Saturday, February 28, 2009

Observational Twitter 12

Sublime:

"You can't get spoiled if you do your own ironing." Meryl Streep

Ridiculous:

"Ironing? I give all my ironing away and why shouldn't I? By the time I get to it it's all out of style." Robynn Reilly



Copyright 2009

We Have Winners!.....and a Baby!


Congratulations to the two winners of the $50 Amazon.com gift cards!! They are:

Aunt Kathy's Place!

Knitnut,Karen!

Way to go ladies and I hope you have something fun in mind for your cards! They will be winging their way to you shortly. Please contact me at robynnsravings at gmail dot com with your shipping information.

Thank you to everyone who participated and for all your helpful, insightful, and kind comments. There will be more contests to come.

And we have a bouncing baby boy! Jesse (isn't that the CUTEST name?) is 8lbs. and 21" long. Mother and baby are doing fine. I would include photos but I, of course, respect their privacy at this wonderful, blessed time.

Friday, February 27, 2009

It's DOULA DAY!

Mister Baby is on his way
And I'll be at the hospital today
Pray for mom, she's blessed you see,
She has two girls, baby boy makes three (children)

Very sad poet. I'll keep my day job!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Homeschooling: An Insider's View - Lacks Humor

If you are looking for the Amazon Gift Card contest, Welcome! and click here for details.




About thirteen years ago I formally started this little thing called homeschooling.

Homeschooling was first introduced to me while driving and listening to Dr. James Dobson on "Focus on the Family." He was interviewing Dr. Raymond S. Moore and his wife, Dorothy, on their new book entitled "Homeschool Burnout." I was on the road a lot and traveling a great deal with my job. And I was pregnant with Hannah-Bo. I knew I didn't want to travel forever and I had been trying to have a baby for years. (The subject of another post!) I knew when I heard the concept, homeschooling was for us. When it was time, I would be home and be her teacher.

Grizzly thought I was nuts.

He frequently has that thought so this was not daunting.

I did what I always do. I bought the book, read it, and then told him he should read it, too. (I actually thought this would work for the first fifteen years of our marriage. I'm a slow learner. How high does that book stack have to GET before a person catches on?) Next, I moved on to reading him short passages and giving him upshots. Then came another book and so on and so forth. He started to think it could work.

Not so much the rest of the world we lived in.

As homeschoolers, one of the questions we get asked most frequently is, "What about socialization?" After teaching for all these years I usually quip, "Don't worry about them. They have friends galore. It's ME you need to be concerned about. All I do is drive them from one thing to another and I HAVE no social life!" And ten years ago I would have completely dismissed the inquiry and been puffed up with my own opinion. But I was an idiot. It's a valid
question.

In forming my opinions about public school I looked at crime statistics, teen pregnancies, fractured parental and child relationships, and the complete void of moral and spiritual training in some schools. I wasn't impressed with THAT method of socialization. I researched overall test scores. I recalled my own abysmal school career and being missed by nearly every teacher while my home life crashed down around me for years.

Grizzly's experiences weren't much better and he'd been at private Christian school as well as public. What WOULDN'T recommend homeschooling to us?

And I thought homeschooling was inherently good, just by the nature of having constant parental involvement. I was wrong. All parties involved would have to be inherently good for that equation to balance and I haven't met that perfect person yet, especially when I look in the mirror. It just ain't so.

As my children grew I did see marvelous examples of great kids from homeschooling families. High achievers, well adjusted, future movers and shakers. But let's be honest: I saw a few terrible ones as well. Kids who had obviously not been taught much, especially manners and respect for others. And kids who were intelligent and educated academically but who brought the ugliest of judgmental attitudes down on those who didn't dress, or believe, or act exactly the way they, or their family, did. Their families taught by unflattering comparisons, instead of by Truth and love. I did it, too, at times, and had to repent mightily when I saw the ugly fruit it bore. Ouch.

But what I figured out was this: some parents public/private school their children and they could, or should, be homeschooling, for a variety of reasons. And some kids who are homeschooled would be better served by being in a public/private setting, for a variety of reasons. There isn't a one-size-fits-all approach. Life doesn't come with a template but it does come with challenges. God will meet us in those challenges and direct us. And we aren't God. Our job is to pray, and encourage, and help one another.

I have dear friends who are public school teachers. Some of them homeschool their own children and some teach in the public sector. I know how invested they are in the children in their classes and the love they give them might be the only love those children know anywhere in their lives. I am grateful for them. I am thankful for them.

I also have friends who send their kids to public/private school and they are caring, concerned, loving, fanTAStic parents. (I even have two friends who do all three with different kids - hi Teresa! - hi Kim!)

And I'm absolutely blessed by parents who make daily sacrifices and do without to honor their calling and serve their children by teaching them in their home. It's constant. It's 24/7. It's trench work. It's pushing rocks up a hill on a lot of days. But what it isn't, or shouldn't be, is about competition for who's the better parent and an either/or in school choices.

I've taken my share of heat. Family isn't always supportive. Public school advocates are sometimes prejudiced, even ugly and unkind, and think we're freaks. Well, we are freaks so that doesn't hurt our feelings. We're just not freaks in the way they think we are! Yes, there is sometimes a presumption that we do nothing and have no standards. No, my school doesn't look like any other school. I don't think I have a market on how all school should be done. I reinvent myself each year and throw out what doesn't work and press on. No, there isn't a perfect formula. If you're super strong in one area, you are probably weaker in another. NO ONE does it ALL. Public, private, or homeschooler.

My response has been to keep on keepin' on. Except on the days I don't. And then I rebel. And then I get over it. It's a theme in my life.

So with that involved, tedious, opinionated, and probably boring introduction into how we got where we are, and how we do what we do, and I'll say that I'm proud I homeschool, and not in a prideful way. I celebrate what homeschooling is and say my thankful prayers to God. And I will tell you some fantastic news about Hannah-Bo.....

tomorrow. It's a win for anyone who homeschools and needs hope that their children can compete on the academic front lines. See ya then!




Copyright 2009

Cinderella Is Overrated :)

If you are looking for the Amazon Gift Card contest, Welcome! and click here for details.

The following post is a reprint from an essay contest I won last week. There has been a lot of response so I thought I would bring it over here, too, for those of you who haven't seen it. I can't believe how many bells this rang for other people. Even the Pioneer Woman replies. (Yes! THAT knock out!)


"You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting"......a cookie.

