Thursday, January 31, 2008

We listen to your wishes

the writing game

The story I'm about to tell you is the time I was a Black Lab named Crow. It is really easy to do my job when I'm a dog. Well I think so. Some of the others complain that it is hard to heal, to grant wishes to the worthy, unless you can speak their language. I prefer being subtle, and having them think they made the change for themselves. That is the true sign of healing.

I strutted into the ignored yard of a family. The mom worked full time and had two high school kids. Julie was pretty swamped at work, and trying desperately to save for both her kids' college educations and her retirement. She longed to spend more time traveling and taking photographs. She loved to travel on her own since it meant she would meet new folks. Meeting new people brought her true joy.

Sarah was like her mom. Not quite as warm with strangers but really put herself on the line with the things she loved, especially sports. She was always named captain and everyone relied on her to be the ultimate team player. When I knew her she was 14 years old and still liked being the tom boy she had been as a young girl, although she longed for someone to talk to her about what it meant to become a woman. She was nervous, scared of it and Julie was too distracted to notice.

The one Julie did pay attention to was Andrew. He was a mystery to her. He was the oldest at 16 and kept that crazy, hyperactive energy of his 7 year old self. Julie kept rationalizing that each year he would calm down. He never did. He loved watching old science fiction movies on television and building models of World War II airplanes. He hated school and being with his peers.

The day I appeared, Sarah and Andrew were literally on the floor of the kitchen beating each other up. Sarah had a bloody nose and Andrew had a scratch on his cheek that would've made a cat cringe. I watched them from the kitchen window, having reached up my front paws into the planter full of dried dirt and even drier remnants of flowers. I always had a hard time getting used to the body I was in at the beginning. My last one had been a club kid in Wales in the 1990's. My favorite was as a turtle during the French Revolution. But after being in human form, I needed to remember the front appendages weren't hands.

They both stopped fighting and opened the door. I started licking her nose then went to his cheek. They forgot the fight and found me some chips. While stale potato chips weren't my idea of an ideal meal, that was all they had.

"We've got to get him real food" said Sarah.

"Mom won't go for this" said Andrew.

She got a look in her eye. "I bet she won't notice the dog for days. Let's not even ask."

So they pooled their money and Andrew ran down to the corner store to get dog food and a collar. They agreed that the unused rope for the clothing line would make an appropriate leash.

"I think her name is Crow" said Andrew after I ate a bowl of food and drank water.

There was a pause. Great, he thinks, another fight. His shoulders start to rise.

"I like it" his sister nodded.

My first task was complete. I had them united in a common effort. Taking care of me. And I hadn't used any magic.


It took Julie three days to notice me. And while I had calmed things down between Sarah and Andrew, there was still that simmering tension. Sarah made friends easily and Andrew wishes he could too. He feels his little sister has and gets everything. And Julie just didn't notice.

But she did notice when I needed to go for a walk. She told the kids to take me to the park across from the corner store. Sarah brought a ball to throw and Andrew had me on the leash. I did the pull really hard thing I've seen other dogs do. I kept forgetting the slobbering tongue part but I new at being a dog. I was going to be with this family for a while so I would have some time to get it all down.

We got to the park and Sarah saw one of her teammates with her golden retriever-poodle mix. Sitting on a bench was another girl Andrew recognized. Sarah ran off with her friend to kick a ball, leaving Andrew alone with a tennis ball, me and this really weird looking dog also wanting to play ball.

"That's a beautiful dog" said the girl. "Where did you get her?"

"Uh" he looked at the ground "um.... she found us."

I walked over to her and nudged her leg. "What's her name?"

"Crow" as the other dog kept jumping on Andrew.

"Because she is so black?"


"I'm Teresa's sister, Collette. You're a junior right?"

The dog nearly knocked him over. "Right."

"Look why don't you give me the ball and I'll throw it. I think my dog is going to eat you if he doesn't get a chance to chase it."

Andrew grinned as he sat down on the bench.

I played along until I realized he wasn't going to join in. So after Collette threw the ball I ran in the opposite direction and knocked her over.

"CROW!" shouted Andrew. He ran up to me and shoved me off. Collette laughed as he helped her up.

