Thursday, April 30, 2009

"Something Wicked This Way Comes........"

In case you're wondering what to do today and just can't come up with anything, let me offer you this advice: Do anything except hold a snake right after it eats. I know the risk of this is high. I'm here for you.

I offer this tip from first hand experience. They don't like it.

I have learned quite a bit about feeding snakes. And I have also learned quite a bit about snakes that have been fed. You should probably stop reading at this point.

Goodbye! Have a nice snake-free day!

(Elevator music here.....................)

You're still here aren't you.

Suit yourself but I will not be responsible for the violent illness you are about to experience. Please keep all arms and legs inside the ride until it comes to a complete stop.

Several years ago, being the demented homeschoolers we are and having a sickening and morbid fascination delightful and childlike curiosity about nature, we decided to buy a snake. We had been to the fair and seen ball pythons, and, discovering they rarely bite and don't have big fangs (they're constrictors) we figured this was the three-foot-long, two inch diameter reptile for us.

Twenty bucks later we were picking ticks off a snake.

Yes, that's right dear reader. Did you realize not only dogs get big, fat disgusting ticks but so do snakes? Aren't snakes, in their own dear way, gross enough already?

Well, the answer to that silly query is no, they are not. They can, in fact, become much grosser for a variety of reasons.

We learned about snake ticks through vast internet searches. We always search endlessly about whatever new endeavor we embark upon so we may never have to do actual housework or yardwork again be good and trusted guardians of anything we acquire. Upon discovering snake ticks we also learned how to remove them. You must inspect millions of snake scales while looking through a magnifying glass and checking for little black things attached under said scales. If you are cursed and reviled among women lucky, you will find them. You then use tweezers to pull them off. You must do this for a SNAKE'S comfort and health even though you might be tempted to let your best friend die of tick poisoning before combing through her entire body hunting for ticks.

The next adventure will be getting your snake to eat. Yes, snakes, just like everything else, must take in nourishment. Purina does not make snake food for you to put in a cute little bowl with your pet snake's name emblazoned on the side. (Our snake's name was "Max." My apologies to our wonderful HUMAN friend, Max. It was before we knew you. He was nothing like you. I have never even known you to have fleas, let alone ticks.)

Back to feeding your snake. Where snake food comes from is from rats. That's right. Rats give birth to other rats and, before they are fully grown, you feed those rats to your snake. So, you will have to go to the pet store to buy what they call "feeder" rats. You may feel somewhat squeamish about this but it is, after all, what snakes do: keep rodent populations down. But, occasionally, in the feeding process, problems arise. Some snakes can actually be fearful of live rodents running around their cage and so develop eating reluctance. They can even die if they wait too long to eat. You, therefore, as the pet owner, must take them to therapy where they will lie on very long, narrow couches and tell their therapist about how having ticks picked off of them has made them afraid of EVERYthing. The therapist will admonish you and then advise you to kill your snake's food before you offer it.

That's right. In order to become a qualified and caring snake owner, you may personally, with your own personage, in person, have to kill rats, or at least knock them out. This is simple, the websites all say. Simply grab them by the tail, give them a swing, and bop their heads against something hard. This will knock them out kill them instantly. At that time, lay the soundly "sleeping" rat in the snake's cage and, if given ample privacy, he will consume them without terror to the rat or snake. They claim this is the most humane way rodents are eaten in captivity or in the wild. This seems to make sense and you hate and loathe your husband for ever bringing this stupid thing into the house appreciate the man you've married when he offers to take care of this unpleasant business.

Once your sleepy-time rat is safely ensconced inside your snake's cage, you may find your snake still won't eat. Eating is a very private snake activity, and just as we, as travelers, may experience that uncomfortable feeling of, how shall I say it, public bathroom reluctance, so, in the almost same way, your snake won't eat because then people might actually KNOW he eats and that would be so embarrassing. If this goes on too long, sometimes help is necessary. For your snake, this means using forceps to hold your peacefully dreaming rat, prying open the jaws of your snake, and forcing the issue, as it were. This may be unpleasant but will result in severe trauma for women, children, rats, and snakes successful nourishment for your snake and establish you as a responsible pet owner.

Eventually, our snake began to eat on his own and we no longer had to resort to these draconian measures. But we also needed more rats. Thus, we purchased Jack and Jill. Jack was a pleasant fellow and became our pet. Jill, his brawling wife, chose never to make nice and bit me heartily the first day we brought her home. However, she was prolific. So much so that we sold her offspring back to the pet store on occasion. Rats give birth to LOTS of rats. She often had litters of 14 or more. Max could never keep up. Snakes typically eat only once every week or two. Consequently, Jack and Jill had separate bedrooms.

We came to be quite fond of Max. Love is perhaps too strong a word but we enjoyed his wrapping himself around our arms and moving, seemingly without effort, up our shoulders and around our throats. We tried not to take this personally and only disengaged him when we were in danger of blacking out. Bo was very good with him and "wore" him frequently around the house. The Wild Man was still too young for snake handling or charming (unless snakes are charmed by putting them in your mouth which he tried to do) but found Max's company fascinating. I came to like feeling Max draped over my shoulders and around the back of my neck as I sat typing at the keyboard. (Of course, people thought we were brave and clever incredibly stupid and moronic and we may have lost friends we actually liked.)

And it was in one of these tender snake/owner moments between Max and me that I learned a cardinal rule about snakes: They must have time to digest.

Max had just finished a particularly successful feeding session a few hours earlier when I decided we should have some warm and fuzzy bonding time together. I had work to do at the computer and thought the company would be nice. I picked him up, everyone had a look and some touching and handling, and then I placed him in his favorite position draped lazily dangling around my neck. I took my seat. I wasn't typing very long when I felt him begin to move. This wasn't all that unusual as he wasn't always stationary. In fact, his moves frequently felt almost massage-like and I reveled in the relaxing effect taking place in my shoulder muscles. I smiled. His movements seemed to become more pronounced. More than I had felt before. He seemed to be lurching, in fact. I became paralyzed and stricken dumb with the horrifying realization that this snake could hurl on me concerned.

"Grizzly!" I screamed as though my underwear had suddenly become consumed in an all out conflagration called out. "I think Max is going to throw...............................up."

And at that moment, there for me to behold in all its slime covered rat glory, was our snake's breakfast - every last dead nose, feet, fur, and tail of him - laying on my lap in one whole and intact package.

There really aren't words to describe this particular situation. You can't move or the thing will slide down your legs, and you can't simply sit still with a dead, slimy rat in your lap and a retching snake around your neck. So you just continue to shout out, "Ewww, EWWWW, EWWWWWWWWW!!! while your husband dashes in and hoses down your underwear with the fire extinguisher. Eventually you know he will discover the truth and bring you a paper towel because HE sure as heck isn't grabbing that dead slimy thing off your lap.

Thus, when you are tempted to buy snakes, kill rats, and allow serpents to encircle your throat, refrain gentle reader. Oh, not from the purchase. Ownership is delightful as you can see. But do wait a proper period of say, thirty years or so, before holding your resplendent reptile after he has dined.

