get lost in my blankets and I would leave it there.

It had a very small headband sewn in that would pinch the sides of my head and ride up so it looked like my beanie was a trucker hat way before that look was cool.

If you forgot your beanie during the week it was mostly okay, if your teacher wasn't a Nun. If she was (and mine usually were) you would get detention and have to stand against the wall at recess and suffer humiliation as the other kids played and you pretended that you wanted to stand there and watch. I used to stand as far from the wall as possible so it looked like I was visiting the detention kids and not part of them. I forgot my beanie a lot because I couldn't stand wearing anything on my head since I don't look good in hats .

The entire school would attend Mass every Friday and for the girl's that meant a beanie must be worn.

I never forgot my beanie for Friday Mass.


Because, if you forgot your beanie you were sent to the bathroom to rip off a single sheet of toilet paper and the Nun's would pin it to your head with a straight pin or a bobby pin, whichever they had handy and could be pulled out of the depths of their habit.

Some forward thinking parent started a petition or rally or something and had them banned from our uniform code a few years into my education. We only had to wear them for Friday Mass.

There was nothing cool about those beanies. . .

except. . .

they covered the fact that I had a severe case of bed head so I started a school wide campaign to bring them back.

Jul 25, 2008

Candid Carrie's Friday Foto Fiesta . . .

My 16th Birthday. . .


I have no answers for you.

There is no good reason for those balloons on my chest.

There is no good reason why they are different colors.

There is simply no good reason. . .

There is no good reason for those "balloons" hanging on either side of my head.

There is no good reason for that crepe paper extravaganza.

There is no good reason for those glasses.

There is no good reason for my "Birthday Power" hand sign.

There is no good reason to know what my other hand was doing.

It had a mind of its own.

There is no good reason for that hair.

There is no good reason for the party hat with the pompom on top.

From the looks of that light fixture, my birthday party was held in a Bordello.

Hopefully the lights were turned down low.

There is one good reason for this photo . . .
and that's, Candid Carrie's Foto Friday Fiesta!

Jul 22, 2008

Drumroll Please . . .

A big "Thank You" to Judy over at Coffee Jitters for my first ever blog award.

Once an award is received, the rules are as follows:

1. Put the logo on your blog.

2. Add a link to the person who awarded you.

3. Nominate at least seven other blogs.

4. Add links to those blogs on your blog.

5. Leave a message for your nominee on their blog.

Candid Carrie . . . because I really appreciate her sense of humor and think she's pretty darn funny.

Kat over at Sunshine and Lemonade because she loves to post pictures of really hot guys on her blog when you least suspect it and I like her sense of humor.

Weather Moose because he's pretty good at drawing funny faces on tornadoes and other forces of nature and knows a thing or two about the weather.

The Country Doctor's Wife because she's new to me and I like her blog and think you will too.

My Journey Toward The Glamorous Life of a Housewife because she seems so sweet and nice and I like her writing style.

The Peterson's Go Public because she mixes it all up and it comes out great . . . check out her blog and see what I mean.

Swirl Girl because she's a California Girl, just like me, and has no known fingerprints.

I hope you enjoy these blogs as much as I do.

Jul 21, 2008

Things I saw and heard in Las Vegas . . .

In the hotel elevator we met, "Frog" and his girlfriend - Toad? Frog rocked the godfather of all mullets. It added an extra 4 inches to his 5 foot tall frame.

On our ride with Frog and Toad, the elevator stopped on another floor and what seemed to be a hundred or maybe only five kids tried to get on. Frog hit the close button and told them there wasn't any room. The doors shut and his gal pal said, "Hey, Frog . . . for all you know those kids could be yours." Frog croaked, "I only have two." My husband added, "That you know of." Frog's girlfriend laughed and agreed with my husband, the comedian. Toad puffed up and adjusted his black nylon dress shirt with bright red flames shooting up the front and back, shook his "business in the front, party in the back" mullet out, and strode off the elevator when the doors opened with his gal pal running after him. For reasons unknown, she had glitter covering her back and neck only, like she rolled in the stuff. Whatever Frog's appeal was, it should be bottled and sold

In the hotel casino I was walking behind a group of guys on the prowl. One of them was complaining loudly, "How come he gets sucked on and I don't?"
My thoughts were as follows: "Well, with an attitude like that, it's no wonder . . ."

At 3 in the morning, as I was walking back to my hotel, I saw Elvis taking a picture of two ladies on the bridge between Caesar's Palace and Bellagio. Elvis is so "not" dead.

While standing in line waiting for a taxi I heard another group of guys behind us talking. They had big plans for the night. One guy in the group was complaining that he wasn't getting any action and he had a feeling that it wasn't going to get any better so he didn't even know why he was going with them. I wanted to ask him if he knew the guy from the casino who wasn't getting any either.