"Now we know what it takes to get you up. Your dog has to maul me."

Andrew apologized, shot me a grateful look, then joined in throwing the ball. He and Collette talked.


This was an easy one. Andrew got his bearings and started leaving Sarah alone. He hung out with Collette, not in a romantic way but as friends. It was a relief to see him feel comfortable with another person. Sarah too started talking to Andrew. Asking him about his day, learning about him as a person.

Getting Julie to notice either of them was trickier. A year later, I had to do something drastic.

I ran in front of a car.

Once I'm freed from a body I only have one day to see what happened. Julie woke up. She brought her crying children into her arms and hugged them. Kissed the tops of their heads. She asked them about me, what was special about me and then started to hear what was special about them.

She stopped dreaming about meeting the perfect strangers in far-away lands. She pulled close the strangers in her house.

So now I'm back in the stars. It is where we go to recover and listen. We listen to your wishes. We have been since time began.


I'm playing Jen in Michigan's Writing Game. Go to a brand new website, The Writing Game, to read all of our stories. The ideas and characters for my story came from Capitol Lady. This is what she wrote for the story:

Black Lab- named Crow, with the power to heal, a grant wishes to worthy people.

Owner Julie - 40 something woman, 2 kids and a full time job in heath care. Loves computers, photography, quirky fun loving, happy go lucky, never met a stranger because she talks to everyone.

Sarah - Daughter of Julie, same traits as mom but not quite as out going. Loves and is good at sports, a tomboy of 14 trying to find her way in the world

Andrew - Son of Julie,16 yr old hyperactive, tv/movie enthusiast. Loves science fiction and building models. At home very out going but a recluse in the

conflict-Sarah and Andrew hate each other as siblings can, Sarah is outgoing and makes friends easy a trait that Andrew wishes he had. Andrew feels that Sarah has everything and gets everything.

Crow wants to heal everyone but can't her powers are limited to healing only 1 worthy person a month. She If she chooses someone in her immediate family she can't use the power again for 2 years. If she has healed a person she can't grant wishes to them. she can't be bribed and if she uses her power for evil it is taken from her.

This was fun and definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone. Feel free to tell me never to do this again. But I won't listen. I'm a Writing Game junkie now. Jen, can we do this next week?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Answering the call at the bowling ally

Last month I went bowling. I couldn't believe what I saw in the vending machine. Look closely under the 3rd e in Refreshments.

There are two copies of of the 1903 novel Call of the Wild by Jack London.

I asked an employee why the books were there. Apparently the owner was frustrated seeing kids hanging around - having lost interest in the lanes - while their parents or grandparents kept bowling. So he stocks the top row of one of the vending machines with books. He charges $2.00 per book.

"I see we need more books" said the employee.

Be sure to come back tomorrow evening to see my second (public) attempt at fiction inspired by Jen in Michigan's Writing Game. My writing will also be posted at a new site to be unveiled on Thursday, January 31st along with the fiction of 16 other writers.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Who ARE you people? again

Hello everyone visiting from Bemidji, Chattanooga, New York, Fe Warren Air Force Base, West Hollywood (really?) and Kuala Lumpur.

Those are just a few of the cities you all are from. Don't panic, I don't know who you are (although I have my suspicions with some of you). I looked at Google Analytics for the first time in a while.

Back in April of last year I shared a list of keywords that lead some of you to my blog. Lately (really since the summer) I just haven't been tracking my hits or visits very much. I like the space I've staked out here in the blogosphere and don't feel any particular need to expand.

A few of the ways folks are finding me are obvious, like my name, the name of the blog and variations on the soccer (or soccor as some of you typed) mom theme.

Some of these are just too funny:

  • Soccer mom feet - huh?

  • The Paper Bag Princess - so glad there are others of you looking for that terrific book.

  • Dress like a soccer mom - again? Didn't I explain before that I don't want to BE a soccer mom, never mind dress like one! I'm in denial here in suburbia!

  • Blind Boys of Alabama Blogs - wow, what an honor to be pulled up with that list.

  • Worms in Clementines - someone typed that, and other combinations of worms coming out of other things, A LOT. I hope you got that taken care of because it was gross when it happened to my little guy last winter.