Don't say I didn't tell you so because I guarantee you: you heard it here first.

"I'm not about to go out and buy a snake for a pet. I mean, I may have faced a few fears but I'm not insane." Kristen Davis

Copyright 2009

*Photos are stock imges from the internet but are very like our snake.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Observational Twitter 16


"Beauty is only skin deep." Sir Thomas Overbury


"Uh, okay. Can I sign up anyway?" Robynn

Bulletin::::::This just in:::::::Libby at Neas Nuttiness is in a HUGE contest to win ownership of a paying blog! Check out her site, read about it, and please send in your vote. I have no idea HOW you get paid to write a blog but apparently it has something to do with the theory of money. I have heard it exists between two leather pieces called a wallet. I keep looking but this revolutionary/evolutionary theory isn't working in MY wallet. All I have is receipts and dust. I'm pretty sure the only thing green in there might be mold.

Copyright 2009

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Pig Deal

I have acted like a pig.

I have eaten like a pig.

I have EATEN a pig.

I like Miss Piggy.

I have an all-time favorite movie about a pig.

I have an all-time favorite book about a pig.

I've been to football games where they toss around a pig skin.

I used to be married to a man who behaved like a pig. (Sorry, pigs everywhere, that wasn't fair.)

(Not my actual first husband. This guy looks much nicer, is a snappier dresser, and probably never held a loaded gun on his wife - and that's not even what I divorced him for!)

I have wished we had a store named "Piggly Wiggly" just because it's fun to say.

I have even played, "This little piggy went to market" (but I didn't actually eat the toes).

However, I have never, nor do I now, want anything to do with THIS pig.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Hollie Steel - Britain's Got Talent - Show 3

Very busy day today and my regular posts are delayed, but I did see this last night and wanted to put a smile on your face today. It even gave me chills. Don't you just love it when you get chills and it's not because you have a 105 degree fever or aren't in danger of hypothermia from being stranded roadside in the snow wearing only your swimsuit and flipflops? Oh, maybe that's just me.

I just consider those things to be such a bonus.

And the second wave of chills almost seems greedy (but I got them!)

Feel good moment of the it comes.....go forth and SMILE!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Danny MacAskill

Anyone who does something this well deserves to be appreciated.

I'm doing well to point my bike down the street and stay upright.

I first saw this on The Glass Dragonfly from my friend, Kelly, and I had to pass it along.

The guy is truly amazing as a cyclist and athlete, and the amount of perseverance it took to achieve something of this magnitude inspires me. I think I might know a few boys who imagine these feats when riding. If you're a mom of boys, you may as well. When I watch this I can't help but see poetry, dance, and art. I love beauty in any form. And excellence is always beautiful to me.

The bio from You Tube says this:

"Filmed over the period of a few months in and around Edinburgh by Dave Sowerby, this video of Inspired Bicycles team rider Danny MacAskill features probably the best collection of street/street trials riding ever seen. There's some huge riding, but also some of the most technically difficult and imaginative lines you will ever see. Without a doubt, this video pushes the envelope of what is perceived as possible on a trials bike."

Credit to Band of Horses for their epic song "The Funeral."

Have a blessed Sunday!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Seriously....This is a Disease

Just one more and then really, I have so many other things to do. And tell you. And show you. But I just had to run this one past all y'all. Isn't that irritating when people from California say "y'all?" And I'm not even from Bakersfield.

So last night, I got out the DVD series that my dear friend, Teresa, loaned me. (Sorry Teresa! I know it was only TWO MONTHS ago but I had to read those books you loaned me first!)You've seen Teresa's name pop up here if you read comments. She even actually KNOWS me so right there is proof I have friends in real life. And she still comes around here. Which also shows you my friends might be as mental as I am.

Bo had been away for four days at Disneyland/Huntington Beach on her senior trip - with hey! Teresa as one of the chaperones and planner/coordinator extraordinaire - and now she was home and I was glad because I was MISSIN' her. I let her sleep until 1pm, then The Wild Man and I hunkered down to listen to all the fun details of her trip. Afterwards I paid bills, ordered a year book for her, shopped graduation announcements, worked on plans for her graduation party, sent out save-the-date emails, blogged, and then at some point, drew a breath and had an epiphany (it's like a baby but it hurts a lot less): "We gotta watch 'The Waltons' or Teresa's gonna kill me!" I mean, I'd been wanting to watch it but couldn't figure out when.

My kids have never seen it so I envisioned this tender family moment wherein midwest, depression-era values, and bonding, and all things good would be emulated and modeled for us on screen. From a writer's perspective. With Richard Thomas playing "John Boy," the writer/narrator. Bo wants to write. This would be so meaningful to her. I could feel the mother/daughter bonding being born at that very moment from my own body. It was so real I nearly nursed it, diapered it, and stuck it in a crib.

"Doesn't that sound good?" I inquired of my dual progeny. The hairy-legged child had to be pulled off "Guitar Hero" with the Jaws of Life and the girl who had just arrived from "The Happiest Place on Earth!" wasn't all that happy. She was missing her fun friend time and unbridled freedom. The bosom of her family was a poor second to the thrill-a-minute world from which she had recently transported. She also wanted to read a book while we watched. It's good to be loved.

And then there's me with possible ADD issues. (Thank you, Sharon, my dear follower friend. Your check for analysis is in the mail. You may be on to me.) The very second Richard Thomas's face loomed onto the screen I started doing it. "Look at that smile........who IS that?" This one didn't take me long. Hands down, it was Scarlet Johanson. Is Richard Thomas her father, Luke?

Again, I say, YOU be the judge.

Look at the TEETH! The nose! The shape of face! Okay, so she plucks her eyebrows. Work with me.

Alright, that's it. I'll leave you alone now. It may be that you actually have to see the lift of his head as he smiles over the pool table at Ike Godsey and the Sheriff. You might have to rent the very first episode of The Waltons. You might have to take an Excedrin after reading this and wonder what in the world you were thinking when you decided to hang out with me. Go back to your lives as they were before I tried to infect you. If you haven't caught it, run away. It is terminal. I'll live with it until I die. If I bug anymore people, that might be sooner rather than later.

Copyright 2009

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Twins? YOU Be The Judge.

I have one television program I watch. That's it. I used to have two. Then I started blogging. Now any media time I have is spent here. But I do watch it, religiously, if religiously means most of the time I forget it's on and then I have to watch it through my cable company. My program is "LOST." I've been watching from the beginning and I still don't know what's going on so if you want to jump on board now, just remember: they don't call it "LOST" for no reason.

Maybe my problem is I can't focus. You know how I shared about our family affliction of morphing names? And a whole bunch of you said you have this same condition? Well, I have another problem. I can't help making face associations. I will watch a program or movie and keep thinking the whole time, "Who the heck does this actor remind me of?" And then I'll ask my family why I can't understand what's happening in the show or movie and they always say the same thing: "Aren't you WATCHING?!"

