Friday, December 19, 2008

I’m sitting in the Hard Bean Coffee Shop in the historic Annapolis harbor, just after 7am. I’ve dropped my young diva off at St. John’s College for the first of her ten holiday shows. I’ve never been down here for coffee in the morning. It’s a different crowd: fewer tourists, more regulars.

This brick town looks pretty at Christmastime. There’s a big lighted tree in the traffic roundabout, the masts of the sailboats bobbing in the harbor behind them. Windows are hung with red-bowed wreathes. Shop windows with white lights seductively display their best dressed gift ideas. The city has covered the parking meters with festive red bags, gift wrapping free parking for the holiday shoppers. A red bow passes the window on the neck of a big yellow retriever pulling a nautical matron.

I noticed a sign posted in the window that I knew you’d want to see for tomorrow’s Santa Speedo Run. Apparently tomorrow, a battalion of scantily clad Santas will be enjoying a brisk mile jog through Annapolis’ historic district.

Although the run is at 2, registration begins two hours prior accompanied with “libations.” At 1:45, participants will “strip down and file out to the street.”

The fine print of the poster has some advice:
Obviously a Speedo-like bathing suit is required. Women, bathing suit (2-piece if possible, but not mandatory.) Holiday colors are preferred. Please, no thongs! We know you have the body to pull it off, so why prove what’s obvious? Santa hat, beard and other holiday flair at your discretion.

I hate to miss it, but perhaps some things are better left to the imagination.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I am going to cheat today. I was sent this lovely, unattributed holiday story in an e-mail. I hope it warms your heart as it did mine.

Christmas with Louise

As a joke, my brother used to hang a pair of panty hose over his
fireplace before Christmas. He said all he wanted was for Santa to fill
them. What they say about Santa checking the list twice must be true
because every Christmas morning, although Jay's kids' stockings were
overflowed, his poor pantyhose hung sadly empty.
One year I decided to make his dream come true. I put on sunglasses and
went in search of an inflatable love doll. They don't sell those things
at Walmart. I had to go to an adult bookstore downtown.
If you've never been in an X-rated store, don't go. You'll only confuse
yourself. I was there an hour saying things like, "What does this do?"
"You're kidding me!" "Who would buy that?" Finally, I made it to the
inflatable doll section. I wanted to buy a standard, uncomplicated doll
that could also substitute as a passenger in my truck so I could use the
car pool lane during rush hour.
Finding what I wanted was difficult. "Love Dolls" come in many different
models. The top of the line, according to the side of the box, could do
things I'd only seen in a book on animal husbandry. I settled for
"Lovable Louise." She was at the bottom of the price scale.
To call Louise a "doll" took a huge leap of imagination. On Christmas
Eve and with the help of an old bicycle pump, Louise came to life. My
sister-in-law was in on the plan and let me in during the wee morning
Long after Santa had come and gone, I filled the dangling pantyhose with
Louise's pliant legs and bottom. I also ate some cookies and drank what
remained of a glass of milk on a nearby tray. I went home, and giggled
for a couple of hours.
The next morning my brother called to say that Santa had been to his
house and left a present that had made him VERY happy but had left the
dog confused. She would bark, start to walk away, then come back and
bark some more. We all agreed that Louise should remain in her panty
hose so the rest of the family could admire her when they came over for
the traditional Christmas dinner.
My grandmother noticed Louise the moment she walked in the door. "What
the hell is that?" she asked. My brother quickly explained, "It's a
doll." "Who would play with something like that?" Granny snapped. I had
several candidates in mind, but kept my mouth shut.
"Where are her clothes?" Granny continued.
"Boy, that turkey sure smells nice, Gran," Jay said, to steer her into
dining room.
But Granny was relentless. "Why doesn't she have any teeth?"
Again, I could have answered but why would I? It was Christmas and no
one wanted to ride in the back of the ambulance saying, "Hang on Granny,
hang on!"
My grandfather, a delightful old man with poor eyesight, sidled up to me
and said, " Hey, who's the naked gal by the fireplace?" I told him she
was Jay's friend. A few minutes later I noticed Grandpa by the mantel,
talking to Louise. Not just talking, but actually flirting. It was then
that we realized this might be Grandpa's last Christmas at home. The
dinner went well. We made the usual small talk about who had died, who
was dying, and who should be killed, when suddenly Louise made a noise
like my father in the bathroom in the morning. Then she lurched from the
pantyhose, flew around the room twice, and fell in a heap in front of
the sofa.
The cat screamed. I passed cranberry sauce through my nose, and Grandpa
ran across the room, fell to his knees, and began administering
mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. My brother fell back over his chair and
wet his pants. Granny threw down her napkin, stomped out of the room,
and sat in the car.
It was indeed a Christmas to treasure and remember. Later in my
brother's garage, we conducted a thorough examination to decide the
cause of Louise's collapse. We discovered that Louise had suffered from
a hot ember to the back of her right thigh. Fortunately, thanks to a
wonder drug called duct tape, we restored her to perfect health.
As each of you gather with your family during the holiday season may the
thought of this bring a smile to your face.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

My kids have been up to some fun activities. Topping the list was last weekend's Light-a-Boat Parade in Annapolis.
40 something sail and power boats went all out, decorating their boats for the holidays and sailed them in and out of Ego Alley right at the historic downtown docks of Annapolis. They entered with the Sea Scouts and even spent the night on their boat in the harbor. How fun, eh? They are on the smaller boat with the blue lights and the Santa in the fedora.