  • Sugar cereal in schools- yup, I'm still mad about that one too.

  • Fetch - A bunch of you are looking for the auditions for the 3rd season, Nina, Rosario and Maddie.What none of you like Mike?

  • Maya and Miguel porn - oh dear, you are kidding? Porn between two PBS cartoon characters? WHO ARE TWINS!? That is just nasty.

  • Centerfold Moms - I'm sorry, I can't stop laughing over that one. If you saw me, you couldn't stop laughing either.

  • Red snakeskin cowboy boots - yup.

  • Your loyalty is a virtue, but not when its wedded to blind stubbornness - You got that fortune in a cookie too! No Way!!

  • 14 year old boy stomach ache 10 days - you wrote that into a search engine? Get off the computer and get the kid to a hospital!

  • 39th birthday cards for adults - I didn't know there were 39th birthday cards for kids.

  • Dealing with bitchy soccer moms - oh oh oh how do YOU do it? Really, what is your secret? Mine is gin. And a fake smile. And just not caring what they think.

  • Denial is good - isn't it? Helps with those bitchy soccer moms.

  • Transgendered boys who are flower girls at weddings - now THAT is awesome!! Truly awesome! Brava to the couple and the kids' parents. Braaaa-vvva!!

But my absolute favorite two lines typed into a search engine that led to my site are:

unreadable, turgid, overwritten and obscene

and on another day

I married a fag hag.

Hey, Amazing Guy? What are you doing?


So now that I've outed my husband (hi honey!), who are you lurking on the other side of the screen? Come on, I know you are out there. Why not say "hi" and tell me how you got here?

Unless you were the one who typed about the PBS porn. I don't want to know about you.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Our current favorite song...

Music Monday at Soccer Mom in Denial

Sara Bareilles' tune Love Song is our current family favorite. The kids are constantly walking around the house singing it. I often have to delay whatever urgent computer task I have so we can watch the actual music video several times. We've had deep conversations about why she is inside a music box, how the actor looks like their Uncle - if the Uncle had hair on his head - and if it is a real story.

My three-year-old will put on one of her costume gowns and plastic heeled shoes and bang away at our upright piano singing

I'm not gonna write you a love song
'cause you asked for it
'cause you need one

So I can only imagine the eruption my poor dad dealt with in the pizza shop last week.

"Mom! We heard Love Song at the pizza shop!" it was loudly reported to me when I walked into the house after working late.

"Did you start singing?" I asked.

"Yeah" he said with a grin.


Singing along? Please remember to both post the cute little button of the phonograph somewhere in your tale of tunes AND link back to me. Doesn't really count if you don't site the source.

These folks are making music:

Jenn in Holland (who gets extra points today for helping me track down a version of this song I liked since the official video cannot be inserted)

Luisa Perkins
Flower Child
Jen in Michigan
Wholly Burble
Hilary (yes, she didn't actually post for Music Monday but Cablegirl asked that we visit her friend and think about the message in the posted music video. And anything Cablegirl wants, Cablegirl gets)

Saturday, January 26, 2008

We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in...


Singular Saturday

For more Singular Saturdays go visit Jenn in Holland.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Did you hear me scream?

Seriously, while I was riding the train, did you hear me? I saw this in the newspaper.

Oh, maybe I should get a little closer.

That's Vince Clark of Erasure. Wait you can't read what's printed under his photo?

Not close enough?

YAZ IS BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yes, that wonderful combination of Vince Clark and Alison Moyet who created Only You, Situation, Don't Go and Nobody's Diary are releasing a boxed set and going on tour. One of my first posts was discovering that a birth control pill was named Yaz.

Can you hear my heart beating?

But it appears that their tour will only be in England. So those of you who can, go see them. And tell me how wonderful it was.

Yazoo Reconnected: Live

Wed 04 June - Glasgow Clyde Auditorium
Sat 07 June - Manchester
Thu 12 June - Wolverhampton
Civic Hall
Sun 15 June - Brighton
Wed 18 June - London
Hammersmith Apollo

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Hits the mark

I love when I get a blog award I've never seen, much less heard of.