I know that's not the true meaning of Daniel 5:27, but every time I hear that verse, I see the dreaded scale at the doctor's office and it makes me need to comfort myself, with sugar. Because I have been "weighed on the scales" and found fat.

Diet and exercise. Really? I thought dieting WAS exercise. I exercise self-discipline. I exercise self-control. I RUN off at the mouth about how long this diet is taking and how miserable I am. I JUMP to the conclusion it's never going to work. I THROW myself around in fits of hysteria. All of this makes me break a sweat and, if that isn't exercise then really, I give up.

And is it just me or have you ever set your own compound fracture at home just so the doctor won't tell you to lose a few pounds if you go into the office?

I didn't always fight on the front lines of the weight wars. I was a skinny kid. And of course, I didn't appreciate it. By my late teens I was fighting the demons and by twenty I was thirty pounds overweight. My mother said I looked like someone "stuck an air hose in my mouth and turned it on." She was gifted at descriptions. And she detested fat. To this day she has a fantastic figure and little tolerance for the chubby among us.

But I vacillated and tried out lots of different numbers on the scale. Worthy meant less than 140 pounds on my 5'7" frame. Worthless was anything over that. And I have watched 140 pounds disappear in my rear view mirror so many times there's a rut in the road. You would think with that rut I could trace my way back but I haven't even visited in years.

So, where does that leave me? In the worthless mode? If I'm honest I have to say yes, sometimes.

I remember sitting on my bed nursing my first baby, and weeping endlessly. I had added 28 pounds to my round figure during pregnancy. And I had delivered an 8lb. 2oz. baby. But when I got on the scale before I left the hospital, I had only lost six pounds. Now I ask you: what the heck? I'm no mathematician (which is equal to the understatement "I am not as skinny as Angelina Jolie") but shouldn't I have at least lost as much as the baby weighed??
My husband heard me crying and came upstairs to ask me what was wrong. Poor men. They just don't know what they're walking into.

"I'm f-a-a-a-a-a-t!" I wailed. "I don't want the baby to grow up and realize she has an ugly mother!" "Well, honey," he answered soothingly. "It will be YEARS before she knows that." I mentally packed his bags and sent him to live with my mother. And then I stopped sobbing and began laughing hysterically. Anyone that helpless in the comforting department cannot be held liable for his actions. And he had never, ever complained about my body. That bought him a huge pass.

But those two extremes - devastation over my plight and laughing at how ridiculous I am - would sum up where I am in my head most of the time.

I can't help comparing my body with the svelte and lean and wishing I could defeat this old adversary. I loathe clothes shopping and sometimes feel like, "What's the point?" If you take an egg and put a bathing suit on it or an evening gown, doesn't it still look like an egg? Is either outfit going to flatter me? Now, if I had Oprah's access to the fashionistas then, maybe. She can go up or down and still look gorgeous and you may be able to do the same. But on my limited budget and even more limited imagination about what to do with myself, I tend to stay away from shopping.

And my neuroses cup runneth over so much, I can look at successful people and, if they're thin and beautiful, decide on-the-spot I can never experience their accomplishment. No other factors of their achievement come into play in my teeny-tiny mind. How about their brains? Their talents? Their personalities? Their charisma? Their absolute blessing by God? No, I'm sure it is because they are worthy in their size six jeans. It's very small of me, really. Pathetic, actually. Excuse making, most probably.

When I decided to start blogging, thinking I might have something to say (okay, the reality is: when don't I have something I want to say), I checked out top blogs. One of the first I came upon was "Confessions of a Pioneer Woman." Most of you have been there, I'm sure, and know Ree Drummond. She's incredible. She's funny. She's a good cook. She's an invested homeschooling mom. She's a compelling writer. She's an unbelievable photographer with a smokin' camera and studied knowledge in Photoshop. She shares all this. She's generous.

And she's GORGEOUS and THIN! Like a desperate paparazzo in the bushes, that was all I could focus on. As soon as I saw her I knew, no matter what I ever said or did or wrote or created, I would not realize blogging success because I couldn't look like that. Seriously.

And then I got over myself.

I have to get over myself a LOT. I have to beat back the ridiculous narrative that runs in my head and try to be a grown up. I give my self-pity back to God where I'm sure he throws it into some holy trash can. (Can a trash can BE holy?) I make myself remember each person has his or her own voice and calling. And I have to realize that many, many people I admire, love, extol, value, want to be like, and desperately seek to emulate in many different areas of my life, will never win beauty contests (though some certainly could). They are mere mortals, like me, and I'm sure even Ree would be happy to point out, in her oh-so-funny way, all the things she detests about herself and what would disqualify her for goddess status.

Most of us probably won't find ourselves walking runways as fashion models. The closest we might ever get to a size six is if we multiplied it by two or three, or four.

And when I do think of those I love and admire the most, their weight and looks is irrelevant. They own my heart because of their intrinsic and beautiful value as real people with lovely, warm, and humble hearts. They make life richer for the rest of us by who they are and what they give. Some challenge me, some educate me, and a lot make me laugh.

So, I apply myself these days to making changes by eating healthier - organic whenever possible - and buying locally - because it's the best for us and supports our local farmers. And I guess I'm trying to portion control, if eating from the time you start cooking until dinner is over, counts as one portion. And I joined the gym. Apparently, you have to GO as well. Should have read the fine print.

And then I force myself to remember back to when I was seven. I watched "Cinderella" on television with Lesley Ann Warren in the lead role.

I thought she was desperately beautiful. I ran into the bedroom, looked in the mirror, and promptly burst into tears. "I will NEVER look like her!" I sobbed, and I was right. But, all these years later, I'm okay with that because I, unlike Cinderella, never have to dread midnight. I look the same before and after.

And that's strangely comforting in a roundish, pumpkin sort of way.



The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, responds:

That was a beautiful essay, Robynn!

I feel compelled to tell you, however, that though I'm tall and have been perceived as a relatively "thin" person throughout my life, I am very, very far from thin right now. I've gained about ten pounds in the past year (cookbook, anyone?)...and we won't talk about the baby weight I already was holding onto before that. :)

This really has nothing to do with your lovely essay. But since I'm such an in depth investigative journalist (heh heh) I felt I needed to set the record straight.

Lotsa Love,
Ree

Read Ree's post today about how her cows are comforting her on body proportions!
Copyright 2009

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Got Perspective?

I ALWAYS visit Tatersmama. I call her my "Velveteen Rabbit" because she's had so much fur rubbed off by life, she has definitely been made "real." In fact, I think I may create a "Velveteen Rabbit" award that we can all start passing on to blogs and people we think deserve it, and she's getting it first. There are so many. Wouldn't that be great to be able to give out?