Monday, December 15, 2008

I should be doing so many other things right now. My guess is, you should be too, eh? But hey, all work and no play....

After reading the Washington Post today, I was thinking of "Farewell Kisses."

Surely you've heard the story about an Iraqui journalist throwing his shoes at George W, while shouting, "This is your farewell kiss!" A horrible insult with a comic dimension to it from Western eyes. I understand that it is a terrible insult in the Iraqui culture, but I admire someone who can so clearly express their emotions in a relatively non-violet way. I'm sure he'll face serious consequences; of course he should. I can't imagine anyone hassling him in jail over it though. I'm curious to see what happens to the guy.

I have rarely felt moved to be so demonstrative. Once or twice though.... But who could inspire me to hurl my Birkenstocks? I bet the gesture would be a great release! So much more emphatic than just giving someone the finger. I'll have to remember that one.

I wonder what will happen to that pair of shoes. Will he get them back? I guess they will be entered as evidence. I wonder if the shoe will fit the assailant?

Have you ever been mad enough to throw your shoes at someone? Looking back, can you think of a time or two when you wish you would have though of it?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I've been meaning to tell you all the things I love about yoga and my dear instructor, Linna.

Yoga makes me feel relaxed, strong, and healthy. I credit yoga with my recovery from my broken ankle over a year ago. Yoga is cheaper than physical therapists and massage therapists, although there are times when those are necessary. I feel as if I've had a massage after yoga. I've stretched muscles that I didn't even know I had.

I've been going to Linna yoga classes, the ones she holds in the sanctuary of our church, for about two years now, or has it been three? I am learning about how to line up my chakras and lock my mulabhanda. I know how to do many animal poses: dog, pigeon, eagle, dolphin, fish, cat, camel, monkey, and one of my favorites - child. I love the warrior poses. They make me feel powerful and beautiful.

Linna describes the exact position of each body part with clarity and creativity. For example, she told us to hold out our hand as if we were offering someone a cookie, but she added, "it's your cookie. You can take it back when you want to."

Sometimes I'm going right along with the pose and then she describes something impossible. I think, you can't do that! But then I look around and there are people in the room doing it. Amazing.

Sometimes I have twisted up into a pretzel and she says, "Now relax and enjoy the pose." Really? But over time, I am learning to find comfort in these challenges, learning to breathe and let go, learning to honor my body.

Even after three years, Linna introduces new poses that surprise me. I realize I am only beginning to learn the secrets of this practice. But there's no rush. Linna is a patient guide. She doesn't overload. She reminds us not to ruin our poses with trying to achieve too much. There's no prize for bending the farthest or holding the pose the longest.

Although I love the tranquility of Linna's beautiful home studio, I do love practicing yoga in the sanctuary. When I am able to quiet my monkey mind and meditate, I can feel the power of the spirits that have been opened in that room. It may sound crazy, but I can feel the earth spinning underneath me. I feel my place in the universe and all those ad contracts, the laundry, the carpools, they all fade - at least for those few moments when I feel connected to the universe. In the quite of yoga, I can focus on one of the religious symbols in the room, or the rough stone wall, and consider God, often more powerfully and deeply than I ever do in formal religious services.

Now, I take my yoga with me. Or maybe I should say yoga tugs at my sleeve all the time. When I'm stuck in traffic, I practice yoga. When I have a few moments between tasks at home, I breathe deep and swan dive, feeling the benefits of the stretch and the changing flow of my circulation. I have taught some poses to my children as I have seen they have needed them.

If you haven't ever tried yoga, I hope you put it on your list of things to try. Although I often feel the effort in my muscles the next day, anyone can do yoga because it is so flexible to your needs. My 70 year old father enjoys yoga. I've seen our preacher at yoga in his street clothes, like he was still working in his office and just decided enough was enough. My fellow yogis are all ages, shapes, and sizes. Linna makes sure each of her students can find their own personal level of benefit.

There's more I could tell you about Linna and her many offerings that have improved my life, but this post is getting long enough. I'll tell you more later. Or you can check out her blog or website. I hope you all have someone like Linna in your life who brings you health and peace and strength.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Boy can December get busy!
Mom posted a great description of my little one's chorus performance at the Kennedy Center. The Ex had the best seats and got this great picture for me. She's smiling at her grandma and siblings who were "embarrassing." Looks like she's enjoying their shenanigans in the balcony.

My oldest daughter got her first real job as a hostess and food runner in a nearby restaurant (of course, adding another shift to my taxi schedule.) Her initial adorable anxieties brought back memories of first days on other jobs I've had.

I got fired - very publicly, from my first job as a telephone interviewer. Seems they needed to make an example of the caller who was interviewing the wrong respondent. I was about my daughter's age because it was before I could drive and I had to call my mom to come get me. I remember sitting out on the curb after getting yelled at in front of all my co-workers. What a memorable misery.

Another early career catastrophe came as a waitress at Bob's Big Boy. I was much more experienced and mature - probably 17. It was a busy Saturday and the orange juice fountain ran dry. I quickly looked in the walk-in and found a big tub of already mixed OJ and refilled the fountain, serving the first glass to my customer. He quickly - and angrily - called me back over, wondering what kind of sick person I was to serve him raw eggs in his juice glass.

