Monday, January 23, 2012

Me: Adopted and Pro-Life

I am adopted, so this video simultaneously melts and ennobles my heart. As I am pro-life, it gives strength to my cause.

Lord, may the prayers of those who are begging for an end to abortion save lives on this anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

Some 200,000 people marched in Washington, D.C. today. President Obama also delivered a brief statement supporting the 1973 Supreme Court Decision. You can read about his disturbing affirmation here.

Friday, January 20, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday

I think it's brilliant to get the mini-topics out of my brain once a week. So these are my 7 Quick Takes, linked to the wonderfully smart and funny Conversion Diary blog that inspires me regularly.

--- 1 ---

I sat at an intersection this week, checking out the cyclist waiting beside me. He had on the clothes that cyclists wear - the tight, shiny clothes that go along with the leg shaving that I was surprised to discover my brother engaged in when he was at the height of his cycling career. And this guy had sponsors. And the sponsors were: Allegiant and Patron. An airline and a tequila. Novel combination. No longer was I content to sit and wonder; I wanted to ask how he came to have these sponsors. And to ascertain if he has a life of cycling on weekdays, and jet setting on weekends to places where he can relax and indulge in "the #1 ultra-premium tequila in the world." But then the light turned green.

--- 2 ---

"Bad Day" by Daniel Powter and "Beautiful Day" by U2 are one after the other when my playlist is alphabetized. I like it. That's my life, baby.

--- 3 ---

IF you don't have the money for a boob job, or are morally opposed to such a thing, you can do worse for yourself than marching into Nordstrom and having a nice lady set you and your girls up with a professionally fitted bra. Even if you go with an eighty-dollar jobbie, it'll last a couple years and you'd have to buy a whole slew to equal the cost of surgical augmentation and you will have eradicated the pesky risk of booby breakage. Personally, I have been happy with Wacoal brand. Tell 'em I sent ya.

--- 4 ---

I can neither confirm nor deny my ongoing dalliance with coffee. I will admit recent purchases of Coconut creamer and Vanilla Cinnamon. But for all you know, I'm drinking it straight out of the bottle. Which leads me to state that I can neither confirm nor deny my ongoing dalliance with sugar.

--- 5 ---

Later this very day, I will join my good friend Michelle and our children in picking apart owl pellets, which Michelle was able to procure online. I have learned, as you now will, that owls swallow their prey whole. Within an hour or two, they regurgitate the undigestables - like bones and fur - into a handy, online-sellable pellet. We hope to reconstruct an entire rodent, glue it together, and put it out in the yard as a warning to the newly-discovered rats in our neighborhood.

--- 6 ---

The newly-discovered rats in our neighborhood: as this is not the year 1300, and I've never known personally any victims of the Black Plague, I am shocked to learn that our neighborhood has rats. Someone said they rode in on the palm trees with a landscaping company from Arizona - but someone said the same thing about the scorpions and, for all I know, the bunion on my right big toe; the delinquent middle-school boy across the street; my pre-menstrual headaches; the cigarette butts lining the sidewalk; and the pigeons which have taken over our street.

--- 7 ---
I'm doing my own breadmaking. It is in the preliminary stages. If I don't fail miserably, the next step is grinding my own wheat. That will be the final step - I can't plant a wheat field - there is no room in my backyard for a crop of any kind. Just like I can't have chickens in this neighborhood, (which is a crying shame since they eat scorpions), I can not grow wheat. Well, I think technically I can grow the wheat, but bringing in the oxen for the plow every harvest would be sketchy.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Broken Bones and Mafia Undertones

If I were to tell you a couple stories from my growing-up years, it could be boring. But what if I told you a couple stories from my growing-up years that had serious mafia undertones I'm only just now recognizing? Well, that would be exciting, wouldn't it?

Yesterday I listed some personal life incidents, one of which was: "Broke a bone - toes and leg-- one resulted in a plane ride, one in a '66 Mustang." And I said I needed blog topics, and Katie wanted to hear about this one.

First, let me tell the stories, briefly. Then, in a whisper, I will reveal the mafia undertones.

In my senior year of high school, my boyfriend was a goofball. His best friend was an even bigger goofball. But they were both VERY cute, so my best friend and I put up with them. One wintry December day, we loaded into boyfriend's sexy black Trans Am and drove up to Mt. Charleston for some happy, wholesome sledding. Things turned painful when boyfriend's best friend careened down the hill into my foot. My leg bone did not withstand the impact and I had to be carried back to the Trans Am. Thankfully, the six weeks of a cast and crutches would be over before graduation. Also thankfully, my friend in computer class felt enormously sympathetic toward me so for the entire six weeks of my handicap, she picked me up and drove me to school in her lemon-chiffon convertible Mustang.

