Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Not exactly goodbye...

I've moved! Come visit me at my new digs. Make that, PLEASE come visit me at my new digs. Oh, and if you are one of those nice people that link to me -- a little housekeeping will be in order. Thanks amigas!

I've been played.

Girlie was squirrely last night at dinner time. We had homemade soup (ever so delicious, of course). While we were eating, a friend stopped by to drop off some Nancy Drew books for Girlie. As I went to retrieve them, Girlie decided not to stay at the dinner table and opened the front door, which allowed Bella the lightning dog to make her escape. Ugh. We managed to retrieve her. Then, as we finished the aforementioned soup, Girlie decided that it would be fun to squish her mushrooms agains the inside of the soup bowl with her fingers. "Look, Mom, mushroom juice." Ah, hah, hah. So not funny to me and therefore exceedingly hilarious to Girlie. Until she knocked over her bowl and its contents after I had warned her to stop several times. Ugh. We cleaned it up. I confess I had a very trying day yesterday. I'm in the middle of swapping around webhosts and such and it isn't going smoothly because I don't have (uhm, what color is your thumb if you're good at internet stuff? Not a green thumb but a ...?) I guess Girlie could see that I was gearing up for a little crankfest at her expense so she said, "I wouldn't blame you if your punished me." She also said a little bit later, "Sorry about the two crimes I committed, Mommy." Okay, that was funny. Crankfest averted. I laughed, we got on with dinner and hey, wait a minute, what exactly did she learn? When trouble lurks, make Mommy laugh and you'll never get a time out again. Yep, that's about right. Sorry Dr. Spock.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Stephanie, oh Stephanie, how you made my day!

As most of you probably already know, Stephanie over at Pickleness rocks! On a day when I'm pulling out all my hair trying to figure our Bluehost and Wordpress, I get this lovely message that Stephanie has bought my novel, Parvenue Throws A Party (you know, that one prominently displayed in my sidebar). Thank you, Stephanie. I'm going to look in my computer for something to send you as a thank you. Ah, here it is, a Laughing Gull running for dear life from me and my sidekick (Girlie). It's not every day that you get sent a cyber seagull. You're welcome.

Watch out web, I've bitten off more than I can chew!

So. I have decided to change my main website,, to a different host and incorporate my blog at the same site using Wordpress. So far I have managed to cancel my old hosting service and delete my old site. If you go to, you'll see the first page of a blog that will be part of the new system. What I do next, I have NO IDEA! I'm working on it, I'm working on it. In the meantime, this Blogger blog, if nothing else, should remain in proper working order until I figure out my mess.

Monday, June 05, 2006

This will sound like bragging...

because it is. Unabashed bragging. As I mentioned in my life and death post below, last night I got to meet Izzy! Quite unbelievably, a blogger who I greatly admire lives very close to me. Guess what? She is exactly as advertised folks. Cool, funny, down to earth and exceedingly likeable. I AM SO LUCKY that we connected. She posted about it too and as she said, we showed up at Starbucks wearing the exact same clothes and ended up chatting for three hours. What she didn't mention is that we closed down Starbucks and had to move to an outside table where we continued to gab until very late while odd people came and went from the parking lot. I barely noticed them. The odd ones, that is. I'm wearing a big fat grin today. Thanks, Iz!

Which would you choose?

Death by car crash or death by poisonous spider bite? That was the life and death decision presented to me the other day as I drove to pick up Girlie from day camp. It goes to show you that you never know when you will be faced with life and death choice. And of course, it's all my Hubby's fault. The trauma of the event caused me to block it out of my mind for a few days but the story resurfaced tonight as I met with the awesome and deservedly famous Izzymom (a later post, to be sure). Here's how it went down - I'm back to the spider story, keep up people. Traffic was thick. And it had been raining - that bucket load kind of rain we get here in Florida - so many drivers were in panic mode. Panicky oldsters tend to drive with one foot on the brake. Panicky youngsters lock their knees and can't take their feet off the gas pedal. Throw in a lake or two in the right hand lane and you've got a dangerous traffic situation. (Cue the Twilight Zone music.) Now, imagine if you will, a big fat round-bodied spider that looks an awful lot like a brown widow spider creeping across the top of your windshield, on the inside of course, and just visible in your upward peripheral vision. It pauses just above your lap...thinking, thinking, mmmm, tasty mommy. Steve McQueen, were he still with us, could not have pulled a more perfect maneuver with my less than agile soccer mom van. Lickety split, I was off the road and squishing that spider in a used kleenex. I might have run over a Mini Cooper but it's hard to tell in the behemoth that I drive. If that was you I crushed, sorry. I still managed to pick up my daughter on time but unfortunately, I was still reeling from my experience and told her about it. "SHAME ON YOU. SHAME ON YOU FOR HURTING NATURE." Obviously, she was missing the life and deathness of the situation. "What would you have wanted me to do?" "You should have found a stick and a big leaf and some tape or string to attach the leaf and then gently scooped the spider out of the car." "That spider wanted to kill me." "SHAME ON YOU." "Okay. Next time. I promise." Sheesh, kids. As I drove home, I wondered where that spider had come from. Then I recalled that my Hubby had been using my van to haul sod. That's right. The real reason I don't have a Prius yet is that my Hubby can't let go of the pickup truck, I mean van. Sod. There's still dirt and sod droppings in the back. And probably more spiders. When I find one, I'm going to get that stick and leaf and tape and gently scoop the spider onto the seat of Hubby's Lexus. Oh yes I am.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

My Cleo and Max picture is done!

I love this new collage. Besides, it proves to my cats that I never meant to play favorites having done a picture of my dog. Why is Max cut off? I just like how it looked and I took it from a photograph where the two of them were lying in those positions on our slate patio. Max was feral and to this day, will not tolerate being petted unless it's on her rump. Thus the rump shot. Cleo, fully featured, is the alpha pet in this household. She regularly thumps the dog. I'm having fun with this and I would be delighted to take commissions for art of your pets too. Just go to my profile and email me if you're interested.

Friday, June 02, 2006

What's on your desk?

It's Friday and I am going to clear my work area. But first I want to show you my typical working conditions. Exhibit A: I have spoken to the management about the yammering cat that keeps showing up in my inbox but thus far they've done nothing about it. If ignored, she gets up and licks me across the forehead. And if that weren't bad enough, Exhibit B: The dog-on-my-lap infestation continues as well. I don't know how I'm supposed to get any work done during the day. Luckily at night, dogs, cats, Girlies and snakes all retire to their proper beds. Then Hubby kills things in his video game and I work peacefully on my computer. If I ever slur my writing in a comment, you'll know that wine was involved too. Have a great weekend, all.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Big Heart and Topless Dolls

"So Girlie, whatchya doing with all those topless Polly Pockets?" "They're giving their tops to charity...and their pets too because they thought that would be a nice thing to give." "Okay then. Great job, Sweetie." What you can't hear is the tune Girlie is humming while she lines up the charity offerings. I asked her about it and she said it was the charity theme song. I really can't wait to pie hole my blog (add audio). Editor's note: Her game continues and I overheard her say that one of the Polly Pockets would have to donate a whole man to charity. (Hee hee.) And now thieves are stealing from the charity pile. I love imagination.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

When the wind blows...

In honor of the first day of Hurricane Season here in Florida: thirteen things I will put in my emergency kit. 1. Mixers that don’t require refrigeration. 2. The Crocodile Hunter. I picture lots of roaming alligators and snakes and when he’s not busy wrestling with them, he can entertain Girlie with his Australian accent. “Crikey!” 3. A spare notebook computer and a dedicated generator the size of Texas. I feel it’s my civic duty to carry on blogging during a natural disaster. 4. President Bush. He has this habit of running away from trouble so I’ll just stuff him in my closet and pull him out during a hurricane to make him actually SEE the problems as they arise. 5. Kites. 6. An athletic support bra for my tree. 7. The Johnson & Johnson company. Don’t they pretty much make everything you might need for personal care? 8. The cast of “The Office.” Without television, I might like to see Steve Carrel and the gang act out a few episodes. Hmm. Ditto the cast of “Lost.” 9. Lots of books and Itsy Bitsy book lights. I guess the books had better be thrillers so that they’ll give me the chills (and I won’t miss the air conditioning). 10. A stopwatch. I’ll want to time how long it takes for my Hubby hurts himself trying to fix something that would be better left for the contractors. 11. Sharpies. Just because I like them and it just feels like you should have a permanent marker during a crisis. 12. A non-electric shaver. I’ll be wearing shorts, you know. 13. Plane tickets. Because let’s face it -- I’ll prepare for the category one or two storm but if something like Katrina is even glancing my direction, I’m flying the family to Toronto. (Toronto because I’ve never been there and we might as well make a vacation of it!) Happy Hurricane Season everybody. Editor's Note: Everybody is quite concerned that I forgot food. Hello? Did I not include the Crocodile Hunter? And mixers? I'm thinking alligator bites and margaritas, alas no rocks, with salt. Even Girlie will eat alligator tail. God, did I just say that? Somebody come save me - I have lived in Florida too long! Oh and Izzy? Zone D? I'm a B. Do you have room for three people, two cats, one dog and some fish? Go here for the Thursday Thirteen hub.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