You know, eggs can get real frothy in one of those fountains. Boy were a lot of folks mad about that mistake! And was it ever hard to clean up that error.

Any stories from your earliest employment endeavors?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

At least two articles in the Post today discussed how the economy is affecting Christmas. They say Black Friday will be black because we're depressed, not because it will get the store owners back in black.

So does anyone have any frugal tips for the holiday? What are some inexpensive stocking stuffers that won't just get thrown away? Are you cutting back anywhere?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Parent Tips for Prince George's County Write-a-Book Program

Begin nagging early.
Don't forget to nag.
Always keep large pieces of heavy cardboard on hand.
Buy extra contact paper so you don't have to go out late at night on the second try.
Pour yourself a drink, especially if you begin the binding process after 9pm the eve of the due date.
If you poured a glass of red wine, don't set it down anywhere near the book binding area.
Be sure the table you cleared to work on is free of spaghetti sauce & Parmesan cheese.

Remember that you will savor these parenting moments one day.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Gosh! I became a bit of a news junkie during the election and am having a bit of withdrawals now. There's still plenty of interesting news, but it's not the same.

I know there are some disappointed folks out there who's team didn't will. But since we are really all on the same team, I hope the grumbling can be laid aside. I've heard lots of patriotic comments from Republicans recently, although I avoid listening to the extremists. Some people make their living stirring up unrest.

There was a great article in the op-ed section of the Washington Post today by Desmond Tutu, in part comparing Obama to Nelson Mandela. It has been interesting to hear the international response to this election. Archbishop Tutu said:

"His triumph can help the world reach the point where we realize that we are all caught up in a delicate network of interdependence, unable to celebrate fully our own heritage and place in the world, unable to realize our full potential as human beings, unless everyone else, everywhere else, can do the same."

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

It took me 45 minutes to vote. I usually wait no more than four or five people to check in before walking right up to a booth. Today was fun, waving to neighbors, taking to people in line We held the space for the lady in front of us who wasn't able to stand for so long. I took my daughters with me. They were both excited and argued over who got to push the Obama button. There was hardly any electioneering. Everyone was eager, but calm. We went straight to Starbucks for our free coffee.

I woke up excited today, like it's Christmas and I'm ten. I can't wait to watch the news tonight. I'm having a hard time concentrating.

And so sad about Obama's grandma. What a jumble of emotions he must be experiencing.

How was your voting experience today?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

How vivid are your dreams?
Mostly, mine fade away quickly. I have to be deliberate if I want to remember them. However, there are a few that I've remembered for years and years. The weirdest I have to run by my personal dream analyzer, Julie. Her intuition seems right on.

How often does work figure into your dreams?

When I was a waitress, I dreamed that as far as I could see were tables. People kept sitting down. I was the only waitress and there was a complication, like my shoes kept falling off. Once or twice, I actually got out of bed to go get some sour cream or mustard.

When I was a teacher, the dream was similar. Students kept coming into the room. They were lining the room since there weren't enough desks. I was standing at the door, watching them arrive, and noticing an adult in a suit setting up to make a formal observation of my teaching. I didn't know what class it was.

As a mom, I got out of bed to pick up a backpack that was leaking coke. I woke up and was mad I wasn't still sleeping.

How about your dreams? Does work creep into them?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Why is it that curse words get to claim the letter they start with?
The N-word, the F-bomb, the B-word. I recently heard that McCain said the S-word. I was wondering why that was so scandalous when I realized the newsguy meant "socialist."

So what would be your version of these lettered words, if they were of your choosing and not curses:
The A-word
The B-word
The F-word
The N-word
The S-word

For me... maybe

Friday, October 24, 2008

I was doing a round of hanging up coats, putting away shoes, dishes and school supplies while dancing around to my new Jason Mraz tunes, trying to focus on the fact that I'm happy my kids are here to make a mess at my house. I picked up an unusually high number of rubber bands when I came across these:

What a classic weapon in the arsenal of a middle school student. My son told me there was an all out "hornet" war on the bus.

What did you get in trouble with in Middle School?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

As an addendum to yesterday's blog, I'm adding this clip of Cab Calloway, on Sesame Street of all things, demonstrating the Jazz Scat that he helped make so famous.

Jason Mraz does this, and even drew the audience into the Scat Echoing like Mr. Calloway does here. You know it, Mom. You just didn't have the benefits of the Sesame Street and You Tube generations.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

As the final piece of my daughter's fifteenth birthday present, I took her and two friends to the Jason Mraz concert at DAR Constitution Hall on Monday night. It was so fun watching her enjoy herself with her BFFs. They are all such beautiful girls. If they were the youngest at the concert, I was the oldest. Quite a college crowd there just around the corner from GWU. I am happy to encourage good musical taste in my kids, happy to be moving up from the JoBros and Cheetah Girls.

He's kind of jazzy and did a lot of scat in the concert, drawing the audience into a scat duel. Great brass section of his band, although the drummer with the gnome was intriguing.

Here's a couple of Jason's most popular songs. I bet you already know them.

Monday, October 13, 2008

My 11 year old daughter has been preparing for adulthood with an on-line video game called Toon Town. At a glance, it seemed harmless, so I went ahead and subscribed. It is formatted like so many on-line games, where you are a character and can interacted with other characters controlled by other 11 year olds who have suckers for moms. My daughter spends a lot of time on this game. I finally asked her to explain it to me and I was amazed and amused.