Well, uh, sorta. I'm watchin' that face.

I think I should work for the FBI or CIA or something. If some known criminal tried to slip out of the country in drag, I'd spot 'em immediately. I wouldn't necessarily crack the case but I'd say, "Hey! Stop that guy! He reminds me of somebody!" And then I'd spend my whole lunch hour replaying the tape and buggin' other agents who were watching security cameras by saying, "Can't you see it? Look. Look over here at MY monitor. See? Now who does that remind you of? What? Madea? Hey, you're right! That's Tyler Perry!"

And then they'd fire me.

But maybe I could draw my pension until I drop dead. That's what our senators and congressman get to do. They just have these short jobs and then we pay their pensions for the rest of their lives. Oh for pity's sake, how did I climb up on THAT soap box? I really should wear a seatbelt and stay in it.

Where was I? Face recognition, that's right, and that program I watch, "LOST." The actor who kept reminding me of someone is Josh Holloway. He plays a character named Sawyer, or James, depending on who's talking to him.

Another favorite actor (or actress, if you will) is Jodie Foster. And one night, after reliving movie scenes in my head, I saw it. And I exclaimed, "That's IT! That's who Sawyer reminds me of! It's Jodie Foster! They even have a similar way of talking!" No one really caught my excitement. They kept telling me to watch the program. I WAS watching and I still have no idea what's going on.

But I decided to look up those famous faces online and compare them. You tell me. Separated at birth? One very busy actor? Swimmin' in the same gene pool?

I have this affliction when we go places, too, and sometimes tell people, "You look just like my Great Aunt Gertrude." (And I don't even HAVE an Aunt Gertrude.) My husband wants to kill me or pretend I'm a vagrant he's never seen before. (That probably tells you more about how I dress than it should.) I guess it is embarrassing when the person I'm telling is the 18-year-old produce guy. I try to refrain. No really. I'm so much better than I used to be.

I have to be. I can't afford to get fired from this wife/mother job. Gotta keep workin' for life cause there's no pension whatsoever. Even though I was voted into office.

Copyright 2009

Happy Sanitarium - The Interview

The lovely lady you see to the far left in this photo is Naomi, author of "Diaries of the Happy Sanitarium". I know I shared this yesterday and don't expect you to be in your dotterage,* completely unable to remember a salient fact from as short a time ago as yesterday. However, in the event I have hundreds of new readers today who are not familiar with this tome (and the likelyhood of that is prodigious), I felt new introductions were in order. Henceforth, I will dispense with the overuse of advanced vocabulary words as I have now exhausted my vast mental lexicon. Oh hark! And anon! There is this one thing more.....

*Dotterage: A word not included in modern dictionaries but which, prima facie, is, at the least, colloquial in nature. Okay, I'm done.

Let the interview begin!

Robynn: How long have you been blogging and why did you start?

Naomi: I think I've been blogging since August 2008. I started originally to keep my family updated on our going's on up here... we live at least 5 hours away from our immediate families now, and I was tired of sending mass e-mails to family, and not really being sure of who I should include, if they consider it nagging, etc. Then I'd feel all weird if folks didn't email me back, it was like they were ignoring me speaking to them, and it made me obsess. With a blog, it's nice (really nice!) if people leave comments, but I don't feel as tho I am shoving my kid's adorable little stories in their face all the time. Nobody FORCES them to check it, after all. And, I really HATE Facebook. I know, I'm weird. But, it is a visually obnoxious web program, and that irritates me. There are reasons why there are rules for designing websites that will make people return to them. Visually obnoxious programs should not, IMHO, be used, or encouraged by anyone. It just encourages the little geeks in their little cubicles to make more visually obnoxious programs, and then the world is overrun by visual obnoxiousness.

Robynn: I couldn't agree more, Naomi. I was turning myself inside out to share, through email, stunning and revelatory information with my friends and yet it seemed few were riveted by my musings. Now that I've started a blog they complain that they never hear from me. Isn't that just the way? Oh sorry! This interview wasn't about ME was it....... Apparently I never miss an opportunity for good, cathartic therapy. Moving on......

Robynn: What has been the most fun and/or rewarding part about blogging?

Naomi: Well, when I started I had NO IDEA that so many of my friends & acquaintances through our church etc., had blogs. I just never thought about it before. But, I used to work, so never really even thought about connecting with other people. At the end of the day, I was done with other people. So, now that I'm a SAHM, it has totally forced me into this world of motherhood, where you're SO GLAD to connect with other moms who speak kid all day long as well. Blogging is a great way to do that, cuz you don't have to pay gas money or over-minutes charges on your cell phone to connect, and you don't have to make a play date to do it... you just switch the laundry, empty the dishwasher, fold a pile of clothes, put shoes away, start dinner, and then take a break for 5 minutes here and there on the computer.

Robynn: What has been your biggest surprise?

Naomi: The thing that has actually surprised me the most is how posts can totally take on a life of their own. When I'd read an author's notes on a novel, or something, I'd always sniff my nose when they'd say something like, "I couldn't wait to see how this story I've written ended!" That always made me go, "Umm. Duh, you're writing it. You should know how it ends!" But it's really true for me, in my little blogging way, sometimes my posts really sprout wings and fly in a different direction then I've planned for them, or things that I planned to get in there totally end up not working. I'm not, by any means, any sort of novelist, but it is a creative outlet using words, so I don't feel as though it is unreasonable to use that parallel example... :-)

Robynn: What are your greatest frustrations?

Naomi: Can't think of anything. If something frustrates me, I usually don't touch it at all, ever. I will blog as long as it makes me happy to do so. The day it becomes irritating is the day I quit. Life is far to short to do quit-able things that irritate you. Sadly, I cannot treat cleaning my toilets the same way.

Robynn: Have you learned anything through blogging you don't think you would have otherwise?

Naomi: I think so. I've discovered I love web design, the marketing aspect of it. I'm currently exploring options for doing more of that, as time and budget allow. I've always in the past had my fingers in marketing in one way or another at my previous jobs, and I'd love to learn more about that from a web design standpoint, as well as learning a few different web design languages. I've spent so many years hunched over a computer, I've discovered that even as a SAHM, I'm happiest at the end of the day that I've had a lot of productive time in front of the computer. Then I look at the laundry pile, and happy goes down the tubes, but it makes me momentarily happy, anyhoo.

Robynn: Do you ever feel like blogging is a waste of time or do you see it as enriching your life?