In the elevator as we were leaving the hotel . . . a big burly macho guy stood holding a little kid's raft with a grumpy look on his face. My husband, the friendliest man on earth, greeted him and asked him how he was doing. Burly macho guy held onto his Sponge Bob raft and said that he hated Las Vegas and avoids it like the plague, but his best friend was getting married, and he was the best man, so he had to be there. He said he was going down to float in the river rapids pool until he had to get ready for the wedding. He actually had the hours counted until he could leave Sin City and go home. He said he was, absolutely and without a doubt, the most miserable person in all of Las Vegas. I told him he was wrong. Mr. No Suck and Mr. No Action were.

It's a small world. . . turns out those were his brothers.

Jul 19, 2008

Viva Las Vegas . . .

I'm in Las Vegas for the weekend. . . gambling away the kiddies college tuition and our entire life savings and yelling "Mama needs a new pair of shoes" every time I throw the dice at the craps table.

I took a walk along Las Vegas Boulevard this afternoon and is it ever hot here.

To keep cool I sucked down about 5 of those yard-long slushy drinks. Moonshine is my new favorite flavor. You can attach them with a strap around your neck and walk around looking incredibly cool as you suck them down with your yard-long straw. I'm going to collect them in every color and hang them from my neck like Mardi Gras beads. It's a wonder I can even type after drinking that many.

After all those drinks I needed to burn some calories, so I headed over to the "Pussycat Lounge" and did some cage dancing. I taught those "Pussycat Dolls" a thing or two, disco style, and got my workout in all at the same time. It was tough going for a while, my fanny pack kept smacking against the bars.

I need to slow down or I'm going to burn out too fast. Speaking of burning . . . the soles on my 1992 Reebok Freestyle high tops caught fire when I moonwalked my way back to my hotel room. It was an 8 mile walk. I'm cooling my heels in the hotel room ice bucket while I write this.

Well, I have to go. My shoes have stopped smoking and I've got some shopping to do. I need a couple souvenirs, and there's a few rhinestone studded shirts, visors, and shoes I had my eye on today. I need something really snazzy to wear for tomorrow night when I go see Wayne Newton. It's a good thing I brought my BeDazzler with me, just in case I don't find anything I like.

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.

Jul 18, 2008

Friday Foto Fiesta

Another favorite family birthday picture.

It's tradition.

Once a year on your birthday, you blow out candles on your birthday cake.

My kid blew them out . . . her nose.

She beat last year's record of blowing out a whole pack and even added one to grow on.

I wondered where those candles went.

Now if she could learn to breath fire and light them I'd really be impressed.

Candid Carrie Foto Friday Fiesta
Join in the fun!

Jul 17, 2008

Kid's, Don't try this at home . . .

Things I probably shouldn't have done when I was a kid.

I probably shouldn't have given my tadpoles a bath with "Mr. Bubbles" bubble bath soap just because they looked kind of slimy.

I probably shouldn't have tried to make cookies using fresh mint pulled from the garden, a bottle of yellow food coloring, and the entire contents of the refrigerator when I was 8 and my Mom was busy looking at the Burt Reynolds centerfold in Cosmopolitan Magazine with the neighbor across the street.

I probably shouldn't have eaten all the "Zingers" and "Ho Ho's" in the freezer in one sitting. They were meant for school lunches.

I probably shouldn't have read, "Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex But Were Afraid To Ask" when I was 12.

I probably shouldn't have snooped in my Mom's nightstand and found that book in the first place.

I probably shouldn't have opened and eaten the entire bottle of red candy gum called, "Sex Lax" that was given to my Mom as a gag gift on her 40th birthday when I was 12 and then confessed that I was a sex addict at dinner when I thought I had overdosed on them.

I probably shouldn't have been snooping in her dresser drawers for it either.

I probably shouldn't have gone through my oldest sister's stuff and read her diary.

I really shouldn't have admitted to it when confronted.

I shouldn't have memorized it and to this day still be able to recall everything she wrote and the day it happened.

I probably shouldn't have watched the same sister and her boyfriend saying goodnight on the porch through the bathroom window.

I probably should have cranked the bathroom window open before she and her boyfriend came home and not when she was standing in front of it.

I probably shouldn't have used a flashlight to watch them either.

I probably shouldn't have read an entire book while sitting hunched over my sister's sun lamp in an attempt to get a quick tan. That one sent me to the emergency room a couple hours later.

I'll probably need a seeing eye dog and a walking stick because of that when I'm older.

I probably shouldn't have watched any "Creature Feature" horror movie while I was alone, or ever, for that matter.

I probably shouldn't have worn my oldest sister's shoes when my feet were two sizes bigger than hers.

I probably should have told her sooner than a couple years ago that I did that.

I probably shouldn't have borrowed my other sister's prom dress and her "Miss Independence Day" sash from her reign as a princess on a parade float for Knott's Berry Farm in 1976 and worn it as a Halloween costume.