So it was particularly exciting to get an award I had never heard of from Aimee at Greeblemonkey. She wrote:

Allison from Soccer Mom in Denial works hard every day to make the world a better place and I am so proud of her. She reminds me to speak up for what is right.
For Aimee, one of the smartest, funniest and talented bloggers out there (really, I only can only long for such a dynamic site), to think of me like that is, well, humbling. Sometimes I feel like I'm just yelling at the top of my lungs from the soapbox. I greatly appreciate that she listens.

I would like to clarify that for me something that involves an award, a public acknowledgement of something good, funny or thoughtful, doesn't strike me as a meme task. It's these list-your-favorite-fruit-snacks type activities that drive me a tad batty.

So now, without further ado, I pass this little award on to...

Jen in Michagan who writes at A2eatwrite. She is a writer and it shows in the pieces she gives us. Each post is like a present, a thoughtful and well thought out present. She does not just write, she composes and reading her work makes me a better writer.

How much has Jen inspired me? I've tried writing fiction and will be doing it again on January 31st for Jen's Writing Game. So come back and see what silliness Jen has me doing. It will involve a dog with special powers.

And Aimee? She is also an amazing photographer and has given Jenn in Holland and me another photo to share at Looking Into. So go look. It is lovely.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Letter from the red boots

Dear SMID,

We just wanted to let you know how unhappy we are in the closet. The dark and very cold closet since it really is just the stairs to the attic. But that isn't the main reason why we're unhappy.

Sure we're the image you put on every blog you comment on. For some folks, we are the only image people know you by.

You took us to Vegas earlier this month. We were your footwear of choice in the Valley of Fire in Nevada, your night of multiple cover bands and we even experienced the indignity of going through an airport scanner next to someone's smelly flip-flops (now THAT was nasty).

But when you walked into the cowboy boot store on the Vegas strip, we started to get worried. You asked about a particular style of boot and the saleswoman explained she only had a size that didn't fit you. Then she showed you a pair that took your breath away.

You took us off.

You put those other boots on. You practically danced around the store, touching other boots lined up along the walls, talking to the woman. She did compliment us saying "you clearly wear those boots" and you smiled.

You put us back on your feet as the woman put those other boots in a bag. With us on your feet you skipped out of the store swinging the bag. You wore us for the rest of the trip and even on the flight back home.

And we haven't been out of the closet since.

Oh sure, you tell us it is for our own good. That you never took us out when there is snow on the ground or even a hint of rain, even before Vegas. You don't want us to end up looking like your first pair of red snakeskin cowboy boots that are missing half the skin and showing this white under fabric. You tell us you're protecting us.

Meanwhile the new boots - the plain brown boots - are being worn to your office, the State House, the kids' schools, a night of drinking wine with other moms, coaching the boys' basketball team, the town diner, a children's story hour in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. and church. You've never worn us when coaching a game. Never. Have you noticed we're sulking here in the dark?

So this is it. We're leaving you. If you want to put your feet in a boring pair of brown cow leather boots then you deserve them. We - who are red and made from python no less - are going to find someone who will appreciate us and let us brave the elements.

First, though, could you put us on and walk us to that person? We can't get out of the closet.

The Red Snakeskin Cowboy Boots

Monday, January 21, 2008

(Mis)using Dr. King's words

My sophomore year of college, a (white) fellow I knew came running down my hallway after finishing an exam yelling "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty I am free at last!"

A dear (black) friend came tearing out of her room and pointed a finger at him declaring "Boy, don't you be usin' the good Doctor's words like that!" This caused the fellow to yelp, turn on his heels and run.

While the above could be funny (especially if you saw my girlfriend's grin as she watched the fellow run), the following isn't:

"Several years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King gave a magnificent speech in which he spoke of having a dream. Ladies and gentlemen, I too have a dream. I have a dream that one day, as President of the United States, I will be able to put a 'Going out of Business' sign on the Internal Revenue Service."
- Mike Huckabee, Fair Tax Rally, Columbia, SC, May 15, 2007

There's even a video (the above quote is around 2:20 in the clip).

He's kidding right? He is absolutely, positively kidding, right? To use the Doctor's words, to refer to his historic speech about race, in describing tax policy?

