Monday, December 04, 2006

Visits from the Old Neighborhood

If you're looking for Kat's real here:
Lucky for me I kept this old space since I can't comment on some of my friend's blogs from my new place. Ho, Ho, Ho... Happy Holiday's to you, now go on and visit my real space!

Friday, November 17, 2006

This Quiet Place

If you're looking for Kat's real blog, click here:

A long time ago, in what feels like another lifetime, I wanted to leave Pap. Because I'm not a quitter, when he suggested counselling first, I agreed, and we worked things out. In the course of that counselling, I discovered that I was suffering the effects of depression. I also found out that I've probably been masking these symptoms for most of my life. I prefer being happy to sad, and I'd do almost anything to at least appear happy.
Apparently, "acting" happy is one of the techniques this particular counsellor used to help depressed patients. She believed people are creatures of habit, those things they did repetitively became "their way". I don't know if that's true or not, I don't really care. What I knew and what I know is that I have no reason to be depressed. I am blessed in many ways and on those days that I feel like I'm acting instead of living, or when I wake up feeling as if the light has gone out of the world, I reach for the tools that set things right. An hour by the pond watching the fish, a trip to the park with the grandgirls, a funny story or a visit among my blog friends.
Its silly to think of blogs as "neighborhoods", but I do. This quiet place is the ghost town that was once a bustling small town. I like ghost town from time to time.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Playing in the Old Neighborhood

If you're looking for Kat's real blog, click here:
Since I can't seem to abandon my old neighborhood completely, I decided to try bloggers new beta version... if it messed everything up, nothing lost. So far, I'm impressed. I like being able to make changes without html. This place might just be the place to add all those bells and whistles that usually drive me crazy. Might turn into the place a REALLY rant... the radical stuff that looks like a crazy person talking.

Visiting the old neighborhood

If you're searching for the day to day business of Kat, you'll have to go here: Officially, I've moved.

This poor ransacked blog feels like the abandoned home in the middle of your neighborhood. That place whose paint fades and peels a little more each year. The house all the neighborhood kids swear is haunted.

I've always loved those kinds of houses. I don't see the tattered curtains, or web covered corners. I feel the energy left behind by the families that once lived there. I can't resist climbing the stairs; imagining the girls who descended in party dresses, the boys who descended three treads at a time with reckless abandon.

So maybe I'll drop by from time to time and leave something here that I don't want cluttering up my real blog. The kinds of stories nobody really cares to read about.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Moving Day

I've moved! Come see me at my sparkling new home by clicking here:
and if otownhandyman seems a little tired and cranky today, it's because I made him move all the heavy stuff. Thanks Tony!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Power of Numbers

"World Peace" the tag line of beauty queens and Christmas caroles. The battle cry of hippies. A mind set many of our world leaders find laughable. A state of being viewed as overly optimistic and unachievable by most of the world's population.

But this is the beginning of the season of miracles and I believe in the power of the written word. There is another old cliche that says you get what you ask for. Cliches become cliches because they're usually true. It's time for us to ask our world leaders to put down their weapons and bombs, and with the power of our numbers and our minds, to do what we've been admonishing our two year olds to do for centuries: "Use Your Words!"

The goal is for all of the blogging community to use November 7th as an opportunity to band together with a single topic: Dona Nobis Pacem - Grant Us Peace. You'll find a much more eloquent explanation at the originators site:, or even at Quilldancers place. Take some time today to think about what peace means to you.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Steal This Gnome

While minding my own business, this judgemental creature popped by to criticize my raggedy yard. While it may be true that house of perpetual remodeling is a neighborhood disgrace at the moment, its nearly Halloween, and all that garden clutter is ambiance. Jeesh, some gnomes are so superior.

I've heard he's visiting wherever he can get, so feel free to steal him from me (I'll be glad to get rid of the snotty little bugger) or pop by his master and commander and say hi while you're there.

Friday, October 20, 2006

More Halloween Madness

Pap brought this frightening fellow home to add to our seasonal decorations yesterday. In quite unpirate like fashion, he dances when you activate the motion detector. He also sings - Super Freak and Slow Ride. He's about my height (5'5").

Typical of Pap, he snuck home before Princess and I yesterday and had the pirate set up by the front door. I was startled, but being as immersed in Halloween nonsense as I am, quickly recovered and went about my business. Princess, on the other hand, may never recover. This morning I noticed she has the poor guy turned face to the wall.

He needs a suitable Pirate name. Any suggestions?

We've lived in this house for 15 years. About 10 years ago we got new neighbors across the street who happen to be Jehovah Witnesses. Nice people, we say hello if we're all outside, but that's about it. They pretty much consider us heathenish and keep their distance. Every Halloween when the house of perpetural remodeling is decked out in it's spooky finest and every Christmas when the house turns into candyland central, the folks across the street make their social statement. They gather on their porch with their JW friends, all facing my house and pray for us.

I make every attempt to be a good neighbor. I really try not to offend anyone or to put anything offensive outside my house (I save that stuff for inside...kidding). But our descent into Halloween creepy versus the Halloween cute I used to do can be attributed to these neighbors. The rebellious teenager in me just really can't help needling them. It's shameful, but I lived here first.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Grandgirls with their witch dummy from this past weekend. This was the first time they'd ever made a halloween dummy. Let it never be said that I don't pass on some quite valuable life skills to future generations.

I have a Murphy's Law kind of life. If the lid is going to fall off the salt shaker, it will be when I'm using it. If a tire is going to blow on my car, it will be during an ice storm when I don't have my cell phone. I've lived long enough that this is now acceptable, and I don't sweat it.

I spent yesterday running around doing a laundry list of annoying errands accompanied by Pap who is still crippled from his surgery so it took twice as long to do everything. No big deal, one of the errands was to the doctor to get his helpless bandage off and a walking cast on. Yay! Things were going smoothly, aside from the pounding headache that also kept me company all day. Just as we were wrapping things up by dropping his car at the shop to have the gas tank replaced it started to sprinkle. Still not a big deal, I had plenty of time to race home and put the cover on my leaky roofed car.

I'd piddled around doing house chores, checking mail... all that stuff you have to do because you're a grown up, while it started raining buckets outside. I took a bath and settled into the library with a book I'm editing and then realized I had one cigarette.

There are addictions, and then there is my addiction. Before I smoked I chewed my nails, before that I sucked my thumb. I'm a perfectly rational human being until I run out of cigarettes. I was wearing this very tacky t-shirt I've been sleeping in since I got it 10 years ago, it has one of those torsos in a bikini painted on the front, and the sweat pants I've also had for 10 years that are paint splattered, bleach spotted and overall raggedy. These are my comfort clothes, big, baggy, stretched out, non-fashionable - but comfortable. I wasn't thinking about what I was wearing while I contemplated my options. Mistake number one.

With Pap's car in the shop and mine under cover because of the rain, I had to wait for Princess to get home so I could use her car. She of course picked this night to stop on the way home for a capachino with friends, so by the time she did stroll in, even the cats were in hiding. I snatched her keys out of her hand, threw on some shoes (mistake number two) that were laying by the door and raced down the post midnight, dark, abandoned streets to our convenience store. When I arrived the store was empty, the clerk fetched my sanity sticks, I went to pay her and realized that I had no cash in my wallet and the checkbook was laying on the desk at home. Knowing that the bottom of my purse is always littered with misc. receipts, random earrings and change, I decided to dig around in there to get the necessary amount instead of going home for the checkbook. Mistake number three.

While I shuffled and dug and piled change on the counter people were wandering in, half way to reaching my goal a line had formed behind me, cranky people tapping their foot and sighing loudly. Eighty cents from completing my transaction I realized I'd emptied the well. I was frantically searching pockets of the purse, between the folds of my wallet, and under the flaps of my day planner, when a neatly manicured, male hand dropped a dollar on the counter. "That ought to cover it." The masculine voice said from beside me. This was when I knew that Murphy's Law was written just for me.

I never leave the house without my hair done and make up on. I'm goofy, but I love clothes and I'm normally very organized. I hold an elected position in town (the day job), so EVERYONE knows me, which is why I generally make a point to appear put together. I've been attempting to get a small business loan for my publishing company from our one and only bank. Most of the paperwork is done, it wasn't a cut and dried thing because it is a privately owned bank, the board can take any risk they want, turn down any project they want. The board was already a little nervous about my loan because publishing is a tough business, and we're so new. But, most recently they'd been leaning in my direction by virtue of my reputation as a professional.