B*oobs, Backyards and Buddies

Most of our back yard is consumed by a giant screened in porch - it's a Florida thing. Actually, it would be even more of a Florida thing if there was a swimming pool but we can't put one in because of a giant grandfather oak with b*oobs. A view from the porch. Make that a grandmother oak. She's at least an E cup. Beside the porch where the tree resides, there is a sizeable yard but you never would have known it when we moved in. It was completely overgrown with a hedge and razor-like palm trees that sawed at your knees. We took all that out and for awhile, I pretended that I was going to grow a flower garden. (insert my Hubby laughing hysterically.) Finally, we did what any self-respecting parents would do and put in grass. Today. We put in grass. (Cue the violins - my back is killing me.) Bella LOVES the new grass. Before we could even lay down the sod, my stellar Hubby had to repair the sprinkler system. This required him to replace some bits and bobs. So when he was done, Girlie came racing into the house: "MOMMY! MOMMY! Look what Daddy gave me!" Was it a new video game? A diamond brooch? Yearly passes to the Magic Kingdom? No. Meet Pipe Buddy. This is proof that the toddler-age preference for the box the toy came in never goes away, it just morphs into a love of trash. While I'm hoping that she'll always appreciate the small stuff -- I'm also hoping that she'll demand a little more than pipe cuttings from the men in her future.

Monday, May 29, 2006

For Zilla, the Rainforest Cafe Update

Just for fun, we drove from Tampa to Orlando yesterday to watch a friend of mine perform in the Orlando Fringe Festival. Gabi is awesome and totally brave to mount a one-woman show. And we were brave to bring a seven-year-old to a performance that did not involve singing animals or snakes. As a bribe, we told Girlie that if she was super quiet and didn't say anything during the show, even in her very best quiet library voice, we would take her to the Rainforest Cafe for dinner. There are two Rainforest Cafes in Orlando - both are on Disney property. We went to the one at the Disney Marketplace, right next door to drunken Disney (oops, I mean Pleasure Island). We arrived at 5:20 p.m., waited in line to sign up and were told that it would be an hour and fifteen minutes or maybe an hour and a half. We totally expected to wait that long. It was a holiday weekend and all that. But a bribe's a bribe and they don't ever work again if you don't pay up. Our return time to get seated was 7:10 p.m. Have you ever been to a Disney park? If you've ever waited in line for a ride, you know that they trick you by having you get to what looks like the front of the line only to find out you are just last in line in a different waiting area. And so on, and so on. It's much the same at the Rainforest Cafe. At 7:00 we'd been wandering all around the BIG merchandise area for a long time and were getting mighty hungry. "We're here," we told the guy back at the purple elephant where they let you into the restaurant. "Super," he said. "But you're not even close," he said. Sniff, sniff. Girlie started chanting, "LET US EAT, LET US EAT." They must get that a lot because he was totally unphased. Finally, at about 7:30, we checked in again and they told us to proceed to the Gorilla Room. Right. They really meant the Gorilla Room LINE. Where we waited for another 20 minutes. Then, en masse, they had a bunch of us proceed to the Gorilla Room entrance where we waited in line AGAIN. I was ready to chew the leather off my purse. Finally we were seated, we ordered, and we waited. And waited. I tried to get my Hubby to distract a waiter carrying food so that I could trip him and scrounge off the floor but Hubby didn't bite. When we left the restaurant (we had skipped appetizers and dessert), our bribe payoff had taken FOUR HOURS. FOUR HOURS for a salad that would feed Darfur and its neighboring countries, three little hot dogs for Girlie and a stir fry for Hubby. Was the food tasty? Yes. Was it neato when they had a fake thunderstorm? Yes. Will I ever go back, even if somebody offers ME a bribe? No.

More artwork. If you're here for the picture of me in my bathing suit, you'll have to scroll down

I'm trying to get my artwork photographed and as I experiment, you'll probably have to suffer through some of my trials. This piece is a companion piece to this one only it is much taller and was completed first. It's untitled. Like most of my contemporary pieces, it is a paper collage. This one is a very poor photo of one of my personal favorites. I'll need to remove the glass to get a good shot of it. It's a rendering of my favorite pooch with a map of my favorite country (England) in the background. I like the idea of pet portraits that aren't oil paintings with bows on their heads. I'm starting to accept commissions for those who want me to do a pet portrait for them. Email me if you're interested. I incorporate your favorite things into the picture, as I can.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Born to travel

The Liberal Banana is responsible for this short little photo tour of my life. Short dress, fat thighs, and already toting my first carry-on luggage. I was born to travel, Baby! And please, for the love of God, check out those adorable red sneakers. A fair question might be why was I so completely bare-legged but it was cold enough out for a jacket? Mom? Any thoughts on that? Happy Easter-Peaster! Still with the carry-on although I've chosen a sort of open basket style to compliment my Chanel suit. Or maybe that's my Easter basket. And clearly I am delighted by my hat. Of course even then I had a giant head that no hat ever fit correctly. "Welcome to the family little sister who is going to grow up to be skinny and blonde. Too bad butt-baring styles like this little navy and red number won't still be in fashion." Argh. You can see my little white underwear through the tights. "Let this be the first time out of hundreds that I tell you that you were left on the doorstep by Gypsies who could return for you at any moment." All grown up now, I'm a college grad at 22 and my skinnier, blonder sister is 15. BUT, I had WAYYYY better 80's hair and a much better tan. The end of the 80's is near and I'm fighting to keep the high-on-the-side ponytail look in fashion. My best friend at the time liked hats. Yes, we really were all that. I single-handedly kept the company that makes hair permanents in business. I wonder if they still smell like they used to?

Never shirk your tag

Pickleness tagged me for the deserted island meme and because I love getting picked, I am happily complying. BOOKS: This is cheating, most likely, but I am an author of books - so I would like, along with the books I'll mention below, to have a typewriter and reams of paper so that I can write some NEW books while I'm stuck in this tropical locale with no other responsibilities. The perfect writer's retreat. Books that I would bring include (but are not limited to): The Count of Monte Cristo (my all time fave); The Shining; The complete John Irving; the complete Shakespeare; and the complete Edgar Allan Poe. I'll be fashioning a regular library out there on the island. Lots of time to read, I suppose. MOVIES: The complete Lord of the Rings trilogy (I can never tire of those stories and I'm not otherwise much into fantasy); I need a few comedies so I'm thinking the Monty Python flicks, The Princess Bride, A Mighty Wind (and all the others like Best in Show, etc.), and at least one tear jerker which for me was Ever After. ALBUMS (by): Prince; Stanley Jordan; Bonnie Raitt; Kelly Clarkson (yep, I like her); and Bach's Goldberg Variations. Oh, and an Aida soundtrack. PEOPLE (besides family who are a given): George Clooney (handsome and funny and caring); a librarian (for that library I plan to set up only if it's a woman, she has to be frumpier than me so that George won't be distracted); President Bush - I would love for me and George to have him as a captive audience to give him a piece of our minds; and maybe Madonna as a yoga instructor/after dinner entertainer. Throw in a piano, some coconut telephones, and a bicycle powered generator and I'm pretty much set. Girlie will love it too.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Beauty Requires No Bombs

Oh look. She does artwork too. Too bad she can't take better pictures of it. This is a 12" by 12" piece that will be in an exhibit at the Lyssa Morgan Gallery in Tampa. It's called, Beauty Requires No Bombs and it is a paper/paint collage.