The 1963 speech by Dr. King to which Huckabee referred to (which was several decades ago, not years) cited an old spiritual:

Free at last, free at last
I thank God I'm free at last

Free at last, free at last
I thank God I'm free at last

Way down yonder in the graveyard walk
I thank God I'm free at last

Me and my Jesus going to meet and talk
I thank God I'm free at last

I found a version of the song in this video montage. Perhaps Mr. Huckabee should take a look.

And finally, a excerpt from 1963's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" which was Dr. King's response to a statement by clergy complaining of his tactics during the fight for racial equality.

We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say "Wait"....but when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking: "Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?"...then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait.
Mr. Huckabee, how could you in your campaign for president, equate tax policy to racial justice? Or perhaps you are one of those people Dr. King wrote about. Someone who "never felt the stinging dart of segregation".


Music Monday at Soccer Mom in Denial

And who else is talking about music?

Jenn in Holland
Luisa Perkins
Jen in Michigan
Wholly Burble
Flower Child

Saturday, January 19, 2008

What else can I feel after the week I've had?


Singular Saturday

For more Singular Saturdays go visit Jenn in Holland.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Roar and the Writing Game

So ages, AGES ago Jen in Michigan gave me and 9 other folks the above award for participating in her first ever writing game.

She awarded me because
SMID took Anno's ideas and turned them into a lovely story about an artist breaking away from a difficult mother in "Be True".

Guess what? Jen is hosting her game again. It is a wonderful chance to flex your writing muscles. You send her a set of ideas (based on her simple guidelines) then she sends you someone else's ideas. You have to write a story based on that person's ideas.

I plan to play along again (you have until Friday, January 18th to sign up so please join in). In addition, I need to pass along this lovely, neon lion. One task from receiving this award is sharing the three things I believe are necessary for good, powerful writing and then pass the award on to bloggers I want to honor. They in turn should pass it on to others if they want in addition to sharing what they think is important for good writing (but only if they want to).

Three qualities I believe are important for good, powerful writing:

Consise - I once had a boss who told me to cut a third of what I wrote while editing. Then cut another third. It is painful but I cannot stress how important it is to be brief.

Purpose - Writing should have a point. A clear, consise point.

Emotion - I have been struck by how some posts have either moved me to tears or caused me to laugh out loud. Conveying sadness without being sappy or humor without being cute is a real skill.

So I'm passing along this award to the following folks for their writing. I am a better writer because I learn from them.

Flower Child - her short vignettes just have me in stitches.

Alex Elliot - I cannot pick one of hers to highlight. Every single one is exceptional. Every. Single. One.

Ambassador - his recounting of a childhood memory is still fresh in my mind.

Jen in Michigan - I'm sending this back to Jen. She is a writing idol for me. And like Alex Elliot, every post is brilliant.

So proudly show your neon lion. And either share it with others or not. No pressure.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Fire behind the house

I kid you not. I had to call 911 last night.

Can I just start this week over?

The kids are typically in bed by 8-8:15 and I am settled in front of the television to watch the recording of A Daily Show and the Colbert Report. There is usually a stream of small escapees visitors telling me something they forgot to tell me or to check out what I am laughing about. As the evening progresses I get more testy and eventually yell "enough" and they go to sleep.

So one guy came down and settled on a chair requiring me to change my position on the sofa. Good thing because the new angle meant I saw a flash of bright orange light outside the living room window.

A tall tree on our neighbor's property was on fire.

I immediately called 911 while little guy who was with me ran upstairs yelling there was a fire and unplugging everything upstairs. I turned around to find my 3-year-old in her pink pajamas, waving her pink wand, yelling "THERE'S A FIRE!! THERE'S A FIRE!!" as she ran around in circles.

Eventually we all calmed down and watched the fire from our kitchen. The fire department and police came and I eventually learned the fire was caused by a snow covered tree limb rubbing against an electric wire. As we watched the tree burn we suddenly saw a bright flame shoot up into the sky and then a small explosion. For several hours afterwards we heard crews from the utility company working with chain saws.

First a plague stomach bug. Now a burning bush tree. What's next? A few horsemen?

Can I start this week over? Please.