The good samaritan was the president of that board. When I looked up to thank him, he was looking at me the same way you'd regard a roach in your tuna sandwich. He did the scan and scowl from my head to my feet... upon which were Princesses monkey slippers - the ones with the cute monkey faces slightly covered by their cute monkey middle fingers. That's when I remembered I also wasn't wearing a bra, and I was buying cigarettes. Oh well, our little company doesn't really need the debt.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Happy Bosses Day!

In consideration of National Bosses Day, some comments I found about OTHER people's bosses:

I thought my Boss was a bastard, and quit, to work for myself. My new Boss is a bastard, too ... but at least I respect him.

My boss has given automobile accident victims new hope for recovery. He walks, talks and performs rudimentary tasks, all without the benefit of a SPINE.

My boss says that what I call a glass ceiling, he calls a protective barrier.

Shame on these thankless people who fail to appreciate the great extremes the boss goes to everyday in their behalf. My employee would never say such things. She knows I'm her warrior, her shield between a productive living and the unemployment line. My employee knows that I would move heaven and earth to make her happy and she announces this fact loudly and frequently for the nominal fee of $20 a week.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

What a Difference A Year Makes

Unlike my dog, our cats are not fond of the visiting grandgirls. In this rare moment of solidarity they huddle on the end table in the library that they are ABSOLUTELY FORBIDDEN to huddle on.

This weekend the grandgirls and their Mom stayed over. We used the time to decorate for Halloween inside and outside, and do some other things for the upcoming party. I couldn't help thinking as I watched my daughter with her kids, how much things have changed.

Thirteen months ago, at 3 in the morning, Pap and I were standing knee deep in filth attempting to get our crack addict oldest daughter to come home. We'd been summoned there in the middle of the night by a neighbor, one of many times they'd called us because the piece of shit that fathered her two youngest children was beating her up. On this day, both eyes were rapidly blacking, her cheek was cut and the hand shaped bruises on her arms were not nearly as horrifying as the ones on her neck.

Pap had called a police officer on our way over, he met up with us at her apartment door. The three of us talked, and talked and talked to the unkempt, jittery girl huddled on the sofa bed in the living room. We could have been talking to a wall, she wouldn't press charges because "it was my fault, he never does this sober."

This wasn't the first time we'd raced through the night to try and rescue her, and the children. We always went, she's our girl, our treasure, our oldest. But on this night, something just snapped in me, and I knew I couldn't help her, she could only help herself. We were able to have the two older girls removed and custody awarded to their father. She ran with Juliette, and moved around frequently enough we couldn't get a case going with Children's Services. She called from time to time, usually to ask for money which I wouldn't send, or to come home, which we wouldn't agree to except with conditions that she wasn't willing to meet.

She did'nt tell us she was pregnant with our new baby, but she did tell her sisters. They rallied, and went and got her and our now three year old. They were both infested with lice and scabbies, she was 7 months pregnant and had not seen a doctor... or stopped drinking and using. Bean, who makes her living as a social worker, took her and Jules in. Saw to it they got medical attention, counselling and a schedule. Pap and I provided money to Bean to help offset expenses and as we saw her really trying, we started inviting her for the weekends to give her a change of scenery.

Until Brendolynn was born the energy we put off worrying would have kept a major city in lights. The baby is perfect and thriving, but we still watch closely to make sure she's coming along mentally the way she should.

It's early yet, but watching my daughter out in the yard helping her girls fill bags with leaves, her hair a silky shining curtain down her back again, the sound of her laughter ringing through the neighborhood, gives me hope that she's turned the corner. Seeing her acceptance letter from OU in the nursing program leads me to believe she remembers who she is and where she came from. She's remembered what has value in life and what is just wasting time.

It's going to be a good year. I feel my heart repairing.

Nanny Dog on Duty

Ruger adores our new baby and has fussed himself crazy since Grandgirls Mom first brought her over. He sleeps by her basinet if she's in it, hovers by her baby seat if she's in it. Paces and races between grown people if she's making ANY sound at all. On this day, she was having a little tummy time with her Mom and Bren was not liking it, which made the dog insane with worry. He didn't calm down until Bren's Mom let him hop up and check her out real good. He's very gentle with her, I suspect they'll be best friends when she starts to toddle around.

Rug's behavior with the baby is interesting to me. We know he became ours because his original family had a baby after they had him, they didn't elaborate more than that. He has pretty much ignored the older grandgirls, once in awhile he'll bring some toy to Jazz for a game of fetch, but he even does that lethargically. But he loves, adores and worships this little baby. He pays her the attention we devote to a cherished object we've lost and later found.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Friday Night Lights...C-ville Style


The football team will be entertaining before and after tonights performance by the cheerleaders.

I live in a football town. On Friday nights every household empties out and heads to the football field. It would be a good time to rob the place, because all the cops are there too. Despite a diminutive population of under 3,000, they won the state championship in 1977. They didn't see another winning season until 2003, the year my son was a senior. We start 'em young around here, the picture is of my oldest grandgirl, Jazzmin, who's in third grade. The boys her age are already playing biddy league football. All the hitting, spiking and running of the real game, with miniature players, and miniature cheerleaders.

I don't have a problem with school spirit. I don't really have a problem with football. What I do dislike about our football program is the town's tendency to make them little demi-gods. There are men off that 1977 team who are still living in 1977. That was the pinaccle of their life. I find that so sad. To have your best day ever before you're even old enough to vote. It's not quite that bad anymore.

The 13 boys that played football with my son started together in biddy league. They were undefeated all the way to High School. High hopes don't 'cha know, the pressure on these fella's was unbelievable. Their freshman and sophomore years they won more than they lost, but you must be undefeated to go to state. Junior year they lost one game. The summer before their senior year you could cut the tension in town with a knife.

They started two a days in August. I'd watch them running past the house before daylight. No talking, just the rolling thunder of sixty pairs of feet, the column led by the senior thirteen, pounding the streets to get in shape. They did everything together, my son and his twelve best friends. Dating, studying, getting into trouble, there were always 13 boys. They play 10 games a season, more if they win the district, then sectionals and then state.

They took the field that first game of the season to record attendance. They were the team to beat. Alumni flew in for the game from everywhere. All the local papers were represented, the radio stations and even the TV. It didn't get any better, they won, and won, and won. Two games from taking the district, the quarterback hurt his wrist goofing around at practice and they lost their next two games. Still a good season, but the men around this town were devastated, and didn't hesitate to let those boys know it.

My son had never made football his life, he's interested in lots of things, so this was just a ripple on the pond of life. Most of his teammates felt the same. What was important to them was their friendship, the brotherhood they formed over their years together. At the banquet that year, the tables were set up to seat four at each. As the boys wandered in they started pushing them together, until all 13 were sitting at one big table.

Four of those boys went into the military, eight went to college and will graduate this summer, one is being bailed out of jail as I write this, drunk and disorderly. The quarterback.

Things I Wish I'd Said ... or written

My friend Waldo sent me these. I don't know who said them, but I wish it had been me.

I hate sex in the movies. Tried it once. The seatfolded up, the drink spilled and that ice, well, it really chilled the mood.
My next house will have no kitchen
just vending machines and a large trash can.
Because it might as well be true. Ever since the kids moved away, we eat like teenagers most of the time. I don't know how to cook for only two or three. I won't eat leftovers. Nothing left but to eat out or order in.
"A husband is someone who,
after taking the trash out,
gives the impression that he just cleaned the whole house. "
Because it's true. Pap had surgery on his foot yesterday. He was sent home with strict instructions to SIT or LAY until Monday. He was told to put NO PRESSURE on his foot. This is the man who hasn't picked up so much as his own socks for 10 years, and yet, after these instructions and surgery... he decided to wash the dishes. Martyr is spelled P A P A B E A R.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Conspiracty Theories.

Our new baby up to a whopping 6 pounds.

I stumbled upon author David Southwell's blog awhile ago, and I'm glad I did. While the subject of conspiracy theories and government lies may not seem to mix appropriately with precious, innocent babies, it does. I think about the state our country will be in when she and her sisters are my age. I worry about what kind of legacy we're leaving behind. I'm going to be watching those of my peers that I've entrusted with making the decisions for my country much more closely.