And she makes me laugh out loud and cry out loud, for cryin' out loud. And we both love the movie "Nacho Libre" and THAT, my friends, is a rare find - someone else with exTREMEly sophisticated humor......! All this to say, she just posted a link on her site that featured this video:





Thank you, TM. I needed to see/hear this. Do yourselves a favor and watch. And then visit Tatersmama, and check out Virtue Alert to read her profound words about what it really means to "walk the walk."

And I deCLARE (since my "yes" has obviously not been yes nor my "no" a no).....I AM going to post about Hannah-Bo and let you know about Doula Duty which is now supposed to happen this Friday. And I have the funniest story to tell you after that.........

Oh! And my kids call this a "golden" anniversary, when you hit a birthday or anniversary that is the same day as the number you turn - as in your 12th birthday on the 12th of the month. So today, I give thanks for 85 followers on my 85th day blogging....a happy symmetry!

P.S. If you're looking for the contest, it's a few posts below....Thanks! And check out Treehouse Chef. She's a FABULOUS chef, with terrific recipes, and she's having a contest, too!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Observational Twitter 11

Fact:

"Today is Fat Tuesday."

More Pertinent Fact:

"For me, EVERY Tuesday is fat Tuesday. What I really wanna know is: Where the heck is Skinny Wednesday and why haven't I been invited to THAT party?"


Copyright 2009

Monday, February 23, 2009

WE DID IT!!

Woohoo!! We did it - all of us! 75 followers and 2 more for a big bonus!

The contest is now on!!

The prize: Two $50 gift cards from Amazon, one for each of two winners. The contest will run through Friday, February 27th, 2009, 10p.m. Pacific Standard Time. (I'm in California.)

Here's how to enter: If you are already a follower just leave a comment with your best advice on how to grow this blog, or what you like about it, or what you like about the best blogs you've visited, or anything else you want to say. That will get you your first entry.

If you aren't a follower, feel free to sign up to follow (see that little link over there to your right above the photos? Yep, that's the one.) and do the same thing.

If you post about this contest on YOUR blog and put a link to it, just let me know by leaving another comment (saying "Posted a Link") and you're entered again.

Finally, tell your followers to mention they saw this on YOUR blog when they come by, and I'll put in a another entry, for you, for each person who came over from your site (up to five additional entries per blog author).

(My family members are, of course, excluded from the contest. Yeah bummer guys...hope you don't stop following!)

Make sure there is a way for me to contact you. If you don't have a blog that I can track back to, email me at robynnsravings at gmail dot com. (But use the gmail.com and not the spelling. That's just to throw the spammers off track.) I'll need to know where to send your gift card.

Okay...all that said....please let me start by saying THANK YOU! YOU all made this happen. You have supported me, encouraged me endlessly, and made me feel so welcomed and embraced out here. I will never, not with all the words there are to chose from, be able to convey what that has meant to me.

But some of you have asked: why 75?

Well, here's the thing. I started this blog on Dec. 3rd of 2008 - about 80 days ago. I had a fire in my belly but I was also unsure.

How vulnerable do I get here? Do I tell you that I went to a writer's conference and had two magazines I've never even heard of tell me no one would find my work interesting and that I had no ability to connect with readers? That no one could relate to the kind of things I wrote about? The kind of things I write here? No, I'm not goin' that far. It's too embarrassing.

So I'll just tell you this: I had a a couple friends encourage me to blog. They actually thought I COULD write. I also needed to get information out to a few people all at once, for efficiency sake. It seemed doable. But I thought, if those publishers are right the blog will probably fall on its face. But if they're wrong, well, that'd be great and I guess I'll know if people show up.

A dear friend, Reginia at Tetertots, promoted me on her site and her sister, Tina at Tunajones, did the same. The first ten followers began to trickle in. I was elated. And then a lovely lady named Libby, at Neas Nuttiness, found me and gave me a glowing review on her blog. More came. Soon, Tatersmama's Take on Things was sending folks over and when I hit 20, I was overwhelmed. Linda at Another Piece of the Pie sent friends. So I began to wonder: would 75 followers in 75 days be possible? Maybe. If I keep writing and posting and working and telling about my hair-brained life, then.....maybe. If it's supposed to happen, it will. And wouldn't 75 feel like a big party? Just think of how many incredible people I might meet. So, that was my goal. Of course, once you reach a goal you have to set another one. But I can't tell you how elated I am right now! And YOU did it!

Today is 83 days. I overshot by a week. But there are 78 of us (including me), all hangin' out together now! And I get to visit you and see what you're up to and get to know you. Oh my gosh. YOU guys are amazing. And you keep coming back. That's REALLY amazing!

Thank you for sharing your stories and your life with me. Thank you for being my friends. I am blessed.

With Love,

Robynn

Sunday, February 22, 2009

I'm Shocked!

Ree, The Pioneer Woman, commented on my Essay over at Red Pine Mountain. How fun!
Here is her comment, reprinted by permission from Red Pine.

Ree said...

That was a beautiful essay, Robynn!

I feel compelled to tell you, however, that though I'm tall and have been perceived as a relatively "thin" person throughout my life, I am very, very far from thin right now. I've gained about ten pounds in the past year (cookbook, anyone?)...and we won't talk about the baby weight I already was holding onto before that. :)

This really has nothing to do with your lovely essay. But since I'm such an in depth investigative journalist (heh heh) I felt I needed to set the record straight.


Red Pine shared that Pioneer Woman was her inspiration for starting her blog. I started for different reasons but found her right away through Linda at Another Piece of the Pie and became a huge fan and follower immediately. I know she has thousands of people who read her every day and is busier than ten people put together. Consequently, I simply never expected to hear from her personally. What a shock and a wonderful surprise! But I must say this: all of my friends who stop in here so often, some daily, and leave me the funniest, most touching, and incredibly encouraging responses, are what keep me going and make me feel this is all worth doing. I love you guys.

"I Won! I Won! It's a Major Award!"

For those of you who don't recognize that line, it's from "A Christmas Story," one of my all time favorite movies. In it, the dad gets a huge box with a leg lamp inside and you would think he had won a new home. That's how I feel right now!