It's only fair

Clickety click to enlarge.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Thirteen Words

For this week’s thirteen, I’m going back to my writerly roots and plucking thirteen adjectives out of the dictionary that I either really like or have never heard of before. 1. Convivial. It describes me because it relates to feasting, drinking and having a good time. That convivial Wendy, she’s always swiggin’ a beer and talking with her hands full of pizza. (Make that cheeseless pizza with a gluten-free crust – my food allergies are not convivial in the least.) 2. Fusty. It can mean stale and smelly or it can mean rigidly old-fashioned. My wedding invitations were purchased at a fusty old print shop in London because my hubby’s fusty relative thought that they should be truly, actually engraved - as in, you can turn the invitation over and feel the engraving. (I used fusty in both ways in that sentence.) 3. Irrefragable. It means irrefutable. The irrefragable truth is that irrefragable is more fun to say than irrefutable. And it makes me think of Fraggle Rock. 4. Trumpery. This word means trivial or useless. I think it can also be a noun. My trumpery little blog might be among the trumperiest. (Okay, I made that last word up.) 5. Arthritic. It’s not just for joints anymore. Painfully slow. Now that I have Firefox, I see how arthritic IE was. 6. Fuliginous. Dark and murky in color. One look into my fuliginous eyes, and he was hopelessly in love, or drunk. 7. Lugubrious. Affectedly mournful. Girlie’s lugubrious wails ring throughout the house whenever she’s asked to clean her room. 8. Mizzly. Drizzly. You say drizzly, I say mizzly, let’s call the whole thing off. 9. Sexagesimal. (giggle, giggle). Having to do with the number sixty. Hubby and I watch television in sexagesimal minute cycles. Usually on our bed. (Sorry math lovers, I’m sure I used it incorrectly.) 10. Nootropic. Enhances cognition. Alcohol is a nootropic substance when playing late night trivia games. (Too much alcohol is the opposite of nootropic.) 11. Wendish. Like me. Okay, not really but who wouldn’t include an adjective with your name in it? It actually means, of or relating to the Wends. Aren’t you glad that I cleared that up? 12. Crural. Relating to the thigh. I think it’s cruel that my crural area gains weight the fastest. 13. Pie holed. Having a mouth. Her pie holed website now has audio feeds. (Yes, I totally made up pie holed as an adjective but I’m going to run with it.) If I ever get the right equipment and software, I intend to pie hole this blog. Wow, it works as a verb too. Catchy don’t you think? Thanks for stopping by. Please leave your name AND a comment so that I can judge you, I mean, thank you. Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

Cue the Barry White - It's love bug season

A love bug's dying wish is to be getting it on with its mate. I know this to be true because twice a year, including right now, swarms of these flies emerge from the leaf litter all coupled up, if you know what I mean, and crowd the air over Florida highways. I wonder if the smell of exhaust, uhm, heightens the experience? Or maybe it's just that love is blind. They seem to hover over busy roadways and not, say, in my backyard. I drive a high profile vehicle. So do most of you mommies. It's called a van but today it is fly-paper on wheels. I'll have to wash it a dozen times in the next week if I don't want the fly juice to ruin my finish. (They get toxic to paint when they're all sexed up like that.) So I'm just curious, these little lovers from Latin America are spreading north. Have you seen them where you live? They look like a single fly with heads and wings at both ends. Don't even ask me how they get into that position.

Another Thank You - this time for Liberal Banana

One Banana, two Banana, three Banana, four. Banana bought my book and now there are no more. (Well, they have more to arrive shortly so go ahead and order your copy today!) THANKS, Liberal Banana! Now everybody go look at her site. She's very funny and has impecable taste. (Hee hee.) Not only that, she has been reading my stuff for longer than most. So thanks for that too!!!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Something for Everybody Tuesday - Read on...

I am nothing if not not consistent. Hah, a triple negative. It has occured to me that I am all over the place with the types of things I post about. So today, something for everybody. First up (actually last up chronologically) is a cute dog picture. This is for those of you who pop by my blog hoping to catch sight of a dog, cat, or baby picture. Next up, a post that's about as raw as it gets around here (which is to say, not very). I introduce you to my latest medical woes. Then there is a LOOOOOONG post about car abuse in France. It's one of my favorite travel articles and it's funny. It's for those of you who might need proof that I am actually a writer-type person. And if you scroll on down, you'll see more dog pictures and a bunch of cartoons. The cartooning I can't explain. I just lurve it. Happy Tuesday everybody!

Meet Curly, Larry, and Moe (warning - girl stuff)

I'm in a bit of a ranty mood and it is so unlike me. I woke up happy and thought that I might post a job description today for applicants to be my sidekick. You know, like Lucy had Ethel? I'm a madcap kind of girl and I need a partner in crime. I have loads of friends but they are all so responsible (probably why I sought them out). I have a vacancy to fill for that kind of friend who is devil may care. I'm not talking drunken stuff here, not that I don't enjoy a drink, but sober madcapness is the funniest kind really. But I digress. I'm too pissy to advertise properly for a sidekick. So, anyway, meet Curly, Larry and Moe. A couple of months ago I posted my frustration about being stood up by my gyno doctor. I needed to discuss the results of a sonogram that I knew showed two ovarian cysts (I get those a lot) and a fibroid (the technician filled me in). Having been stood up before and then noticing that the doctor had elected not to carry malpractice insurance (what the fuck?), I sought a change in doctors. My appointment with the new doctor is Thursday, TWO MONTHS LATER. Ugh. I was stonewalled by the new doctor's receptionist and couldn't arrange an earlier appointment. So to get ready for the new doctor, I had the old doctor's office fax me the sonogram report today. Curly is a simple cyst, the kind of pain in the side I've experienced often. I even had a distant relative of Curly's drained once back in the nineties. Curly resides on my left ovary and he is or was, 3.9 cm by 3.7 cm by 2.7 cm. (Why the medical metrics? Is it one more way to confuse us patients?) Curly isn't much trouble and likely has moved on by now. Larry lives next to Curly in my uterus. Larry is SUBMUCOSAL and a mere 1.7 cm in diameter. Larry is living large in the best condo but he's not all that. He might be a little bigger by now but I probably can't blame any weight gain on him. (Damn.) Moe is my nemesis. He's not as big as Curly but he is COMPLEX. I've been noticing Moe lately on my lower right side. He took up residence on my right ovary and because he's not the same as Curly and his predecessors, I don't know what to expect from my doctor visit on Thursday. My new doctor might want to see Moe face to face via a laparoscopy or something. I really don't know. Thus the bad mood. Fuck you, Moe. So, stay tuned for my sidekick advertisement sometime later this week. Curly, Larry and Moe need not apply.