In Toon Town, you are a Toon, which is a cat or other acceptably cute mammal, walking like a human, and wearing business casual clothing. As a Toon, you go to Headquarters to get a task. Your task is always to defeat a Cog. Cogs, nefarious erect animals in business suits, are trying to take over Toon Town. You might be assigned to defeat a Micromanager, a Yes Man or a Penny Pincher. Other Cogs are Telemarketers, Bottom Feeders, and Movers & Shakers. My daughter didn’t understand why I was giggling as she explained to me with serious instruction that to defeat a Tight Wad or a Bean Counter you might throw cupcakes at them, give them flowers, or gang up with other Toons and douse them with squirt guns.

Of course, all this battling Cogs affects a Toon’s health. For a post-battle tune-up, you go to a playground. You can select all sorts of fun rides and games to gain strength for another Cog confrontation, but your health can be restored simply by walking.

Does any of this sound like your day?
I wonder, if years from now when she is in Corporate America, she will recognize any of these Cogs in their human form and giggle as she bakes cupcakes at night?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Can I just vote for Tina Fey?
This Saturday Night Live clip is 11 minutes, but worth the time.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I have the most frustrating modern problem.
I let my old website's domain name expire, which was my name with a .com at the end. The day it expired, someone bought it. The nerve! So my wonderful friend and webmistress re-established me at
I used the error as an opportunity to update some of the info and chalked it up to lessons learned.

But then we realized that someone is writing a "business blog" under MY NAME! at the old website location!! We are investigating it to see if we can make them stop. I've submitted comments to that blog that are unlikely to get through moderation.

Anyway, I wanted you to know that the Real Ann Evankovich is at .biz.
Why would somebody do that?
Has something like that happened to you?
Any advice?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

My son is white water rafting with the Sea Scouts this weekend. Looks like a rigorous program! I have been nervous all day, thinking about him in the water. One of the dads on the trip sent this to me. I'm glad he had on his helmet!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I am fortunate to usually be home when my kids are getting ready for school and when they come home. However, I am starting to work more now that school is in session. Earlier this week I had an early morning, leaving my 13 year old son to get himself off to 8th grade. When I returned, I found this note, left in the mess of the dining room table.

Mom I left for school
love you a lot and I'm hugging
you in my brain
love your son

Isn't that just adorable?

Lest you think he is just a softie, he has been studying up for us on surviving a zombie attack. I am randomly getting advice such as this:

Mom, if there is ever a class 1A zombie attack, the best thing to do is go upstairs and then destroy the stairs behind you.
Also acid works.

I told him my plan was to stick with him if such a calamity occurred.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

It is fundraiser season. What have you bought? Who have you supported?

I've committed to
candles for an ice skating team
assorted holiday gifts for an elementary school
gift wrap for... I don't remember who
nuts for scouts
holiday cards for CCFA

And it's only September!

Monday, September 22, 2008

I got this unattributed quote in an e-mail. Do you agree?

Whatever you give a woman, she's going to multiply it.
If you give her a house, she'll give you a home.
If you give her groceries, she'll give you a meal.
If you give her a smile, she'll give you her heart.
She multiplies and enlarges what is given to her.
So - if you give her any crap, you will receive a ton of shit.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

How much work do you have to do before you can do your work?

You know how you have a task you set out to complete, but first you have to look something up. And you have to find those notes you took. So you have to clear away the stack piling up by your computer. And you realize that you forgot to send this in that is due tomorrow morning. Then you are interrupted by some minor catastrophe in the next room. And then you have to take this phone call about tonight's carpool.

And an hour, a whole day goes by and the main part of your work, the part that they are paying you for, is still left undone. Do you just feel like you are treading water?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Rinsing the second tub of brown soapy water out of the tub where I was washing my son’s lacrosse gear, I was prompted to think of pitbulls with lipstick. Was I, as lacrosse mom, willing to call myself a bitch like Sarah Palin? Isn’t that what she meant when she called herself a female dog?

In order for a woman to get ahead in the world of business, politics, and even church, women have to have a little ferocity. What is called power and ambition in men is often called bitchiness in women. That reaction is so common, that women have taken back the word. I have received chain e-mails defining bitch as a Babe In Total Control of Herself. One of my favorite songs is by Meredith Brookes on her “Blurring the Lines” CD simply called “Bitch.”

I’m sure I have been called a bitch. I heard it when I was a teacher. I imagine it happened behind my back at work a time or two. It may have entered my children’s minds. There have been a few romances gone badly that may have inspired someone to utter the word in reference to me. I’m sure Hillary Clinton has been called a bitch.

As I laid the dripping, Crisp Linen scented lacrosse pads out to dry in the sun, I considered what has moved me to snarl through my lipstick and call someone a bitch. I don’t think I’ve ever called someone a bitch to her face. When someone takes an offensive position, choosing to bare their teeth and overlook a host of more civilized responses, she is being a mean bitch. When a woman behaves offensively, saying cutting words that are impulsively stupid, I might call her a dumb bitch. There are equivalent terms for men who are mean and stupid, but that is another essay. Bitch means mean.