Now, I don't win things usually. But last week, on Life on a Southern Farm, I read about a contest to win a birdhouse. I followed the link and read it was true but there were a couple of catches: you had to write an essay and you had to be first to comment. I was the second but the first really didn't want to write. So, YOU KNOW ME...... Anyway, I sent the essay yesterday and it is up over there at Red Pine Mountain this morning. I hope you will pop on over and read it and let her know you've been there. What a great opportunity to get to know new friends. She will have this contest every week for the next three weeks and you should write an essay, too! Check out the darling birdhouse I won made by Pam's husband at "Life on a Southern Farm." They sell them on Etsy. If you haven't been there, oh my, it is completely wonderful and addicting. Everything is handmade by the most talented artisans. Enjoy! Gotta leave for church now.

And I'll explain the 75 when I hit it....which....with any luck....may be today!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

So I Lied

Uh, yeah. About that post today. Well, you see, the thing is, I won this contest over at Red Pine Mountain but it included writing an essay for them. And you all know I can't say anything briefly so, when they gave me the option of writing an essay that was 500 words or LONGER, I'll let you figure out which option I chose. Anyway, needed to get that done today (writing deadlines for publishers can never be missed) and I actually put on my writer's hat and tried to give her a quality effort. I'm not sure when it will be up - pretty shortly I think - and when it is I'll post a link here so you can go read it if you so desire. You'll like it over there. Take time to read her blog and you'll see what a quality person she is.

And then there was the Bowling Event for the seniors of our homeschooling group. We have 41 graduating this year, including Hannah Bo, and Grizzly and I were responsible for running this particular get together. These kids do something every ten seconds. I did take some pics and I'll include them tomorrow, when I finally post (yeah, RIGHT). And no baby yet.

Okay, my eyeballs are crossed and Minky keeps jumping on me to take her to the park. Not sure I can still walk but I'll try. And did you see???????? 70 followers!!! Only 5 to go! I am ordering the gift cards from Amazon tonight!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Tidbits, This & That

I was supposed to post today about a big happening in our family a couple of days ago but I haven't done it yet. So I will tomorrow. I will beg your indulgence as a very proud mama drags Miss Hannah-Bo out for everyone to see. I am beside myself. And that makes two of me. That could be bad.

And I'm in a holding pattern over an expectant mom friend. I am her doula. I do (la) this once in awhile for friends and I was there for the last birth. Can't wait. Gotta go get my bag ready and my catcher's mitt. No, not really. Thankfully the doctor's got that covered. I just get the privilege of coaching and helping her deliver a beautiful baby boy! He's joining two sisters and is greatly anticipated. It's blessed work! What compares to a beautiful little life coming into the world? I get to be there to witness God's handiwork!

And finally, I am only 5 followers away from my contest! I just have to say THANK YOU to all my new friends. I won't question your sanity as it's already suspect since you decided to hang out with me. And besides, if you were completely sane I'm not sure we'd have enough in common. And THANK YOU to all of you who came along before now and felt sorry enough for me to join up. I appreciate pity. It's really underrated. And if you haven't joined, jump in! The water is fast and freezing but I have a life-line and scratchy towels!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Bear Market - Part 3

We still had another night to go. We knew they'd be back. And they were. This time we would be waiting for them. So would Bear Bait.

We slept restlessly but the kids slept great. They were a little miffed when they woke up and realized what had happened and no one woke them. JoJo was a little miffed, too. And a lot older. But the kids had fun checking out the mess and JoJo hit pay dirt eating what the bears had left behind.

We saved what food we could. They had left two packages of Little Debbie Snack Cakes completely untouched. That should tell you something about Little Debbie. Grizzly was happy. He had breakfast. But we had to make a grocery run. We found enough left to snack around on for the kids and I but by lunchtime, everyone wanted real food. We decided to hit the dining establishment at Huntington Lake before we headed to town.

We drug ourselves into the Lakeshore Lodge restaurant looking like we'd just stepped off the set of "Deliverance." I think the Wild Man was even missing some teeth at the time. And Hannah Bo and I have exceptional hair. Get it dirty, add a little moisture and you can see the family resemblance between us and Albert Einstein who gave "big hair" a whole new meaning. We had been camping for six days with only baby wipes for pretend baths. We beat our clothes and dusted off but the fact of the matter was, we were disgusting.

We just didn't care.

We chatted up the waitress who tried to serve us from as far away as her arm would let her. We ate heartily and tipped well. It was the least we could do. And as I've been known to say, I always try to do the least I can do.

Our full bellies gave us renewed energy and we began to plot and plan for the evening events we knew were coming. We stopped by the campground offices which were down the road and across a main bridge. We found out there had been another bear incident. A guy had left dog food in his truck and mama bear bashed the window in and sent the kids after the goods. It made us glad we had forgotten to roll up the window. At least it wasn't broken. But, now that they knew the food was inside, they wouldn't let a window stop them. The ranger said to expect them. Maybe smart people would have gone home at this point but we have never been mistaken for smart people. Besides, we wanted to squeeze the life out of our last day. We weren't about to hand it over to a bear or three.

We grabbed enough grub to get us through another night, including marshmallows, hot chocolate, and coffee. Our plan included sitting around the campfire long enough to let them head for the car and then we would chase them off. If we had to sit up half the night in the cold, we at least wanted to be fortified with caffeine and sugar.

We convinced the Wild Man he had to go to bed by ten. He was eight at the time so his droopy eyelids helped seal the deal, and Lassie was more than willing to climb to the bottom of his sleeping bag and keep his feet company. But Hannah Bo was determined to make it all night. She had always been a night owl and this was worth staying up for. Grizzly had a plan and excitement was in the air.

Grizzly frequently has plans.

There was another camping trip, this one out in the wilderness of the National Forest, with no one around for miles. We were getting overrun by mice. We didn't know it until a few days later but someone had dumped some garbage near our site weeks earlier. It had become a mouse haven. We found HB's purple knitted gloves with the fingers chewed out. When we opened the engine compartment of the van, we found a little purple glove nest on top of the battery. The mice ran up and down our tent trailer in the night. The pitter-patter of little feet kept us up and aggravated. Grizzly was done.

He sat outside the next night with his shotgun in one hand and his night vision monocular in the other. Meanwhile, I laid on the bed with a three-year-old Wild Man, sound asleep, and a very excited Hannah Bo wearing her dad's gun muffs clamped on to her head. He would yell, "Ready?" and I, in my gun muffs with my hands pressed over Wild Man's ears, would yell back, "Go Ahead!" and we'd hear the roar of the shotgun's report. This happened about six times. Grizzly would watch for movement through the monocular and then blast away at the mice. It worked...uh...great.