Monday, May 22, 2006

What to Pack in your Sac

Okay, a sample of my travel writing for your reading amusement. A trip to France teaches a seasoned traveler about the most important of carry-ons, and it’s not what you might think. The clues were there right from the start. We were taking somebody else’s trip. But on our flight to France, Chevy Chase himself could have popped out of the airplane’s bathroom and I still wouldn’t have believed that we were embarking on that kind of vacation. My travel life is charmed. We were headed to the south of France during the off, off-season in January when a family of three can actually afford to spend the night two blocks from the beach in Nice or Cannes. What I couldn’t see, sleeping as I was across the aisle from my Hubby and my six-year-old daughter, Girlie, was that for the entire trans-Atlantic flight, the two-year-old on the other side of Hubby was kicking him, plucking his arm hairs, spilling her juice on him and I kid you not, wetting the end of her red licorice stick and writing on his arm. There was a language barrier so Hubby suffered in silence and I arrived relatively refreshed. Good thing, too because after our hop to Nice, we found out that none of our luggage had come along for the ride. Hmmm. Two bags arrived later that day but my suitcase, the one with the coats for Girlie and me, did not. And nobody knew where it was. I’ve bought every travel gizmo they make, read two books about packing for trips, and befriended a packing expert, Anne McAlpin, the author of Pack It Up. I have even drafted a know-it-all sort of article about packing for various kinds of trips. In it I opined about packing for who it is you want to be on any given vacation; a sort of philosophical view of packing. I eschew travel garments with hidden pockets and zip-off legs in favor of dressing the part or the culture. If I’m going to the Caribbean, I pack movie star sunglasses, a fancy cover-up and gauzy dresses. New York? Anything black. South of France? It appears that I wanted to be the person who wears the same clothes everyday for a week. I’d become complacent and failed to follow the most basic of packing advice. Spare underwear in my carry-on? There used to be. Even if my carry-on hadn’t been half full of electronic stuff for Girlie, I wouldn’t have been smart enough to tuck in a wrinkle-proof change of clothes. I guess that’s why Anne is the expert and I’m back to the drawing board. I had to buy a new coat for my daughter (on top of the one I’d just purchased for the trip) and a pack of underwear at Monoprix. In Florida we rarely need one coat, let alone two, so I made Girlie wear a new coat big enough to be worn again next year when we visit the Tundra and make the purchase worthwhile. Still I didn’t notice any dark clouds. We just went about our trip. Looking down the beach in Nice, the light colored buildings appear to be stacked on each other towards the west where the hills of the region kneel down to the sea. When the thin winter afternoon light hits the water, you see why it’s called the Côte d’Azur. This particular aqua blue isn’t replicated in the Gulf of Mexico near where I live. But Florida beaches do have better sand. Sand period. The beach in Nice is comprised of rocks the size of my fist. We took a stroll before napping a bit and returning to the airport to check on my bag. Nice bustles like any large city. We planned to stay only one night there, anxious as we were to move into the quieter Provence. The car rental company had nicely upgraded our car to a pseudo-station wagon the size of your average wheelbarrow. Okay, it was bigger than that but in France, big isn’t better and neither is diesel. Gas stations offering diesel were hard to come by and our little car was still too big for a lot of parking spaces. We also kept driving down narrow streets only to be thwarted by little poles marking the entrance of a pedestrian mall. Trying to turn our car completely around without scraping pole paint onto the rear end was, well, impossible. Sorry car. We also didn’t know how to put the stick shift into reverse. An annoyed man in a van finally showed us how you lift a little thing on the stick before putting it into reverse. Sorry car. It was getting late by the time we’d returned from the airport in fruitless search of my luggage and I’m going with that as my excuse for what happened next. Note to readers: just because the little door right next to the giant garage door says that it’s the entrance to the public parking garage (in fourteen languages) you are not necessarily safe to enter. Fate conspired to put a man in a little car behind us who clicked open the garage door. We thought that it had opened for us and drove right in. We snaked around a tight labyrinth worthy of Greek mythology down into the bowels of the earth until we passed through yet another door that had magically opened for us about six levels down. “Honey,” I said, “just pull over and let that car go by.” It was still behind us. After we pulled over, he pulled up next to us and perhaps seeing our daughter, decided that we weren’t car thieves or terrorists. Tate told him that we were just looking for the public parking. We hadn’t seen one empty space. “Is not here.” (Only it sounded like, “eez nut here.”) “Oh, well how do we get out of here?” He replied, “you can not.” (“You can nut.”) So for a few seconds, we stared and he stared and I wondered if we would be spending the night stuck in a private parking garage. Our French stranger nicely decided to park his own car, hop in ours with his garage door clicker and help us find our way out. “My mommy and daddy got confused,” Girlie said to the stranger. He provided us with an exit and we provided him with a stupid-tourist story for his buddies. He directed us around the corner for the proper entrance to our garage but when we turned the corner, we were faced with a down-ramp that disappeared into a dark hole marked as the “Tunnel to Monaco.” Either we’d missed the entrance again or that nice man had had a mean sense of humor. Eventually we found a different garage and wedged our car into a slot. Sorry car. I admit that we parked by Braille just a little too often but the car deserved a little payback for all the times it screamed at us. It was an Opel and on the dash there was this screen that kept yelling at us, in French, “Ouch, you morons, you just whammed my left rear tire.” We stopped once to put air in the tires but we had absolutely no idea if they needed it or not because we’d failed right along with the rest of the United States to understand metric. So every time the car cursed at us, we shut off the car and restarted it to see if it was serious and most of the time it wasn’t. Then, inexplicably, it tried a new tact. It yelled at us in Italian. “STRADA SCIVOLOSO!” Thanks to the multi-language translator gizmo I’d received for Christmas, I knew that it meant “slippery road.” But how did the car know that and since when did it speak Italian? I picked up the manual but my college French had taught me enough not to order horsemeat or snails; I never got to electronics and car repair. We ignored the screen for a while and then managed to poke enough buttons to get it to complain in English. On our way to Aix-en-Provence we stopped at a museum built to house the art collection of some famous French collectors, the Mæghts. The sculpture gardens stole the show, in my opinion, littered with Giacomettis, among others. Inside Fondation Mæght, Girlie liked the Calder mobiles and who doesn’t enjoy Chagall and Miro? Since we were so close, we tootled around St. Paul de Vence for a few minutes too. The streets were so narrow it’s evidence enough that people were much smaller a few hundred years ago. You have to park outside the town. Aix-en-Provence was next. The town of Aix isn’t particularly beautiful by European standards. However like Nice, Aix was still wearing some faded Christmas finery in January and the main drag, lined with winter-naked Plane trees, was lit up beautifully at night. By day we admired the Mossy fountain and appreciated the fact that without leaves on the trees, you can see right through to the mountains. When you’re from Florida, a mountain is more impressive than a leaf any day. Besides, a trip to Aix is all about food and atmosphere, both of which there is plenty of, even in January. We strode up the hill to tour Cezanne’s studio, left intact from his last days there. I studied art in college long enough to get a degree so I was fascinated by the studio. It has a wall of north-facing windows and a special device to lift giant canvases in and out of the second floor workspace. A little film tells you a bit about Cezanne’s fascination with the mountain, Sainte Victoire, and his general preoccupation with color and landscape. In the studio you find artifacts that he used for still-lifes (although I think that the apples had been replaced a time or two). On my fourth day of wearing the same pair of jeans since I’d left Tampa, we arrived in Avignon. My suitcase finally caught up with us at our little hotel in the heart of the walled city. Avignon has a giant palace that might have interested Girlie had it been the kind that princesses lived in. But the palace in Avignon is of the papal variety. The Christian history in Avignon is very interesting and at one time the palace had been very opulent, not just huge. It housed Popes and antipopes hundreds of years ago. Now it’s stripped down but the scale of it makes it worth seeing. In one room we decided that you could fit all of Girlie's favorite playground park. There’s a famous bridge in Avignon too but I warn you, turn off your audio tour device before they sing the famous little French ditty about the bridge. The way that tune worms itself into your brain, you swear that the French could have ruled the world had they only fought with school children singing that song over and over again rather than employing the crazy war devices we saw down the road on our tour of Les-Baux-de-Provence. Carved out of the top of a mountain are the remnants of this old fortress. Les Baux was our most interesting stop. The town itself exists inside of thick walls with narrow streets that lead ever up to the top where you can take a self-guided tour around the ruins. For Girlie there was a clever scavenger hunt for hidden letters so she stayed interested for as long as we wanted to imagine ourselves living in a time where they had secret tunnel entrances and windows cut out of the rock so you could spill hot oil on marauders. Even in winter, the countryside makes you wish you could stay forever. Especially on bright sunny days like we were experiencing (cold, but sunny). Pine trees and olive trees are evergreen so perhaps except for want of a few wildflowers and a whole lot of lavender, it looked much the same in winter as it might in high season. Hubby read that in the interest of preservation, those particular valleys weren’t permitting any more construction. That fact probably prices the cute little chateaus I’d seen out of my reach. We stayed one night in Arles and took a drive through France’s wetland area, La Camargue, a flat desolate place where they raise cattle. Story has it that the original cowboys came from there. We didn’t see any cowboys but we saw many of their shaggy white horses. Flamingoes reside in some areas of La Camargue but we didn’t see them either. But we’re from Florida. Flamingoes, ho hum. We decided to spend our last night in Cannes and Hubby found out that we could get there via a mountain road that takes you through some stunning red rock scenery. Maybe if I hadn’t told Hubby I would divorce him if even one wheel left the pavement while the miles-deep drop off was on my side of the car, we could have avoided our next problem. We could have pulled over and given Girlie a break. Poor thing. Note to self: when you are going to drive on a curvy road with nail-biting drop-offs, steal an airsick bag from the plane. So it was a good thing that we only had the car for one more day. Two more days with us and it would have immolated itself. Cannes is interesting to people who read People. Otherwise, it’s just a shopping town with slightly less dog poop on the sidewalks than most other towns. Of course, I’m a People reader so I’ve got my photo of Hubby putting his hands in Mel Gibson’s handprints on the Allée des Stars near the Palais des Festivals. I could picture the celebrities; I just couldn’t see them because the only festival going on while we were there was the Festival du Shopping (otherwise known as the January clearance sales). I know enough about French culture to know that it is slow to adopt foreign words and customs. If they are so protective of their language, imagine how deservedly snobbish they are about their bread. On our last morning, we freely chose to show our daughter the inside of a French MacDonald’s. I’ll never be sorry. On the paper placemat was a quiz to test your knowledge about “Les secrets du petit pain rond du hamburger.” The secrets of the round hamburger bread. The answers explained that it’s one, called “un bun,” two, it’s so swollen and yummy because of the nature of the wheat and the double fermentation (not air injection), and three, most importantly, the wheat is grown in France (whew!). After that breakfast in Cannes, we left for the airport where our flight was delayed just long enough for us to miss our connection back to the States. We were placed by the airline in a hotel near the airport where we watched a German version of The Simpsons while it poured rain outside. And the food was bad. And by the time we got home a day late, Girlie's pet fish Aleesheea had died. I couldn’t fail to notice, however, that when any one of us was asked in the days following the trip how it went, all three of us would reply, “It was great!” It just goes to show you that all you really must carry on to the plane with you is a good attitude and a modicum of resilience. Having remembered both, I believe my travel life is still charmed.

The relative charms of dogs and cats

Renaissance Dog

This is my dog, Bella. She plays such a large role in our life I think I will have to add her to my cartooning. She's an Italian Greyhound, a miniature dog that the Renaissance Italian artists were so enamored of, they painted this breed into a LOT of paintings. This is also my dog, Bella. She's the same breed as Santa's Little Helper on The Simpsons. In other words, built for cartooning! Just look at those classic cartoony features. I know that I have introduced her on this blog before but that was when slightly fewer than three people ever stopped by for a visit. Now that I'm up to ten, I thought fresh introductions were in order. Stay tuned for the first Bella 'toon.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Shhhh. Dooce checked out my blog.