While I'm basically a happy, goofy person, blessed (or cursed) with the need to find the humour in everything... there are limits. There is nothing funny about a pedophile, a serial killer or the KKK. There's nothing funny about tracking every detail of a private citizen's life from their shopping preferences to their stock portfolios to the e-mail and phone calls they make to a friend. The lure of easier, faster, better when it comes to technology is a siren call that's hard to resist. But people have been twisting good into evil since time began.

It's been easy for me to lose track of just how fast the world is changing. I live in a small town that still announces it's lunch time with hymns from the bell tower of the Church of Christ. We have one grocery store and a pharmacist that will open the store at 3 a.m. on Saturday morning if you've hurt yourself and need your pain pills. Most of the shops on Main Street don't even take credit cards. There are no metal detectors at my high school. I wasn't paying attention to much of anything but my happy life until I heard about grocery stores issuing "shopping cards" entitling the holders to discounts. A voluntary program, the store uses the records provided by the cards to track everything from restocking to determing the brands their public prefers. "Track" is the operative word.

I was trying to imagine what I could do if I knew absolutely everything about a person. From their favorite color to their choices in breakfast cereal, and the websites they visit in secret. Blackmail comes first to mind, but that's because I'm a simple person, I like things stripped right down the bare, unfrilled bones. Manipulation is the likely action. Someone smarter than me, armed with the knowledge of everything about a group of people, is a dangerous entity. The technology to do this already exists, we need to be watching.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Take a Pill and Get a Tattoo

Princess is my youngest child. She earned her nickname by years of carefully manipulating four siblings and two parents into always giving her her way. On those rare occasions when she wasn't getting what she wanted, she punished us in wily and unexpected ways. She knew better than to exhibit brat behavior, I have ammunition to combat that. She kicked our butts with wit and humour. Yesterday she completely lost her mind and got a tattoo. Not just any tattoo, chinese symbols and flowers that cover her whole back. She thinks the figures say "strength", I think it would be funny if the tattooist made them wrong and they say "punch me" or something. I know it's old fashioned to think tattoos are icky on girls. I can't help it, I just keep thinking what permanent changes to a body will start to look like as that body gets older. I should just shut up, my natural mother thought pierced ears looked cheap and weren't for "nice" girls. Times change, fashion changes....

I spent most of the day toting grandgirls mom, the three year old and the baby (who's up to a whopping 6 pounds) around on errands. At one point, Juliette had said my name so many times my ears were bleeding and I had no choice but to tell her that if she wasn't quiet for 5 minutes I was going to rip her head off and use it as a soccer ball. Lucky for me, my grandgirls already know I'm insane. Her answer "Oh Nana! That would be wery, wery messy!"

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Genius Among Us

Thank You Velvet Sacks for Finding My Link Problem! Hip Hip Hooray!!!!!
(And I will be more observant in the future. Kinda scary what I may be missing when I edit a person's book.... hmmmm)

Updates and Plea for HELP!

Here's the front and back view of Jazz and Bri's Halloween Spooktacular party... all pasted, glittered and now waiting for the little demons to write their guests names on the bottoms.
Aside from pulling it all together on the day, we're ready. Spiders and webs assembled, scary witch costume on the dressmakers dummy, creepy lanterns ready to hang in the dining room. Game materials ready: mummy wrap, ghost bowling, and my personal favorite - cluck. If you don't know how to play cluck, leave me a message and I'll explain. Hysterical for participants and observers alike.

This blog and I are having a small difference of opinion. For some reason, when I add links, it has decided to put spaces between them. I checked the template, everything is all lined up neatly like the first batch, and still, spaces between them. I'm applying for my handicapped license plate this afternoon. I am so technologically challenged, I have no hope of surviving in this highly technical world. If someone has a clue about why this is happening to me, and how to fix it, please share!

No word yet on my part in the Angel Tree play. We were instructed that we'd be informed by e-mail, I'm sure they do this so they don't see us cry. I'm sure the playbill will list me as something like "passerby #4". I'm sure this experience is going to send me into cardiac arrest. What was I thinking?

My girl down under has made the ultimate sacrifice to finance her trip up here for Christmas 2007. She's quit smoking. I'm not a good enough friend to make that kind of sacrifice. She is so getting the best present ever from me in 2007.

It doesn't get more random than this...

1.6 Billion Dollars

Yes, even my dog is shocked by that figure! 1.6 billion dollars to the You Tube Guys from Google. Ruger is extremely disappointed in me, after all his love, devotion and support, I still didn't think of an idea that would provide him the to which he wishes to become accumstomed.

Monday, October 09, 2006

To BE or Not To BE

I heard about the Zanesville Community Theaters Angel Tree Production over the summer. It’s a play/variety show they produce during the holidays to raise money for the Salvations Army’s Santa’s Toy Box Project. A real community project, the usual ticket prices are waived in favor of donations at the door and every penny they take in from tickets to popcorn sales and random donations over the three days that they present this play is donated to the cause and goes directly to the children in town. Everybody who comes to try-outs gets a part. That’s how they really caught my attention.

“Act in a play” just happens to be on my list of one hundred things I want to try before I die. It lives toward the top of that list, right in between “bungee jump” and “drink one bottle of every kind of wine made in Ohio”. In consideration of the fact that either of those two things could conceivably prohibit me from ever being able to complete “act in a play”, I decided it was my destiny to perform in this play.

There are several compelling reasons that I’m a writer, two of which are: I can’t paint and babies cry at the sound of my singing voice. I am, however, an enthusiastic student and I have gained a considerable resume of speaking experience since High School, surely the director of this play, Rich Tolliver, can turn me into an actor. Armed with the knowledge that EVERYONE gets a part, I happily zoomed off to try outs last night.

Things started out fine, I know several people connected to that theater and they all greeted me enthusiastically. There was a little form to fill out: name, address, phone, e-mail. Then the more specific questions: do you want a speaking part? Yes. do you want to sing? NO (circle that answer many times and draw arrows pointing to it). Are you a soprano, alto, tenor... XXX these all out firmly. Do you read music? Write in NO and circle it several times. After handing my form in to the assistant director I took a seat in the auditoreum with everyone else. To make a long story shorter... my try out process began with an admonishment from the director to "stop talking". In my defense, he's not a very tall man and his mother was leading me astray.

After some general information about when rehearsals would be, and how darn much fun this play always is, the director took his seat in the first row and try outs began. He called up all the kids first. Very cute, he asked them all to say their name and where they went to school. Asked them what they liked best about Christmas and then he turned things over to the music director, who immediately introduced the song and explained we would all sing along with them.

When I say I can't sing, I really mean it. My junior year of High School I attended a very small private school in North Carolina that let anyone into the choir. Anyone is my operative word, so I joined that choir much to the music teacher's chagrin. Whenever he would say "WHO is singing one octave below everyone ELSE!" It was always me. And that was before two packs a day. Anyway....

Since I had clearly indicated that I don't sing on my form, I wasn't really worrying. They brought up the teenagers next and things got worse. Assistant Director hands out papers with this three word song on it and notes all over the place. They teach it to the teenagers... and say again we would all sing along. That's when I started getting nervous. Especially when the music director started splitting the teenagers into groups of threes to have them sing ALONE.

Rich dismissed the teenagers and called the adults up to the stage. I take my place, center stage of course, if you're going to do something crazy like this, you should always do it full bore I always say. He starts asking questions at the end of the line. About three persons in, I start wishing I had worn sneakers instead of my very stylish platform wedgies. My knees are shaking, I can feel this tick starting in my right eye... looking out over those seats that will eventually be filled with people is making me sweat like a racehorse. He gets to me and I get things in control enough to actually explain who I am and what I like about Christmas (presents, duh! Just kidding). I also clearly explain that dogs had been known to howl when I sing. The people on my other side introduced themselves. Then they made us sing. Then they made us sing in threes.

Note to Director: If you saw me robustly singing along with my group - that was ACTING. So give me a good part.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Funky Gurus

We don't have any streetlights. Normally once the sun goes down on my little patch of town its too dark to find the street from the sidewalk. Normally, our full moons are more yellow than white. At this time of year we rarely see the moon because of the cloud cover. But this year is different. The moon is so radiantly white you feel like you want to stagger toward it zombie style. It's bright enough that my street is never completely dark until well after midnight, everything just gets layered with a silvery gray color. I'm sure it is this very strange moon that rattled my brain cells sufficiently to invite my husband to go with me to see the Funky Gurus, instead of my friends who would appreciate them.