The next morning it was evident that the world was now safe from folding chairs. They were shot to heck and were the only thing he hit. The mice rebuilt the nest on the battery the next day.

So we were primed, once again, to take on our latest forest nemesis. Grizzly would be armed in case things went terribly south but there would be no shooting. We just wanted to keep them from destroying our car and show them they couldn't bully their way in everywhere and damage property. It seemed like a humanitarian mission. We had pots and pans and noise makers. We would honk the horn and scream and yell.

Wild Man drifted off to sleep and the three of us hunkered down around the fire. The campground grew dark and quiet. It wasn't well populated because it was mid-week and off-season. A few fires could be seen in the distance but they slowly flickered out. Our conversations grew fewer and more hushed as the night crawled slowly into the wee morning hours. No signs. No sounds. Grizzly grew restless. He felt eyes boring into him but couldn't see anything. He decided to scout the perimeter and weave in and out of the trees. HB wanted to stretch and go with him. They grabbed the night vision monocular, with JoJo at their heel, and headed out.

I wasn't about to leave my son or the car so, with my .38 snuggled deep in my pocket, I pulled my parka in tighter, my hood up farther, and tucked down into my chair (one without shotgun pellet holes). And I waited. All that could be heard was the occasional pop or crackle of the campfire. At times I would hear or see my three bear hunters working their way through the trees. Eventually they would come back, wait for a bit, and then head out again. Grizzly was getting frustrated. There was just no sign. He absolutely knew the minute we hit the sack they would be at the van. I mentioned that mama could have easily treed herself and the babies and be watching them every time they passed underneath, and they would never know. That gave him a new mission: scouting out trees with the flashlight while he hunted.

The hours drug on and 5:00a.m. approached. We thought maybe we would see daylight before we turned in. Grizzly decided to make one last trip through the forest. Hannah Bo and JoJo set out with him. With my chin resting on my chest I fought sleep. My bones had turned to columns of ice and I wasn't sure I could move if the need presented itself. I found out I could.

Off in the far distance I saw the sweep of the flashlight and knew the posse was headed back for camp. At the same moment I noted a sound right behind my chair. My eyes shot open wide and the hair on my neck stood up. I froze. Was that just a little animal making its way through the underbrush? Don't panic. Then came a very heavy footfall an arms length from me. I screamed and jumped from my chair. By that time, Grizzly was within shouting distance up the road in front of me.

"It's okay!" he yelled. "It's just us!"
"No it's not!" I cried out.
Thunderous paws ran down the hill behind me as I turned to watch.
"She was right here! Right behind my chair!" I shrieked. And she vanished into the forest depths.

The breeze had been blowing gently toward me and she hadn't caught my scent. I was downwind. My dark green parka had blended in perfectly with the night. I have no doubt she never saw me. But the jig was up. We scared each other to death, equally.

Dawn was a short time away and we all crawled into our sleeping bags, exhausted. We were confident she wouldn't be back with so little darkness left. It would be long enough to give us a few hours of sleep. We drifted off finally, warm, snuggly, and dim-wittedly victorious.

I have no doubt there is a bear out there right now, with a blog, telling all her readers about how she almost ate a woman once instead of a Ding Dong.......because the description applied so perfectly to both.



Copyright 2009

Are You Following Me?

This is another shameless bid to encourage you to sign up to follow. The last attempt at begging was so successful I'm only 8 followers away from the contest for two $50 gift certificates to Amazon.com. (A BIG thank you to all of you who have already signed up!)

It's great to see my maps bringing you all in. Would you consider clicking on that little button above the group of photos on the right and joining our party? We're having a ball out here! Join the ranks! Make your voice heard!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Bear Market - Part 2

I wasn't prepared for what I saw next.

The whole van was rockin' like a frat house on Friday night.

Two cubs were inside while the mama stood on her hind legs, face pressed to the window pointing out the items she wanted them to throw out to her. They had entered through the driver's side window but she was too big and fat to fit. I feel her pain. But you can never be too fat if you're a bear. They don't spend anytime feeling badly about themselves because they don't fit in windows. In fact, they do this thing called "hyper feeding." It happens as winter is coming on and they will eat as many as 20,000 calories a day in preparation for hybernation. I think I did that last time I went to Baskin Robbins. I don't think I hybernated but I'm pretty sure I lapsed into a coma for a few days.

Now, you may wonder, "Why in the world did you two idiot dingbats leave the window open on your car?" And you would be perfectly right in your succint inquiry. That's why I hang out with you.

Here's how that happened. Grizzly went to bed first, with the kids. He figured I'd make sure everything was secure for the night, being the mom and all. I was staying up for a bit to sit by the fire with the dogs and have quiet time. I figured he, being the man and all, would secure our perimeters before turning in. So naturally, neither one of us did anything. We frequently work well together like this.

We had heard there were some bears around and half the sites had lock boxes. Ours didn't. We were told to keep food out of sight. Not a problem. We always kept everything in camping boxes anyway. Just so you know for your own personal information: a camping container to a bear is like gift wrapping a box of See's candy. It just heightens the thrill anticipating the creamy center.

As we looked out the tent we could see the bears having a heydey in the van. One of the cubs had thrown a bottle of cooking oil out to mom and she had ripped off the the top half and poured its greasy goodness down her throat, over her face, and onto her paws. She then pressed that same big fat face up against the windows of the van, along with plate-sized paws, and left lovely pressed-art pictures of herself.

The ground was littered with crackers, chips, pop tarts, flour, butter, pancake mix, and syrup. All of the items were in various states of having been demolished or devoured. I must interject that we do not normally keep all this c-rap around our home and I am an organic cook most of the time. However, camping requires copious amounts of Death Food in Boxes. (Sounds like a good name for a band.)

Grizzly ran out into the freezing night yelling and clanging pot lids. Of course the guns could not be fired. This is California. Guns are just for looks in a campground. You can't shoot bears or discharge a weapon. If we had left the guns in the car then the bears could have legally shot us, sat in our chairs, smoked a cigarette (not that we had any but they travel with them), and slammed back a beer to wash down the Ding Dongs.

But we hadn't left the guns in the car so the master mind of the heist ditched the babies and took off into the trees. The cubs scrambled around inside the van hunting their escape hatch, the window, and then bailed out as fast as their bloated bodies would carry them. The dogs were now awake. Reluctantly. I know I keep saying dogs and have only mentioned JoJo. Our other dog du jour was Lassie. Now Lassie was a four pound chihuahua who never really belonged with our family. My persuasive aunt had talked us into keeping this walking snack food but chihuahuas are not exactly your great-outdoors camping types. She spent most of her time in the mountains shaking and praying for death to overtake her. (We have since rehomed her with my aunt where she is receiving therapy for post traumatic stress disorder.)