It's Sunday night. Nobody is reading this anyway. I just had an amazing dinner with Hubby and Girlie (steaks off the grill, yum). After two glasses of wine, I think I'm ready to admit that I emailed Dooce a link to my cartoon where Girlie gets "Dooced." I'll be damned, somebody from Salt Lake City shot over to check out that specific post. Had to be her, don't you think? Why do I care? Because she's the blogging big shot and for one brief second, she checked out my site. Thanks for making me feel like a somebody, Dooce. Hope you got a laugh out of it.

Life in the Pumpkin Shell

OHMYGOSH! Check this out. I love my internet friends! Life in the Pumpkin Shell

Writer Mom Rocks Too.

Thanks for buying my first novel, Writer Mom! Hopefully you and everyone else will get kick out of it and look forward to the next novel (Teacup Travels) hopefully out soon! My best friend cup runneth over.

Sunday is Mumday

I always feel like I'm talking to myself if I post on a Sunday. Most people have other real life stuff to do and aren't surfing blogs. Like me. At our house, Saturday is Dadderday and Sunday is Mumday. That means, on Sundays it's my turn to get up early with the Girlie and, shudder, shudder... play with toys. Oh sure it sounds harmless and fun to you guys who have infants and toddlers but wait until you have an imaginative seven year old. Playing with toys means exactly this EVERY Sunday. First, she picks a toy. It has to be small enough to maneuver with your hands so she inevitably picks a rubber snake. Then I pick a toy. Sometimes it's a zebra. Today it was a turtle. I have some freedom of choice here: either I pick what she wants me to pick or I choose something different and she kills it off in the first five seconds. I usually go with her suggestion. Then, the two toy animals meet, exchange names and as per the weekly script, mine has to act scared to meet a snake and even more scared to meet the snake's big sister, Sara (the big one in all my cartoons). Once I'm convinced that I won't be snake food, we go on an adventure. EVERY WEEK, the adventure is hanging on to a paper butterfly to be flown upstairs to Girlie's room. EVERY WEEK, we sit on the floor while Girlie grabs whatever is handiest (today it was the net for her fishtank) and turns it into something EVIL that snatches her snake and requires me to rescue it. If you're thinking that about now after weeks and weeks and weeks of the same old script that I'd like to gouge my eyes out, you're about right. Instead I muster up the required enthusiasm, rescue the snake, call for the butterflies and we escape, but only until the next bedroom object ensares us. Pillow cases, blocks, broken rubber bands - they all have evil potential. The upside is that it makes her happy and we can then move on to more interesting (to me) pastimes like art, games, outdoor stuff, etc. And it keeps her off the tube. But we need a script doctor around here. I'm not allowed to tinker with it. Sigh. I'd write in a handsome Ken doll and some Druids and robot jungle animals that are being controlled from outer space and want nothing more than to listen to the Dog Train CD and dance. A mom can dream.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Addison Rocks! And so do all my friends.

As promised, I am thanking those who suffered my self-promotion and bought my book. First up, Addison. Go check out Bubba Likes It. If you see Garfield swinging his tail next to a comment, you'll know it's from me. Addison bought my book and sent it to a friend. Addison, you are temporarily my best friend. But I'm fickle. The next person to confirm that they bought the book will be bumping you off the pedestal. Enjoy it for now! In the "planning to buy it but not yet confirmed category" are: The Liberal Banana (Hi Banana!); Antique Mommy (who may even buy TWO; one for a friend); Marshmallows For Breakfast (a great name for a blog); Does She or Doesn't She (Hi Karen); and Grandma's Treasures (Hi Susan). Several others promised to check it out. Thank you L at Random_Speak; Carol at The Median Sib; Carmen at Gone to Plaid; Something Baby Blue; Surrender Dorothy; and The Martin Times. Editor's note: Everybody send Lawnut good thoughts about her law review competition paper. Those are killer. And thank you, Lawnut, for adding yourself to the list of those planning to buy my book!

A Couple Little Pieces

Click to enlarge.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Thirteen zoo animals to emulate.

WELCOME! I’m going to entertain you today with the thirteen lessons that we can learn from zoo animals but first, because I told my agent about my blog yesterday, I have to make it look like I use the blog to promote my books just in case she takes a peek. So as an appetizer, here are seven reasons you should buy my first novel, Parvenue Throws A Party (see picture in sidebar): 1. You’ll get to look up the word “parvenue” in the dictionary and find out that it’s an unfavorable moniker that you can slap on your sister-in-law and she’ll never know what you’re talking about. 2. At least one of the scenes will make you laugh out loud. It might be the birthday cake decorated with the seven dwarfs on their way to axe murder a local village (my personal favorite) or it might be the scene at the mall (oh, there are several of those) but I assure you, if you read it, you will laugh. 3. If you buy today, you might be the single person who raises my Amazon rating by nearly 700,00 spots. 4. You will come away feeling quite superior and virtuous by comparison to the protagonist who needs to learn a few lessons (and does). 5. You’ll be sticking it to the man. Actually, “the man” or “the woman” will be publishing my next work but in the meantime, you’ll be supporting an independent publishing house. 6. You’ll get a sample of my artwork to display on your coffee table for no extra charge (I designed the cover). 7. You’ll make a fellow blogger super duper happy and if you comment that you’ve bought a book and you aren’t telling a big fat lie, I’ll post a personal thanks with a link to your blog. And that my friend, is priceless (well, free). AND NOW for our main feature, thirteen lessons we can learn from zoo animals. 1. Elephants. I’ll bet you money that there isn’t one elephant who gets on the scale every morning to find out if she’s going to have a good day or a bad day. Wide hips? Got ‘em. Love handles? Got ‘em. Thighs that rub together? Got ‘em. Not only does the elephant not care about her extra flab, she sometimes sprays dust all over herself to draw attention to the wide bits. There’s a lesson here, ladies and gentlemen, about not being hung up on your weight. 2. Tigers. If you learn the lesson from elephants above, you’ll also need to learn the tiger’s lesson. Wear vertical stripes. It’s more slimming. 3. Alligators. Botox? Hah, they laugh in your face. Firming cream or rejuvinating oil? Pish posh. The alligator is cracked and wrinkled and proud at any age. And you’re going to get in a huff over a little line between your brows? Nonsense they’ll tell you. 4. Chimpanzees. Have you ever seen chimpanzees when they’re all stirred up? I’ve seen them swing upside down, put boxes over their heads, and throw fruit. Once I saw a male with a huge erection standing with his arms outstretched above his head laughing like an idiot. The lesson here isn’t to lighten up and have a good time. The lesson is regarding alcohol abuse. Too much tequila and you’ll be acting like one of them. 5. Camels. Drink plenty of water EVERY DAY instead of once a month and you’ll avoid unsightly humps. 6. Lions. They lick themselves all over just like kitty cats. So practice your yoga and increase your flexibility and you too will be able to bend over and lick your rump. Not that you’d want to. 7. Giant tortoises. Slow down, you’re moving too fast and taking on too many projects. These guys live for a gazillion years and they didn’t get there by multi-tasking. 8. Parrots. They speak more than one language: bird and human. So let your kids practice their barnyard grunts and jungle growls. Soon, interspecies warfare will be a thing of the past. 9. Meerkats. They’re the original neighborhood watch. Want to lessen crime in your neighborhood? Make like a meerkat and have somebody keep a lookout. Pick your nosy neighbor Hazel. You know she’s dying to do it. 10. Two toed sloths. I confess I picked these because I adore them. I even saw one in Costa Rica. The lesson that you learn from sloths is to eat salad. Nobody, not even you, has a slower metabolism than a sloth. Do you hear them complaining about not being able to eat candy bars without getting fat? No. They eat salad and get on with it. 11. Swans. The lesson here is that you should never tell somebody that their baby is ugly, even if it is. 12. Penguins. Own a tuxedo. You never know when your going to get that last minute invitation to dine at the White House. Be prepared. 13. Bald eagles. Get over yourself about hair loss, yours or your husbands. Bald is beautiful. I know that bald eagles aren’t bald, per se, but their divorce rate is nonexistent. I’m thinking it’s because they just accept each other for all their faults. Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Seeing your teacher out of context

What is it about kids when they first spy their school teacher in a different environment? I suppose when you are little, it doesn't occur to you that your teacher has a life outside of the classroom and might even be married and watch movies and shop for groceries. I remember the shock I felt at age seven or eight when I bumped into my grade school teacher at the mall. As it turns out, the fruit does not fall very far from the tree. We ran into Girlie's teacher coming out of a movie the other day and this was Girlie's reaction. "HEE HEE HEE, Mr. H!" Monkey walk, monkey walk, spaz dance. Then there were a few seconds of funny faces and rattling Sara's tail (yes, the snake comes to the movies with us). Then she just stood and stared at him with a strange grin. Luckily Mr. H is the coolest teacher on the planet.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Time to Move