Papa Bear and I are two very different people. We've known that from day one, and most of the time it's no big deal. Keeps things interesting. His priorities in order of importance are: work, parents, family. Mine are: family, parents, work. He likes sports, sporting events, playing sports, listening to sports and reading about sports. I like everything except sports. The difficulty comes in finding activities we can do together. We both like food and roller coasters, neither of which he can fully enjoy any more because of diabetes and heart problems. We used to both like to go dancing...

The Funky Gurus are a cover band out of Dayton that play locally from time to time. The ultimate dance band, they are an adrenaline pumping rush! Unless you're attending the set with the great fun sucking vacuum that is Pap. Before the night had even started, I knew it would be the last time Pap and I went dancing. It's not that he doesn't try, but that his body is breaking down faster than mine.

The real dilema is balancing my need to do things and try things without leaving him to languish in his recliner, remote control in hand. We aren't even 50 yet, there's still so much to explore.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

When Girls are Doing Well....

Apparently, this is my week for being enlightened about things I thought had been resolved and were gone forever. First banned books and now I find that young women are still hotly debating whether the children of working women are as well adjusted as stay at home mothers.

The point of the feminist movement in the beginning, well there were many points, but the one that summarizes them all for me is: CHOICE. The women who fought to give 51% of the population a voice in this country blazed a trail allowing every girl an opportunity to fulfill their full potential. For some that was a career with the ability to compete for promotions on an equal footing with their male counterparts. For others it was just the knowledge that they COULD compete if they wanted to, or needed to in support of their family.

I have a friend who says: "When girls are doing well, men and boys are doing better and that's good for the entire community." She's right. Great children come from great parenting, and the interaction of great teachers, school counsellors, ministers, adult neighbors and childcare providers. Great mothers come from working to fulfill their potential. For some, that will be working to provide a perfect home for their husband and kids. For others to achieve that perfect home, they'll work outside it for awhile every day.

I don't have perfect children. My problems with grandgirls mom are well documented throughout this blog. I was a fully engaged mother despite also working outside the home and her failures had nothing to do with how we parented her... this according to HER. The other four are hardworking, successful, well adjusted young people. They may have turned out the same if I hadn't worked outside the home, but I doubt it. Because I would not have been the same kind of mother.

I worked because we needed the money, but I would have even if Pap could have supported us all on his own. I worked because I had a burning desire to accomplish something that was just mine, to actively contribute to my community through volunteer service and I needed the feedback that comes with that kind of lifestyle. It was by having the opportunity to chase my own dreams that gave me the energy to really be there for my kids.

I'll support your decision to be a homemaker with all the enthusiasm I use supporting the women who choose to work. But I will not support either claim that one way is better than the other, it's an individual choice, based on an individual personality.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Banned Books

I really need to get out more. My friend Mert called to chat about the "banned books" table at his library last week. BANNED books? Banned book week? The last time I was involved with anything using the term "banned books" I wasn't talking about it with my happy voice.

Apparently, the American Library Association has been sponsoring banned book week the last week of every September since 1982 as a reminder of our right to read. The right of free speech extends to books and people have the right to express their opinion for others to read, even if its offensive or controversial. Clever of the ALA to adopt an "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" attitude to combat the narrow mindedness of people who actually think books should be banned. Once my book gets published, I hope some group does try to get it banned or censored, it may be the only way I get to a front table in the library or book store! But I digress...

The books on the list aren't actually banned, they represent books somebody TRIED to ban. And if I'm the only goof ball on the planet that wasn't informed about this program, accept my apology now for boring you with this post. But, I couldn't believe some of the titles on this list!
If I wasn't so technologically challenged, I'd give you a link, but you can see it at the ALA's website by searching "banned book week". Anyway...

The books - Catcher in the Rye, The Color Purple, Cujo! My goodness, do none of these people who want to ban books read? The Harry Potter Series - trying to ban that is just criminal. I don't care what the subject was, it got children reading again, including two of mine. I know Why the Caged Bird Sings, The Bluest Eye, Lord of the Flies??? The Handmaid's Tale, Flowers for Algernon, James and the Giant Peach, Where's Waldo. That's just a few. There are 100 on the list.

People who try to censor things really tick me off. What kind of a narrow mind does it take to assume you know best for all people?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Rain and Lightening and Hail... Oh My!

I was, of course, twenty miles from home when yesterday's storm hit. In my cute car with the leaking roof. On an errand I wasn't expecting to take so long - isn't that always the way? To make a long story short by the time I went caroming into my driveway I was half soaked and putting the cover on the car finished the job. My pitiful dog is terrified of storms, and has apparently passed this phobia on to his feline sisters. All three of them met me at the door and attached themselves to my leg. But I'm not complaining. A change of clothes and baby talk to the animals got my house back in order, the people in my neighboring cities were not so lucky. Power lines down, hail big enough to break windows, it was a pretty scary night for some midwesterners.

My neighborhood didn't lose power, but there were a considerable number that did. The local news pre-empted the evenings television shows in order to broadcast non-stop that there was a storm going on and people had no power. They kept staying "we'll stay right here with you until this storm passes." Now, call me stupid, but since once you'd heard the news (or looked outside) you knew there was a storm and if you didn't have power, you couldn't hear the news anyway... what was the point in all that?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Stunned into Writer's Block

I don't even know what to say about the latest school shooting. A one room school house in the heart of Amish country. Little girls shot execution style - its horrific. I can't help thinking that the shooter went there because he was going to shoot somebody and the security would be less tight in this nonviolent, peaceful community.

Even taking mental illness into account, I don't believe these shooters decide to do their deed on a whim. Where are the friends and family of these guys? Why aren't they paying attention and being proactive? I've lived with Pap for 25 years. I know when he's on a rant about something, even if he isn't talking about it. I know who's wronged him in the past and how he feels about it now. This shooter says he was getting revenge for something that happened 20 years ago. He NEVER talked about this evil deed to anyone?

It's a bad day for good news. Did you hear about the Texas teacher who was fired because her students saw nude statues in a MUSEUM? Jeesh. This country is all out of whack today.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Wonky Everything

Just as quickly as it turned cold, it is now warm again. Officially, we can't call this week in the 70's and 80's "Indian Summer". To hold that title, you must have the warm temperatures after a killing frost. We've had frost, but just the bullying kind, not the murderous stuff.

Lee Redmond, 65 years old and current holder of the Guinness Book of World Records for longest nails. Twenty four feet, Seven inches. Yuck. Can you imagine? How do you wake up one day 27 years ago and decide to get your 15 minutes of fame by growing claws? I don't even mean that as unkindly as it sounds. This seems like a really nice lady, how much has she limited her life by choosing nails as a way to get recognized?

My assistant is home with the flu. This is unacceptable on many levels. Mostly I'm worried about her. She has about 1,500 hours of sick time which is the clearest indicator I can give you for how rarely she takes off work. She has two living relatives, her mother who's in a nursing home and her husband. I can't even fathom what that would be like - no aunts, no cousins, no children. Makes me think of that old Beatles song, Elenor Rigby.

My friend Waldo sent me this joke, which reminded me so much of our three year old, I decided to share it:

A little girl was talking to her teacher about whales.The teacher said it was physically impossible for a whale to swallow a human because even though a whale is a very large mammal, its throat is very small. The little girl stated that Jonah was swallowed by a whale. The teacher reiterated that a whale could not swallow a human, it was impossible. The little gir lsaid, "When I get to heaven I will ask Jonah". The teacher asked, "What if Jonah went to hell?" The little girl replied, "Then you ask him!"

Enough rambling, even for a Monday.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

The Calm After The Storm

The irony of life... I had no sooner hit "publish" for that last entry then the bell started ringing. I live across the street from a catholic church, between masses a little guy runs out and rings the call to worship with reckless abandon. It has a very nice tone, that bell, and reminded me that two wrongs don't make a right. Life is too short to waste time on the negative.

This morning the three year old had a time out for biting. When her mother said "You don't bite!", the toddler replied "Yes, I do, I bite pancakes!" Hard to argue with that kind of logic.

Really Mean Men

Considering it's Sunday, I should be commenting on only the sweet, spiritual and devine. Something light and uplifting. But that's not possible today, so feel free to wander on if you aren't in the mood for a rant. I'll understand.