With the bears out of sight we lifted the back hatch and surveyed the damage. It looked like a bomb had gone off in a Walmart. Camping boxes were ripped in half (what the heck? All they had to do was lift the lid, for Pete's sake!). Same for the ice-chest. Top removed at the hinges and it wasn't even locked. Bloody meat packages lay with only hints of what they once contained. Flour was everywhere. Bear hair hung from the ceiling. Bear musk hung on the air. Puncture holes decorated the interior and my emergency brake, now flattened out, had reported for its last emergency.

We knew they were watching from the perimeter. It was three a.m. We didn't want our car destroyed. What would YOU do? I know what we did. We swept off a spot on the back seat, rolled up the windows, and called JoJo to lay there and do guard duty until the light of day. She would forever after be known affectionately as "Bear Bait." You've never seen a dog with bigger eyes than one who is about to be left by herself in a car that smells like a bear is sleeping in there with her. I'm not sure we made the right decision. JoJo is positive we didn't. But the car was safe. At least for the rest of that night.

We still had another night to go. We knew they'd be back. And they were. This time we would be waiting for them. So would Bear Bait.

To Be Continued........



Copyright 2009

Man Thwarts Robbers by Stealing Their Car...BUT...


Robbers break into man's home in Bellvue, Washington.

He hears them upstairs, from his basement, and escapes out the door.

Robbers already have his flatscreen tv, wife's jewelry box, and other items staged on the front porch to load in the car.

He sees their minivan, left running for a quick getaway, jumps in and drives to safety while thwarting their efforts.

While driving away he calls 9-1-1 and the operator, after laughing when he tells her, seriously advises him to stop driving their car as he could be charged with theft.

Here are the only options:

a. The 9-1-1 operator is desperately misinformed
b. The law that would make this true was written by someone smoking crack - regularly.
c. The operator is a complete idiot.

Under what circumstances do you find yourself successfully fleeing from perpetrators, saving your own life, foiling a crime-in-progress, and leading the police right to the vehicle used in said crime, yet find yourself on the wrong side of the law? Should he have returned the car to the thieves, apologized, and tied himself up? Maybe for good measure he could have helped them load the car and then beat himself about the head and neck so they wouldn't be injured if THEY did it.

If you should find yourself on the wrong end of a gun, do not try to disarm the bad guy or fight for yourself. That gun beLONGS to him, after all. You don't want to be charged with theft or battery.

This has to be one for the You've GOT to be KIDDING! files. Watch the video here http://www.king5.com/video/.

More bears later today!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

And the Award Goes To...Update

Am I the only one who does completely hair-brained things on a daily basis? I fancy myself a halfway intelligent person but I regularly prove that to be untrue. Keeps me humble. I will never suffer from pride issues. My idiocy prevents it.

With that said, I have to add someone to my award list because I would have if I had rubbed my two brain cells together.

Joy at El Mundo de Mamacita has been someone I've followed for quite a while. I love what she stands for and how she tries to make the most of what is given to her and blesses her family. She has a heart of gold and recently even offered to pay for her readers to see the movie "Fireproof" if they couldn't afford it. She feels that strongly about encouraging healthy marriages. And she will teach you how to eat leftovers you would rather throw out. Okay, about that last part.......

And if you haven't had your belly laugh yet today, you HAVE to go over to Tatersmama and check out her most recent post. She says some things about me that should be refuted and even shows an unflattering video of me having a hissy fit. I bet you didn't know that I am actually a flipped-out asian woman but she seems to have the video to prove it. Well, sort of...watch it and you be the judge.

A Bear Market - Part 1

If a bear is in the forest and eats everything in your car, do your dogs hear it?

I'm thinking about that this morning after reading a post at From Single to Married in which she talks about her good watch dog. No one loves their dogs more than I love mine but, the reality is, JoJo is only incensed about people breathing or moving when she's wide awake. When she's asleep, all bets are off.

I once called Jojo to give her a hug goodnight. The rest of the inmates here at the asylum had already bunked down. No Jojo. I called again. Nothing. I searched from room to room and called outside, up and down the street. MIA. I shook the over-sized bed bugs out of their sheets and mounted a posse. I didn't want to panic alone. Flip flops were employed. Car engines started. Frantic hollering commenced. No Jo. In one final moment before complete bedlam prevailed, my son, the Wild Man, threw his covers around looking for his coat. There was Jo, tucked in, eyes rolled back in her head, sound asleep, and oblivious. She lifted heavy lids and peered out just long enough to say, "HeLLO. I was warm. Could you knock it off and put the blanket back?!"

It was just this type of edge-of-your-seat, sound-the-alarm guarding that allowed a mother bear, and her two cubs, to grocery shop in our car one night while we were camping.

I don't know about you but I think most moms sleep with one ear open from the minute the doctor says, "It's a girl! Or a boy!" Dads, on the other hand, tend to only wake up in the middle of the night when you, sleep deprived and weary from nursing the baby, roll over and latch that baby on to HIS chest. If you haven't tried this, you should.

Thus, my now normal sleep state is to hear dust collecting on the furniture. And when you are camping in the black of night, in the middle of the forest, and you hear a "thunk" in your sleep, even though neither of your two watch-less dogs perk up an ear, and your husband snores on in near comatose disregard, you trust your gut.

"Grizzly.....did you hear that?"

Now, I have to tell you that Grizzly may sleep like the dead but the moment there is an opportunity to use flashlights, guns, knives, bazookas, or inter-gallactic missiles, he is awake. Immediately. And armed.

"What'd you hear?!" he instantly interrogated.

"Well, I don't know but I just thought I heard a "thunk" outside, by the car," I stated cautiously as he seared my retinas with his flashlight. Now he was ripping open the zipper on the tent.

"Robynn, stay where you are," he ordered, staring through the door flap. "There are bears in the car." It would seem relevant, at this point, for you to know the dogs still weren't barking and were, in fact, snoring right beside the kids.

Now the statement, "There are bears in the car" is not a sentence I had ever considered forming or hearing. So I had never presupposed my response. I did, however, immediately know it did not include staying where I was. I don't tend to run away from things that scare me anyway; I run toward them because being scared just makes me spitting mad. And I had children to protect. And Cheetos. And Hostess Ding Dongs.

