Thursday, May 27, 2010

Thankful Thursday

There was a time when I saw absolutely no way that Paul and I would ever be together. We both knew we were supposed to be, but neither of us could see the means of getting there.

I thought that we had lost.

But things that are meant to be have a way of happening with or without our help.

And for that I am eternally grateful.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What the $@#%?

Growing up, my family did not curse. Well, they still don't. I remember one occasion when I was 14 or so... As water gushed from the pipes beneath our bathroom sink, I heard my dad utter one short, vehement oath. Sh!t! It scared the living crap out of me. My dad does not swear.

When my mom swears, you know it's time to run. Her swears aren't bad, but the vehemence behind the strongest word she dares lets you know that she is pissed. Goll-dangit!! I'm sure she's said stronger words over the years, but those traumatic moments are blocked from my memory.

As Sarah and I got older, our language, as does that of every teenager, grew in color and creativity. Sarah is far more creative than I, and far less discriminate in her public usage. Additionally, she holds no qualms in employing a word that I will not tolerate. Let's just say it starts with C and its usage jars me to the bone.

Wait. Let me adjust that last statement. There is one occasion in which I will tolerate the C-word, and that is only because it is so well deserved.

I don't want you to get the idea that swearing offends me, because it does not. I live with a soldier who spices his conversation with casual expletives, and when he gets together with his brothers, one is hard-pressed to snatch the non-curses from the flow of conversation. Their favorite, of course, is the versatile eff bomb.

In fact, a book dedicated to the topic sits on our shelf: The Book of F. It contains pages and pages of compound words and phrases that can be used as nouns, verbs, adjectives, interjections, and pretty much any other operator. Not surprisingly, most of the words and phrases have a military origin.

The book was perused at a recent family function, and I was told that I was f*ck-struck, or obsessed with the idea of reproduction. After the sting of the words faded a bit, I had to admit that it was pretty funny. Because really, cursing is funny!


Lady Looney is approaching 35 years of service at this shipyard. She began her career as a young woman on the tools, and this factor in addition to her deep South childhood contributes to her very colorful vocabulary. It is not unusual for her to announce that she is going to have a f*cking salad for lunch. If someone does not answer her phone call immediately, they are automatically dubbed an a$$hole.

At first, these oaths did not bother me in the least. I was used to swearing, and hers had so little venom that I actually found it cute. But lately, her words seem to be more and more bitter. Each curse is like a little arrow of negativity that flies across the room and stabs me with irritation. Why does she find it so necessary to fling hateful words at every tiny thing that annoys her?

The other day she aimed her deluge at her computer.

"SARS? What the f*ck is f*cking SARS? Heather, did you have to take a g*dd@mn SARS class?"

I was having a trying day, myself, and I wanted to tell her to shut the f*ck up with all the swearing. But I have to keep the peace. Instead I deadpanned, "No. In fact, I didn't take any g*dd@mn classes at all. I only took regular ones."

I had a professor, Dr. Moburg, who loved to curse. She would not allow us to use milder euphemisms such as frick, heck or dang because, she maintained, what we really mean is f*ck, hell and damn, and we should just say what we mean in the first place. Why beat around the bush?

I think that more than anything, Dr. Moburg just liked to be shocking and controversial. She is responsible for the most high-frequency use of the C-word I have ever heard--by means of the Vagina Monologues. Once again, cursing is funny. Dr. Moburg looks and sounds exactly like a female version of the Sicilian  from The Princess Bride. So picture the Sicilian as a woman with reading glasses perched on the tip of her nose, quoting the C-word over and over and over again with obvious delight.

What do you think? Does swearing offend you? Are you aware of your surroundings when you curse? What is your favorite oath? Do you think my mom will be offended when she reads this?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

For the Sake of Getting Something Down on Paper

I've been commanded to write. This happens every now and then, on the occassion that a week or so has passed between posts. And when I say it happens, I mean I get an e-mail from either my mom or Dad A, telling me they need some reading material. Glad I'm so popular! (Insert a bit of sarcasm in that last line, as well as appreciation for you both)

But people, it's not my fault that my life isn't all that interesting! Okay, okay...maybe it is my fault. This guy I used to work with, Jeff, once told me that only boring people get bored. I didn't like Jeff very much. But do you think he had a point? In order to be interesting, I guess I'm going to have to go seek out something interesting to do. I'll do that after class, when my homework is done, the laundry is clean, and the litter box is de-pooped (just kidding. I don't do the litter box...that's all Paul. He might argue that they're my cats, too, now, but I counter-argue that I told him long long ago that I do not do litter boxes. And I still don't.). The problem is, life never gets unbusy, so I guess we just have to cram in the interesting things where we can.