She probably wouldn't have known if I hadn't won the 4 foot tall trophy and my own sash for that dress/costume.

I probably shouldn't have mixed Boone's Farm Apple Wine, a beer or 5, and Theater Popcorn with lots of oily butter and M & M's at the drive-in when I was 16 and was supposed to start summer school the next day.

I probably should tell my Mom some day about that. She thought I had food poisoning.

I probably shouldn't have tried to sneak in the house at 5 AM through the squeaky side door when I was 17.

I probably am still grounded for that, but I'm afraid to ask.

I probably should keep the really, really crazy stuff I did private.

So what did you do that you probably shouldn't have when you were young?

Jul 16, 2008

Field trippin' , , ,

It's the day after, and all the campers have left, and I'm lonely. . .

Come back please.

I had so much fun with all of you.

Someone left their camp shirt, there's colored macaroni all over the floor, and there's sand everywhere. . . and I'm leaving it just the way it is, cause it will remind me of all of you!

Thanks Candid Carrie for being a great Camp Leader and Field Trip Organizer!

Jul 15, 2008

Camp Candid Carrie . . .

Welcome to all of the Candid Carrie Campers.

Itinerary for today:

Early morning: Have a look around and get aquainted with your other camp mates.

All day: A most incredible buffet will be served - somewhere in the world - but here, you get - Beans, Weenies and S'Mores.

Activities for the active: Reading blogs, and ignoring household duties if you feel so inclined to do that sort of thing. Feel free to hang out here all day.

Commenting is not mandatory, but is appreciated.

Camp Sing-Along song options are as follows:

"Candid Carrie is our friend, the hero of our blogging world."

"Camp Candid Carrie, we love you yes we do."

"C.C.C. or bust."

All lyrics provided upon request or when I have time to finish them.

Thanks for choosing the World's Finest at Camp Candid Carrie.

Places you might want to visit while you are here:

That's hot

Look what I can do

Going to the Chapel

There's plenty more where these came from so look around and enjoy your field trip day at Camp.

Thanks for stopping by.

Jul 14, 2008

Shaquille O'Squeal . . .

My husband, or St. Francis, as we like to call him, loves animals.

He has surprised me by bringing home many dogs over the years. My heart melts and I can't say no. I am in therapy for that.

One day he switched things up and surprised me with a pig. My husband sat outside and honked the horn. I ran outside to see what was the matter. I should have kept running. He had a pig sitting in the front seat of his Cadillac, wearing a seat belt. The pig snorted at me and smiled. At least I think it was a smile. It could have been a gas pain. I don't know much about pigs and their habits.

His name was Shaquille, or "Shaquille O'Squeal" as I liked to call him. We did not name him. He came that way. Shaq belonged to one of my husband's co-workers and he didn't want him anymore. My husband decided he wanted him, and that the one thing missing from my life was owning a pig, so he brought him home.

Shaq was very sweet. He was lovable and charming. He was also a pig. We had a dog named Chester. He only liked Shaq when he was sleeping, as is indicated in the picture above. Night and day, they had their own "animal style" version of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Every hour on the hour they took a five minute power nap and then they were back at it. This went on for two months. I decided that as sweet as Shaq was, he wasn't living the quality life he deserved at our house.

I went to the local feed store to buy the weekly 400 pounds of pig food pellets for Shaq. That guy ate like a pig. While I was there, I casually asked if anyone was interested in a free pig. The lady behind the counter made a call. She told me she thought she might have an interested party, but the lady wanted to ask me a few questions first. I gave her my number and then went home and waited by the phone for her call.

The call came. The lady had more than a few questions. The conversation went something like this.

Lady: "What does the pig look like?"
Me: "A pig."

Lady: "What color is he?"
Me: "Prematurely Gray, but he's not old."

Lady: "Is he pretty?"
Me: "As pretty as a pig can be."

Lady: " Does he have any white on his face? Because I can't have a pig with white on it's face."
At this point she told me her life story, and how she had a pig who had just died and it had had a white face. She wasn't ready for a repeat.
Me: "No, he doesn't have any white on his face."

Lady: "Can I come see him?"
Me: "Only if you take him when you leave."

Lady: "I have to see what he looks like first."
Me: "Well, since you are my only hope, I guess you can come over immediately."

I had no idea that the "Pig Whisperer" was about to show up at my house. She came through the gates and Shaq greeted her with a squeal of delight. It was like he had found his mother. She bent down and started scratching him behind the ear. He grunted and snorted and turned to jelly. She whispered in his ear. He moaned. I swear. She talked to him some more. He told her his life story in grunts and snorts and she listened. It was amazing. Shaq had a lot to say.