Mafia undertone: this friend had an Italian last name. This is nearly all the proof of mob ties you need living in Las Vegas, but as I recalled today, there were also many many conversations in the car on the way to school, with our two other passengers, about how my driver's father always had tons of cash on hand, kept strange and secret work hours, and showered with his gun.

The broken toes are less serious from an orthopedic standpoint, but the implications for my own family are serious and sinister.

One happy, carefree day, my brother and I decided it would be fun to play baseball in the house. In our defense, we had a large, carpeted, non-furnished playroom above the garage. I have no recollection why we didn't take this idea into the backyard, front yard, street, or neighboring school grounds - but let's just chalk it up to a spontaneous burst of sports fun. (Incidentally, spontaneous bursts of sports fun in my house today on the part of my offspring result in swift relocation out of doors - so one could ask, "Where were my parents?" This would be a good question.) Anyhoo, in one action-packed inning, I was sliding into home. That's it. That's what I was doing. But home plate was right up against the wall and when I slid, my toes careened into the wall. (Notice in both of these stories that "careening" precedes breakage of bones. I have since learned to try to avoid careens.)

Much of the rest of that day is muddled in my memory. It might be that the pain clouded my clear thinking. Or it might be that this happened over twenty years ago. But what I do remember is that my brother and I were due to visit my father (my divorced parents lived in different states at that time) and there were timing issues with the visit, especially pertaining to my appointment with a toe doc, so my father picked us up in a private jet at a small-town airport.

Mafia undertone: How long, exactly, did my father think I'd buy the "I'm-an-innocent-plane-mechanic-who-makes-great-friends-with-the-pilots-and-therefore-cavorts-all-over-the-country-in-a-King-Air-with-politicians-and-celebrities-and-casino-owners" story? Well, I don't know how long he thought I'd buy it, but since I broke my toes at age 13 and am now 41, I guess the answer is 28 years! My naivete is no longer! I'm on to you, Dad! You must have been a hit man, because the bosses are usually fatter and smoke a lot. So kudos to you for being able to commit cold-blooded murder and then swoop out of the sky to pick up your pre-teen with her broken toes and get her to the doctor for a clunky shoe.

There you have it. Things are not always as they seem. Sometimes you think you have a simple childhood story, but if you take a closer look, POW!... drama fit for the big screen. Or if not the big screen, at least my blog.

Man, SO tempted to post a photo of me and boyfriend on my dad's sailboat with me in my cast. Or me in my broken-toe shoe posing in front of Dad's sailboat. But now I'm distracted wondering what he REALLY used the sailboat for...

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Did It

I found this 100 Life Experiences on Heather's blog. I will indicate the things I've done in boldface, along with occasional commentary.

Started your own blog
Slept under the stars
- my dad had something against tents
Played in a band
Visited Hawaii
Watched a meteor shower
Given more than you can afford to charity

Been to Disneyland (and Disney World)
Climbed a mountain
Held a praying mantis
Sang a solo
Bungee jumped - you betcha! with my daredevil brother 
Visited Paris - replica in my hometown of Las Vegas
Watched a lightning storm at sea - on our honeymoon cruise
Taught yourself an art from scratch
Adopted a child
Had food poisoning
Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
Grown your own vegetables
Seen the Mona Lisa in France
Slept on an overnight train - in India - very vivid memories of this
Had a pillow fight
Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
- many times, which may explain my many firings
Built a snow fort
Held a lamb - no, but watching a baby goat birth oughtta count here
Gone skinny dipping - I got in a lot of trouble for that
Run a marathon
Ridden in a gondola in Venice - replica in my hometown of Las Vegas
Seen a total eclipse
Watched a sunrise or sunset

Hit a home run
Been on a cruise
Seen Niagara Falls in person
Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
- as well as their burial places
Seen an Amish community
- I have the magnet to prove it!
Taught yourself a new language
Had enough money to be truly satisfied
Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
Gone rock climbing
Seen Michelangelo’s David - replica in my hometown of Las Vegas
Sung karaoke
Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt - on two separate visits
Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
Visited Africa - I don't remember it, because it was in the throes of labor since my daughter insists she was born there
Walked on a beach by moonlight
Been transported in an ambulance
Had your portrait painted
Gone deep sea fishing
Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris - replica in my hometown of Las Vegas
Gone SCUBA diving or snorkeling
Kissed in the rain
Played in the mud
Gone to a drive-in theater