I know some women joke around and call each other bitches as part of their friendship culture, but I don’t joke around like that. Isn’t that the same double standard as black people calling each other nigga? They are both derogatory terms. It wouldn’t be funny if Obama used that word to describe himself. I didn’t think Palin was funny either. She undercut herself with that comparison after have risen so unexpectedly to this height. It was disrespectful. Although we are accustomed to a mean vice president, I don’t think we necessarily need meanness to be part of the job.

What ever happened to diplomacy? How about dignity? I’m tired of leadership that behaves embarrassingly. I want a leader for my country who can reach a hand out to the world without his or her middle finger raised.

I am so glad that we as a country have opened up enough to have women taken seriously enough to run for major political offices. I just wish it was a woman who was valued for her intelligence, diplomacy, compassion and experience.

The choice of Sarah Palin bothers me as a feminist because she seems to have been chosen for her appearance. It seems youth and beauty still trump experience. The same women who faulted Hillary for “only” being the First Lady and a freshman senator are waving around Palin signs with lipstick on them.

What about Senators Hutchinson, Mikulski, or Madeline Albright? Does a woman’s appearance still count for more than her experience? Does she have to be a bitch in high heels? Can’t she just be qualified? I see the answer to those questions in the paper every morning.

I know, I know that Obama doesn’t have any more experience than she does, but he has the dignity and intelligence I think a president should have. I think Hillary would have been better, but it seems that America wasn’t ready for a woman with authentic strength. McCain is too outdated, not to mention Republican. His back up plan, Palin seems ill-equipped for the job. If you took away all the personalities and appearances, I would still vote Democratic. I’m sure that when the Democrats win, Palin will use those eight years to get some authentic experience and study up. Now that she has been yanked into the spotlight, she is here to stay.

Choosing a woman because of the emotion she incites is not exactly the reason I would vote for a woman. When the excitement has subsided, I want someone who can take this country to new heights. We have been brought low these last eight years. This lacrosse mom is looking for a new leadership that will make us a winning team again. I’d love a woman to be in command, but not a bitch.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Lately I feel like all I have been doing is putting things away, moving stuff from one room to another. But it is like holding back the tide, especially since school started and there is a fresh onslaught of stuff every day at 3.

I have been playing on Facebook. My account says "Ann and Tim Evankovich are now friends." Well, I guess it is about time. It has been about five and a half years since he moved out. It seems funny to have that announced.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

I just recently finished listening to an unabridged audio recording of The 19th Wife, a novel by David Ebershoff, considering the mystery of faith by exploring the polygamous history of Mormonism. The book juxtaposes passages from historical documents alongside his modern narrative.

The narrator of the modern storyline is Jordan Scott, a young man who was excommunicated at age 14 from the Firsts, the modern fundamentalist Mormon sect. He is returning to his bizarre hometown to try to solve the murder of his father in order to exonerate his mother who is accused of the crime. He hasn’t spoken to his mother in six years, since the night she dropped him off on the highway with $17.

Jordan identifies the point of contention that led to the rift between the Firsts and the Mormons as polygamy…. “This sort of split happens all the time: the Jews & the Christians, the Catholics & the Protestants, the Mormons & the Firsts. It’s been going on forever, and the only thing I know for sure is it messes up a lot of shit for the rest of us.

I know a lot of people, myself included, who have been screwed by such religious rifts. I understand exactly what Jordan is talking about.

A minor character in the modern storyline says, “I’ve never been much of a god person, but I admire a man who knows what he believes and sticks to it. All great men are like that. And who am I to say that what he believes is any crazier than the rest of the shit everyone else out there believes, including me.”

Have you ever been to Salt Lake City? I was standing in Temple Square, reading the tributes to Joseph Smith & Brigham Young. My then husband asked, “Who’s buying this?” But is their belief in Joseph Smith and those golden plates and the revelation that polygamy is God’s will any crazier than our Christian walking on water stories? What about Noah’s ark?

Faith is a mystery. I think we just need to back off a little and acknowledge that the religions of other people are equally valid to whatever our beliefs are.

But what about when one person’s religious views are harming others, like in polygamy? What about the honor killings in Muslim countries? What about preventing homosexuals with the legal benefits of marriage? What about censorship? Abortion?

At least we live in a country where we can debate these issues. I hope we can maintain that status and not become a theocracy.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Great speech, Hillary!

Friday, August 22, 2008

It's the most wonderful time of the year!
Everyone's excited about school starting again. I've been school supply shopping and of course to American Eagle.

I remember in high school I had one pair of Calvin Kleins and one pair of Gloria Vanderbilts. Did I ever have Jordache? Anyway, we were mostly Sears with a dash of brand name labels. I appreciate that I can fill out most of my kids' wardrobes at Target.

What was your favorite item of clothing when you were trying to be cool in school?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

I took my two oldest kids and their teenage guests visiting from Ohio on the Annapolis Ghost Tour last night during the full moon. It was quite enjoyable, despite their young fears that it might be too much like a history class. I often lingered at the sight for a photo, hoping to catch a ghoulie on film. At the scariest house, I got spooked, cold, goosebumps, and ran to catch up. They have a haunted pub crawl that I want to sign up for next - especially if I have booked a room in one of the centuries old haunted inns right there by the State Capital.