The Pig Whisperer asked me to show her where he slept. I took her to the dog igloo in the breezeway. She was appalled. "You mean he doesn't sleep with you?" she asked. It was my turn to be appalled. "Um, no, but he does sleep with the dog," I answered, suddenly feeling like a pig abuser. "Does he eat Oreo cookies or Graham Crackers?" She looked at me with one eyebrow raised. "He eats pig food," I responded as I showed her the crate of pellets that had been delivered right before she had arrived. "No wonder he is so thin," she huffed. "Thin?" I said. Shaq weighed more than me at the time. She turned on her heel and ran back to Shaq who was waiting patiently by the gate with his leash in his mouth. Shaq, aka "Benedict Arnold" wagged his little pig tail at her and made sweet little pig noises as he smiled, I think. She told me that she was taking him home with her since it was obvious that he wasn't being treated properly. I could visit if I liked. As I dragged the crate of food to her car she told me that I had not done Shaq any justice when I had described him. She said he was the most beautiful pig she had ever seen. I felt very happy for Shaq and a little sad to see him go even though I knew he would be happier with his new family. I smiled and waved goodbye as Shaq and the Pig Whisperer cuddled and cooed in the backseat while her husband drove them off into the sunset.

A few weeks went by. I stopped by the feed store one day and asked how Shaq was doing. The Pig Whisperer just happened to be there. She told me that he was happy as could be, and thanked me for giving him to her. At her house, he had his own bedroom, ate homemade cookies every day, and went everywhere with her. He also had a few brother and sister pigs just like him to play with. She told me he hadn't come with her to the feed store because he was at home watching Oprah. I begged her to let me come live with her.

The end . . .

Jul 13, 2008

Goin back to my roots . . .

I have happy hair today.
My astrological sign is Leo, and let me tell you, with a Leo it's all about the hair.


Two years ago I went from blond to black. I loved it. But, I love change and I get bored easily with my look so I'm going back to blond again. This picture is from my fourth treatment on my way back to being a blond. I love the transformation. All my friends and co-workers say they aren't brave enough to change their look and want to know how I have the guts. It's just hair. It will grow back. I can change it if I don't like it in the end. It's the one thing that a gal has that can make her feel like a million bucks and is a quick fix if you feel in need of a change.

It's my retribution for having to live with the "Pixie" haircut as a child every summer.

I've had many hairstlyes in my day.

I had cyclamen pink hair during a punk phase I was going through in college. My rebellious phase lasted a whole week.

I had the Dorothy Hamill Wedge, the Bi-Level, the Shag, the Gypsy, the Little Lord Fauntleroy, and many others. I'll have to dig up some pictures and show my hair history some day.

I love hair.

What's your hair story?

Jul 11, 2008

Pimp my ride . . . Foto Friday Fiesta

Another favorite photo . . .

That's me with my first car.
My parents bought it for me on my 4th birthday.
It was a cherry red, Super Hot Rod.
That car behind me is my competition.
I'm relaxing a bit before we race.

This is right before the flag dropped and I was off . . . I'm smiling for my adoring fans.

Candid Carrie's Foto Friday Fiesta

Jul 10, 2008

Bless me Father . . .

I was raised as a Catholic. When a Catholic child reaches the age of 7 they receive the Sacrament of Penance and First Holy Communion. Penance precedes Communion. You must be free from sin to receive communion.

The little booklet above belongs to my sister who never threw anything away. Mine is hanging around under a church pew, beneath the kneeler in the Crying Room of, St. Holy Mother of God What Were You Thinking Church.

This booklet gave tips and hints as to how to make a good confession. It listed questions to help me think of my sins. As if I needed help. The book suggested that when I found a sin that I did, I should see if I could tell it in just a few words and say how many times I did it.

I figured the Priest was hearing so many confessions from my second grade classmates that I would make it easy on him. I made a list before I got to the confessional. I folded it into a paper airplane and put it in my uniform shirt pocket. When it was my turn, I cracked opened the door to the room where the Priest sat and threw my paper airplane full of sins inside. The Priest came out rubbing his poked eye, holding the crumpled plane in his hand. Thirty little hands pointed at me. The Priest pointed at the confessional door and told me to go inside.

No one told me that entering the confessional was like walking into a dark cave. I was afraid of the dark . I was afraid of forgetting a sin. I was afraid of being the only kid at the altar for hours saying the longest penance in the history of confessions. I got on my hands and knees and crawled around the tiny room looking for the kneeler. I found it and positioned myself with folded hands while Father, I Don't Like Children opened the little window. Light filtered through and I looked around in the confessional to make sure I was alone, and that nothing was behind me waiting to get me. Father, Children are the Devil blessed me and waited for me to begin. I began with the usual, "Bless me Father for I have sinned, I am sorry for these sins, and the sins of my whole life, especially for, (this is where I said) . . . "the ones I can't tell you."