What I wasn't prepared for was what I saw next.......

To Be Continued......

Copyright 2009

Sunday, February 15, 2009

And the Award Goes To......

I am so tardy posting my awards I seem ungrateful. Truly, I am not. I am lufetargnu. That's so opposite of ungrateful it's backwards. I'm just a little uncomfortable with awards. I love giving them, especially to the kind of people I hang out with here, but posting them feels more awkward to me.







But here they are.....






I'm still so new out here and just starting my third month orbiting around in cyberspace. Shouldn't I do more time in the trenches? Shouldn't you grill me more? Put me through my paces? Wait to see if I dry up and go away? Hope I go away if I dry up?

Well, I guess not, since you're comin' around an encouraging me all the time. And I can't tell you how much it has meant to me. My life has broadened and deepened because of you all. I have a happier spring in my step and a lighter heart. I like to write...you like to read it....you like to write.....I like to read it......and I think to myself......what a wonderful world! Thank you for embracing me so warmly.

And now.....

I have received these awards from several sources. The Lemonade Stand came from Libby at NeasNuttiness, Katie at Tatersmama, Homestay Mama at Home to the World, Frugal Maven at Hip & Stingy and, quite awhile back, from someone else that, for the life of me, I can't recall. Please forgive my overcrowded, cluttered mind. I put your name somewhere in here and it's probably buried under my mental laundry. I really must neaten things up in here one of these days. That'll teach me to procrastinate.

The "I Love Your Blog" award also came from LIbby and Katie.

Now, I know lots of you have received these awards. But I may give them to you again because I can't help it if I admire your attitude and love your blog. If you have received them before, don't feel obligated to pass them on again. Just know that I couldn't help myself. I'm going to give them together because I don't follow your blog unless I love it so, it would figure they would come as a pair.

1. The Mosquitoes Buzz. I can't even remember how I found her but this is proof that less can be more. She keeps it simple and beautiful. I feel as if we know each other in real life. I go there for honesty and "ahhhh" moments.

2. The Treehouse Chef at Treehouse Kitchen. I count on her to feed us. I just made her pecan pie and would advise you not to because your thighs will never be the same. It was incredible. She is another one who makes me feel all warm and cozy. If her house were any more snuggly and yummy smelling I'd just have to buy a plane ticket and head on over for a retreat. And she could cook for me the whole time. Doesn't that just sound delightful? For me? (Okay, I hear her barring the door right now.)

3. Homestay Mama at Home to the World. I want a mama like her only she's too young to be my mama. She's wise and caring and sacrificing and filled with spiritual wisdom; the best kind. She has a gift of encouragement and uses it on me, frequently. I am better for knowing her. MANY are better for knowing her.

4. Katie at Tatersmama. This woman is incredibly giving, loving, funny, straight-up, deep, and selfless. She is a true "Velveteen Rabbit" and has been made real by having a great deal of her fur rubbed off by life. I am also incredulous for her that she cannot get Crisco, pecans, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, and Dr. Pepper in the Land Down Under. They should fix all of this just for her. Australia imported her from California. You would think they would treat her better for all she does there. Katie, I think about coming to visit you and when I do, I always pack my suitcases with these items and have imaginary, but satisfying, fights with Customs.

5. Libby at Neas Nuttiness. Libby was the first to promote me to her friends and send them over when I hardly knew what a "Follower" was. She put up a link to me and made me sound like the next in line for a Pulitzer. She is witty, warm, and always leaves funny or encouraging comments. And she's faithful to her friends out here.......even blogs when she's all drugged up after surgery. YOU go over to her place and see if YOU can make sense of the post about all the plastic pooches. It's okay, Libby. Go back to sleep.

6. Reginia at Tetertots. Reg and I have been hangin' out together for several years. We have the same fire in our bellies. (Her belly is a lot flatter and cuter than mine, though.) We both like to see justice done and dislike bullies. But she's so much sweeter in the way she goes about achieving this. She has finesse. And graciousness. She has also opened her heart and home to a lovely teenage girl and has incorporated her as her own. She wouldn't think that's a big deal. That's how she rolls.

7. Neabear Is anyone sweeter than Linnea? She always leaves the nicest comments and has so much fun with all her buddies. She participates in everything and has a great time with all she does. Her photos make you feel like you're right in her home. I have no doubt her friends and family are blessed by her on a regular basis. And she plays the organ. Who can do THAT anymore?

7a. Frugal Maven at Hip & Stingy. You will love her. She's short (the posts, not her, I mean, I don't really know but short is good, and tall is good, too.....this is irrelevant....I will edit it.....probably not....unlike her I do not often embrace brevity) and to the point, she is just filled with variety. I still haven't embraced the "making your own laundry detergent" thing but I am in awe that she has and does. Lots of good tips and she lives in an old church. Go LOOK!

7b. Linda at Another Piece of the Pie. Linda makes me laugh with her wry humor and practical view of the world. I mean, she bought her husband a toilet seat for Valentine's Day. Need I say more? She's a good cook and shares her recipes, we both drink raw milk, and we homeschool our kids. And both our husbands are in love with their espresso machines. We have "grounds" for a friendship.

7c. Ladybird World Mother. She comes to us from England and if her wit got any sharper and more pointed it would never be allowed on the flight over here. Again, can't remember how I found her but I'm glad I did. She gives me lots of "giggles," as she calls them, and keeps me smiling with her British vernacular. She's an incredibly keen observer of life and mines it to great effect.

7d. Becky at Becky and Her Babies. This woman posts some of the funniest jokes I have ever read, and that's saying something in cyberspace. I get the kids running in here to find out why I am laughing my posterior off. Most of the time I can tell them. She's also a great friend to Libby and I always admire great friends.

7e. High Desert Diva. Oh my. She is my required daily dose of beauty and inspiration. As an interior designer, her colors are vibrant and inspiring. She also passes along beautiful sayings or prose. Very regenerative for the spirit. Haven't gone a day without her since I found her. And she always has interesting "asides" or tidbits. A little something for everyone. She doesn't know it yet so, don't mention it, but when I go through Oregon this summer, I'll be staying with her for a few days. Let the preparations begin.

7f. Gizzards & Calf Fries. She keeps me entertained in pictures and witty brevity. Again, nothing I can achieve but, that's the beauty of it. I love dropping in everyday to see mud and horses and holes in the barn roof. She's a busy gal but always takes the time to post a comment and frequently cracks me up. I follow her around just to read her comments on other posts.