Monday, January 14, 2008

A Boy in the Hospital (Late Edition Music Monday)

Hush little baby don't say a word
Mama's gonna buy you a mocking bird

I have a "set list" of songs I sing to babies. Occasionally I can sing them to my "big" 3 year old and she'll correct me if I don't go in the correct order.

Fais do do
Colas mon petit frere
Fais do do
t'auras du lolo.

Since Saturday night I've been at the big hospital for children in our capital city. While I thought I was taking him to the Emergency Department to rehydrate after hours of vomiting, by 1:00 AM he was being scanned multiple times for suspected appendicitis.

Christopher Robbin and I walked along
Under branches lit up by the moon
Posing our questions to Owl and Eyore
As the days disappeared all too soon

By 8:00 AM Sunday morning they literally couldn't find his appendix. "That's very common in skinny people" said a pediatric surgeon. "That's a good thing. It means it isn't big and infected" said a nurse.

Why are there so many songs about rainbows
And what's on the other side?

There were several points during the night when he was scared. The worst was during the CT scan at 4:00 AM Sunday. I asked him, in front of a radiologist and two technicians, if I could sing to him. He shook his head "no" as tears streamed down his cheeks.

When we were back in our ED room and he had fallen back asleep, I crawled into the bed and held him. I sang quietly to him.

I don't like to see so much pain
so much wasted and this moment keeps slipping away
I get so tired of working so hard for our survival
I look to the time with you to keep me awake and alive


Music Monday at Soccer Mom in Denial

I wrote this on a piece of paper late last night after we were finally admited into the hospital for in-patient care. The hospital blocked access to all "social networking" sites. Apparently some teen patients were a bit mean on My Space.

However, we're home after nearly two days. He's not tolerating much more than saltine crackers but he still has his appendix.

Thanks to all of you who kept the music playing this week. I could see from emails that you were.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

How I feel after all of you took time on Thursday to read...


Singular Saturday

For more Singular Saturdays go visit Jenn in Holland.

Friday, January 11, 2008

What did you read?

Sometimes the best laid plans just don't happen.

I was all excited, have been for weeks, to cuddle up with a book after the kids went to bed. But then the unexpected happened.

Suddenly two boys became even more excited for research projects they had. There is no clear due date so it wasn't like we were rushing to finish it for today. But I could not stop, nor didn't want to, the drive for knowledge.

  • Did you know that it takes nearly 29 1/2 year for Neptune to circle the sun?
  • Or that Saturn has 20 known moons and there may be more?

And they kept working on their projects, using books (phew) and the NASA web site, until they fell over exhausted. I couldn't stop the passion. It was exciting, and tiring, to watch.

But instead of plopping in front of the computer to write a post, or visit some blogs, after they finally went to sleep, I plopped into bed to read. While only twenty minutes, it was twenty minutes inside a book.

So, what did you read?

Jodifur is reading both The Wonder Spot and I am America, So Can You

Mariposa's Tales has her "book report" submitted about Veronika Decides to Die

On Dragon Flies Wings read The Giver

Painted Maypole finished To Kill a Mocking Bird and started Jane Austen's Emma

not THAT different finished google sex mp3 britney+spears world+cup

Goofball's World is reading Jan Leyers' De weg naar Mekka (The Road to Mecca)

Bonnie's Books wrote about ALL the things she read yesterday including The Distinguished Guest

Rocking Chair Rumination read the newspaper from cover to cover

The Little Stuff of Life gave suggestions for children's books including The Little Prince

Cats....Books....Life is Good spent her lunch hour reading Bartimaeus' Ptolemy's Gate instead of blogs

A journey of 1000 stiches begins with just one talks about many books including those by my family's friend, Peter H. Reynolds.

Something to Say: About Life in the Netherlands writes about strongarming waiting patiently for her 14 year old son to finish the Philip Pullman books and enjoying art with her 4 year old son in I Spy Animals in Art.

I was asked what I read. Look below. I'll write about it when I finish. I learned my lesson not to disparage a book until I'm done. Although I'm a bit disheartened right now...

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Reading today

DAY TO READ campaign - January 10, 2008

I'm reading today instead of blogging.

City in Amber by Jay Atkinson

Please go read something not on the computer.
A book.
A magazine.
The newspaper.