Father, I Wish Children Were Invisible coughed and sputtered and told me that I must tell him all my sins to be forgiven. I told him that I had written them on the airplane if he wanted to take a look. I heard the crackle of paper and saw him put on his glasses through the filtered screen. "I see," he said. "I'm glad," I said. There was a long silence followed by my penance and The Act of Contrition. Father, I Think It's Time To Retire closed the panel between us and I was left in the dark again. I stood up and felt my way along the walls to the door. If I wasn't so afraid of the dark I would have stayed in there, but I was, so I opened the door to the confessional and made my way to the altar where other children were kneeling and praying.

I knelt down, pulled out my rosary and began my prayers. Kids came and went and I was still up there praying, 100 Our Father's, 5000 Rosaries, 16 Million Hail Mary's, and countless Glory Be's. Sr. Knuckle Rapper came up and told me it was time to go back to class. I tried to stand and my legs cramped up. I duck walked out of church still saying prayers in my head with my rosary wrapped around my fingers.

I'm still saying them to this day.

Jul 9, 2008

Happy Anniversary . . .

Today is our wedding anniversary. 100 glorious years together, give or take a few. Birds will sing, bells will ring, and we will run through the meadow picking daisies and holding hands on this day. Well, not really. We will go out to dinner, and if he's lucky he can hold my hand. But just one hand, and not while we eat. I'm going to need it to pick up the fork.

My sister made the adorable wedding couple for us as an anniversary gift. She also made the card, and gave us the, "Do you know your Groom/Bride?" questionnaire's. Thanks, Lynngweeny! You're the best.

I hope I get at least a couple answers right.

What I know I did get right was marrying the man I knew would be my husband the moment I saw him. It was love at first sight for me. It took him a second longer, or maybe more. We were very young and in college, but it was right, and I couldn't imagine a life without him once I got to know him. My sister tells me I'm lucky that I married, "the one" for me. I think I'm pretty lucky too.

We met at a college party a mutual friend was having. I heard about, but didn't meet my husband for the entire first semester of school. Everyone talked about "E" and told me how crazy and funny he was, and how I just had to meet him. Second semester rolled around and my friend invited me to a party she was having. She told me that "E" would be there and we would finally have the chance to meet. I brought my best friend along for support. "E" was surrounded by his friends too.

We were introduced and he kissed my hand. I was a goner. I melted and my knees turned to jelly. The wall I was leaning against was the only thing that kept me from falling over. He kissed my best friend's hand too. She was clearly not impressed. If I remember correctly she said something like, "Oh brother, you aren't going to fall for that are you?" I did then, and I still do now.

I remember seeing him and just knowing. It hit me like a ton of bricks and scared me like nothing else. I was too young. It was only my second year of college. He was very popular and quite the ladies man. He was from a completely different culture than me. The odds were against us, but fate intervened.

He called me to go have lunch. I answered the phone. I lived with 5 other roommates at the time. I pretended that I was one of the roommate's and told him that I wasn't there. I was scared. A few weeks later on a very rainy and cold day I was sitting in class with one of my roommates when "E" walked in. By sheer coincidence he had transferred into one of the same classes I was taking. My roommate, who had heard every single detail about him, recognized him right away and said, "Look who just walked in."

Of all the days to see him again. I was wearing a yellow rain slicker and had my hair in pigtails. I looked like the girl on the Morton Salt container. He looked so handsome. He had on a cool scarf and a jacket. He looked just like he had stepped off the cover of a magazine. I was mortified. He smiled and sat down next to me and said, hello. I squeaked out a hello and managed to introduce my roommate. He invited me to watch a required film for class in the library. I went. It was a boring filmstrip about Sir Thomas Aquinas. He made me laugh the entire time. As time went on, and we got to know each other I found that I loved being around him, and I couldn't help but want to be with him all the time. He was so positive and funny, entertaining and kind, and incredibly handsome. I wanted him to be in my life. He must have felt the same way too. Here we are, many years, and two kids later.

When I ask him what it was that he liked about me in those early days he always teases me and says , "You had pretty eyes and nice hair." He'll still say that if I ask him what he likes about me today. He knows it will make me laugh.

I am lucky to have him.

I am richer for knowing him.

I am loved and I love him.

Happy Anniversary "E", and many more. . .

Jul 7, 2008

I'm a little bit Country . . .

That's me,
. . . and Clint Black.

He's a country singer, and one of the nicest celebrity's you could ever meet.

My mom did some favor for QVC, and in return they gave her two front row tickets to his concert, and the opportunity to meet Clint and have dinner with him before the show.

This picture is a few years old, or more. Clint's shirt gives it away.

I was my mom's guest because I secretly liked country music.

Here is how it all went down.

A few days before the event we received strict instructions written on an itinerary that said, "For your eyes only" across the top of the page. It was sent by secret messenger to my mom's office.

We arrived early as stated in our instructions.
"Arrive at the crack of dawn, or, when the chickens wake up, whichever comes first."