Read this and you'll agree with me that it's time to pull up the stakes. Three fatal alligator attacks in Florida in one week? Crikey! If that's not enough, they (whoever "they" are) are predicting a bad hurricane season. That starts next month, folks. Then there's the heat and the politics and cost of living and the politics and the ridiculous rate of development (bye bye nature). And did I mention the politics? Most importantly, there is the affect of these atmospheric conditions on writers in Florida. We're weird. We write over-the-top zany crime novels and thrillers with the most peculiar villains. Our humor is our prize but you almost have to live here to get it. I've lived here for eleven years and the rub-off is unavoidable. I don't write thrillers or crime novels yet but it's only a matter of time. And I'm sure that they'll feature murderers who use giant Anacondas now found in the Everglades and ceiling fans. They'll have albino features, few teeth and a penchant for fried grouper cheeks. Alligators will populate the backstory and a grey heron will peck the eyes out of an unsuspecting hammock-napper. It's inevitable because that's where your brain goes when you read news stories like the one I linked for you. Humor is your best defense when you start getting worried about walking your dog near a drainage ditch. Moving is the other option. Fortunately or unfortunately, humor is cheaper and it looks like we'll be staying. Sorry in advance if my next book is called, "The Great Alligator on the Ceiling Fan Caper: How I Learned to Love Snakes During Hurricane Bob."

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mother's Day

No time for a proper post today. I'm too busy being pampered. But I had to put up a picture of Girlie. She made me coffee and pancakes this morning. She's the perfect mix of me and my Hubby. In some ways, that is the coolest part of being a mom. What better science experiment than mixing your genes and seing what happens? Of course she's much more than a science experiment. She's her own little person and discovering who she is has been the best part of my life thus far. Thanks Girlie!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Coming to my Senses (more sap than snark today)

Dogs like smelly things. Do you know what they really like to do when they happen upon a real stink bomb? Roll in it. They cover their pelts in stink and take it home with them. I can relate. As you may know, I recently started a course of treatment with an acupuncturist to alleviate my allergies. I know, what's a hot dog lover like myself doing in such an alternative medical treatment plan? You'll have to look in my April archives. This post is about the first and most startling benefit of treatment: the return of my sense of smell. I knew it was failing me. When you can't smell the vinegar right out of the bottle, you know that there's a problem. Taste largely disappears when you can't smell too. But if you don't feel ill, just congested, you tend to think of yourself as well. But I wasn't - not completely anyway. But I'm getting there now. First I could smell the obvious stuff, like old broccoli in my fridge. I could smell the jasmine vine I was trimming and my Renuzit air freshener in the car. (When my sense of smell was bad, I put air fresheners EVERYWHERE just in case their was an offensive odor that I couldn't detect.) Mostly it was the stinky stuff that alerted me that my nose was returning to normal. But that's not what makes me have something in common with dogs. This is. I was blow drying my Girlie's hair. A delicate sweet odor wafted up my nose. Just underneath it was an earthy smell, like fresh-cut hay. I turned off the dryer and buried my nose in Girlie's hair (much to her amusement). The delectable scent was her. Not just her shampoo. Not her soap. Her. And I wanted to rub that scent all over me, just like a dog. I didn't of course. Now that I can smell, I'll get that pleasant experience every time we blow dry. Even now, the joy I felt at that moment makes me want to cry. The only hard thing will be explaining to Girlie why, even when she's in college, I'll insist on blow drying her hair every night.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Skin me

In this day and age of waning ozone, haven't we all looked a little harder at our moles? That's right, this post is about skin care. I live in Florida where the warnings get shot across the news programs every six months like clockwork. "WE LIVE IN FLORIDA. WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE FROM SKIN CANCER. WEAR SPF 2,346 SUNBLOCK AND YOU MIGHT ADD TWO MONTHS TO YOUR LIFE." Mind you, I'm not making light of this serious subject. As usual, I'm going to make light of my personal reaction to it. These news broadcasts usually contain diagrams and charts and stuff like this: Remember Your ABCDEFGH's when examining your skin. A is for Amorphous. Fold your mole in half and if it isn't 100 percent symetrical, you should definitely keep reading. B is for Beauty Mark. If your mole is within 3 centimeters of your lips, it's a beauty mark and not a mole. Advance to Go and collect an extra $1,000 for your modeling contract. C is for Childproof. If you have a mole sticking out a little bit on the back of your neck and your Girlie can't keep her fat fingers off of it, you should have it removed since you don't believe in spanking. D is for diaphanous. If your mole is ethereal enough, you can call it the Virgin Mary and sell pictures of it on ebay. Okay, hold it right there. I'm getting way off point. The thing is, no matter how many times I listen to the descriptions and look at the pictures, I can't look at my own freckly, moley body without seeing skin cancer EVERYWHERE. Both my parents have had one type or another. So this week I went to a dermatologist and she told me that I have boring, cancer-free skin. I am so relieved. So is my wallet. But it's worth every dime. Now I can pay her once a year and focus on the other cancers my OCD brain likes to imagine I'm at risk for. And the point of this post? Wear your sunscreen; put it on your kids and your dog; and check your moles. If you find one shaped like the Baby Jesus, it'll more than pay for your dermatologist visits.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Thursday Thirteen

In no particular order, here are the thirteen reasons that if I believed in it, I’d be going to Hell. 1. I flunked out of Church. SURPRISE! I’ve been to a church, mostly as a child. I went to Sunday school and demanded that the teachers “prove it” that God existed. I sat in the sanctuary during communion and stuck my tongue so far into the little plastic cup to get that last drop of grape juice that it made an audible “THWOK” when I pulled it out and then I suffered through irrepressible giggles for forty-five minutes until the service concluded. The last straw was youth group. I was in it for the dudes. Oops. Not those nerdy dudes. It’s actually pretty funny that much later in life, I married a guy who had been the President of his youth group. Revenge of the nerds. But I’m still going to Hell. 2. I’m a liar. First and foremost to my thighs. How many times have I told them that I was going to embark on a daily exercise regime? They pay me back with cellulite. I’ve also lied to my Girlie. Not just in the obvious “Sure there’s a Santa Claus” way. I’ve told her that the mashed cauliflower on her plate was mashed potatoes. Man, I suck. 3. As a youngster, I delighted in frying ants with a magnifying glass on sunny days. I can’t explain that one. 4. As a college student I, uhm, inhaled, uhm, stuff. Let’s just say that I could never be elected president. 5. In the same vein, while still fairly young I caught my older brothers inhaling, uhm, stuff, and extorted them to the Nth degree. I’m so bad. Of course, they used to lock me in their little fort and not let me out until I’d tasted some heinous concoction from the kitchen. They deserved the extortion. Oops. I’m headed to Hell here. 6. This may be the most difficult one to admit to. I used to play the airplane schloop game on business trips. (I’m so mortified I can barely explain it. It was pre-9/11 by many years.) Me and a coworker would sit on the airplane and watch the others board. When we saw somebody that we couldn’t possibly stand to sit by, we’d make a schloop sound (sort of inhaling at the same time) indicating our desire for them to be sucked out of the plane. My particular subjects were those who looked like they hadn’t bathed in the last decade or so, giant people, and babies. Shoot. Babies! Now I love ‘em. But I’m still going to Hell. 7. I like rock ‘n roll music. 8. I’m a lawyer. (Was a lawyer. But the bad sticks on you.) 9. I covet stuff. If you read my blog, you know I covet a Prius (for some good reasons, if not godly ones). But let’s face it. I also covet a swimming pool, a bestselling book, and a personal chef. 10. I sneak drinks out of my Girlie’s water bottle when she’s not looking. Doesn’t sound sinful but Girlie has made it abundantly clear that NOBODY is allowed to get their slurp on her drinks or cutlery or whatever. Mind you, the dog can spit-shine her teeth. Human germs? Too dangerous. 11. I didn’t care much for the movie, The Graduate. Some might argue that it only makes me unAmerican. But under our current administration, unAmerican equals going to Hell. So there I go. 12. I have watered my lawn on a Wednesday. (I’m strictly limited to Tuesday and Saturday.) 13. Finally ... drumroll please ... I, Wendy Boucher, am going to Hell for being a Liberal. Liberal’s another word I’d like to take back from its negative connotation (along with the word feminist). Just for example, I believe that gay folks should be permitted to marry. No, I don’t want to call it something else. No, I don’t think that next we’ll be allowing people to marry their dogs. Here’s another example: I think that everybody should have access to basic preventive health care. And I think that gas should be MORE expensive so that people would push harder for alternatives to oil (and driving cars in general). I’m so liberal, I actually care about people who aren’t even residents of the United States. My liberal views sometimes don't earn favor with those on the religious fringe. So guess where I'm headed? I am so going to Hell. Oh wait, I don’t believe in Hell. Well, if I’m wrong and it really exists; sign me right up. All the interesting people will be there. Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

Super Heroes

A special thanks to TheMommyBlog. Mindy's picture of Daphne with a bra on her head some time ago inspired Sara's look.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

1,500 words or less

Thanks for the feedback guys and gals. I've pulled the story down temporarily because I noticed another short story contest that it might be suited for. Cheers!