Naomi: I am on a continual quest to only do things that enrich my life, or contribute to the wellness of my family. I think it would be VERY RIDICULOUSLY easy to waste time blogging... that is why I rarely post more than 2-3 times a week, depending on what I'm posting about. But, I had to discover that when it comes to reading blogs I ONLY read blogs regularly that truly contribute to me in some way. I was getting overwhelmed for a while by blogs I was trying to fit in. I now only allow myself blogs from people I really care about or challange and uplift me...
Family/Friends blogs. One humor blog--thats' you, Robynn!--and I stop by a few of your pals as time allows. The Pioneer Woman, cuz hey, I've read her since 2006, can't stop now. Dutch Girl Cooking, cuz I love food, and I love food photography, and I actually use her recipes... so that's a keeper. And, I read Sew, Mama, Sew-- I like to keep my hand in the sewing blog world just a little bit, cuz ya never know what you might learn, but I had to stop reading a bajillion sewing blogs, because I discovered it irritated me more that it enriched me. So many great ideas, so little time. I'm like a fat kid with a tray of cupcakes when it comes to sewing projects. I WANT TO EAT THEM ALL. Or, do them all, anyway.

Robynn: Ever had any flamers or weirdos?

Naomi: Nope! Not yet. I keep this a matter of prayer. I want only encouraging and uplifting things on my blog. As I am a Christian, if someone saw something on my blog that touched them, or made them want Christ for themselves, and wanted to contact me, I would want them to be able to get in touch with me. Also, we LOVE where we live, and it's a huge part of our lives to appreciate it, so my blog wouldn't be complete without that being a part of it. I decided that if I'm to be a testimony for Christ in every aspect of my life, I'll hopefully do that in internet land as well, follow basic safety precautions, and leave the rest with Him.

Robynn: What advice would you give someone starting a blog?

Naomi: To be sure to never embarrass anyone with your blog. Sometimes you can get carried away with a story, or something, and people can inadvertantly get the wrong impression from something that you've said. Especially if you're a sarcastic sort. The written word will always be stronger than the spoken word, in that each person who reads it imagines a different tone of voice with what they're reading,and the whole copy and paste thing, and e-mail forwarding, and all that. I don't think I've ever embarrassed someone, but I would consider that to be ultimately horrifying.

Robynn: Who is your favorite blogger? (Okay, sounds like I'm pandering here but, seriously, do you have a blog that you have learned a lot from, has been especially inspirational or uplifting, or that you feel you can never miss?)

Naomi: My "read regularly" list is VERY limited, and the ones I do read are there because I walk away from them with something. I have others that I check in with every week or every couple weeks. That being said, if I read something that touches me, or causes a thought it my head, or cheers me up, or whatever, I do leave a comment. I used to not, because who cares what I think? But, since I've started blogging, I've realized how EVERY comment is read and appreciated to a blog author, so I do try to keep that in mind, and always comment when I stop by a blog.

Thank you so much, Naomi, for being willing to take the time for this interview, sharing your thoughts, and letting us get to know you. It was great getting to meet you, Frank Castle, Kiki and Debris, and the rest of the gang. Maybe we'll see each other on a four-wheel drive trail sometime. But, in the meantime, you know I'll be dropping in regularly!

Copyright 2009

Monday, April 20, 2009

Diaries of the Happy Sanitarium....Live and Unplugged!

I don't remember how Naomi and I found each other. She lives in the gorgeous state of Washington and authors the blog, "Diaries of the Happy Sanitarium" Her awe inspiring nature shot on her blog banner first caught my eye.

Soon I was reading, and laughing, and checking on the girls, and I was hooked. I loved her "mom" style and her humorous writing. I followed her....she followed me.....I enjoyed watching her little girls at ages and stages my kids had passed. And we had fun hangin' out, even though I'm old enough to be her mom.

One day, Frank Castle, her husband popped in. He was a hoot, too. And during one of the "Follow Me" promotions, he signed on as my 100th follower. I'll never forget. Triple digits felt huge. Still does! Of course, he told me I owed him ice cream, or some such extortion.

And he's a smart alec and I'm a smart alec so we got along like two smart alecs.

And they have a 4x4 and we have a 4x4. And they do a driving thing called "Going Losting," so named by their little girls, and we do a driving thing called "Point and Drive" so named by a three-year-old Wild Man. And our 4x4 is a Jeep, which is way better than their 4x4, which is a Land Rover. But not according to Frank Castle who likes to disparage our Jeep. And, of course he would, since he hasn't moved up to a Jeep yet.

So, who knew I'd ever have to make good on buying that deadbeat an ice cream until Naomi announced she had a sister who lived in Fresno and was getting married? That was gonna cost me five bucks!

You gotta pay your debts.

And if you're REALLY lucky, you get to meet blogging friends face-to-face. Being really new to blogging, I had never had the opportunity to do this and it seemed too good to miss. We made arrangements, met at a park with 400 of her relatives - just kidding - it was only 200 (all gorgeous girls, every one of 'em) - and brought dogs and kids and had some laughs. Those girls were just a CRACK up, too!

I, of course, showed up toting this so Frank Castle wouldn't be able to talk smack about me.

It wasn't the frozen version but it gave him certificates to redeem. Gotta have somethin' to do while the "Rovey" is in the shop gettin' repaired, again........

And then there were THESE lovlies! Kiki and Debris with Daisy the Dog in between them. They belong to Naomi and Frank and are the subject of many funny blog posts. If you need a new take on the term "Diary" in keeping with the Sanitarium, you should check out this post: "Sunday School Mishaps" but put your coffee down first.

Bo and Minky were in on the playground action.

My little friend, Naomi (left), with a bevy of beauties. All were here for the wedding and trying to get a little sun before the big day. The bride is in the center right with red shirt and long dark hair.

Bo tries to guide Minky (who is modeling her Aerobie Fly Toy) out of her favorite play place - any standing water - fetid, muddy, slimy, or, as a last resort, clean.

And somebody's got to be loved, adored, and kissed by all these girls. Frank Castle decided to cowboy up and meet the challenge. Some guys give til it hurts.

We had great laughs and I told Naomi I wanted to interview her when she got home (that will be up tomorrow). I would love to do that with every dear blogging friend I get to meet. I think it would be a blast!

So drop in tomorrow and see what Naomi has to say, up close and personal. You'll love her!

Copyright 2009

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Ice Cream Man Cometh (Insert Jaws Music)

It will be 98 degrees in Fresno by Monday. Two days ago it was 68. Welcome to much of California.

The beach areas and some far northern locations are usually spared. The rest of us just pray for death. Summer tends to come unexpectedly and with a vengeance. I don't know WHY we don't expect it. It happens every year. But each season we optimistically anticipate mild temperatures while failing to remember this pertinent fact: volcanoes will not erupt in our vicinity because they can't take the heat. Occasionally some outsider will make the comment that at least it's a "dry heat." Yeah, well, so is a blow torch but I'm not volunteering to stand in front of one.

And with the searing weather will come the ice cream man. This will not be the ice cream man of my youth. Gone is the fellow with the friendly, toothy smile and white Garrison cap perched at a jaunty angle on his head. Gone is the alluring truck with lovely decals advertising enticing frozen concoctions. Gone is the perfect ice cream treat that when unwrapped, looked exactly like the picture promised it would.

I think Stephen King designed the ice cream truck and driver that now prowls the city streets of California.

It would seem apparent the legislature passed a bill requiring all said trucks to be in a demolition derby before hitting the road. This should be followed by a "Thelma and Louise" style vault over and into a canyon.