We practiced the secret door knock all the way to the venue.
"Knock on the door like a regular person."
Mom forgot it the minute we got to the door.

We were told to say the secret words as per the instructions.
"Hello, we're here for the concert."
You don't have any idea how many times my mom made me practice saying those words.

We were ushered in and joined the other guests of Clint. We were then herded through a maze of doors and hallways, blindfolded, and holding on to a rope. I suggested that they might want to remove our guide's blindfold or we would never get there. I was almost sent home for that infraction.

After what seemed like forever, we entered a dining room. Our blindfolds were removed and we were told that Clint would not be joining us for dinner as he didn't like what they were serving. I eyed the food suspiciously. It was fine, nothing to write home about, but after that hike we just took, I would have eaten liver if they put it in front of me. I checked the itinerary to see what was next. It said, "Let the food settle for half an hour, brush and floss your teeth, eat a breath mint, comb your hair, reapply your lipstick, and then we will take you to meet Clint." I skipped the hair part and spent the extra time eating mints.

We put on the blindfolds again, grabbed the rope and were led down to the depths of the concert hall to meet our maker. . .well, not really. It felt like it though. We were taken behind the stage and through the closed curtains and put on golf carts one by one. It was just like a ride at Disneyland. Mom and I were separated. I wondered if I would ever see her again. I didn't even get to say goodbye. That's okay, because I was going to meet Clint Black. Turns out, she was on the cart behind me.

We were almost there. The excitement began to build. Our blindfolds were ripped from our heads. A little bit of my hair went with it. I was secretly happy. If anything happened to me, CSI had something to work with. Anyway, we received some more instructions right before we met the Grand Poobah himself. We were told not to make any conversation or eye contact. If we had to, we could look at him out of the corner of our left eye, but our right eye must remain stationary. If he spoke we were to nod our heads politely and smile with our lips closed. Some people took notes. I spent the time thinking of extra conditions for Mr. Black's handlers. Suddenly, trumpets flared, the curtains separated, and we were face to face with the cutest country boy this side of the Mississippi. He smiled. A couple girls fainted. My mom laughed out loud at them and was removed immediately.

We lined up. Single file. Smallest to tallest, as instructed on line 203 of our instructions. I was last. I am tall. Taller than most short people, at least. I watched as each gal shook with delight as they stood next to Clint for a photo opportunity. We had been instructed not to touch him. He has a strict, no cootie's clause in his contract. Soon it was my turn. Clint is not very tall. I was instructed to bend at the knees so as not to appear taller than him. I bent. I smiled. I didn't touch him. I didn't look at him with my right eye. I didn't talk to him. Nowhere in the instruction booklet did it tell me what to do if the camera ran out of film, which it did when it was my turn. There was an audible gasp from Clint's people. Someone was fired on the spot. Another person started crying and begging to keep his job. I pretended like I was a statue. Someone ran to get more film.

That's when Clint turned to me and spoke. He asked me how I was, he smiled, he joked, he touched my arm, he was so nice and so sweet and so personable. I really, really liked him. The person who ran to get the film shot back through the curtains like a bullet and loaded the camera. Clint and I had bonded. We were just about to exchange recipes for possum stew and okra but there wasn't time. Clint put his arm around me and pulled me close. I told him not to try any funny stuff. He laughed. His handlers fainted. We posed and took the picture you see at the top of this post. He took my paw in his and told me it was his pleasure to meet me. I told him he was right. He laughed again. Then I was gone in a flash, back on a golf cart, whisked through the curtain, off the stage, and plunked into my first row seat right next to Mom .

The concert was wonderful and my experience with Clint Black will forever remain as a very happy memory.

Have you ever had a great celebrity experience?

Jul 5, 2008

The day after . . .

I hope everyone had a nice day celebrating the 4th of July.

I made this cake and it was really good. It's Barefoot Contessa's recipe from The Pioneer Woman's site. There are two pieces left. I wish I could share it with all of you.

Everyone in my family has all their fingers and body parts intact. Our house is still standing, and the pool is ready for another day of kids and fun . . . the day after. I hope yours was good too.

Jul 3, 2008

My Dad, the Pyro . . .

My dad loved the 4th of July.

He's been gone for 7 years now, but every time Independence Day rolls around I can't help but think of him and his love of fireworks.

If Pyrotechnicians are experts in creating special effects using fire and smoke, my dad was an expert at almost killing us, setting the neighborhood on fire, causing at least one child to go deaf with the noise of 10 Piccolo Pete's going off at once, and giving my mother a heart attack when he lit firecrackers from a hibachi stove and a punk that he kept lit and balanced on his ear like a pencil. Despite all that, as kids, we loved every minute of it, and looked forward to that day every summer.

Weeks before the 4th, my dad would begin collecting and restructuring boxes and boxes of fireworks that he purchased from the local fireworks stand in the shopping center across the street from our house. He made at least 3 or 4 trips to different stands buying the fireworks he loved, mostly, Roman Candles and Fountains and those screaming Piccolo Pete's.