Have you ever encountered a ghost? Do you believe in them? I haven't knowingly encountered one, but I believe in them. That's why I can't watch those scary movies.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Here's the chaos just below my surface:

I'm trying to keep all the seepage and stench in check, but sometime is just creeps right in. It takes quite an effort to control

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Because the Ex is well connected, I got to go to the Jonas Brothers' concert Wednesday night in Baltimore with my kids. I was annoyed at myself for forgetting my earplugs, not due to the loud music so much: it was the thousands of shrieking girls. My son was happy that Demi Lovato opened for the JoBros. He was in the gender minority, although I heard no complaints.

In case you are not living with children between the ages of 10 & 15, the JoBros are all the rage in Disney boy bands. They put on quite an entertaining show with lasers and pyrotechnics. They had an eight piece string band playing, all beautiful young women in red. I imagine this is not the venue their parents had in mind when they were driving them to lessons. But I bet it pays better than many violin gigs.

So the kids got to sit in the second row at the end of the catwalk - almost in touching distance. No binoculars necessary. Tim & I sat about 20 rows behind them. When seated, you could look sideways and see all the other parents in attendance. We had a silent camaraderie beneath the hysterical shrieking.

What was your first concert?

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

I went camping last week with my 13 year old son and three buddies of his at Tuckahoe State Park. This one picture sums up why I did it. We had so much fun without a kaper chart or strict schedule. Doesn't everything taste better when cooked over a campfire?

I had a mini-cabin with beds & AC for the grown-ups and let the boys set up a tent for themselves around the corner, just out of sight of the cabin.

Mark joined me the first evening and Mom the next. During their overlap, the three of us left the boys behind and went to the nearby Adkins Arboretum. We arrived with less than an hour before closing and the clerk in the gift shop suggested a trail with artwork installed throughout it. She warned us that some of the artwork was "a little weird." Sounded perfect.

The first artwork we mistook for pollution, perhaps an abandoned scout project? But then we figured it out. It really was cool, despite the humid heat and bugs. The giant sweaters were called "Tree Huggers." One of my favorites was a network of fine wires with crystal beads that looked a bit like a spiderweb with dewdrops, although it didn't photograph well.

Monday, July 28, 2008

I may have played my last Chutes & Ladders game last week, well, at least with my own child. Do you remember that game?

The little pictures create a sort of morality primer of actions and consequences for children. The playing pieces all have children joyfully skipping through their game lives. I counted and there are more chutes than ladders, so at least that aspect is realistic. One picture of a child scarfing down a plateful of cookies is connected with a chute to a picture of a sick child. A boy eating vegetables is connected with a ladder to the same boy measuring his height. A girl sweeping the floor now has money to go to the movies. A boy rescuing a cat from a tree gains a loving pet with the longest ladder on the board. The longest chute involves a precariously located cookie jar and injury.

If we were to create an adult version, what would some of the chutes and ladders be? A father smiling at his child walking in with a puppy with a chute to the same man picking up poo in the yard? A plateful of cookies with a chute to cellulite in a swimsuit? A woman midway through a row of shot glasses connected by a chute to the same woman with sunglasses and a bag of ice? A man offering a little square envelope to a woman connected by a ladder to a clean bill of health?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I saw a big boat rolling down Rt 50 toward Annapolis with "Romans 8:28" in gold letters on the back. By Annapolis standards, it was a modest cabin cruiser. I couldn't remember the verse, but had a guess. I was wrong. It's the verse that says,
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

For God so loved the world so much, well, he loved some folks so much, that he gave them large recreational vehicles.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

My youngest daughter just finished two weekends of nine performances of an original full length musical, "Camp Hawyah." You can read more about the show in the review I got to write for the Annapolis paper. It was great fun, very entertaining, and I'm glad it is over.

My small attempt at a garden is doing well, but I need your help. I purchased some flowers for a fund raiser and they are all thriving. The problem is that my friend accidentally gave me someone else's order too. I didn't remember what I ordered and just planted everything. My Four O'clocks look great, but what is this little red flower?

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Another fun story was one our guide told us as we punted down the Cam River in Cambridge behind several universities with centuries-old rivalries: St. John's, Trinity, King's College, Magdalene.

One recent night, a King rival scaled the right spire of the school's ancient cathedral and looped a toilet seat over the top finial. Upset school officials decided to build a scaffolding to retrieve the offense. On the third night, as the scaffolding was closing in on its goal, the prankster crawled back up there like Spidey, took back the King's Crown, and replaced it on the left spire.

School officials took down the extensive scaffolding and shot the thing down with a rifle. Now, the base of the two spires are belted with lethal spikes. There has been no more of that tomfoolery. According to our tour-guide/punter, there has been collegiate mischief and mayhem along the canals for centuries.

What fun ghosts must haunt the place! But we had to leave before the ghost tour, darnit.

Included are pictures of hapless strangers who had trouble with guiding their craft.
At last...
(I guess I took my sweet time settling back into a routine. Took a while to find this new summer one.)

Here is my favorite story from our trip to England.

My son had a serious religious experience.
On the first full day of touring, he left his backpack, with the new iPod and a loaded wallet in a taxi cab. No need for scolding because he was distraught, physically ill. "I'm so sorry, Mommy, I'm so sorry." poor heartbroken guy. He just had to suck it up and continue with the afternoon's touring, which he did well. That night we filed a report with the city taxi service, but they said it takes a week to process all the stuff brought in. (Seems we weren't the only ones.)