Been in a movie
Visited the Great Wall of China
Started a business
Taken a martial arts class
Visited Russia
Served at a soup kitchen
Sold Girl Scout Cookies - but I have eaten my fair share
Gone whale watching

Got flowers for no reason
Donated blood, platelets or plasma
- read all about it here
Gone sky diving
Visited a Nazi concentration camp
Bounced a check
Flown in a helicopter - even helped pilot one
Saved a favorite childhood toy
Visited the Lincoln Memorial

Eaten caviar - my opinion: too salty
Pieced a quilt
Stood in Times Square - replica in my hometown of Las Vegas
Toured the Everglades
Been fired from a job - oh, many, many times
Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
Broken a bone - toes and leg-- one resulted in a plane ride, one in a '66 Mustang
Been on a speeding motorcycle
Seen the Grand Canyon in person
- many, many times - and one day, I'll hike it
Published a book
Visited the Vatican
Bought a brand new car
Walked in Jerusalem - there is no replica in my hometown of Las Vegas... wonder why?
Had your picture in the newspaper
Read the entire Bible
Visited the White House
Killed and prepared an animal for eating - a trout, specifically
Had chickenpox
Saved someone’s life
Sat on a jury
Met someone famous
Joined a book club
Lost a loved one
Had a baby
- four, in fact
Seen the Alamo in person
Swam in the Great Salt Lake
Been involved in a law suit
Owned a cell phone
Been stung by a bee
Read an entire book in one day

64/100 which is not bad considering I may only be about halfway through life on Earth. Sure helps that I live where I do, or else Venice, Paris, New York, and the statue of David would be out of reach.

I'm running low on blog topics, so if you need some elaboration on any of these, please ask.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

I think I could run a marathon in 2012...

... if I could wear my Smart Wool crew socks and Tempur-Pedic slippers.

In fact, by golly, if I could wear my Smart Wool crew socks and Tempur-Pedic slippers, I think I could do ANYTHING in 2012!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

On Reading

(Title and subject copied from Rob Dixon - hoping some of my blogging friends will now in turn copy me.)
A year ago, I had high aspirations for reading 11 books in 2011. This was my list, removed only earlier today from my sidebar:
  • Don Quixote - Cervantes
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame - Hugo
  • Something of Aquinas'
  • Sense and Sensibility - Austen
  • Confessions - Augustine
  • Wuthering Heights - Bronte
  • The Divine Comedy (all 3 books) - Dante
  • Robinson Crusoe - Defoe
  • Great Expectations - Dickens
  • The Iliad and The Odyssey - Homer
  • Collected Speeches by Martin Luther King, Jr.
I finished Great Expectations in March. I still had great expectations for my reading at that point, and dove into Robinson Crusoe. It didn't go well. And it didn't help that I was reading it on my iPhone. That is sure to bring on some vision issues lickety-split.

Never started any of the other books on the list. I kept reading, yes, but not the books I'd intended. One of my favorites was: Divine Mercy in My Soul - Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska. I would even call it life-changing. St. Fautina's example of suffering and sacrifice, coupled with her love for Jesus made a difference in how I've lived my life since reading the diary during Lent.

My father gave me Stephen Ambrose's To America - Personal Reflections of an Historian and I savored it. You may know Ambrose but don't know you know him - because he wrote books that provided the historical backbone for movies like "Saving Private Ryan." He has written more than 25 works of history, but this book is almost as much about writing as it is about history. I loved hearing about the adventures he had in researching. And he piqued my interest in World War II, and his work on documenting D-Day so now I really REALLY want to visit the National D-Day Museum in New Orleans. Since my dad gave me the book, maybe he should organize that trip.

I perused my bookshelves to pull out other titles I finished this year, but suddenly the past couple years blended together and I can't remember which books were 2011 and which were 2010. No matter, I also came across some I've purchased and haven't picked up yet. As soon as I finish Catching Fire and Mockingjay, next up is Heart of the Trail - The Stories of Eight Wagon Train Women. Here we go 2012!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Life is Hard for Everyone

"Life is hard for everyone." This is one of the revelations I've had only since becoming a grown-up. It is on a list along with, "Mushrooms are delicious," and "Skinny people don't eat brownie sundaes several times a day."

