Monday, February 28, 2011

My Moment

This was perhaps the worst Oscars in recent years.  The jokes were awful, Anne Hathaway changed her dress during each cutaway, James Franco called the technical awards winners "nerds" and even if that joke was written for him by a fourth grader, he shouldn't have said it.  I saw the fewest nominated films in years, but still, the girls wanted to go to the Bijou in Iowa City and watch the telecast on the big screen, so we went. 

Surrounded by college student film buffs shouting out answers to the Oscar trivia contests which went on during each commercial break, the girls wanted a poster.  Last year, my kids cleaned up, winning free movie tickets and posters.  They correctly guessed many of the categories, having seen the shorts, all the animated, and some of the films nominated for acting.  This year, we were empty handed until...

"Which film won for makeup in 1981?  It won the first Oscar for makeup?  Anyone?  Bueller?"

Crickets chirped.  The college kids were stumped.  My own kids slid down in their chairs as I tentatively called out, "An American Werewolf in London?"  and won a poster for Lindsay.  I wanted to make a speech, about how I owed this poster to my ex-husband, who was the real horror movie buff, and I wanted to thank the Academy, and the student board who runs the Bijou, and wanted to thank my parents, but I looked at my teenagers, embarrassed that their mom had even spoken (my role now is to chauffeur and only to chauffeur) and sat back down.  Still, it feels good to win on Oscar night.  : )

Thursday, February 24, 2011

White Noise: This Week's Heard and Observed

"So, I'm trying to suggest the most white trash names possible for my friend's baby.  I thought Sherry Shasta.  Or Booyah."  "What about Whiskey Bliss?  Allthatandabagofchips?"

"Homework later!  Ghosthunting now!"

A personalized ringtone goes off, Michael Bolton's "How Am I Supposed To Live Without You?"  The woman answering her cell says, "YEAH?  What do YOU want?"

"I want a pocketful of ramekins.  Let's steal these."

"Do we have time for a ferret run?"  "There's always time for a ferret run."

"MOM!  That mouse isn't moving in its cage.  Smack it around a little."

"So, I have a new game.  I calm myself by lying, like this:   My eyebrows grew like caterpillars and then crawled around my face.  I was hungry so I ate a whale.  It was good." 

"I love the fact that you aren't like normal women.  I just think it's cute that you don't care how you look to other people."

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Linz, a Blog for You

The blog for Gonzo was started earlier this week, halted when Sarah needed on the computer for schoolwork, and just finished.  In the meantime, however, Lindsay also asked for a blog of her own and I had to admit, it's about time.  When I wrote the S&*t My Kids Say blog, I ended part one saying only two kids in the world call me Mom.  Linz pointed out that is not true; she calls me Mom, too. 

In January, Linz moved into Cathy's top bunk.  They went shopping for ways to organize and separate their stuff in Cath's room and happily settled into a routine.  They share with Sarah all the things they all want to use, like downstairs tv and computer.  Linz drives the girls to school most days, on her way to her own school.  They experiment with cooking, as Cath and Sarah have done for years.  It's a new experience for Cath, sharing her home full time with a friend, but she's doing really well with it.  And, of all Cathy's friends, Linz has probably joined us at more family events.  She's gone on our family canoe trips, gone to a family wedding reception, gone with us to stay with Uncle Kirk and go shopping in MN.  She went with us to the Oscar shorts last year, and the Oscars party at the Bijou, where she wore a huge black afro wig, and we had to sit in the back so we didn't block anyone's view of the theatre screen. 

Earlier this week, Linz said something I could have included on the S*&t My Kids Say blog, had I written it now instead of a month ago.  After watching Inception with me, she said, "If there was an Oscar category for most confusing screenplay, Inception would be the winner and only nominee."  I laughed over that for a day.  If she didn't live with us, I wouldn't get those awesome moments of pure funny, and I think that's what some parents don't realize about having kids.  It's work, but it's not just work.  It's an opportunity, to be a part of their lives. 

I'm so lucky to have Cathy and Sarah, and for a little while longer, Linz.  And, to all the kids who might trek through our house in a given week:  Matisse, Darrow, the Spencers, Kenny, Taylor, Cece, Kyra, Kiyaya, Lexi, and, of course, Matt, thanks for coming over and being part of our family, before you go back to your own.  My house will feel very quiet and empty when you have all moved onto college and homes of your own.  In the meantime, let me know who else wants a blog. 

Gonzo, the doggie lama

Okay, Darren.  We've had this argument before, about whose dog is the doggie lama.  Now, that I've met Bozwell, I can attest he is an amazing, beautiful dog. I might well believe he was the doggie lama, if I hadn't already known Gonzo, who is the doggie lama.  I have proof. 