I've written before about the problems with Grandgirls Mom, so will not rehash it. Since the baby was born, and we dodged a bullet, she has been diligently working to get her life together. Diet and exercise, she conscientiously cooks, cleans and takes care of her children. I can't ask more of her, and yet she even took one more positive step and enrolled in college, with classes to begin in January, and started counselling (in which she gets the same advice I give her, but from a stranger, which apparently holds more weight... I'm really not jealous, just commenting. Really.) She has not completely broken off with the scum sucking degenerate nasty monster that provided the sperm that created her kids. They are linked by the phone line, a phony umbilical cord snaking across the state. Now that she's removed herself from his physical battering, he uses the phone to beat up her mind.

Last night, with me, Pap and Princess here to babysit, she was invited out by some friends. One of the things her counsellor is pressing is the need to have friends in addition to family as part of her support network. She dressed up, fixed her hair and happily left with a group of the nice young people she used to hang around with before scum boy. She came home (sober) around 2:00 and talked about how much fun she'd had. And then the phone rang... minutes later she was sobbing. Again.

Me? I'd never tolerate anything she's been through. I'd hang up the phone, slam the door in his face... do what I had to in able to remove this kind of poison from my life. She thinks it's her fault (hence the need for a counsellor). We might as well be standing on two different planets. As for him - death is too good for mean, abusive, nasty men. Part of me knows that the divine has a way of taking care of these kinds of monsters and I should let this anger go. But the other part wants to be there when it happens, I want to see him suffering as much as he's made her suffer.

While I'm ranting: crashtest comic - of COURSE the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a tourist trap, if it was'nt, we'd call it a museum. Jeesh.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

A random pretty picture that came on my new computer... and made me homesick. As much as I love Ohio, I started lifed in California, Richmond, right across this bridge from San Francisco. It's been a very long time, and many states, in between that childhood of beaches, swimming pools, water ski's and sunshine...

If I learned only one thing (and I actually learned many) by moving many, many times when I was growing up, it is that people are the same everywhere. They just put emphasis on different things. Even in the 60's when I was growing up, California emphasis was on appearance. Kids were still hassled about grades, sunday school and the condition of their room, but foremost was instruction in grooming, fashion and fitness. Our first move was to Maryland, culture shock, their emphasis was on education and work, then all the other things. Pennsylvania - the state of your spirit, Indiana - how athletic are you?, North Carolina - manners, manners, manners. In every state, we adapted, changed our family dynamic and blended in. It was especially easy for me, I believe I'm one part magpie (my love of shiny things), one part chameleon.

I wonder, though, if someone trained in psychiatry would look differently at this lack of seperation anxiety? It would have been excellent early training for a con man.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Nibbling Away at Our Rights

There is a company who has decided not to hire smokers. They claim that health insurance is higher for smokers. They've also said they'll fire any employee that doesn't try to quit smoking ... that's the palatable spin. Since they followed up that news with the fact that they'll be doing random drug testing for nicotine, they should just say they're going to fire anybody who smokes.

This policy isn't really about smoking. While it may sound like a conspiracy theory, it's really a test to see just how much power big business has to control their employees. Today they've chosen smoking, tomorrow they will fire all the red haired, fair skinned people. They have delicate skin and it's more expensive to treat their sunburns. This policy is testing the ability to strip citizens of their rights.

Today it's smoking, if they get away with it, tomorrow it could be our right to practice whatever religion we choose, or our right to own property. Unchecked, we are destined to repeat our most hideous pages of history. An employer has the right to control the environment in his workplace, they don't have the right to control what I do at home.

Thursday, September 28, 2006


I walked to the day job today. Unusual for me, but my reason was compelling.

1) As a conscientious citizen I felt the need to save a days gas and oil, and decrease the ozone depleting exhaust from my car.
2) Ever health conscious, I decided I needed to work some junk off my trunk.
3) Always a social creature, I wanted an opportunity to say good morning to my neighbors and shop keepers along the way.
4) It's pouring down rain and my convertible is leaking, therefore I had to leave it parked and under cover.

Isn't it amazing how we can rationalize our way to reaching whatever conclusion we want?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

When I'm 64....

I can distinctly remember thinking 40 year old people were ancient (then I turned 40 and got smart). The Beatles considered anyone 64 on deaths door. What do you think you'll be doing at age 88?

I interviewed this lovely 88 year old lady today who is the driving force behind the Zane Trace Players, a community theater group. They are currently in rehearsal for the musical version of Cindrella, which means the cast is mostly kids. She produces and directs the show, makes all the sets, helps with costumes, lights, advertising, ticket sales... where in the world does she find the stamina? If someone wouldn't have told me she was 88, I'd have placed her easily in her 60's.

Because people in my family seem to pass away young (60's and 70's), I like meeting people older than that. I'm one of those concrete people who's rarely sick, my kids tell me regularly that I' ll live forever. A daunting thought, so I seek out really old people to see what they do with their time. The secret seems to be staying busy. The oldest guy I ever knew died at 100. At 96 he was still recording clerk for the county. Still driving at 98, but he probably shouldn't have been, we all knew when we saw his cadillac coming down the street to leap out of the way and take cover!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

My goodness, what's up with blogger today? Slow.... This pretty picture from my friend Waldo, could be last year, could be the year before.

It's fall, that strange time in Ohio, and other places I'm sure, in which you dress for the day in multiple layers. Tank top, sweater, jacket, parka for the morning. By lunch you're down to the tank top and then you start putting it back on a piece at a time until you're eating dinner in your down filled coat. Not being a native Ohioian, I refuse to dress in layers. My twisted brain truly believes that if I just keep wearing my flip flops and sandals, summer will not leave. I'm not the only one like that in my town. Two of our three postal workers have a competition to see who wimps out and switches from shorts to pants first. I've seen one of them delivering the Christmas Cards in shorts before. But then, a day like today...

It was so cold this morning I couldn't even get the dog or cats to get up with me. They stayed curled up in the quilt against Pap's back no matter how much I poked and teased them. I had to defrost the windshield on the car before I left, dodging the kids in coats racing for the bus stop that's across from the house. It was cold enough on the day job that we turned on the furnace, first time since May, so we've had that burnt lint smell floating around. It wasn't until mid-morning, when I was huddled against the back door in a sunbeam (smoking, shhh... you didn't see me write that) that I gave up trying to hang on to summer. I heard the honking first, and then the V-of geese flying south.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Some Funny Things for Monday

Dr. John posted today on the value of laughter. Since he's a wise man, and I agree totally, I found some funny stuff to share today. This joke was sent to me by my friend Waldo Schmidlapt, and then again by Library Lo, so it's GOT to be funny.

A woman was sitting at a bar enjoying an after work cocktail with her girlfriends when an exceptionally tall, handsome, extremely sexy middle-aged man entered. He was so striking that the woman could not take her eyes off him. The young-at-heart man noticed her overly attentive stare and walked directly toward her (as all men will). Before she could offer her apologies for so rudely staring, he leaned over and whispered to her, "I'll do anything, absolutely anything, that you want me to do, no matter how kinky, for $20.00......on one condition."

Flabbergasted, the woman asked what the condition was. Then he replied,"You have to tell me what you want me to do in just three words."

The woman considered his proposition for a moment,then slowly removed a $20 bill from her purse, which she pressed into the man's hand along with her address. She looked deeply into his eyes, and slowly, and meaningfully said....

"Clean my house."
While I was surfing around yesterday, killing time while a book was printing, I found this new blog that just cracked me up:

Sunday, September 24, 2006

A Diamond in the Rough

Every publisher's dream is to stumble upon a book with bestselling potential. To pick a manuscript from the submissions list, start reading and see a Stephen King, J.K. Rowling or Ian Rankin like story unfolding.

With unsolicited manuscripts flowing into the big publishing houses like flood water, they have no choice but to find reasons to reject books in order to narrow their search. Bad formatting, bad grammar and sentence structure... these kinds of problems in a manuscript make it easy to reject it.

But if you're a small house like ours, a shack really, a lean-to against the garage... you dream of the diamond in the rough. A writer like Zane Grey, pictured here. From 1910 until after his death in 1939, Zane Grey was the bestselling western author of all time. He wrote over 90 books, about the west, about fishing, for kids, adults. The man was a writing machine. There is a reason they say behind every great man there's a woman, and Zane's was called Dolly. Here is (as Paul Harvey would say) the rest of the story:
Zane's great success permitted him to have homes in Ohio, California and other places. He travelled frequently and on a trip to California he came up with an idea for a new book. In his usual prolific way he whipped it up and mailed it off to his agent. Sometime later the manuscript was returned to him with a scathing letter from the agent chastising "the imposter" trying to imitate the great Zane Grey. That is when Zane found out that the rest of his manuscripts had been retyped and corrected by his wife Dolly.