When the truck body is appropriately mangled, it must be abandoned, in the rain, for at least a year. This will create the rust and dirt needed to create the "war-zone chic" effect. The decals will have been applied on the assembly line so they are now barely visible and scuffed beyond recognition.

The music blasted from the truck as it travels through your neighborhood will be as damaging to your nerves as electrocution, but far slower. It will warble and dip so as to never hit its proper pitch, even by accident, and won't pause even when parked. And the truck will not visit your area once a day but will be on a continuous merry-go-round loop passing by at least 400 times.

Should you be a thrill seeker and, horror-of-horrors, let your kids approach and buy something, you will be most fortunate indeed if your ice-cream has retained its original shape and/or coatings. More likely it will look like a science project comparing the ice-age effects against global warming; continuous freeze vs. melt and thaw.

You will also discover the ice-cream man comes in, primarily, two frightening flavors.

The first will be an ex New York City cab driver. He will hate you for trying to do business with him but you will only know this by his contorted angry countenance and volume of voice. You will never understand a word he says and when you order a Missle Pop you will receive a Drumstick. You are not allowed to protest or he will run over you. Sometimes he will have a wife sitting in the back of the truck to retrieve the items he barks out. Hopefully, she will be unchained.

The second flavor will be the reason my children will require future therapy for trauma and are never allowed to make purchases from the rolling danger wagon. They were taught when they were little to run back inside if they heard the music because I didn't even want the driver to know children lived here.

It was a friend who informed me about this type years ago. Her brother was released from prison and got a job driving an ice-cream truck. He said lots of ex-felons did this. And many of them were sex-offenders. Her brother had done time for drug charges. That was concerning to me considering he hadn't overcome his problem. But sex-offenders, including rapists and child-molesters, are allowed to drive ice-cream trucks where would-be victims come running to them. If you find this hard to believe go here. The A.C.L.U. is all for it. Apparently, they don't have children. Or brains. For a complete list of things to be terrified of with your local ice cream driver, go to "Do You Really Know Your Ice Cream Truck Man?"

Why can't we get this guy?

Or this truck?

Or this one run by a whole family, even their children, in Grand Forks, North Dakota?

Not on my street, I can tell you. I want little children hanging out of windowed ice cream trucks happily advising would-be customers. I want to believe in happiness and families working together for the common good. Maybe they even homeschool and have little desks set up in there. Can't I believe that if I want to? Can't they come to my neighborhood?

All of this occurred to me as I dropped into my friend's blog this morning. She takes interesting shots of life around New York City and you can see my inspiration here at her blog called "On The m104." She took a picture of an oncoming ice cream truck. I knew by the shiny chrome grill on the front and sheer gleaming cleanliness it exuded, our worlds had nothing in common.

So bring on the heat California. You're going to anyway. And when the urge to soothe my fevered brow seems to be provided by the creamy goodness of icy decadence, you will find me roaming the aisles of the frozen food section at Whole Foods looking for my fix. If the ice cream man comes prowling into the neighborhood, we'll be locked in the house, thank you very much.

Disclaimer: My sincere apologies to any ice cream truck driver reading this who drives in California and whose person and truck do not fit this description. You have my utmost appreciation and gratitude. Please come to Fresno. We might erect a statue in your honor.

(I have a long history with ice cream issues. If you'd like to read about about my childhood waywardness, you can go here.)

Copyright 2009

Friday, April 17, 2009

Fingerprint Friday

There is a song by Steven Curtis Chapman that says:

"I can see the fingerprints of God
When I look at you
I can see the fingerprints of God
And I know its true
You're a masterpiece
That all creation quietly applauds
And you're covered with the fingerprints of God."

So look around you and see where YOU can see God's fingerprints. Is it in nature? Kids? Animals? Where do you see them?

Pampering Beki always hosts Fingerprint Friday and if I can, I like to participate. It certainly isn't hard to come up with something this morning.

I am awed and touched God has seen fit to bring all of you dear friends and readers into my life. Your words and laughs and encouragement are beyond what my limited descriptive abilities can convey. You make me feel like a real writer. You cause me to believe I'll get the books out there or the magazine articles. You make me want to grow and be able to tell a publisher (because they always want to know what you've written and, basically, why anyone would bother reading), that I have THIS blog, and THIS body of work, and all these people who are willing to come back, day after day, to read my scribblings. Every new follower adds mightily to my credibility for marketing. And I very much want to publish. Writing is my passion. That you enjoy it and keep returning and encouraging, is my over-the-top blessing.

YOU make me believe it's possible.

With Deepest Gratitude and Love,


Never Eat Crow - Part II

When the dove flew back onto the ark, wasn't it carrying an olive branch? I don't remember anything about a finger. And I still seem to have all of mine.

So Twig was back. Now what?

We resigned ourselves to more bird poop inspired masterpieces everywhere.

The backyard chicken coop was still housing a couple of tired out old hens. We decided they might enjoy a fine retirement out at my mom and step-dad's place. They only laid an egg every month or so, the hens not the folks, and mom liked watching them peck around. Red Feathers and Chicken Little would be happy there and that would open up the hen house for a pigeon to live in.

It was hard for Bo to say good-bye to Chicken Little. Daughter and hen shared a special bond. Bo had stepped on Chicken Little's leg when Little was just a peep and the bone had snapped in two. We popsicle-sticked it into a cast and Bo carried the baby invalid around so long, C.L. would lay on her back in Bo's arms and stick her feet straight up in the air every time she was picked up.

We hated to see them leave, too, and tried to make it work with all three, but the hens had a flapping fit every time Twig came into the hen house. Somebody had to move out and Twig had already proven he was not taking part in the Pigeon Relocation Program.

The move was made and, with hardly a ruffled feather, the hens settled in to their new country home. Twig now had the joint to himself. We would open the door to the coop and give him a little fly around during the day. He was never hard to lure back in. All it took was food. He was a man pigeon. What can I say.

During one particular week he was gone - a lot. We began to think he'd broadened his horizons and might be moving on. But then he was back, with luggage. We noticed a little red haired girl pigeon our Charlie Brown was enamored with. She hung out on the periphery and wasn't the least interested in human contact. Twig flew in and out of his cage a hundred times and got down on the ground inside pretending to eat. He pecked and fluffed and cooed and tried, in every way, to convince her the coast was clear. She was not a believer.

Every day the courtship was the same with Twig trying to entice her into his bachelor pad. She would watch him and tip forward, touching her beak to the fence. She looked like a teapot being poured out and that's what we began to call her: Teapot. An unfortunate side-effect to all this was that the Modern Art Bird Poop Museum was growing in its display. What we had tried to eliminate was now expanding. It was in everyone's interest to arrange these nuptials - and fast.

We set out the choicest morsels for the marriage feast. Twig did his part by flying back and forth between Teapot and the supper table. We began to see signs of weakening. She would now fly down to the ground and walk around the outside the coop. We knew our move required cat-like reflexes and a coordinated effort the second she stepped far enough in to slam the gate shut.