So, we found our pup eleven years ago rolling in manure in a barn outside Wyoming, Iowa.  He was of indiscriminate breed and color.  What I thought was a wiry bush of brown fur revealed itself after a good bath to be silky black, curly when it's wet.  The breed is some mix of perhaps yellow lab and maybe cocker spaniel, but he's been called everything from a border collie to Australian sheepdog to springer spaniel.  It doesn't really matter what he is; it matters who he is, anyway.

Gonzo was twelve weeks old when we took him home, gentle and sweet, loved cats, which was a good thing.  Some of our cats have loved him.  Tiger used to lurk on the couch arm, waiting for him to pass below and then jump on his back and ride him.  Oggy and Jazz, as abandoned kittens, thought he was their mother and he would wash them.  When they tried to nurse, he looked at me in bewilderment, but even when they bit him, just got up and found another place to lay.  Butterscotch hated him, but Butterscotch hated everyone.  He let Cathy's parakeet hop all over his paws and back (we have pictures of this).  Once, at our old house, there was a baby bunny who tried to jump through our chain link fence and got caught up in the diamond links.  Baby bunnies scream when they are scared; Gonzo investigated, figured out what was wrong, and while we watched, he pushed the bunny through. 

He is pure love.  Anyone wanting an example of abject devotion needs only to go walk with us.  If I let loose of his chain, he will take a few steps alone and then come back to me.  If the girls take his leash and walk him and I get too far behind, he will lay flat on the sidewalk and try to army crawl his way back to me.  He won't pull or hurt the girls to return to me, but he won't take another step further away. 

He is a problem solver, thinks things through, and is full of love. For a dog to deny his instincts to give chase and hunt, and instead nurture smaller animals is almost unheard of.  So, sorry, Darren and Valerie.  Your dog is great, mine is better, at least to me.  Maybe that's how everyone feels about their dogs, but I never did about a dog until Gonz. 

Friday, February 11, 2011

Rock, Paper, Scissors

So, today's blog is all about money, or the idea of money.  Because, really, money is only an idea. 

I was out shopping with Sarah yesterday afternoon, because her newly acquired birthday money was burning a hole in her pocket.  I also had something to spend:  a Bath & Bodyworks coupon, to buy a certain dollar amount and receive more in merchandise free.  Anyone who knows me well knows how I love coupons.  I get my scissors out and basically make my own money, clipping away.  All those pieces of paper can be traded for stuff, or cash back. 

I once said to a friend how amazing it was that I could just trade a little piece of paper for stuff, meaning a coupon, and realized the same was true of money.  It has no value on its own; its only value is in the faith consumers have that a bill with a certain face denotes a certain value.  During failed economies, like the Weimar years, families would load up wheelbarrows full of cash to trade for one loaf of bread. 

So, here's where the rock comes in.  Recently, on NPR, a couple of economists were explaining exactly this:  the faith which propels our economy, not goods.  An island culture out in the Pacific (I forget which country), does not use cash.  They use rocks.  Unluckily for them, one especially huge and fine rock was being transported by boat to the island and fell into the ocean, where it sits on the ocean floor.  The islanders STILL use that rock as currency, because they will buy and sell ownership of it, knowing that it is there. 


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

John Henry vs. Machismo

  It's a good thing, living where I do, that I am extremely good at shoveling snow.  I've never owned a snowblower, never really wanted one, and get along just fine by shoveling myself out whenever it snows hard. 

At our old house, sometimes I would venture outside at the same time as our neighbor across the way, and after a wave, Don and I would race, whether he knew it or not.  He with his snowblower and I with my shovel, and we would tie working equal distance of the sidewalks around our corner houses.  Sometimes, I would even win.  I felt like John Henry, with my shovel. I never felt like a girl, outmanned by a snowblower. 

But, occasionally, I find myself outgunned by the good intentions of a few guys with their toys.  Today, for instance, Sarah and I were out shoveling, when up walks Justin N. with a shovel.  He figured we could use his help.  What a great kid, and so is Linz, who called him because she knew I wouldn't ask for help, but might need it, anyway.

Then, when I drove over to Ely with my trusty shovel to unstick Linz's car, I got in two minutes, before a red-cheeked man from across the street came over and waved me aside.  He had a snowblower.  He manfully tackled the waist-high drift created by the snowplow, before being waved aside by a younger man with a much bigger snowblower.  "Stand back, old man," said the boy.  The two men laughed and Linz and I just looked at each other over the guys' heads, standing helplessly by with our shovels, afraid to get in the way of this testosterone contest fought with snowblowers.  The winner was the guy who arrived next, with a skidloader, to easily move the pile of snow.

I totally could have gotten Linz's car free, just as I could have cleared my own driveway.  I don't know if it's the protective instinct among men to fix things for women and show off a little at the same time, what their cool toys can do.  It's very cute, really.