He would bring them home and take them to the garage where he had a workshop set up. Nightly, he would take apart the Piccolo Pete's and put them back together so they became what I liked to call "Agonized Piccolo Pete's." The screaming whistle sound went on forever and a day after my dad got done with them. He also liked to light more than one at a time so it sounded like a Piccolo Symphony. All of us kids would cover our ears and scream right along with them. My mother would scream for him to stop because her ears were bleeding. My dad would be completely deaf by this point and too busy shoving his punk in the coals of the hibachi and lighting the next firecracker to notice while taking a sip of beer to quench his dry throat from all the smoke.

He squeezed every last sparkle and fire and smoke out of every firework he bought. Our fountains were spectacular, our Roman candles were fantastic, the smoke bombs could have cleared an entire city and even our sparklers seemed to last forever. We could have used them as sparkling shish-kabobs and cooked shrimp or chicken on them, they lasted so long.

In order to make the fountains more glorious my dad placed them on top of a wooden ladder. They didn't make steel ladders when I was a kid. To be safe, my dad had a bucket of water next to the ladder and the garden hose manned by the neighborhood boy at the ready. He would nail as many Ground Spinners as would fit to the sides of the ladder rungs and light them all at once. They spun so fast that one or two would fly off the ladder and spin and bounce down the street as my dad did his own hop and skip to avoid catching his shoes on fire. We loved when that happened.

We also liked lighting the "Cabin on Fire" and hitting "Poppers" with our dad's hammer or a rock, and lighting those carbon "Snakes" on fire on the sidewalk. My dad made us take all that stuff over to the neighbor's house because he considered those the sissy fireworks. I think he also didn't want to ruin his driveway with all the black charcoal marks they left behind. I find it hard to believe that our parents had no problem letting us take a book of matches outside to light anything on fire.

I remember the neighbors setting up their lawn chairs in anticipation of "Dick's Fireworks Extravaganza" and my father complaining that he should charge admission for the free show. Secretly he loved the attention he got and all the, oohing and ahhing, accompanied by thunderous clapping. The show lasted a long time and when the last of the fireworks had been lit and the last sparkler went out we all proclaimed that particular year to be the best fireworks display ever.

So, Happy 4th, Dad . . . wherever you may be, and thanks.
photo courtesy of : Flicker and olvwu 莫方's favorites

Jul 2, 2008

Dancing Machine . . .

When I was 16 . . .

It was a Saturday night, much like any other, and I was in the kitchen - alone - dancing to the music on the radio. I liked being in the kitchen. I could shut the doors on either side and stand in front of the window viewing my reflection while I perfected the bump, the hustle, and the robot.

All of my dance moves came from studying American Bandstand and the studio audience which was full of talented dancing couples. Sometimes I ventured on over to Soul Train and watched Don Cornelius get his groove on with the Funkadelics, but mostly I watched Dick Clark and American Bandstand.

I used the butcher's block in the middle of the kitchen as my bump partner. I swung one of the kitchen chairs around while doing the hustle and I pushed everything out of the way to do the robot, or if it was a good night, a little bit of pop-locking. I was quite the dancing fool. I would spend hours on end in that kitchen dancing until the sweat poured into my eyes and my shirt clung to my back. I had no good reason for doing this. Our one and only annual school dance consisted of a local band who played nothing but Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Yes. Music that requires uncoordinated legs and arms that flail about with no rhythm, or a group of young boys playing air guitar like they are all auditioning for a place in the band.

There was no place on the dance floor for any of the dances I knew. At the dance, I swayed back and forth to the music, sometimes snapping my fingers way off the beat and not knowing which way to move. I anxiously anticipated the moment when one of the band members would break away from the others and play a solo that rivaled any Guinness World Record. It was usually during Stairway to Heaven that this happened. One minute we were all dancing a slow dance, leaving enough room for the Holy Ghost of course, and feeling so mature and cool because we were dancing with a boy. The next minute we were thrust out of our dance partners arms as he reached for his invisible guitar and started playing along with the band and the frenzied guitar solo that went on forever, and all the while I was wondering what to do. Do I keep dancing kind of slow? Do I stop dancing altogether and watch the guitarist? Does it become a mini-concert and I'm not expected to do anything? Do I walk off the floor? This might be my only chance to dance with a boy all night so I would stay on the dance floor and sweat it out.

The boys would stand there playing their own pretend guitars right along with the band guitarist. Then they would play the drums along with the drummer when he took a turn. We girls, who bravely stood our ground on the dance floor would somehow find ourselves banded together like metal to a magnet. The song would eventually end and the boys would cheer and whistle and jerk their heads back and forth as if clearing themselves from some sort of hypnotic trance as they walked off the floor forgetting about us as they sauntered outside to get a breath of fresh air after their performance.