For two days she hung around at the threshold and then, as hunger won out, she flew to a perch just inside. The Wild Man seized his opportunity, rushed in, and slammed the door on their future. Teapot went ballistic. Twig was thrilled. Let the honeymoon begin! But an appropriate marriage had to take place first.

You have never seen courtship until you've watched one pigeon applying her lipstick and the other one slickin' down his feathers with hair gel. Pigeons invented the term "Billing and Cooing." There is dancin', yee-hawin', bowing to your partner, and more struttin' than models on a runway. Teapot was a goner and seemed to forget she was now in captivity. She willingly became a slave to love. And her trust wasn't misplaced. Twig attended to her every need.

It wasn't long before she was sitting most of the time. And then I noticed her out pecking and stretching and Twig was sitting. I knew nothing about pigeon parenting but it's very progressive. Their time on the nest was shared equally. And when Twiglet was born (his sibling didn't make it) they tended and fed him together. It turns out pigeons are much like crows. They don't launch their babies until the babies are indistinguishable from the parents in size. It was nearly disgusting to see these poor parents trying to shove food down a bird throat large enough for them to crawl into. It was more reminiscent of "Jaws."

Finally, he ate on his own and Twig and Teapot left for a Bermuda vacation. It didn't pay off, though, because ten minutes later they were sitting again. Two babies were born out of that misspent time-off but they weren't long for this world. JoJo, our Border Collie/McNab was absolutely fascinated with their squawking and flapping and, in a moment of total dog abandon, dug under the edge of the coop and had squab for dinner. There was great dismay and chastisement from the kids and me. (I think Grizzly was cheering for the dog. He couldn't figure out what possible benefit their could be to pigeon replication.) To JoJo's credit, she did her best to look like she felt bad about it. She never really pulled it off.

With just the three birds we decided against adding to the flock and collected eggs when they showed up. And a few years later, before we left for an extended vacation, we relocated them all out to the grandparents' place. The old hens were still kickin' out there but the coop was so huge they barely noticed a few birds flying around. And containment kept Twig from flying home again. He hadn't been free at our house for quite sometime due to his artwork and this coop was big enough to contain a tree. Life was good but Twig passed on eventually and Twiglet married his mother. It became a Greek tragedy.

I told you keeping crows was illegal and now you know why - they turn into demented pigeons. Those Fish and Game people know what they're doing and next time, I'm listening.

Copyright 2009

Thursday, April 16, 2009

10,000 A.B. and Other Fascinations

Two months ago I (meaning Bo) added a counter to my blog. It was extremely addictive watching it click and tick. Today it turned over the 10,000 mark! So it is now officially 10,000 A.B. - After Blog (really after blog began minus two months but that whole thing - A.B.B.M.T.M. - would look ridiculous so I'll just use A.B. because it serves the purpose and looks right and capitalizes on the whole history thing and oh, really, nevermind.) Let's just say I'm going with it.

And let's just also say that I find this terribly exciting and loads of fun!

Now, I have also added a "StumbleUpon" feature which I in no way understand but which somehow gives me more visibility in the blog world, hence, may, in theory, bring in more readers. The same is true for "Digg" which I actually do understand a little more. You, my dear readers, can access Digg by clicking on the button and recommeding this site or a post you like and that, in theory, may bring others in to read it and raises my rankings. You do have to write a little comment, I think, which may put some of you off. I don't blame you. Only go there if you really want to.

And I now have lots more people following me on Twitter and most of them I've never heard of so I am completely baffled as to what they like about me or my boring Twitter posts. Twitter example from today: "Am doing Myers Briggs personality tests with both kids and for my husband in his absence. Not sure why husband and I are not both in jail for mutual murder of one another. Wait. How would that work?" I guess this level of analysis is attracting them. It seems one would not be able to proceed in life without this valuable input. I am flattered. But stymied.'

More "Twig" story tomorrow!


Please keep praying for Stellan (see picture to the right of this post). He is truly in need. You can click on the picture and read the latest. He is being flown to Boston for treatment and the details are available on their site. My mother's heart just aches for him and his parents as they wait and watch. Thank you for your prayers.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Never Eat Crow - A Critter Tale

I think I've had one of every animal pictured here. Maybe two of the polar bears.

I am a collector of all things furry, feathered, flying, creeping, purring, and barking. Taming my urges to acquire all of God's creatures has been hard-earned.

Grizzly used to bring home every stray anything, hand it to me to save, and then gripe endlessly about its existence in our home. Like the time at work he pulled four tiny kittens out of a pipe that was about to be flooded. The progenitor was nowhere to be seen. Naturally, I became the mama to the tottering, eyes barely opening, mewling felines.

"We'll find homes for them," he announced to me, two-year-old Wild Man, and six-year-old Bo. Yeah. That'll work.

Let's see.....we'll all be mamas since there isn't one. And that means we'll hover over them every minute, feed them nearly on the hour, feel them snuggle in the crooks of our necks for warmth while sucking on our ear lobes, and when they're hail and hearty a month from now, off they'll go.

That might have been feasible if he'd brought home hyenas. Not so much with four purring fluff balls.

Names had to be given of course. We were consumed with Beatrix Potter at the time so two of them became "Tom Kitten," and "Jemima Puddle Cat." The others just "Tucker" and "Bess" because we liked the names. Two tabby striped boys, two all white girls.

In our family almost all names get morphed. We can't help it. It might even be a syndrome they haven't named yet. The kids have vacillated between despising us for it and gleefully participating. Recently, they have begun to show signs of irreversible infection.

For instance, "Tom" became "Tommy." No big deal. Then "Tombo Combo" because one of our local hole-in-the-wall hamburger joints had a menu item by that name. (Former owner was named Tom. You don't need to know this so of course I'm telling you anyway.) Then Tommy developed an intestinal problem which rendered him sulphuric and socially unacceptable. Consequently, we dubbed him "Tombo Combo Dropped a Little Bomb-bo." And on and on it went.

"Jemima Puddle Cat" became "Jemima" which became "Mime-urs" but is spelled "Mimers." Which looks like it should be pronounced Mimm-ers. Nothing makes much sense. I just call her "Stewy." Yes, there's an explanation for that, too, but it can wait.

Bess and Tucker, strangely enough, managed to hang on to their original monikers most of the time. JoJo, however, who entered the fray at roughly the same time, developed approximately 35 names. I'm telling you, it's a strange condition and we probably need medication.

But this story wasn't about cats or dogs, believe it or not, or our odd naming affliction. This story was supposed to be about birds. I have no idea what happened.

I meant to tell you about the day Grizzly brought me a baby crow.

He was the biggest, most helpless looking baby. And such a dark gray he was nearly black.