Then come back here tomorrow to either tell about it or let me know if you wrote a post about it.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Going back to Vegas?

So now that I have revisited Vegas since 1992 I'm sure folks are wondering if I plan on joining Amazing Guy again for his annual trek to the Sin City.

Ehhhhhh...... probably not. Or at least I'll wait another 15 or so years.

It doesn't have anything to do with Amazing Guy and everything to do with the city. Or at least the Vegas strip. Specifically the gambling.

As I mentioned before, the sight in 1992 of seeing an elderly man in a wheelchair having his shaking arm lifted by another person so he could put a coin in a slot machine made me cry. On the spot. And spend the rest of the night alone in a hotel room.

The image from this trip were children. Children playing along the edge of slot machines as parents sat putting coins in. Children sitting on carpeted walkways behind parents' chairs pulled up to poker tables. They are images that still chokes me up. I don't want to see them again.

However, one extremely positive thing about any trip that doesn't involve my kids (sorry darlings) is I get to read on the plane. Read for hours - uninterrupted. I read The Lovely Bones from cover to cover on a flight to Phoenix several years ago.

The flight over to Las Vegas gave me the chance to finally, finally sink my teeth into The Devil in the White City about the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. I am very sorry to have publicly doubted this book. The last 100+ pages flew by and was amazing in the true sense of the word. Did you know that the Chicago World's Fair inspired the look of Oz in the novel The Wizard of Oz? Did you know that shredded wheat was unveiled at the Fair? Walt Disney's father worked at the fair and Disney junior often cited stories about the fair as inspiration for a certain World he created years later.

And how did Chicago "out-Eiffel" the Paris World's Fair? Let's just say an engineer named Ferris won the design competition. The story of how his creation was built is breathtaking.

So, what are you reading for tomorrow's Day to Read? Be sure to come back on Friday and either leave a comment about what you read or write about it on your blog. I will list posts that celebrate reading.

So go forth tomorrow and read. A book. A newspaper. A magazine.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Valley of Fire in Nevada

Part of how Amazing Guy enticed me to come on his annual trip to Vegas was the chance to spend part of or all of one day on a photo tour of a Nevada desert.

To say I'd been looking forward to this part of the trip would be an understatement. I was practically salivating at the prospect of trasping through rocks and sand, photographing cacti, rocks and big skies. A friend came along although I think she came because AG was worried I would be lonely. How can I be lonely with my camera?

The tour guide, Chance, picked me and our friend up at 7:00 am. Now, does anyone else think of Abba's Take a Chance on Me at this point of the story? Chance didn't find my pop culture reference all that funny. Nor did he think the other couple's comment about taking a chance in Vegas was funny either.

After the 45+ minute drive down Interstate 15 we were in the Valley of Fire, a Nevada state park. I was shocked at how few people were there. It was an inspiring place. The valley is made of petrified sand dunes. There are ancient, Native American petroglyphs - carvings on the side of rocks.

So sit back, click the slide show below and enjoy the 60+ photos I'm particularly proud of. Out of the 400+ photos I took in about four hours. And if you sit through the entire thing you'll get a treat - the red snakeskin cowboy boots will make an appearance. With a certain person wearing them. Doesn't that entice you?

And you can see some of the photos even larger at Looking Into.

One last photo-related item - fair Brillig has nominated Jenn and my joint photo site - Looking Into - for a 2008 Bloggie Award. Go to and nominate us!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Valley of Fire

Cover bands

Music Monday at Soccer Mom in Denial

So now that we've established that Amazing Guy and I spent our couple's get-away in Las Vegas, Nevada, I should tell you what we did. I didn't gamble. Not once. Amazing Guy did place a bet on a horse named Ms. Wonder Woman because I like the name but I want to emphasize that I did not place a bet nor asked him too. She also lost horribly. Only confirming why I don't bet.

We did see three cover bands in one night.

First was an Earth Wind and Fire tribute band which played covers of other bands as well. Both AG and I love Earth Wind and Fire. Their tune September being one of the best songs ever. Lately our sons have been playing a greatest hits CD as they go to sleep so we've been hearing a lot of good '70's horns and funk in the evening.