But really, what's interesting? Should I learn Mandarin or something? Paint gourds? Weave clothing out of hemp? (Just kidding, you silly hippie-haters) I would bake... In fact, that seems like a pretty good hobby to have, except then I'm stuck with a bunch of deliciously sweet baked-goods treats which will probably result in a rapidly expanding waistline for Paul and me, as well as everyone else close enough to us who can be coerced to consume my experiments in confection. (Am I turning into Mom A? Not that that would be bad thing!)

The other day I saw a part of myself that I don't think I've ever seen before. I've heard it was there, but I just kind of trusted people on the fact. Now hold on, don't go getting all weird on me. I'm talking about the birthmark on the back of my neck. My mom used to call it a chicken bite. Or...a hen peck? Or something that involved poultry-initiated violence on my hairline. Other people get angel kisses, but no; I get attacked by fowl. The point is, my hair is that short, and I love it! ( I know you needed that info, but come on...I'm digging for topics here!)

The woman who cut my hair was tiny. I slouched in a chair that was lowered only inches from the ground, and she still couldn't see the top of my head ["And she was 6' tall!" Chris interjected (insert rim shot here)]. As she attacked the back of my neck with clippers, she made on observation. "You have a really low hairline." Thank you, ma'am. I'm a freak, I know. I'll add that to my list of oddities.

I had a conversation the other day that lead to the issue of my moving here. I've been here for...nine months now, (A human gestation period...just thought I'd throw that in there. Isn't that crazy?), and it has never even once occured to me to regret the move. I love being here with Paul and his whole family. It's where I'm meant to be. True, Port Orchard would not originally have been my first choice (I used to say that I could never live south of Everett. See how well that worked out?), but I'm consistently glad that we chose to stay here.

However, Bremerton creeps me out. I always feel like I should shower after I've been there (and I spend a huge chunk of every day the bad part even). I'm surprised the whole west side of town hasn't morphed into one giant trailer park. Ick. I was listening to two women in my class at OC (I'm embarrassed to go there. I really am), and I just wanted to smack their dumb faces together and ask if they truly thought anyone else gave a crap about their drama, and could they please tone down the dumb, just a tiny bit? Take it somewhere else, ladies. I'm trying to survive the quarter with as few communicable diseases as possible. Whew! I'm glad to have that off my chest...

I don't regret this little life re-routing at all, but I am a teensy bit excited for this weekend, because....we're going to the island! Just overnight, but Chris, Tiff, Hailey and Tayla are coming along, too, so it promises to be a fun, crazy trip. I hope we don't scare my family too'll be interesting to see how everyone interacts.

Maybe after this weekend I'll actually have something to say and you all can lay off the nagging!

P.S. Have you noticed that I've been way overusing 'just'?

Monday, May 17, 2010


I picked Chloe up from Boys & Girls Club on Friday, and we hadn't even made it to the Durango before she came up with this one.

"We're doing a play for moms and dads, and I get to be Goldilocks! ...Because my hair is brown."

Wait. What??

And later, on our way to pick Lauren up:

"Heather, how do we get spit in our mouths?"

"Well, our mouths need to be wet, and we need spit to chew our food, so our mouths have things called salivary glands that make spit. If we don't swallow the spit every now and then, we can collect a bunch in our mouths."

"I don't know these things! It's not like I'm in the sixth grade!"

Well excuuuuse me! Maybe I need to work on my explaining skills...

At The Parade

I had talked to this woman on the phone  before. "Are you the parade planner?" she asks abruptly. It's late March, and while the bulk of the parade-related phone calls and e-mails have yet to arrive, I am already sick to death of answering them.

"Yes, ma'am," I reply, half listening as she launches her explanation.