I had always wanted a crow. You rarely see babies because the parents are so intensely protective, the fledglings don't leave the nest until they are nearly grown. And you can teach crows to talk. Technically, you're not supposed to keep them as pets. But if one flies right into your arms, what are you supposed to do? I know what I did, having rehabilitated more than my share of wild critters. I checked the Internet for what to feed him and how best to get him to eat. I even made a mock crow head out of plastic tweezers and a glove and poked food down his throat. He thrived. He grew. He made strange noises.

Every day I gave him flying lessons by holding onto his feet and making him flap. He loved it. He was the UGLIEST thing I have nearly ever seen. And he STANK. Our is it stunk? He smelled bad. But he was ours. I hoped to set him free and find that he wanted to live around our yard. I envisioned him calling out words to us much as a previous rescue, "Hope," the mocking bird, learned to imitate the toads and would croak from the tree tops. I envisioned him swooping in for visits. What I didn't envision was his transformation into a pigeon.

I looked at him one day and wondered why he wasn't black anymore. He was getting lighter and his beak was looking decidedly freakish for a crow. Stripes started forming down his wings. I don't know when it dawned on me but I do remember staring at him one day and saying, "That's no crow." It was Bo who piped up and said, "He looks like a pigeon."

"A PIGEON?" I exclaimed, protesting. Surely, in all of God's green earth I wasn't raising a pigeon and thinking it was a crow.

"Yeah, Mommy. That's a pigeon! Isn't he beautiful?"

"Well, maybe, for a pigeon," I replied, "but he's a pretty ugly crow."

It dawned on me I'd been feeding him the wrong diet. He couldn't have cared less. He was huge.

Since there was nothing to be done but finish his ground school pilot's work, I kept up the lessons. My goal was to teach him to fly......AWAY. One pigeon turns into a herd of pigeons, or a grove, or a quorum. Something.

Fully feathered out and completely ready to launch, he was actually beautiful. We had grown quite attached to him and dubbed him "Twig." He knew his name and began to make lovely sounds when he landed. He was making regular tours around the backyard now and we expected to find that he had gone for good nearly any day, off in search of a flock of his own. But instead, he seemed quite content to stay with us and perch on any surface where he could land. And the closer to the back door the better. If we left it open he would walk right in.

In case you were ever in doubt about this, pigeons poop. A LOT. Soon our ladder, patio table, garden fence, etc. were being christened in lovely white splashes reminiscent of grotesque modern art paintings and equally as welcome. We attempted to shoo him out past our yard. He was undeterred. He belonged to us even though we had at least 300 other pigeons he could have joined at anytime, living a mere 1/4 mile away in an old, abandoned winery tower. Life was good with us. And so we felt his relocation might need a boost. Perhaps he should live somewhere farther away where he could still have human contact.

The perfect place dawned on us. A huge park fifteen miles north with lakes and trees and, best of all, people who came regularly to feed ducks, geese, and pigeons. He would be in his element. He would find a wife. He would go on to create a family tree. With more twigs on it.

With sadness, but a sense of anticipation, we dropped Twig into a cardboard box and closed the lid lightly. We had to stop at the bank on the way and, not wanting to leave him in a hot car, took him into the bank with us. The Wild Man, being six-years-old and not yet known for his judgment, began to worry that Twig couldn't breathe well. So he opened the box. In the bank. Twig popped up his head to decide which teller should receive his deposit. He spread his wings for flight just at the moment we all noticed him. We forced him to make an emergency landing and returned him to the terminal. Disaster averted. On to the park.

As we approached a little lake surrounded by trees we decided this was our spot. We stroked his soft feathers one last time. We assured him birds were thriving all around him. We told him about his romantic possibilities. But the kids cried anyway. They worried he wouldn't know what to do. They were sure he'd starve.

We set him down on the ground. He made no attempt to fly away and merely walked around dejectedly. Bo burst into tears. And then, all at once, he flew to the top of the highest tree and simply sat there, looking lost. This wasn't the comforting parting I had planned. I wiped faces and noses and said the reassuring things mommies say. There was no happy way out of this but I tried to reassure them Twig would adjust.

I headed toward home with a heavy heart. Would he adjust? Had I condemned him to starvation, deprivation, annihilation? I tried to put it out of my mind, distract the kids, and get our errands done.

By the time we got home I sat said children at the schoolroom desk and set their work out before them. The day was beautiful and I threw open the windows and doors. It seemed a little quiet in the backyard not hearing Twig's fluttering coos as he flew about and my heart accused me with a tight pang. I hoped the kids weren't feeling the same way but I figured they were. We had grown so used to his sounds.

Suddenly, I heard a familiar whoosh and coo. I stopped in my tracks and snapped my head toward the back door. Of course, there could be no way it was Twig. I hoped the kids hadn't heard it. Girzzly had already threatened to relocate Twig to Pismo Beach, 150 miles away, and I had laughed him off quite sure 15 miles was enough. But maybe Twig had spread the word before he left and now another pigeon was discovering the gravy train. I rushed to the back door. So did the kids. Yep, they'd heard it.

"Is that Twig?!" they shouted.

I looked to the patio table. And sure enough, sitting there plump, pretty, and pleased with himself was Twig. "Made it!," he seemed to say. "Where's my ladder? I really gotta go."

The kids were elated, naturally. This meant Twig simply had to live with us because in his God-given bird brain, this was home, and he'd proven he could find it from anywhere. The place he knew and the place he loved. There had to be another answer. We would discover it. But in the meantime, what could we do but say, "Welcome home, Twig! You're amazing! How in the heck did you DO that?" and, oh yeah, "Dad's gonna kill us!"

To Be Continued....

Copyright 2009

Monday, April 13, 2009

Meet the Dog Mother and Maker of the Cake!

Look at our Kaylee Bean! She is mother to "Molly," my four-legged fan and the baker extraordinaire of Bo's birthday cake! Just look at this beauty! And notice the cake, too, while you're at it.

There you go, Tatersmama. Someone in the vicinity of the cake had a brain, even if it wasn't me. :-)

Four Legged Followers - Are YOU one of us?

If one of your followers has four legs, can't you count that as TWO followers?

This is Molly. She is the exhuberant, goofy puppy owned by my dear friends, the McCrackens. More specificially, she is their daughter, Kaylee's, puppy. And she wants to do everything Kaylee does. And one thing Kaylee does regularly is read my posting and visit my blog. Kaylee says this:

"Molly loves your blog, too. :-)

She always jumps onto my lap if she's let inside and I'm on the computer.

This time, I was looking at your blog and when she saw what I was looking at she was enamored. :-) She.....couldn't take her eyes of it. :-p (so to speak)

I love you Auntie Robynn <3"

And in case you can't tell, Molly has her nose pressed up right against my profile picture. Now THAT's an adoring fan. Just how many of you press YOUR nose right up against my picture each time you log on? I'll bet thirty or LESS. So there you go.

Don't you think Molly deserves to have a little picture of her own and become a full follower with all rights? I'm voting yes. I'd like to have your picture up there too, Molly, so I can press MY nose against it.

And to the McCrackens (who are not only our dear long-term friends, but Tim is our pastor as well) may I say a public THANK YOU for having my orphan daughter and me into your home yesterday for Easter.