Those of us left on the dance floor would slowly move in a pack toward the bathroom where we would hide out and flip our hair back and forth, making it big and fluffy as we applied Clinique's Black Honey lip gloss to our lips. By the time we got outside most of the boys had left to go to the other girl's school across town and the dance they were having on the same night as ours.

Years later I would have occasion to use what I learned from American Bandstand. It was when I moved on to college, and turned 18, and could go to clubs in Los Angeles, where some guys actually knew how to dance. I even threw in a couple Soul Train steps.

Then I met my future husband when I was 19, and he was a far better dancer than I was, and it made me happy to see him dance. I found myself watching American Bandstand every once in a while - just for fun - as I danced in my tiny apartment kitchen window for the giddy pleasure of life and being in love.

Jul 1, 2008

Can you keep a Secret? . . .

I went on a 3 day religious retreat once when I was about 13 years old with my classmates. I think it had something to do with Confirmation.

I remember they separated the girls from the boys.

We were not happy about that.

I mostly remember my friend Jane and I thinking that this was a bonding moment and we needed to reveal our deepest, darkest secrets and become one with God, and each other, in some strange "best friend pact" kind of way.

We were sitting on the floor of the dusty and quaint Chapel talking quietly so no one would find us. We kept asking each other if we felt the presence of God.

I swore that I did, and even added a shiver, and an eye roll, as a special effect to make it seem like God was inhabiting my body.

Jane said she felt it too, but she just sat there not moving a muscle.

It made me believe her.

I don't think either of us really did feel anything at that time, but I didn't have the guts to say it. We spoke about the Holy Ghost and some of the Saints. Jane swore she was getting signs from the Virgin Mary statue in the corner. She swore that she saw her hand move. It was creeping me out, but at the same time I didn't have the guts to tell her that things like that terrified me more than she would ever know. I did not want to be a sissy, so I agreed with her and told her that I saw Jesus wiggle his foot on the cross. Jane said she saw it too. It freaked me out. What if Jane was really seeing this? I was such a gullible and impressionable kid that I almost believed her. I spoke up and told her we shouldn't talk about that kind of stuff in the Chapel because I thought it was against our religion. I made up some Bible passage and hoped she wasn't any more knowledgeable than I was. I stated that, Ecclesians 7:16 says, "Thou shalt not see statues move in church if you stare at them too long."

We sat silently for a few minutes and then Jane whispered that she wanted to share a secret with me if I would share a secret with her.

I agreed, a little too quickly. You see, I didn't have any secrets to share, but I could certainly make one up in a pinch.

Jane told me to go first because she needed time to reflect on just how she was going to tell me her deepest - darkest - secret, and she needed to work up the courage.

I sighed, and willed my mind to come up with something good.

I sighed again, and shut my eyes tightly.

I was trying to squeeze out a secret.

I was also trying to buy some time.

I thought of a couple of really good made-up secrets in those few short minutes and blurted out what I thought was my best one. "My father smokes cigarettes. Sometimes. Not always. Mostly never." As I told my secret, my whisper became harder and harder to hear until it was barely audible. I only wanted Jane to hear the first part and not the qualifiers at the end. I sat there for a moment, letting her take it in, hoping she would believe me, and think that my secret was good enough to want to share hers. In the eerie silence of the Chapel my conscience broke through and I thought I might need more than a weekend retreat to save my blackened soul.

I looked over at her to gage her reaction. Jane's eyes grew wide. So did mine.

I thought the Holy Ghost had suddenly appeared behind me to spirit me away to Limbo, because God had had just about enough of my half-truths and tall tales and Jane was there to witness it.

"What?" I managed to choke out, as I anticipated the righteous hand of the Holy Ghost reaching out to grasp me by the back of my neck.

"That's not fair," she said. "It's supposed to be a secret about you."

I saw no chance for recovery, so I quickly asked her to reveal her secret to take the pressure off of me. I expected her to reveal something really juicy and life altering. I didn't expect her to say, "My secret is, that I still play with dolls."


I just sold my Dad down the river, and Jane thinks playing with dolls is a secret.

A minute after she spilled her deepest - darkest secret, and while I was wondering if Jane was talking Barbie dolls or baby dolls, a few girls from our group who had quietly sneaked into the Chapel, leaned over the pew and said, "What are you guys doing here?"

Both Jane and I came unglued. Jane because she was certain that the cool girls had just heard her tell me that she still played with dolls, and me because I had worked myself up into a semi-hysterical state of fear and panic over the Holy Ghost and his child snatching capabilities.

Fortunately for all of us one of the Nun's came running when she heard all the commotion coming from the Chapel. She marched us back to our rooms, admonishing us for playing in God's house. Jane still had a stricken look on her face. I wanted to make her feel better so I said, "Don't worry Barbie, your secret's safe with me."