7g. NaomiG at Diaries of the Happy Sanitarium. This is my little family. I mean, they don't REALLY belong to me. I just met them out here. But she is such a good mama and does fun things with the kiddos and well, if I had a kid sister, she would be it. And I would be the auntie who spoiled the girls and sent them home rotten. Just love her down home goodness and always feel better for having dropped by.

7h. Life on a Southern Farm. Just down-home goodness. Simple. Warm. Feel-good photos of all her little farm friends. Miracle Eve the goat who is 2/3rds Farmer John Ham. Sweet fun. Faithful commenter and encourager.

7i. From Single to Married A gentle and tender look at just starting out and planning a family. She likes to ask her readers questions and have them participate. And she even sends private, encouraging emails. But she isn't afraid to talk about those really inconvenient issues of life...like IBS...and she knows where all the best toilets are.

7j. A Cowboy's Wife. She's been out of commission for awhile but I hope she's back at it soon. The woman can write. And she can tell it like it is. And if you don't like it, well, you can get over it. Boy, I LOVE that. She's as real as they come and she hasn't only had a hard row to hoe, she hasn't even had a hoe a lot of the times. I think she may have done a lot of plowing with her bare hands.

8. And finally, On a Quirky Quest with Lady Fi. She is a British ex-pat who is now living happily in Sweden with her husband. I love her for her cooking......(shhhhh, yeah RIGHT)....especially the yogurt with ketchup she had us all try for Valentine's Day. She's a great writer, fun to follow, and a constant source of humor and encouragement.

So, there you have it. I stuck to the rules of only nominating eight. You can see that by the numbers.

Now, for all you award winners who HAVEN'T already done this, here are the rules:
1. Put the logo on your blog or post. 2. Nominate at least 8 blogs which show great attitude and/or gratitude. 3. Link to your nominees within your post. 4. Let them know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog. 5. Share the love and link to this post and to the person from whom you received your award.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day My Friends

Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place. ~Zora Neale Hurston

The supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved - loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves. ~Victor Hugo


A Valentine for You.......

To all my dear friends who have shown me much kindness and love. I pray you receive as many blessings as you have extended. If you do, I know you'll have a rich and lovely Valentine's Day.

1 Corinthians 13:13 "And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these is love."

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Turning 50

Hey there......come here often?

Like me? Tolerate me? I'm like a car wreck and you just can't help looking?

Would you help me hit 50 followers today? I'm trying to get to 75 and when I do I'm rockin' a fun contest. Maybe you'll be the winner. Send your friends over. I'll be giving away two $50.00 gift cards to Amazon.com and I'll choose from among the followers. Help me help you. Please let me know you're out there and click on the button right above the group of pictures. Just takes a sec! I already love you. Let's make it official.

The Other Woman

My husband is in love. I'm not sure I stand a chance.

We've been down this road before....with Debbie.
Now it's Sylvia.

He was busted about Debbie by my daughter, when she was seven. She had overheard him talking about her, asking for her, even linking her name with Christmas. She told me she wanted to "out" him. I gave her the green light. What can I say? I'm a terrible mother. We planned it all out. My three-year-old son wanted in. We didn't think he could hang on to the information but he did. We thought we would hit husband/daddy while he was vulnerable. Right after church. We all tucked in to the minivan and, with the kids firmly buckled in the backseat, we heard a tremulous little voice.

"Daddy?" daughter said.
"Yes honey?" he replied, smoothly.
"I found out you have....a....a.....girlfriend." This was killing me. You could hear the emotion in her voice. Should I let this go on?
"I DO?" He tried to sound surprised. Cool. Cool as a cucumber.
"Yes," she quavered. "And I know her name."
"You DO?" Oh, he's just filled with snappy rejoinders under pressure.
"Yes, I do." She was hitting her stride and spoke with feeling, but also resolve. "Her name is Debbie. "Little" Debbie!

Hysterical laughter from the junior sector, which included me. The cad. Even he cracked up.

He passed this horrifying addiction on to our son who, to this day, cannot pass a Little Debbie Snack Cake without pining and begging for her plastic-texture-artery-hardening goodness. At least Grizzly Adams got over his attraction when he matured, last year. But only because she was replaced in his affections by someone more worldly, mature, exotic: Sylvia.

You think I'm going to tell you something cutesy again like he's in love with his car (though there is undying passion between him and the Jeep), or dog, or lawnmower. Huh. I wish he was in love with that lawnmower. How I long for true romance to spring up between them. Oh no. Too Terra Firma for Romeo, too mundane.

Sylvia is the new woman. She inspires him. He buys her presents. Well, truth be told he actually makes ME buy her presents that he has carefully thought out. Flavorful presents. He pets her, coddles her, attends to her every hygienic need. When he travels he longs for her. He has even been known to sneak her into hotel rooms. And to think I bankrolled this passion for our 20th anniversary. I gave him money I'd been squirrelling away for a couple of years. Here's what he did with it:



And "Rancilio" is just her last name. The company actually gives the different "models" (need I say more?) these special names.

Hey, at least she makes my coffee, too. Oh my gosh! Did I just say coffee? That's a bad word that must never be uttered in Sylvia's presence. She does NOT make coffee. Ever. She makes ESPRESSO. Her espressos can facilitate an Americano which, to the untrained palate, might TASTE like coffee. Oh sure. Just like Gallo Box Wine can taste like Dom Perignon.

She also makes cappucinos, macchiatos, and la-tee-dahs, as Grizzly calls them. He doesn't really drink those. He's an espresso/Americano man. Puts hair on your chest. And your back.

He shopped very carefully for her.....months, in fact, and settled on her because he thought she was a good value while providing extremely high-quality performance and endurance. And her parts are replaceable if they go bad. He still wonders why he didn't look for these features when choosing a wife.

But I must say she pulls her weight. Grizzly was a two-Starbucks a day man, and I dropped in there a couple of times a week. Do you know how that adds up? Well, of course you do. Most of us could have vacation homes and facelifts if it wasn't for Starbucks. Six months into this relationship Sylvia paid for herself and started making us money. So, as sister-wives go, I really can't complain. And there is something to be said for that concept. Solomon might have been on to something. Can you imagine all the writing I could get done with someone else to run the errands and clean the house? Heck, every Christmas when he asks me what I want I always request a wife. I guess Sylvia's it. She's kind of square and cold, with a hard edge to her, but her soul is stainless.

As long as she doesn't expect the same of me, we'll get along.