Our guys hit the mountains for camping and weren't back by birthday/Easter Sunday. So poor pitiful Bo and I felt appropriately sorry for ourselves and intended to go for full wallowing in said pity, but the McCrackens wouldn't let us. They invited us over, fed us a delicious dinner, and Kaylee even made the most BEAUTIFUL vintage cake with softly draped frosting and tiny baby tea roses. You couldn't have ordered a cake more whimsical and delightful from the best confectioner. We felt LOVED. And then we looked at photos - for twelve minutes - (an inside joke) and laughed at the most ludicrous stories until I thought I would collapse on the floor in a puddle of jello. What's the old saying? "We like those we talk with but we LOVE those we laugh with." Or something like that. But it is true.

What a fun, and loving, day. Another VERY happy memory for my happy memory Easter file!

And speaking of pressing your nose against the computer screen, are you following me by any chance and I'm the only one who doesn't know it? If so, would you consider clicking the little "Follow" button above the photos entitled "The Crazy People Who Like Me" and become an official part of the gang around here? I promise I won't make you comment but it will be far easier to do so, should you have something you want to say. You know I'm always pushing onward and upward and would love to hit 150. Can it be done? Let's see!

I have a contest coming up, too. Come join the reindeer games and don't allow yourself to be marginalized for another minute.

Copyright 2009

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter, I LOVE You. Your Friend, Robynn

Tomorrow is Easter. And it always brings memories flooding in. Happy ones. I don't remember anything bad ever happening on Easter.

Our home was broken and not in a way marked simply by divorce. There was so much wrong it would never be righted. But there were also moments when the gears of life clicked into place with a steady, smooth sound; the kind of sound you hear when a roller coaster climbs its ascents and you get to lean back, catch your breath, and listen to the rhythmic ticking before the next plummeting rush.

Easter was always an ascent day. And our little white clapboard Baptist church was the anchor that held me fast. It was a constant for me in a teetering world. Most of the people who showed up on Sunday, or for special events, weren't the same people living life in the world the rest of the week. They put on their Sunday best. And I loved to lose myself in the perfection of it. I was unable to discern duplicity. It would be years before I would watch many of the congregants go down in flames, devastate the innocent, or walk away from the faith. I knew little, acknowledged less, and was happy for it while I was there.

Children have a marvelous way of compartmentalizing. And life got locked outside the big double doors of the church. MIne was a world of tight bodices and full, calico skirts filled with the perfume of being freshly dried in the sun. Safe skirts. Skirts I could hide behind when people spoke to me; a bastion to peer around and retreat into.

And on Easter, our hands were afforded the luxury of silky smooth cotton gloves, stitched with delicious raised seams that followed each finger. I don't remember a defining word spoken from the pulpit but my finger would follow the road map of those seams while the preacher delivered. And when I clapped my hands together it gave a sound like very distant muffled thunder. The crisp report my hands usually provided was gone and I was left with this enticingly muted percussion.

Most Sundays I occupied myself with careful examination of my mother's fingernails during the sermon. I occasionally grew too twitchy and fidgety. That would be followed by the brisk walk of shame down the center aisle and past the watching faces, as my mother hauled me behind the church for a sound spanking. She worried very much that people would think she was a bad mother for having children who did not sit still or were uncontrolled. The irony of trying to sit still on a stinging bottom occupied my ponderings. But I never got a spanking on Easter.

Our mornings always began in the dark, reaching for Easter baskets set out the night before. It was positively magical to think you could set this empty receptacle beside your bed and then wake up to find it filled with candy, and maybe that coveted box containing a hollow, chocolate rabbit. The childish holy grail. We would dress quickly in warm clothing and pile into the car, three children clutching Easter baskets in a death grip, and drive through the darkness many miles to a river.

Grandma Miller, as the whole congregation called her, lived on bottom land near the banks of the San Joaquin river, in a little ramshackle house accessed by a long winding, dirt road. Age-weary and sagging barbed wire fences flanked both sides as we motored slowly down, car lights piercing the dust the cars kicked up. On Easter Sundays she offered up her land and her grove of Eucalyptus trees at the river's edge as a backdrop for our Sunrise Service. We could count on doughnuts and hot chocolate to fortify and warm us after the preaching. Until then we blew warm breath into our cupped hands and stamped our feet. An old wooden picnic table that claimed its permanent residence among the towering forest, guarded our food and Easter baskets as we piled them on top of it. These had to come along for shared excitement with other lucky souls.

As we gathered by the river, a quiet hymn or two would usher in the early light. Rocks and bushes and fine details on the leaves would slowly creep into view. The quiet traveling of the water and the occasional snap of a twig lulled me in the reverent morning air. The preacher would tell the story, once again, of finding the empty tomb where they had laid the body of Jesus and about his victory over death. I would rock on my heels and try to focus. The sun would peek over the edge of the horizon and send a million glittering crystals dancing down the river on top of the water. That cocoon of beauty and wonder would stay with me for life and be inextricably woven in with the Resurrection.

When we headed for home the outfitting would begin. New dresses, frilly socks (for me), gloves and hats, white patent leather shoes. Some attempt would be made to comb my wild and unruly hair and force it into submission, if only for a few hours. Curly, wispy hair always framed my face and drove my mother to distraction. My hair made her insane. (Well, there were a few other contributing factors.) But I loved all the pomp and circumstance and felt oh-so-beautiful for a day. One Easter, when I was eight, my mother even made us all matching dresses. (My brother opted out.) I was so excited I refused to go to bed the night before Easter when she was still sewing at the dining room table. Dinner was understandably late and I gave up and fell asleep with my face in my empty plate. I slept great and loved looking like everything was perfect the next day.

In reality, the two years before had been filled with a remarriage and annulment (he was a homosexual seeking cover), more violence, a fourteen-year-old brother sent to juvenile hall, a desperately troubled sister, three more moves, three changes of schools, loss of pets and friends, and more sexual abuse. But this was a space between those things and there were other spaces like this, and they were magnificent. And I lived for them.

And somehow the truth and beauty of what was real in the meaning of Easter permeated my heart. And it removed me and saved me from the craziness of my world. I developed some pretty strange ideas about God and I had been taught to be afraid of him. But through it all the truth burrowed itself into my being, and clung to me, and refused to be uprooted by the evidence of distortion around me. Years later it would reveal itself to me having shed the cocoon of twistedness. And I spread my wings and soared with it.

And at Easter I am once again reminded of the gladness and hope this day always brought me as a child. I keep it like a treasure and am grateful beyond description for the hope it offered, for my rebirth in Christ, for children to love, nurture and learn from, and for a heart of joy.

Happy Easter, my dear friends. May you be filled with wonder and blessings afresh when the sun peeks over your horizon tomorrow morning and brings you the promise of Easter.

With Love,


This isn't me but the period is the same, except for the short, straight hair we look identical, and the photo just captured a certain feel I loved.

Copyright 2009