I remember the time that last one sunk in. I was a big fan of the TV show "Friends." But one of my issues is a penchant for comparing myself to slim Hollywood stars and coming up short. Not until I disciplined myself a few years back and lost 25 pounds did it occur to me that Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox-Arquette, and Lisa Kudrow also had to WORK at being thin. They didn't get to eat anything they wanted anytime they wanted and miraculously remain slim and toned. Granted, they probably have a paid staff and hordes of time to help them focus on the size of their thighs, but still... they had/have to actually put forth an effort of some sort.

My career goal in college was to be a reporter and eventually work my way to anchorwoman. Naturally, I admired the talents and positions of women like Diane Sawyer, Connie Chung, Jane Pauley, Barbara Walters, and Paula Zahn (NOT Katie Couric, mind you). One day I heard an interview with one of them and she was asked about the crazy hours she was required to keep. Remarking on her 3:30 a.m. wake-up, she admitted that every single day when the alarm clock would sound, her mind would immediately start devising excuses for not getting out of bed. I was shocked! I suppose I assumed that with her high-power career, enormous success, and good looks, life was just easy for her. It matured me to realize that successful people become successful not because everything comes easy to them, but because they are willing to work. Even if they're given a break to attain that success, they have to work to keep it.

I follow a group of "mother runners" on facebook and I know from reading hundreds of posts that even though a woman might love to run, she usually doesn't love to wake up to run. This is oddly comforting. It's not like it's only hard for me. My inner whiner who says, "This is sooooo unfair! I wanna stay in bed! Everyone else has it so easy - they wake up to brilliant moods and good breath and matched running socks. But not me! It's HORRIBLE for me. I feel horrible, I look horrible, and it's too cold outside," has to be ignored. Perhaps she even has to be smothered with my pillow. I wonder if that's what Diane Sawyer did with her inner whiner.

Christmas break is coming to a close. Tomorrow I have to rise early once again and shower and dress and start a load of laundry and count my Weight Watchers points and assemble my children in their homeschool classroom, and, oh... get back to running. It ain't gonna be easy. But at least I'm not alone.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

My Very Own Commune

In my ideal world, we all could hang out and talk and eat and go for hikes and raise our children together and celebrate every major holiday. I recognize this is the gist of a commune. In fact, I've researched a couple communes - one based on shared birthing philosophies (which would deteriorate after menopause, presumably); one based on religion. If they weren't located in awkward states like Florida and Indiana, I believe I would have already joined.

My husband has a paying job in Las Vegas, Nevada, so here we are. I am unaware of any registered communes in Las Vegas, but what we have in our neighborhood is sort of a "junior" commune. Eight families who know each other well, moved here on purpose, help each other out with the kids and occasionally gather for dinner. In order to become a "full-fledged" commune, I think all we need are more guitars, longer hair on the men, and a couple of Volkswagen buses. In the commune of my imagining, someone else cooks and I do the dishes. I never have to cook. Occasionally, I'll bake, but it's never my turn to make dinner. Oh, and we all have lots of time to spend time together because, presumably, someone is independently wealthy and has financed our endless free time to play guitar, grow hair, and insure the Volkswagens.

In real life, we have to pay the bills, maintain the houses, and go to soccer games. There are events to attend, errands to do, TV shows to watch, classes at the gym. And while I have no problem with any of these things on their own, once you pile them all together, you have exactly NO time to commune! Now I'm using commune as a verb instead of a noun. If you prefer, use the term "hang out" or, as I once heard in a book called Reclaiming Friendship, by Ajith Fernando, "linger." Mr. Fernando said we don't know how to linger, and I agree with him. We can't stick around to just "be" with each other when the to-do list calls.

I don't know how to remedy this. Even if I resolve to linger more at friends' houses, I'm not sure how they'll take it. What's the balance between lingering for the sake of deepening our friendships and wearing out our welcome? Lately I am very drawn to the friendships that are "easy." We get along, our kids get along, there is no shortage of conversation topics, and I can even wear my slippers or pajama pants around them and it's okay. One of my new year's resolutions is, in essence, to "visit" people more. A great visit happened today when some friends of ours came over after church and stayed through lunch (which they brought) and dinner (which we provided). We sat and talked and ate a couple times and even prayed together.  There was a lot of laughing and the kids kept busy and happy as well. I think even without the guitars, long hair, and Volkswagens, we're on to something. Lord, help me cultivate this in 2012.