"My name is blah, blah, blah,"..."I'm with such and so,"..."banners"..."soldiers"..."sailors"..."150 from NAS Whidbey and Fort Lewis, they can march 8 or so abreast."

"Yes ma'am, that'll be just fine. I'll e-mail you the application." "Lady!" I want to scream, "As long as you pay the entry fee, I don't care what you put in the parade. You're good to go!"

I am completely unprepared when she shows up at my office. She finds me seated at my reception desk. I have just finished selling carnival tickets to a family with boisterous young children when she steps between the side of my desk and the hall that leads to the back offices.

"Heather?" she asks. "My name is so-and-so, we spoke on the phone?" I vaguely remember.

And she unfurls the banner--an innocent 3' x 5' sheet of printed vinyl.

I find myself face to face with an enlarged image of a Marine. He was 20 years old, according to his birth and death dates, when he was killed in Afghanistan.

The woman's words sink in now. Her organization honors the lives of fallen Washington State soldiers, sailors and Marines by carrying these banners in regional parades. One hundred fifty faces of one hundred fifty fallen service members carried by one hundred fifty of their comrades.

I feel a tingling in my sinuses that tells me I'm about to turn into a blubbering mess. Paul is in the middle of a ten-day mission to Mosul, Kirkuk and Tikrit, and I haven't heard from  him in a week. I'm scared and I'm tired, and I'm eye level with a death that could be his.

Instead of submitting to tears, I laugh. It's a nervous chuckle, and maybe a little unbalanced, quietly maniacal, but it pushes the woman to shock and a bit of outrage.

"Do you think this is funny?" she demands. Her face is cold and she glowers down at me.

My eyes burn as I swallow my laughter and I can feel my customer service mask drop away as my features rearrange to display the stricken emotions that devour me at that moment. "No ma'am." My voice shakes as I explain that Paul is in Iraq, and I haven't heard from him this week.

Her face softens, but she retains a touch of haughtiness. "Well I hope and pray that his face doesn't end up on one of these banners."

"Me too," I whisper.

After the woman leaves, I duck into the garage and lose my control.


For once, I am able to attend my own parade. The walkie-talkie on my hip squawks every now and then, but for the most part we are organized and calm. I sit on the cold concrete curb between my mom and Rob, the autistic man who builds his April around this parade. 

Paul is back within the wire and safe, and I chat with him occasionally through the instant message function on my phone as I wait for the parade to start. I don't want to tell him again how afraid I was. "Baby," he'll reply, "I'm your gingerbread man. I fully plan on coming home to you."

I don't tell him about the banners. I wrote the parade line-up myself and I know when to expect them, but I still dread the entry. 

But I forget to pay attention, and they do catch me off guard. Soldiers and sailors in their dress uniforms walk by slowly and solemnly, carrying faces with formally serious eyes that I can't bring myself to meet.  I don't even bother to stop the tears that creep out from beneath my sunglasses--they fall too quickly. Rob glances at me, and away again, and his foot taps even faster on the pavement, his body rocks back and forth, back and forth in agitation, and he looks for the next entry.

My hand searches for my phone in my jacket pocket and I send Paul another message. "I love you."

And he writes back, "I love you, too, Baby."   

Friday, May 14, 2010

Tell Me About America, Mr. Rockwell

My mom had a Norman Rockwell coffee table book. It rested at a tilt on the bottom shelf of her night stand next to the floppy-eared stuffed dog and her crocheted afghan. I say had because shortly after I left the island, I sent her a text message. "Mom, when you die, can I have your Norman Rockwell book?"

Her reply came moments later. "Glad to know you can benefit from my death! You can take it home with you the next time you visit if you want." (This is not the first nick knack I've asked to be willed)

And I did. It now sits familiarly on my bookshelf with Paul's Star Wars novels and my historical ones, several books about the Beatles and Elvis, King Arthur and the dinosaurs and a heavy tome containing Edgar Allen Poe's complete works. The dust cover, bearing Mr. Rockwell's "Grace," is torn along the spine and its edges curl away from the hardback, revealing its burnt orange binding. It is comfortable to me, and reminds me of youth and home.