This cover band, called Showtime, was terrific and we became friendly with the keyboardist, Marvin. He apparently played in Rebbie Jackson's band (she of the famed Jackson family) and ended up in Vegas for her 6 month stint at the Venetian Hotel. He stayed and plays on the same stage Rebbie did.

Next was an awesome cover band at the same roof-top lounge where Prince played this fall. The lead singer wore a t-shirt over his long-sleeve button down shirt with the Penguin books logo (if you don't have a book for Thursday's Day to Read yet check out their site. They publish The Kite Runner, Eat Pray Love and The Adventures of Dr. Doolittle). One of the first songs the band played was The English Beat's cover of Smokey Robinson's Tears of a Clown (are you getting that - they did a cover of a cover).

So I'm happily bopping recalling high school drama club dances in my lounge seat - which was really a glorified ottoman - when suddenly a woman in high heels, black pants and a shiny strap shirt runs ups to me from behind, grabs my arm and takes me on the dance floor. She got her groove on and I had a good time as well. This scene repeated itself several times, me happily bopping only to be grabbed by this woman. My beloved husband and our friends found this entire situation very funny but never found the need to rescue me.

Later when we left she asked where I was from. I asked her the same and she said "Salt Lake City". Which, to be honest, struck me as the last place a dancing fool in a Vegas lounge dripping with booze would be from.

Clearly my face showed my shock because she added "Salt Lake isn't as frumpy as people say it is."

Then the final band (you tired yet?) was Purple Reign. Yes, a band devoted to all things and songs by the little purple one. And they took their tribute very, very seriously. There was no improvising. Every song was a spot on rendition. Which was fun, and a bit creepy.

Kinda like Vegas.

So, singing a song today? The folks below are. Let me know if you are (you've got to mention Music Monday - and me with a link back - in your post) and I will link to you.

Wholly Burble (and go wish her HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!)

A2eatwrite (who wrote about one of my favorite bands songs a broken heart)

Jenn in Holland (who is introducing us to a new blogger)

Flower Child (who writes about remakes, which isn't the same as covers. Huh? Go read her post)

Sunday, January 06, 2008

SOS - Vegas, baby

Soap Opera Sunday is back, both here and at Brillig and Walking Kateastrophe's, the co-creators of the day for us to share sudsy tales.

Amazing Guy likes Vegas. Loves Vegas. Really, really loves Vegas.

I, not so much.

I have been to Vegas once in 1992. I was driving from Louisiana to Los Angeles in the early summer and my two traveling companions wanted to go to Vegas. I wanted to go see places featuring Native American culture.

I was outvoted.

The one night we spent in Vegas I walked into a huge room filled with slot machines. In front of me was an elderly man in a wheelchair, his arms shaking, as someone helped him lift his hand to place a coin in the slot of the flashing machine.

In tears I promptly turned around to run back to the hotel room and spent the entire night there. My entertainment was watching one of the walls move as some folks in the next room were engaged in some loud, wall-moving activities.

That was my one night in Vegas.

So in 2002 when Amazing Guy announced he wanted to go to Vegas on New Year's Day 2003 and stay for a few days for poker and drinking, I told him to have a good time. I didn't want to go, didn't need to go, and didn't need to know what happened there. Figured he would have his 2-3 days of Vegas and he would be happy for the year.

Of course when he left for the airport he set the alarm to ring when anyone walked in the house, not for when the door was opened. I set off the alarm at 4:30 am.

In 2004 I was five months pregnant with our daughter. Gambling Man Amazing Guy mistakenly took every single key for the house and cars to the airport with him. I got the call at 5:00 am that AG had given a cab driver $70, the keys and our address. I had visions of a cabbie trying to to extort more money from me. Of him not showing up for hours because he was making copies of the keys. Of him forcing his way into the house while the boys were sleeping upstairs.

None of that happened. He showed up within half an hour and was a perfect gentleman.

Then in 2005 I was two weeks into a new job. AG called from Vegas and I told him there was a huge snow storm coming. I suggested he cut short his trip. He ignored my suggestion.

The airport was closed for two days and he couldn't get on a flight for another two. He was gone an entire week.

Surprisingly the last two years' trips didn't involve house alarms, blizzards or house keys in cabs.

So one guess where we went for our couple's trip this past week.