Girlie Lays Down the Laws

Girlie decided that we needed to clarify the rules of the house. So she offered up these. 1. No more sweets than one each night if you are older than 30. [Nice try, Girlie.] 2. No boys wearing dresses. [I'll be laughing all day about that one. I wonder what Hubby's up to when I'm not home?] 3. If you are an age between 10 or 80, I have to make your meals. [Finally, a personal chef. Maybe she'll make me tuna poke.] 4. If you yell at the age of 30-80 you have to go to time-out for one hour. [What happened to a minute per year? I'm only 43!]

Friday, May 05, 2006

Overheard on a field trip with Girlie's class to a wetland

Wetland director to class: "So, now that I've described a little about what a wetland is, can any of you tell me why a wetland is important?" First grader waves hand wildly (not Girlie although it sounds a lot like her): "We sang a song about a woman who died and fell in the river and her body became food for the animals." Wetland director (picking chin up off of the floor): "Uhm, okay. Anybody else?" Hee, hee. They were singing Sweet Molly Malone recently. I think she died of a fever (and no one could save her, singing cockles, and mussels, alive, alive-o). I'm not sure the song specifies that she fell into the river and decayed but it's possible. I love seven-year-olds.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Thursday Thirteen

What can I say? I'm a joiner. So here's my Thursday Thirteen. CAUTION FOR NEW VIEWERS. I'm pretty much always sarcastic. Thirteen Reasons to let your kids watch television 1. Floam. If it weren’t for TV, we wouldn’t have floam art all over the house. Did you know that it sticks to EVERYTHING? Did you know that you can let it harden and keep it forever? Thank you, floam vendors, for pitching yourself so well on Nickelodeon. 2. Birds and Bees. You know, if it weren’t for Animal Planet, I would never have heard my seven year old discussing the mating habits of [insert any animal you wish – they cover them all eventually.] 3. Language development. Crikey! (Crocodile Hunter). Mother of Pearl, Fire on the Poop Deck (Spongebob, of course). I’m goin’ ghost (Danny Phantom). There are so many I’ll just leave it at that. 4. Excellent taste in music. De-de-de-de-de-Dora. De-de-de-de-de-Dora. 5. Restful activity. Unchecked, mine could sit in a television coma for hours. Just think how rested up her muscles could get. 6. The information highway. What’s better than finding your kid watching an entire infomercial about thighmaster or whatever. Animal Planet has infomercials in the morning. Who knew? Now my daughter can worry about all manner of personal failings and plot new ways to spend her allowance. Who needs to wait for puberty? 7. Realistic expectations. It’s important for kids to understand that if their parents don’t buy them that Wacky Wigged Out Slime Spewing Jackass Doll, their parents don’t love them. Life’s hard. Get over it, kid. 8. Enhanced family dynamics. If you do let your child watch television, your conversations with disapproving family members get much livelier. Why agree to disagree when you can argue the educational benefits of watching The Animal Kingdom’s Most Extreme Farters or whatever. 9. Dressing themselves. If it weren’t for commercial breaks, Girlie would never have learned to dress herself in thirty-second increments. 10. Telling time. “I’ll clean my room after two more episodes, Mommy.” Such a smartie! 11. Nutrition. Quick as a monkey, Girlie can tell you the calcium benefits of Nesquick. Need I say more? 12. Multi-tasking. Thanks to television, kids no longer develop that annoying habit of reading a book all afternoon. “Put that book down and come have dinner.” Nope. Now they can watch and eat at the same time. 13. Attention span. Watching television finely tunes their attention skills. Where we might want to look at an image for longer than a nanosecond, they are all over the zip of information. Imagine how fast they can take in an art museum? Amazing. And I’ll bet you thought that I was going to talk about the built-in babysitter benefit of an engrossing TV show. Wrongo. But that is where it all starts, isn’t it? I was being pretty sarcastic here but in truth, I'm neither for or against TV. Anything in moderation. Except informercials. Those things must die. Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

SOK Barbie

For those of you who don't live in Tampa, SOK means South of Kennedy where I live happily with my Hubby and Girlie. That puts us in South Tampa, the kind of community that you find somewhere in most cities of any size. It's affluent, for the most part, bringing with it all the issues that affluency (is that a word?) brings. My book, Parvenue Throws A Party, is a comedy all about that. Here in Tampa, we're talking about our neighborhoods in terms of Barbie. I was tagged by Addison so here I go with SOK Barbie. SOK Barbie is all about diversity. She comes with a Latino Nanny, an African-American lawn service team, and a Korean manicurist. You have to purchase SOK Ken separately, if you can catch him at home in between business trips. Sorry, they didn’t bother to produce SOK Barbie’s children but you can buy the luxury Barbie SUV that the Nanny would drive to pick the kids up from their daily after-school scheduled activities. And as a bonus, SOK Barbie can talk. Pull her string to hear one of six recorded messages: “Get me that variance, Ken! I don’t need a backyard – I need an extra 2,000 square feet for my gift-wrapping/hair salon room.” “What’s a public school? Hee, hee.” “Grandfather oak trees are pretty. I'm glad they are protected.” “Freaking tree. If it weren’t for you, I could dig a bigger pool.” “Ken, can’t you inject something into that tree to, you know, help it along?” “I’m so sorry officer, I was just ... uhm... trimming my toenails with this chainsaw when it accidentally cut down that tree which ever so unfortunately landed on that 1950’s ranch house next door. Better call the bulldozers!” I will be tagging some others a little later but I'll start with Izzy because she lives in Tampa too!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

For Jess Riley

I did see Jonathan Ames at my conference and channeling a bit of cartooning karma, he drew a self-portrait when he signed my copy of his book, Wake Up, Sir!

Sssssstart spreading the news...

If you look closely to Girlie's right, you'll see who went to New York with us and saw ALL the sights. Sara might have had a little vertigo on top of the Empire State Building but she definitely enjoyed the Central Park Zoo.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Back from NYC #1 - why the radio silence

A conversation with my laptop Me: “Okay, computer. We’re in NEW YORK CITY! The hotel has free wi-fi so let’s go for it.” Computer: “Fuck you. Beep.” “What? No, you can’t do that. I want to tell everybody about how in three days, I didn’t see anybody famous and that means that I am the most famous person in New York this weekend. Me, Wendy Boucher, AUTHOR!” “Beep, beep. Phhhhhtttttthhhhhht.” “Right, so I did see Jonathan Ames but nobody knows who he is even though he’s been on Letterman three times and he’s sort of an author too. Okay, really an author. The literary agent who introduced him at the writers' conference seemed so drunk he joked about Ames having had sex with a goat.” “Boooooop. Does not compute.” “Very funny. Ames took it in stride and confessed that the only thing that was actually true in the introduction was that he had been an extra in a p@rn flick (nerdy guy who glumly slinks away when asked to). He was hilarious. But you, stupid computer, are not funny at all. I don’t know why I have to remind you that right on your dirty case, underneath the cookie crumbs, it says that with you, I’ll have ‘Mobility Without Boundaries.’ So why aren't you connecting? Are you just wanting a little vacation from the internet?” “Now you’re talking. Beep, beep.” “Well forget it! I want to tell everybody about how absolutely fabulous my short jaunt to New York has been …” “Beep. Shut up or I’ll start eating your latest novel. Boopity boop.” “You can’t do that! You work for me! I’ve got about ten funny Girlie stories to tell, comics to draw…” “Chomp, chomp.” “STOP! Okay, you can have your damn vacation. But I’ll expect you to fire up your connectivity the minute we get back to Florida.” “Beepity, beep beep.” Me, whispering to you about the computer: “Shhhh. Don’t tell my computer, but I am sooooo getting a new laptop when my book advance comes in.” Computer: “Burp. Yummy pages.” Me: “Fuck.”

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Okay, not totally grown up yet

Here are Girlie and Sara. I commented below that she's all grown up and then I found this picture on my camera from last week. A fairy and her snake.