What nobody can take away is the fact that Zane Grey was a great storyteller. That he was not always so into proper format, punctuation and spelling can be forgiven, that's what editors are for. These diamonds in the rough are the author's my publishing house is hoping to find. Not that we aren't doing cartwheels when a manuscript like Sandra Ruttan's "Suspicious Circumstances", or Theresa Leighton's "Last" come our way - good stories backed up by professional presentation, but we read everything just in case that next brilliant storyteller isn't so worried about the rules of the game.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

A Wicked Business

Isn't that just a stunning sky? A picture from my niece in Texas. Wow, looks like a sky painted by a kid, beautiful.

Our little publishing company has been under attack for the last few days. Very distressing to my partner and I as well as our authors. We went into the publishing business to help new authors that just can't seem to get a break anywhere but have real talent. After getting a number of submissions that lacked even the most rudimentary structure (400 pages without a single paragraph sometimes!), we thought it might be a good idea to offer an editing service at a very affordable price ($35). Well, apparently that labels you as a scam artist if you charge writers ANYTHING for ANYTHING. The fact that we did was giving our authors piles of grief, it was way too much work anyway, and we really do care about not just being a reputable company, but looking like one too - so we discontinued the service. My partner has written personally to everyone that was questioning our integrity, and while I've been proud of him before, he was amazing in this circumstance and has managed to change the minds of many.

When things like this happen, I think always of the penalties for judging others. I don't think you get slammed for it so much in this world, but I won't risk being judgemental because of the consequences from the next world. It also makes me sad that some people are so quick to tear down anything that's not the "norm". Luckily, I have way too much to do to worry about this for long! Sometimes my many spinning plates come in real handy!

Friday, September 22, 2006

21 Gun Salute for People Making a Difference

There's nothing better than a fantasy that becomes a reality, and the news was just filled with encouraging stories this morning. My 21 gun salute this week goes to:

Sir Richard Branson, airline mogul, who has given a 3 billion dollar gift toward development of alternative fuels. Great news on many levels, from the price of gas to global warming. Way to go Sir Richard! I hope his jet setting friends follow his example.

Stephon Marbury, NBA Star for the New York Nicks. He could have been like the rest of the prima dona basketball stars that lend their name to everything from sneakers to sweatshirts for endorsement fees in the millions, but he isn't. He hooked up with Steve and Barry's and his shoes, the same ones he wears on the court, are under $15! He wants kids to invest in themselves, not their shoes. Four stars for Stephon!

Walmart and their new drug plan. $4 prescriptions for generic versions of the medicines people need to treat high blood pressure, diabetes and allergies. This salute is maybe only two guns. It may be just a ploy to make us forget that Walmart has a pitiful health plan for their employees, and import almost all of their products instead of buying American. But I do applaud this small effort.

What a great day in the world wide neighborhood!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Worry From the Land Down Under

My body is in Ohio today, but my head is in Australia with my girl down under. If she had a blog or I knew she wouldn't be mad at me, I would ask everyone, all you nice, funny, compassionate people, to send her a note. She's had just one tragedy after another over the last week and I've never heard her so down.

She and I met over the internet. A pen pal site I think, it's been awhile ago. We wrote back and forth for a little over a year and then she came here and stayed with us for a month last summer. Like twins from different mothers, Barb and I yakked practically non-stop from her arrival to her departure. Everyone liked her, and I made sure she had a real midwestern summer experience- She was forced to judge the Queen's contest at the pottery festival, we took her to a baseball game when the weather was so hot even our sweat was sweating, and even tried hooking her up with a date while she was here. Barb is one of those people that is so thoroughly good she glows with it. Smart, wise and funny. Think good thoughts for my girl Barbara.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Still Wearing My Head

Poor Jazzmin, if it isn't her little sisters bugging her when she's trying to draw a masterpiece, it's Ophelia the Dowager Cat.

What a hoot yesterday turned out to be. I was trying to get ready for dinner and the speech around two cloying cats and one perfectly pathetic dog who had been alone all day since Princess has gone back to school. I don't know if I'm the only one who does this, but it's been a life long problem: the more nervous I am, the bigger my hair gets. I just can't leave it alone- curl, spray, comb, curl, spray, brush down, brush upside down. Before I know it I have the perfect style - if I were a beauty contestant from Texas in the 1980s. If it stopped at big hair I probably wouldn't consider it a mental illness, but I have the same problem with make up. There are certain colors of eye shadow and lipstick I never, ever wear but inevitably, I'll try them, in several wobbly layers, on nights when I really shouldn't be experimenting with anything. Lucky for me, I only had an hour between the day job and the speaking engagement so I was able to get out of the house looking more aging disco queen than clown.

Everything went great through dinner, I sat with some very nice ladies and compared notes about vacation spots. As dessert was wrapping up the president gave me the nod to start speaking, I walked, without tripping, to the podium, looked out over the 50 smiling faces and completely forgot everything I was going to say.....
This kind of behavior is so NOT KAT, I can't figure out what in the world
I let get me so riled up that I was actually speechless in front of a room
full of woman not much different from me... 80's hair aside. Nuts, one
day of totally nutty behavior. Jeesh.
I smiled at them for, oh 20 seconds or so that felt like a lifetime, and then said "Have you ever had one of those moments where everything, including your name, just flys right out of your head?" Half of them yelled "yes", the other half nodded and that broke the paralysis. I ended up speaking on mentorship and it's inclusion in the newly forming girls and women's network. They asked lots of questions, they stayed after to ask more. Done. Head still attached. Yay.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Exploding Heads

It's quite possible that before this week is over my head will explode.

I have quite a large head, but I'm afraid that won't be of any help warding off the imminent melt down of my coping skills resulting in a mushroom cloud of disgusting brain matter, blood and hair. Some day, I will learn to say NO, and these kinds of weeks won't be an issue... for now, I'm looking for the mirror I broke, the black cat who crossed my path, the ladder I walked under...

Yesterday I tried to open an attachment from one of my authors to prepare the final, final, edited copy of her advanced reading copies. The document opened at a page count of 460, but as it downloaded the number on her page changed to 452. Worse, the word count changed too. Said author is on her way to a conference, she needs these ARCs at the conference so I don't really have time to read the entire book again to see what it's leaving out...

Tonight I have that speech for the Professional and Business Women. I'm not laughing any more, I have no idea what I'm going to talk to them about. Wait, I know WHAT I want to talk to them about, I don't know HOW I'm going to do it. I've tried to write something several times but the lure of..., well.... just about anything drew me from the task. So I'll be winging it. I'm a total imposter anyway, I don't even know why they asked me.

This morning I had an angry e-mail from my partner ... editing!!!! An angry e-mail from my editor...writing!!!! And a stack of notes from my assistant at the day job, who is looking quite lemon lipped and eye rolling today. There are book plates to do, and I'm fairly certain I'm out of clean laundry except for my black coctail dress and a velvet pant suit. We will not even discuss the fact that my convertable top is leaking and since it rained yesterday, I had to drive to a meeting in Pap's beater. I doubt I'll ever be able to live down the shame.

In the event my prediction comes true, and my head does explode, you may notice that my blog posts get more interesting. I definately have too much to do to actually die, so I'm sure my body will continue to go through it's paces headless. :)

Monday, September 18, 2006

Things I learned from a 3 Year Old

It's been a while since I've taken care of a three year old for more than a few hours at a time. This past weekend was an adventure and I gained some wisdom to pass on to my friends:

Scrapbook glitter, while enhancing the appearance of the sewing machine, screws up its operation considerably.

You must cut up spaghetti O's before you serve them or they instantly become fashion accessories.

The term "time out" must never be used in place of the word "stop" or hysterics will shortly follow.

No matter how awful the three year old is being, if you put her on the naughty chair her two older sisters will look at you like you've just murdered a kitten.

If you put her on the naughty chair, no matter how awful she's behaved, you will feel like you've just murdered a kitten.

The tiny victorian couch in my library that' s too narrow for any adult to sit on comfortably is perfectly sized for a small girl and an old cat to use as a napping spot.

A brass band playing their way through the library will not wake a small girl up. The sound of a lid being removed from a tube of play-doh two rooms away will.