I would spend afternoons on the floor of my parents' bedroom pouring over that book. While a healthy dose of text is sprinkled between the paintings, I cannot honestly say I've ever read the words. My eyes are drawn to the paintings, and each time I look I find yet another telling detail that reveals a little more about the subject.

Even as a little girl, I found myself wondering about the subjects of each painting, imagining their lives and expounding on what they were doing and feeling at the exact moment that Mr. Rockwell captured them. And as I get older and revisit the images, I am shocked to find that they mean something completely different to my adult self.

For example: "The Problem We All Live With"

Eight year old me saw a little girl in a white dress walking to school. The men around her were probably businessmen headed to their offices, and the splattered tomato simply meant that the city streets are kind of dirty. I liked how her white dress and shoes contrasted with her dingy surroundings. 

Of course, 28 year old me has taken a few history courses and thereby earned a completely different understanding of this painting. And today, for the very first time, I noticed the faint graffitti on the wall behind her head.

As a child, I understood the children and took the adults at face value. And now, as an adult, I see new emotions, new courage, new experiences in each image. I've gone from appreciating the visual detail provided by Mr. Rockwell to appreciating his ability to catch the mood of his country on a particular day.

Pardon my tangent--I hadn't thought of these things until just now. All this is just to say that today, I feel like this:

Three hours and one minute until the weekend begins!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

About Books and My Desire to Read More of Them

Yesterday, Tiffany and I bemoaned the fact that we don't read nearly as much as we'd like to. Life sometimes gets in the way of what you really want to do. I remember times not so long ago when I could spend hours on the couch or in bed, devouring thick books with no thought of what needed to be done elsewhere. Those days are surely gone, but if I made the effort, I could still spend a decent chunk of my time lost in fiction. (And honestly, sometimes that effort only consists of switching off the latest rerun of 'Say Yes to the Dress')

So in the spirit of literary endeavors, here is a fill-in-the-blank devoted entirely to the written word.

1. My favorite book growing up was A Wrinkle in Time or anything else by Madeline L'Engle. 
2. The funniest book I've ever read was Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg or All Creatures Great and Small by James Harriet. Or maybe The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales.
3. The one book that has truly changed my life is yet to be read. I'm sorry, I don't have an answer to this one.
4. If you're looking for a real tear-jerker you should probably read The Pact by Jodi Picoult. Or, ya know, Charlotte's Web...
5. If I could meet any author living or dead it would be Chuck Palahniuk. That guy is ca-ray-za-zy.
6. The next book on my 'to read' list is one of the many many unread books that are waiting on my shelf. I'm really backed up. Or...any suggestions?
7. If I was snowed in at a remote cabin in the woods and only had three books with me they would be Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, Outlander by Diana Gabaldon and Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe. (That's a good 4,000 pages right there...)

My 100th Post (insert fireworks and fanfare here)

Welcome to this, my 100th post. I'm not sure I ever had a vision for this blog when I began last October (or November?). I just jumped in and started. I had grandiose visions of being clever and brilliant, and of having a dedicated following who hung on my every word. mom can be counted on to read. And Dad A. And Tiff. But I think Erica is the only reader who is not or will not be related to me. And clever? Brilliant? Not so much. But...does it matter?

I've thought about this quite a lot. Why do I keep this blog? I've come up with three pretty good reasons.

-Firstly, I write for the exercise. Writing, like any other skill, takes practice to maintain and improve. I've been terrible at practicing over the last several years, but I'm starting to remember that I like it and I'm kind of good at it! So when the inspiration hits, you end up with random descriptions of random occurences that happened at a random time in my life. I'm waiting for more of those inspiring moments, but right now they are few and far between.

-In second place, I write to keep a journal of day to day things that I might want to remember. It's a log of family happenings and personal feelings that I don't mind sharing. It's a way to hold memories to share with the kids as they get older. And, it's a way to get the random out of my head. (Sorry about the random. I'm sure it's provoked a few Whiskey Tango Foxtrot moments for you)

-Finally, I write for my mom. I do! Now that we're not so close (spatially), this is a great way to keep her up to date with what we are doing. Simple and maybe dumb, but important! I think she appreciates it.