Snakes on a Plane

"Mommy? Can you bring staplers on a plane?" Good question. As you can tell, my Girlie has traveled quite a bit. She likes to pack and since we are leaving very early tomorrow for NYC, she packed her carryon today. Since I can't imagine for one second how a stapler could be used to hijack a plane, I told her to pack it. We all know how that will end now that I said "yes" but at least I'll have a blog post for Friday. After she left for school, I snooped in her bag to see what is essential for seven-year-olds in the big city. (Note to longtime readers -- I have NOT snooped in her diary. I will readdress that issue when she hits puberty.) Stuffed toys: First we have Sara the five-foot-long stuffed snake. (Yes, she is not just a figment of my cartooning.) Girlie demonstrated to me how tiny Sara could be squished. Fine with me. Squished beside Sara is Mitty the Traveling Kitty who only makes appearances on trips. She's been to England, Poland, Mexico, France, etc. She should have her own frequent flyer miles. Along these same lines is the purple stuffed dragon whose name escapes me. Office supplies: Girlie packed her plastic office supply holder complete with a bottle of glue, the aforementioned stapler, a bunch of pens, and some broken rubber bands. She also has some colorful origami paper. After much consideration, I've decided that Girlie plans to make her own cocktail umbrellas a la Martha Stewart. How handy. Journals: She's bringing her diary and a travel journal. We're only going for three days but she obviously expects to have a lot to write about. She pointed out that she's keeping the diary locked on the plane. Can't have all those strangers reading her secrets. And that's it. No electronics. No random parts from her Winnie the Pooh Candyland game. No half eaten candy. No bark from the back yard. Not one Polly Pocket. Sob. My Girlie is all grown up.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Celebrating its 214th post -- Go Fire on the Poop Deck!

Huzzah. It's my 214th post and I'm in a celebratory mood. Here's a little roundup for you. Acupuncture: If everybody did it, we'd have no drug abuse and the WAR ON DRUGS would be over, over, over. It's that good. I now have a sense of smell (okay, good and bad) and I'm holding little vials during my treatment that are meant to lessen my reaction to the allergens that plague me. Best of all? It just makes you euphoric for the rest of the day. It also makes you grow armpit hair, dreadlocks, and a tail but those are a small price to pay. Art: Girlie invented Bug Art yesterday. She catches a bug, puts in on a piece of paper and traces its footsteps. The result is a picture of how a bug scrams when it thinks a piece of lead is going to get rammed up its ass. Girlie: She wants us to build an addition onto the house for her that would basically be her own apartment. She's quite keen to have her own keys. She wants her own kitchen and television too, however, she told me that I could come over and tell her when I thought that she'd watched enough television for the day. She didn't even laugh a little when I told her I thought that that she could never watch enough television. She's all over the sarcasm when it's her idea. If I'm sarcastic, she chafes. Sheesh. Hubby: He's visiting a personal trainer twice a week. I feel like I'm married to a rock star. I am even willing to sacrifice THE NEW CAR I SO DESPERATELY WANT if the gazillion dollars we're paying the trainer results in his good health and longevity. He's a keeper. Dog: Cutie, cutie, cutie pie. Come on, get your monkey. Get your monkey. Make that monkey squeak you dog. And that had better be a wrap. I should have stopped at monkey. I'll catch you up on my cats another day.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Who keeps raising the goddam blog bar?

I have blog envy and since I don't like that about myself, I'm going to have to ask the rest of you to change your behavior. You see, blogs have become very fancy lately and I want to keep up. But I don't have the time or perhaps the aptitude. So please, I beg of you, knock it off. Have you seen the beautiful, clever, hilarious graphics on the homepages of some of these Mommy blogs? Some of you even have YOUR OWN DOMAIN NAME. I cannot even imagine how one accomplishes that. I thought I was advanced when I figured out how to upload drawings (Thus the endless string of cartoons. Sorry folks, I'm addicted.). Things that I wish I had: cool retro style graphics, a catchy name, categories, advertisers, weather forecasts, fortune telling, babysitting, and Dom Perignon. Instead I have my own boring name that nobody can pronounce, a free blogger skin shared by thousands of others, and a link to Amazon to buy my book which must be broken for lack of use. Time to do a little Spring cleaning. Number One: My clever new blog name is now, "Fire on the Poop Deck." That is the most common Google search that leads to my site, so there you go. You don't have to change your links (all four of you who link here)-it's just a cosmetic change. Number Two: Next time I have the time, I will purchase a new skin for my blog with clever Mommy looking pirates who write novels. Number Three: I'm going to update my blogroll. If you would like to be mentioned on my site, just leave a comment. That is all I can do at this time. I have another novel to finish, a novel to promote and another one making the rounds in New York. And there's this motherhood thing I signed up for a few years back. Since that's about it for me, I beg of you, quit raising the goddam blog bar!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

A Happy Ending. Thanks, Girlie

Ah, the fabulous life of an author. Today, I spent hours in a lovely library in a small town for their book festival. About 45 authors were on site as were clowns, hot dog vendors, a dulcimer player and a kid's drum line. It was a hot day and the event planners kindly put the authors inside the building where it was air conditioned. The problem? They forgot to tell anybody that there were authors in the house. Maybe, MAYBE, six people wandered by my table. Another problem? The library had signs everywhere touting its books for a nickel sale. What are you going to go look at? Books for a nickel. Who gives a rat's bottom about authors when there are books for a nickel? The last straw was discovering that more people stopped to hear the dulcimer player with the voice of Snow White twittering away because at least you could see her. The authors were in the back of the library talking amongst themselves. I guess I know 45 authors that won't be going back to that festival. But when I got home, Girlie said, "I'm sorry your morning wasn't great, Mommy." I said, "Well, this is the best part of my day, seeing you." Girlie: "I love making you happy." Sigh. What book fair?

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

What's that you're wearing? Are you a feminist?

As often happens, Mom-101 wrote a very interesting post today. Her thesis is that we should reclaim the word "feminism" as a positive term. Thank you, Mom-101 for rallying the web. Over time, feminism is something that has defied universal description. Did it mean that you hated men? Did it mean that you didn't shave your legs or like nice jewelry? Did it mean that you grew your own vegetables and spent a fortune on bras because you were forever burning them? Equal rights? How can we grant equal rights to girls? They might get drafted. Obviously, the ideals embodied in the word "feminism" will look different on different individuals. To believe that women are as equally entitled as men, that they can be anything that they wish, that they are not impaired in any way for having been born female -- these are ideals that the entire movement can share, even if from woman to woman you find those who do and don't wear makeup, those who do and don't worry about their weight, those who do and don't prefer the opposite sex for a partner, those who do and don't stay at home with their kids. It's shouldn't be such devisive term. I am a feminist. My husband is a feminist. My daughter is one too. And I'm going to resist the urge to qualify those statements. I think that is what Mom-101 was all about.

Monday, April 17, 2006

I've been meming to tell you about myself...

Go see Obey the Purebreed art and posters by Kevin McCormick. This sneaky militant pup looks a lot like my little anarchist. So now you know one thing without me even starting my list. I am the personal assistant to a would-be dictator. And now for our main feature (I was tagged by Sweatpantsmom and Izzymom), Six Weird/Interesting Things That You Didn't Know About Me. NUMBER ONE: I don't get altitude sickness. I climbed to the tippy top of Mt. Kilimanjaro (almost 20,000 feet) and although I cried like a baby when I got to the top, along the way I slept like a baby at night and never really got tired. It took six days to climb because my friend on the hike, an all-that male athlete, chose the most difficult route available short of a technical climb. Guess which one of us DID have trouble with the altitude? I am woman, hear me roar. NUMBER TWO: I LOVED law school. Yup. Loved it. I even took more credits than required to graduate. BUT, every nightmare I ever have is about law school. My professor looks right at me and says, "Ms. Boucher, can you please stand and tell the class about Wanker vs. Tosser? And throw in the bit about why you didn't wear pants to class." OR, it's one of those "OHMYGOD the final is tomorrow and I never even bought the book. I thought I dropped that class. AAARGHH." Small wonder that I'm a writer now instead of a lawyer. NUMBER THREE: I think that ESP is a possibility. (And I sense immediately that you do too. Oh, Grandma? Is that you?) NUMBER FOUR: I have OCD. Oh, not that wussy little, "Gosh, did I remember to take out the trash?" type that strikes in the middle of the night. More like that, "I've got to drive ten miles back to where I just drove from to make DOUBLE, TRIPLE sure that what I assumed was a pothole wasn't me running over the Mayor of Tampa." Of course, I am symptom-free thanks to Big Pharma so it's safe to keep visiting. NUMBER FIVE: I cut my own hair. NUMBER SIX: I feel guilty driving a Mom-van. I want a Prius. Or a horse-drawn carriage. Or a city that isn't in the top five of the Pedestrian Unfriendly. So there you have it, hopefully more interesting than weird but when your're talking about yourself, you've done well to if you've avoided boring. So now I tag, Lisa at My 3 Sons, Addison, The Liberal Banana, L at Random Speak, Life in the Pumpkin Shell, and how about the LawNut in honor of my law school entry.