Blogger won't let me post pictures today... so you'll just have to trust me when I tell you I had a really cute one of the above mentioned three year old.

Friday, September 15, 2006

It's A Girl!

It was a girl after all, Brendolyn Jessica Jolene... great big name for a very tiny little lady, just 4 lbs. 12 ozs. But she is lovely, and not even as big as a football! Bren and her Mom are doing fine, despite her diminutive size she has quite lusty lungs and is eating like a mad woman. Off to write my article so I don't get fired from the paper...

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Thursday Full of Opportunities

Grandgirls mom called yesterday to put me on notice that the birth of baby #4 was imminent. Supposedly another girl, I hope so, but doctors have been wrong before and no matter how advanced technology gets, I won't believe it until I see it...her. She has asked her sisters, Princess and Bean, to go with her to the delivery room, my job is to take care of Juliette, who is three.

I love her desperately, but I'd have a better chance of surviving by giving birth to #4 myself rather than being left alone with Juliette. She doesn't sleep, she talks non-stop, and if I knew how to trap frenetic energy, I could supply power to my entire neighborhood. Julzy does things like paint the cat with toothpaste. Her middle name is "drama". Lucky for me, Juliette loves being outside mucking in the garden as much as I do. If the rain holds off... I will wear the little darling down jogging between the tired vegetable garden and the mulch pile.

In the event we don't get a baby today, I have just one feature story for the newspaper this week. Computers breaking, cars breaking... this week was too chaotic to get much of anything accomplished.

This is one of those moments I remember why I never divorce Papa Bear. After a day of hopping like Tigger, endless rounds of "the wheels on the bus", a monster sized temper tantrum over a nap, followed by an equally frantic crying jag because she was not permited to eat the cat's food... Pap arrived to take Juliette (the chatter box) and I out to dinner and then, and this truly makes him my hero, to our house to put her to bed while I stay here in Bean's quiet, tidy apartment. Calgon calls....

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

A Murder of Crows...A Blizzard of Buzzards

What do you call a flock of buzzards? This picture was taken by my friend Waldo Schmidlpt of an old tree by the cemetery that was just filled with buzzards. An eerie bird at best, but when hanging out in a gang like this, downright spooky!

Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks? Today, I finally learned how to make a link from this blog. A simple thing to most people, but despite instructions, I have the hardest time with html. All those little carrots and slashes and quotation marks drive me crazy. I have new respect for dark daddy, my web designing friend.

Last year, clay guy talked me into taking a pottery making class. It was a logical request, me and Pap love pottery and have a large collection on top of the fact that pottery is our regional product and we actively promote its sale. I'm creative and kind of artsy, I thought I'd love it. I didn't. I hated everything about making pottery from the uncomfortable position you must assume at the wheel to the feel of the clay squooshing between my fingers. I hated having to remove all my rings, I hated that my long fingernails made it almost impossible to smooth things out properly. I quit the class, but, I gained a whole new respect for the potters who make my dishes and art pottery.

While you may be thinking the previous paragraphs were as random a bunch of thoughts as could be, they connect on the level of "things I once took for granted". I used to believe I was pretty smart, then I realized a three year old could stump me in under thirty seconds (smart people should also have answers for the illogical) and I don't know what a flock of buzzards is called. I used to call myself a quick learner, then the internet came along. Things I once presumed were easy, turned out to be hard, hard things turned out to be easy... I have learned that life has very many more dimensions that I had previously believed. That's cool, and it's inspired me to make a list of things I want to do and see before I die. Luckily, I have many, many years to work on this.

Top of the list: I want to tour Scotland, my husband's, families homeland. I want to learn how to use oil paints, train for a marathon, write a play and see it produced, teach my grandgirls how to walk with a book on their head, build a straw wall, raise a chicken, design a new house, learn to ballroom dance, see a financial report for the lottery, watch a concert from the first row, mediate a debate between a minister and a wiccan priestess, visit my girl in Australia... to be continued somewhere else....

Monday, September 11, 2006

Believe in Yourself

Library Lo sent me this picture, it was on one of those funny things people forward to all their friends with cool pictures captioned with something motivational. This one is called, of course, Believe in Yourself.

For years, the Kat that lives in my head has been a svelte size 8, with perfect hair and small feet. The fact that I haven't been a size 8 since Junior High, have seen maybe 4 perfect hair days in 47 years and have average sized feet that are nearly as wide as they are long, makes no difference. I have been known to catch sight of myself in a store window and recognize it as me only because the reflection is wearing the same clothes I am. So I like this picture, because for once the mirror isn't betraying someone, it's reflecting this internal kitty.

I'm not sure when certain of my body parts decided to move south of their assigned places, but evacuate they did. Dressing around the effects of gravity, (pepsi, hohos, ice cream) and five children is an adventure. Especially when your head still thinks you look like the Disco Queen you were in 1979. Most shopping trips include me trotting back to the dressing room with a lovely selection of cropped and spaghetti strapped tops, then slouching back out to fetch the St. John's Bay practical middled aged t-shirts that actually fit me.

Princess and I refuse to believe there is any size larger than extra large. That's the only thing saving me from needing a cattle scale to weigh in, I don't want to disappoint her by moving into the dreaded 1X, so I do apply myself to healthy eating when I'm busting the seams on those XLs.

I've always had bad eating habits. I hate to cook, so whatever is close at hand is what I'll eat. This is complicated by the fact that I have an addictive personality. I eat oatmeal for breakfast every single morning. If Pap fails to replace my oatmeal and I run out, I'll fret for several days and eat nothing. If he goes too long and doesn't replace it, I'll eat whatever is easy: half a jar of chocolate fudge, popcorn, left over cake. We live in a small town with no fast food restraunts, so anytime we went to the city we'd eat at McDonald's. Well now I go to the city two or three times a week and I can't drive past the McD's, I have to stop. I have eaten the same thing there for years (#2 with diet coke). As slovenly and self-indulgent as this all sounds, there is good news regarding my examination of my eating habits. I don't really care if it's healthy food or junk food, to me food is only fuel. I want it fast, I don't want to have to cook it myself, and I lack a goumets palate. I'm happy to eat the same thing every day for months. I just have to figure out three healthy meals and two snacks that I can eat every day until I'm skinny.

Until that skinny day, I don't really bug on my weight. It's just a number. If it weren't for the fact that I feel like lugging around a bunch of extra pounds is the same as playing russion roulette, I wouldn't care at all.

The Autumn of a Lifetime

Ever since we had our first chilly morning, I've been obsessed with the phases of a life and just where I am in that grand plan. When I was growing up and women were gossiping about the older man up the street with the young chippy - they'd call it "that May/December romance".

Memories of my life as a kid are always in the pastels of spring- squeaky clean, shiny and new. They're scented with chlorine, wet dog and playground sweat. I remember my late teens and child rearing years in primary colors suffused with neon - hot, ripe, passionate- surrounded by the cloying smell of honeysuckle, lavender and roses in full bloom.

The trees outside my kitchen window are still wearing their lush green canopies, but they're beginning to fade. The green is less vibrant, some of the leaves are edged with brown. The vines in the vegetable garden are looking wilted and have lost most of their leaves. The patio umbrella is faded and drooping, the canvas chairs have permanent bottom shaped dips in them. I look at this sad picture of late summer and remember that in a week or two the garden will be filled with mums, richly shaded in oranges, golds and browns. The trees will glow gold and orange one last time before they drop the leaves for winter. As soon as we have a morning frost, the fading pumpkin vines will shrivel out of sight leaving behind a crop of bright orange pumpkins. That's why I've always loved autumn, it's like a fighter regaining his feet on the 8 count and going on to fight out the round. He may get knocked out in the next round, but for this one he has come up fighting, swinging, punching and putting on one last show.

I feel like I've entered the autumn of my life. My kids are grown and it's the first chance I've had to fully pursue my own interests. There was that period right before Princess graduated from High School that felt like late summer - I was a little faded and droopy, sad and in need of plumping up. A bit scared about what was coming next. It's only this year that I realized after late summer comes Autumn! Another batch of memories to make, this time scented with the smell of hot cider and burning leaves, colored with rich golds, oranges and browns.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Grandgirl Weekend

The house of perpetual remodeling is hopping today. The grandgirls and their mom popped in last night for an early birthday celebration for Breezy (the one on the right) who is turning 7 on Monday.