These are my specific reasons, and I guess you could say that my intended audience consists of myself and my family. Anyone is welcome to read (I still have that ethereal vision of a massive following!) and comment, but this is my space and in here I'm in control. A blog, while public, is not a democracy, after all.

So settle in with your coffee, wine or bowl of popcorn and enjoy the parts of my life that I have chosen to share. And if you think I'm boring, the Next button is located at the top center of the screen.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Too Good To Be Left Unsaid

Out of the blue, the Cheeseburger asked me a question today.

"Do you wear contacts Heather?"

Hulloooo...Lady Looney spent a very vocal hour searching for contact solution for me last Thursday. You were there! "Yup, I do."

"Are they better than glasses?"

"Not for me. I can't see as well, but I don't like wearing glasses. I've been wearing contacts since I was 16."

"Oh. Do they make them with bifocals?"

"Nooo...I don't think they can do that."

"Oh. Do they make them so they turn dark in the sunlight? Like those glasses that turn dark...what are they called. Transition glasses?"


"No, I don't think they make them that way."

"Oh. Huh. Maybe I'll get me a pair. If they make them with bifocals."

Hi Mom!

I know Mother's Day was yesterday, but since when have I been on the ball for anything? Especially lately... But I'm not going to let a little lateness keep me from my Mom Appreciation!

My mom once gave me the best piece of advice I've ever received. "Heather," she said, "if you don't like something about yourself, change it. You're the only one who can." It's excellent advice, and I think of it often.'s not the easiest thing to do. Fortunately there's almost no limit to attempts at self-improvement.

My mom makes horrible crock pot oatmeal.

But she makes rockin' hot fudge pudding cake.

My mom taught me to sing with abandon, and to be content with what we had.

She taught me how to love selflessly.

Overall, she's pretty dang great.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Cupcakes, A Picnic at the Zoo and Lips of Blue

Chloe celebrated her 7th (and Magic!) birthday on Friday. Paul brought Chloe seven red roses at school, and we rounded out her birthday evening with cupcakes and gifts from Grandma Max!


 Uncle Ray treated us to a family afternoon! We all made our way to the zoo, enjoyed a picnic lunch on the grass, wore ourselves out looking at and making fun of animals (and each other), and capped the day off with a birthday party in the park!

Here is our day, in no particular order:

First things first...let's eat!


Making a plan...kinda.

First up...Penguins! (Also, the only animal pic cuz I'm a terrible wildlife photographer. For animal pics, see Tiffany's post here

Fun with Dad

Thanks for the carousel ride, Uncle Ray! 

Happy Birthday, Chloe, Nicholas and Eli--all May babies! 

The Teenagers

 I think Nicholas has a future in soccer.

Thanks for the sports equipment, Uncle Bear & Aunt Tiffany! 

And thank you for a great day at the zoo, Uncle Ray! 


In hindsight, cupcakes with dark blue frosting might not have been the best idea.

Wiped out! 

Monday, May 3, 2010

One More Thought for Monday

Yeah, I probably should have gathered my thoughts today before I started posting randomly. But you'll survive.

My next thought is...

Paul and I went to see the new Nightmare On Elm Street last night. It was terrible. And I'm thinking Iggy Pop probably could have played the role of Freddy Kreuger.


The Pet Mortality Rate At My House Is A Little High

Apparently, and this is news to me-- fake fish die quicker than real ones! I'm quite disappointed. I only neglected them for two days...

Kerry, maybe you need to come do a pet intervention at our house. I think the python is probably hungry, too. I always forget he's back there, poor Sister.

Good thing Paul takes care of his cats...

Good Food Gone Bad

Lady Looney does not keep food longer than three days. "Really?" I clarify. "Only three days?"

"It's no good past three days."

"Nothing is good? What about jam?"

"Nope, three days."

"Ketchup and mustard?"

"Those keep longer cuz they have vinegar in 'em."

"But everything else is only good for three days? Wow."

At this point, I am thoroughly annoyed and don't want to talk any more. I would have eaten the teriyaki that she threw away because it had been in the fridge since Friday. Untouched teriyaki chicken. It was just shy of three days old.

I'm glad she gets paid enough to throw away three day old jars of jam.

I'm mourning the chicken a little bit.
No, actually, I'm mourning the teriyaki sauce.

Three days!?!?