During the week we toured several cathedrals: St. Paul's, Ely, Westminster Abbey, Canterbury. In each one, my son put down 20p for a candle, lit one and prayed that his "lost things be found." (He's carrying my backpack for me in the picture.)

Well, thank God that on departure morning, we called the taxi lost & found and they had the backpack and all of its contents. Amazing! (Enter rays of divine sunshine and angel band)

He was overjoyed but said very seriously to me, "Now I have to go to church every Sunday." Seems a deal was struck. Eureka!

His sister perked up and asked if he'd go to Youth Group now too. He insisted that he made no promises regarding youth group.

Check out Mark's great photos from our trip.

(Pardon all the parenthetical asides.)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

This is the only non-British song I have on my England playlist, although I downloaded the original. This had a more interesting video.

Did you know that Verizon doesn't work at all in England? I will be relatively incommunicado, which I think will be delightful.

As for blessings in disguise, I will be using money from the basement flood to spend in England, which will be more relaxing since Suburban Scene canned me and I have no deadlines to meet or ad accounts to sweat. Seemed bad at the time, but I am grateful now.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

My ten year old just says whatever pops into her mind.

A couple days ago, in my lap, she put both hands by the part in my hair and bent my head down so she could get a closer look.
"Mommy," she nearly gasped, "do you dye your hair?"
"Yes I do."
"Do you dye your roots?" she asked with instructive ridicule.
I explained how dye jobs grow out, exposing undyed roots.
"Well, there's gray in there!" she pointed out with restrained alarm.

You should see my new hairdo. I told my beloved, tattooed, alpaca-farming hairdresser that I was bored of my hair. I'm certainly not now! I'm sure you'll catch a glimpse of it on Mark's blog next week.

Last month, my ten year old asked my ex-husband and my boyfriend if they were going to arm wrestle. No sense ignoring an elephant in the room.

Monday, June 16, 2008

I'm planning a trip to London with my kids & Mark & his daughter. I am going to create an England playlist on my iPod. What must I include?

Friday, June 13, 2008

At the end of this past school year, I accompanied my son's 7th grade class to the Newseum in DC. It is the newest museum in town and it is about the history of the news. I raised my hand to volunteer quickly for this new field trip destination.

The first exhibit that my group entered was about Pulitzer Prize photography. One wall was covered with small copies all of the winners. The gallery was lined with dozens of them blown up with more explanation by the shot. Built right into the exhibit were several stations with tissues near benches.

All the natural chatter of 25 thirteen year olds enjoying a field trip stopped. They slowed down, stopping here and there with their mouths open. I passed one group looking at a photo of public torture in Southeast Asia.

"Why?" one boy asked "Why would anyone ever do that?"
Another boy, pointing to the crowd in the photo asked, "And what kind of person would laugh?"
I told them that torture as a public spectacle was ancient and even entertaining like today's horror movies.
The first boy startled at that comparison and insisted, "No. This is real. This is different."

Although I didn't get to see the entire museum, the kids were equally somber at the 9/11 exhibit and amazed at the memorial to slain journalists. The section of the Berlin Wall seemed to excite them, perhaps because the defiance in the graffiti was triumphant. The 4-D movie theater was delightfully freaky. It was as fun to watch the audience as take in the show. Great view from the Terrace too.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

I hate calling my children's friends' parents and telling them that their child probably needs stitches to a head wound incurred at my home.
The first was Just Me's son, blood spurting from the back of his head.
The next, Anne's daughter. "Ms. Ann, I think I cut myself. Is it bleeding?"
(aaahhhh! I hate trying to be the calm adult in these situations.)

My son is now traveling with recently mitzvahed buddy to sit with him while he gets probably only a couple of stitches over his eye. At least this injury was calm. If it leaves a scar it probably won't even be that bad.

Do you have any good childhood scars? (Not the emotional kind)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Today I joined my daughter's 4th grade class on a field trip to Annapolis to learn some new things about my home state and to renew the sunburn on my face.

Annapolis is a beautiful old town, full of 2 & 3 hundred year old brick homes, shiny young midshipmen, hippies from St. John's, and the best crab cakes you'll find in this world. Our tour guide, Squire Richard Hillman, dressed in authentic colonial garb (with the exceptions, he confessed, of modern shoes and undergarments to the delight of the 10 year olds) was a former mayor of Annapolis. No wonder he knew so much. I'm planning to go back on a weekend evening and hear his ghost tour.

One thing I learned today was about the history of the Maryland state flag. I had always heard that Maryland was a "neutral" state in the Civil War. The truth is that it was divided. Marylanders were killing each other in battles. About 50 years after the War's end, the different military regiments wanted to march separately in a parade under their different banners. Their wives wouldn't let them. They sewed the two flags together into what was later adopted as our state flag. It's a bury-the-hatchet flag.

I did slip away from my well-chaperoned charges long enough to purchase two crab cakes to smuggle onto the Harbor Queen for my lunch. Mmmmmmm.

If you have never been to Annapolis, put it on your bucket list. I'd be happy to offer my home as a hub of your tour plans, but my basement had a cataclysmic flood last week and I'm afraid my guest quarters are inaccessible for months to come. But I will meet you there for crab cakes and a ghost tour!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Why did the chicken cross the road?

BARACK OBAMA: The chicken crossed the road because it was time for a CHANGE! The chicken wanted CHANGE!