I wasn't expecting (or planning!) to be a grandmother this early in life, but now that I am I wonder how anyone who gets the little charmers keeps up at an older age. I've already forgotten what it's like to just keep kids fed and watered on a regular schedule. Jazz, the one on the left, has been my gardening buddy since she was toddling. Last month she called me and said "Nana, I'm coming over this weekend, the tomatos are so overgrown I can't even see my tree".
True, I've been a little busy lately, and Pap is supposed to take care of the vegetable garden...

Always when grandgirls mom is here I spend time biting my tongue. I know it serves no purpose to say "how can you make these kinds of life choices? Why can't you see how hard you're making life for everyone around you? What are you thinking when your recklessness results in damage to tiny lives? How do I make you see that a life worth living is lived in honesty, hard work, clean fun and legal behavior?" When I was raising my kids in the 80's, the experts harped on "kids do as you do, not as you say". I believed that and Pap and I set a good example. With this child, it didn't matter. I'm a huge supporter of mentoring, not just for poor kids, or kids missing a parent, but for every kid. Personalities are so diverse that no one person can reach everyone. Grandgirls mom grew up looking at me like I was some super woman living standards she couldn't hope to achieve. A false reality, but her reality. If there had been someone around more like her, more edgy and spontaneous, that was willing to mentor, she might have turned out differently. She's young, only 26, and there's time to change, but only if she wants to. That's the real question.

Today will be spent in board games (Mousetrap is the new favorite) and craft projects - a little calm before the storm of next week's work. Since I missed three opportunities for stories this weekend, I'll need to chase down three new somethings before my Friday deadline. Hmmm.... My desk at the day job looks like a hurricane hit it, so some serious attention to that, all doable.

Saturday, September 09, 2006


It was inevitable that this day would come. My schedule has been tottering around like a house of cards for some time, I am not surprised that it crashed today.

I'm supposed to be racing between the Bump, Spike and Dive mud volley ball for charity event and Farm City Day to get stories for the paper. By lunch I'm supposed to be at the museum to hand out writing awards for The Theme is Pottery. The afternoon was planned to be spent talking to Karen at the Armory regarding the consignment shop that's opening, then zipping back to Crooksville for middle grandgirls birthday party (picking up the cake along the way). Somewhere amongst that stuff I needed to finish making ARCs for the reading club and finish my speech for the Professional Women. A day like this is carefully orchestrated, there is no room for spontaneous action, or glitches of any kind.

Big glitch. Pap's car is in the shop for repair so he took mine to work. The backup plan was for me to take Princess to work, do my running around in her car, and then pick her back up right before I picked up the cake. Well, I have discovered it's impossible for me to look presentable in under, oh, about 80 minutes. I woke up 45 minutes before she had to leave. So the entire day is scrapped. Ugh.

Friday, September 08, 2006

A Writer's Talk with Some Artists

Spooky moon still in the sky this morning. I like these crisp fall mornings that warm back up to summer by midafternoon. Pap has my car today since his is in the shop and Princess had to be at work early, so I walked to work (which is what I should be doing every day).

Last night was the speech for the artists. Lots of fun, there are so many of them! I think it went okay, they laughed several times, applauded something I said once and several stayed after to ask questions about either the newspaper or to tell me they were also writers. Zanesville is a funny old city. I've moved around a lot and know that most cities have a personality of some sort. When we moved to Southeastern Ohio fifteen years ago, Zanesville was full of moldering old businesses, derelicts roaming the streets and empty buildings. I worked in a business on Main Street for about a year, so I saw it up close and personal. Then the artists started organizing, Alan Cottrill, the sculpture, moved back and placed a bronze Indian on the roof of his studio, rapidly followed by a parade of bronze characters on the sidewalk. The antique stores started spiffing up, and new businesses moved in. ZAAP and the Artists Colony was formed, followed by several of them taking up residence in the old Armory. The transformation is amazing, and the artists deserve all the credit for both giving the city back a personality and reminding everyone of their proud old heritage as an Art Pottery town.

Among my volumous list of personal beliefs, there are two that routinely march to the top of the list: 1) everyone - regardless of economic or social standing, creed, religion or gender- has the right to own something beautiful that moves them emotionally, and 2) just like dedicated policemen, doctors or bankers, dedicated artists deserve the right to make a living as artists. Getting those two beliefs to meld into a reality requires a dedicated marketing person, and compromise on the part of the artist and the consumer. Why it's worth the effort to work at making these beliefs a reality is best illustrated through evidence of the power art has to make change in the life and heart of a person : (slightly fictionalized to protect the privacy of the couple involved)

In the 1980's Pap and I were Art Consultants for a company in Indiana that also believed everyone deserved to own a piece of beautiful art. They developed a program based on volume that kept the cost of art down while still providing a good income for a motivated and prolific artist. We sold oil paintings, some prints and water colors through home shows called private gallery showings. All very dignified, part show, part art education, part pseudo auction. Pap and I lived near an Air Force base, so we frequently had young GI's at our shows who came for the food, I'm sure, but left with a painting or two ordered.

There was a young man who worked in the motor pool named Buster Yardley who was married to a tiny little girl named Becky who had been hideously disfigured in a fire just a few months after their wedding. Buster had quite a knack for canabilizing one set of cars in order to fix other sets of vehicles making the road leading to their shack on the outskirts of town looking like a graveyard for Fords and Chryslers. GI's being what they are, Buster and his wife were usually referred to as Junkyard and Dog. I'm not sure how Buster got invited to one of our shows, I knew of him, and it was common knowledge that everyone used Buster, but the Yardley's didn't have any friends.

It was a full house that first night I actually met the Yardley's. They sat in the back corner of a room, alone and aparently uninterested until I came to a selection of sea scapes. The first one was just stunning, crashing waves with nearly transparent crests, sunlight dancing off the water across the canvas. When I illuminated it with an art light, Buster came off his chair and moved to the front of the room. He had a million questions, who painted it, where was this beach, how did he do that? They left with a painting ordered for them. Several months passed, I'd see their names on packages being picked up by other consultants, or on sales slips at the gallery. Just before Christmas Buster called and invited Pap and I out to see their "gallery wall".

It was cold that night, with wind whistling across Indiana's flat landscape. Creepy driving through the car carcasses up to the Yardley's little house with the tin roof. Buster opened the door at our knock and led us down the short bare hall to the living room, empty except for two lawn chairs and a TV tray. Once we'd cleared the wall blocking our view of the end of the room, Pap and I were both struck speechless. The Yardleys had collected a group of seascapes and rustics that when assembled together told the story of a life yet to come. Illuminated by up lights arranged on the floor, the viewer was literally swept out of Indiana. A portrait of a mermaid posed on rocks, long red hair flowing over her shoulder and floating on the water, her tail a nicked and scarred series of scales, was prominently placed in the center of the grouping. "Isn't my Becky beautiful, that's just how she looks to me." Buster said pointing to the portrait.

Buster advanced through the ranks like all GI's do, upgrading his housing as he went. When he retired we got a letter from him, postmarked from New Hampshire. It was a short note thanking us for introducing him to oil paintings and explaining that back when he and Becky had nothing, and were struggling to rebuild their life together after the fire, it was the one thing that opened up dialogue between them, and helped him to show her just exactly how he felt and what he dreamed about.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Squirrely Day

I'm fairly certain that I am definately going nuts, this squirrel has been hanging around me all day.

I'm glad this week is nearly over, it's been chock full of bad news of one kind or another. Nothing desperate, just these little annoyances, one on top of the other until you want to gouge your own eyes out. It rained on a holiday, the paper lost two of my stories, my editor won't answer my e-mail, my computer is dieing, my internet connection is screwed up. Isobelle will not leave the beads on the chandelier in my dressing room alone, they are now scattered all around upstairs guaranteeing that I will step on at least one anytime I have to run to the loo in the middle of the night.

We've been talking lately about whether the building I work in is making people sick. I would say it was even if it wasn't... but it's funny how everyone who works here, regardless of their excellent health in the past, just starts falling to pieces. Headaches, flu, and allergy attacks seem to be the biggest complaints, followed by bronchitis. The building was constructed in 1930, it has flooded twice, once in 1950 and most recently in 2004. There's probably some creepy mold mutating and growing in the walls of this old place.

Speech number one tonight... artists. I will be a hero or a goat depending on whether they are open to hearing about a new way of doing things, or totally closed minded.