JOHN MC CAIN: My friends, that chicken crossed the road because he recognized the need to engage in cooperation and dialogue with all the chickens on the other side of the road.

HILLARY CLINTON: When I was First Lady, I personally helped that little chicken to cross the road. This experience makes me uniquely qualified to ensure -- right from Day One! -- that every chicken in this country gets the chance it deserves to cross the road. But then, this really isn't about me...

DR. PHIL: The problem we have here is that this chicken won't realize that he must first deal with the problem on 'THIS' side of the road before it goes after the problem on the 'OTHER SIDE' of the road. What we need to do is help him realize how stupid he's acting by not taking on his 'CURRENT' problems before adding 'NEW' problems.

OPRAH: Well, I understand that the chicken is having problems, which is why he wants to cross this road so bad. So instead of having the chicken learn from his mistakes and take falls, which is a part of life, I'm going to give this chicken a car so that he can just drive across the road and not live his life like the rest of the chickens.

GEORGE W. BUSH: We don't really care why the chicken crossed the road. We just want to know if the chicken is on our side of the road, or not. The chicken is either against us, or for us. There is no middle ground here.

COLIN POWELL: Now to the left of the screen, you can clearly see the satellite image of the chicken crossing the road...

ANDERSON COOPER - CNN: We have reason to believe there is a chicken, but we have not yet been allowed to have access to th e other side of the road.

JOHN KERRY: Although I voted to let the chicken cross the road, I am now against it! It was the wrong road to cross, and I was misled about the chicken's intentions. I am not for it now, and will remain against it.

NANCY GRACE: That chicken crossed the road because he's GUILTY! You can see it in his eyes and the way he walks.

PAT BUCHANAN: To steal the job of a decent, hardworking American.

MARTHA STEWART: No one called me to warn me which way that chicken was going. I had a standing order at the Farmer's Market to sell my eggs
when the price dropped to a certain level. No little bird gave me any insider information.

DR SEUSS: Did the chicken cross the road? Did he cross it with a toad?
Yes, the chicken crossed the road, but why it crossed I've not been told.

ERNEST HEMINGWAY: To die in the rain. Alone.

GRANDPA: In my day we didn't ask why the chicken crossed the road. Somebody told us the chicken crossed the road, and that was good enough.

BARBARA WALTERS: Isn't that interesting? In a few moments, we will be listening to the chicken tell, for the first time, the heart warming story of how it experienced a serious case of molting, and went on to accomplish its life long dream of crossing the road.

ARISTOTLE: It is the nature of chickens to cross the road.

BILL GATES: I have just released eChicken2007, which will not only cross roads, but will lay eggs, file your important documents, and balance your checkbook. Internet Explorer is an integral part of the Chicken. This new platform is much more stable and will never cra... #R&^*^(!.... Reboot.

ALBERT EINSTEIN: Did the chicken really cross the road, or did the road move beneath the chicken?

BILL CLINTON: I did not cross the road with THAT chicken. What is your definition of chicken?

AL GORE: I invented the chicken!

COLONEL SANDERS: Did I miss one?

DICK CHENEY: Where's my gun?

AL SHARPTON: Why are all the chickens white? We need some black chickens.

Monday, May 19, 2008

I'm reading a book that Julie sent me called "The Birth House" by Ami McKay. I underlined this sentence:

"Victory isn't anywhere near the same as peace."

Do you write in your books? What I write depends on the book. Sometimes I just underline or star so I can find that part later. Sometimes I write a counterpoint or a sound, like "mmmm".

When my ex-grandmother-in-law passed away and everyone was picking over her things, putting their name on stickers on her stuff, I just took a couple of books off her shelf. One was her Bible. I had hoped she wrote in the margins, although she didn't. She did have a chapter torn out of a sexy detective novel stuck right in 1 Thessalonians. There was no writing in that either.

I have a friend who was reading in the Library of Congress. He was outraged to find notes penciled into the margins of a very old book. He took it to the librarian who told him that those were written in there by the man who donated the book to help start the Library: Thomas Jefferson. Wouldn't those margin notes be cool to read?

You know, some of the scriptures in the Bible were margin notes written by the scribes that later scribes just included?

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

If you've been following the expanded record of my happenings on my Mom's blog,my Dear One's blog, and my friends' blogs, you'll see that I have been busy!

When I was a kid imagining how wonderful it would be to be the grown up, I hadn't realized how busy I would be once I got here. I never thought about the hours my mom & dad spent on taxi duty, only seeing 1/4 of it. I just remember the places they took me. Those were great places too, so I salute all the Kith & Kin Taxi Drivers - past & present.

I want to tell you about seeing the wild ponies at Assateague Island with the Girl Scouts. Or about the moving burial service at Arlington National Cemetery for Mark's father, about the wonderful way Mark & I celebrated the one year anniversary of our meeting, my son's thirteenth birthday, my daughters' social dramas, my first ever 18 holes of golf, and my recent upsets and openings in my writing career.

But I'm going to go put my ankle on ice and have a glass of wine and listen to John Stewart for now. I'll get back to you soon!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Last weekend was enhanced by a visit from our dear friends, Julie & Lucy. They came up from Texas (returned from exile) primarily to see their parents/grandparents, but we managed to grab a bit of their time - even if it was between midnight and 2am.

I took the girls to the National Arboretum for a photo shoot among the azalea collection. It was so fun to watch our girls enjoying their reunion.