Monday, August 31, 2009

She can see clearly now ...

She asked.

And, God help me, I told her.

Now what do I do?

We were snuggled together in a come-say-goodnight-to-me moment in her room, and she sat bolt upright and asked.

"How did my dad die?"

It is a question she has asked before. She had always been satisfied with the answer of complications of cardiac issues and diabetes, but she KNEW there was more.

She knew there was more because I had told her that about 6 months ago when she pressed yet again. But at that time, I asked her if she REALLY wanted to know.

And she said no.

This time, she looked me square in the eye and said yes.

So I told her.

I told my 15-year-old daughter that, when she was 3 1/2, her father had died of AIDS.

And she cried.

But she didn't cry for him.

She cried for me.

She cried because I had had to go through that horror 11 years ago -- a million years ago.

She cried because I get tested whenever I have a physical exam.

"I'm so sorry you had to go through that, Mommy. I'm so sorry."

I'm sorrier that she has to go through this now.

The very last vestige of memories of a daddy is gone. She actually yanked a pillow off her bed -- a pillow he bought for her ... a pillow she has slept with every night for 11 years -- and threw it on the floor.

"I don't want that pillow anywhere near me," she declared. "I don't want to sleep with it anymore."

I pulled her close to me, and we held each other in the darkness.

And now we both try to forget.

God help me.

Crossposted at Mid-Century Modern Moms

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Weekly Winners: August 23-29

From the ridiculous to the sublime this week ...

Twinkle twinkle little sparkly things:

I dunno ... I can't explain this -- except I took it with my phone in a department store
where all that STUFF is actually a very cool glass sculpture/artwork/THING ... whatever

The first day of 10th grade:

Please note what is written on her notebook. I'm so proud ...

Go --->here<--- for more weekly winners from photographers who might have spent a little more time on their work this week!

Friday, August 28, 2009

And another one bites the dust

One ...

... plus 19 ...

... equals 20

Happy birthday, Z-man. Welcome to your twenties.

Evil Mother

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I get by with a little help ...

I have a little secret.

It is quite possibly the secret to my success.

It is most definitely the secret to my sanity.

It's a secret that I have leaned on for the better part of six years, ever since that day -- after my wedding -- that I could absolutely FEEL the blood pumping in every capillary under my skin.

A blood pressure problem? Maybe. I was aging every day, after all.

Freaking, I sought medical attention.

My blood pressure was perfect. I was physically fine.

But it felt like my skin was crawling.

The doctor's professional opinion?

Anxiety -- and we have something for that, you know.

So, that day, six years ago, I took my first anti-depressant.

And never looked back.

Vitamin P, I lovingly refer to it. Mother's little helper.

After several weeks, I woke up one morning, realizing that my skin hadn't crawled in a couple days. And I generally felt better. The edge was off my attitude, without damaging my sparkling wit and cutting-edge personality. I was, quite frankly, easier to live with.

Ask my husband. Ask my kids. Ask my best friend, with whom I had a pact:

If either of us went bonkers -- menopausal nightmares, as it were -- it was the official responsibility of the other to slap her friend silly and make her take hormones.

A couple years ago, she looked me straight in the eye and said this: "Hon, do you think maybe you need your meds adjusted?"

And I admitted, sheepishly, that I had taken myself OFF my meds (without consulting a doctor -- don't try this at home).

And my friend, who is not a believer in better living through chemistry, was blunt: "Never do that again."

And I didn't.

This week I have been very down. Chest-achingly morose. Deep-thinkingly moody. Unable-to-thinkingly edgy. Always on the verge of tears.

I put it off to today's first-day-of-school-my-baby-is-growing-up-somebody-hold-me blues.

And then I had an epiphany.

In my new morning action plan -- the one that gets me to work by 8'ish and delightfully home before 5 every day -- I have cut some corners and changed my routine.

And for at least two weeks -- or MORE -- I have neglected to take my meds.


I'll never do that again.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Dinner, complete with potty talk

Dueling work schedules for Z-man and J-bear have meant very few nights when all the living-at-home planets align for a family meal.

Sure we can manage to get together for a birthday dinner, but the day-to-day chore of dining in the evening has become a fake-it-till-you-make-it kind of affair.

Until this past Sunday.

For some strange reason (well, actually because Z-man is sick and didn't work and J-bear got off work at 6), all five of us homebodies ended up in the same place at the same time.

Fortunately, it was also a day that I managed to put something on the table other than Frosted Mini Wheats or scrambled eggs. (Hmmmm, do I sense a certain breakfast-for-dinner theme here?)

Yes, ma'am ... it was a barbecued turkey breast (tequila lime style), fresh green beans, mashed potatoes (ok, you got me -- it was Costco mashed) and a salad.

All food groups present and accounted for, SIR!

It was the Roo-girl who started it by stirring the remains of her barbecue sauce on her plate with the tines of her fork.

Evil Mother: Don't play with your food.

The Roo-girl: I'm making designs!

Z-man: Well, it looks like poo.

The Roo-girl: No, it's PRETTY!

*Z-man picks up the barbecue sauce bottle and squeezes out a pile of ... uh ... well, you get the idea*

Z-man: Now, THAT'S poo.

Evil Mother: Z-MAN!!!! That is truly gross.

Wonderhubby: No, what would have been gross is if it were poo with a bite taken out of it ...

Evil Mother: *wonders where she went wrong* Good Lord, HOW old are you again????

Monday, August 24, 2009

Monday Monday, can't trust that day

Today is Monday.

This is what I was supposed to do today: Take the morning off to accompany the Roo-girl to school and get her all registered and paid up (extra fees, not tuition) for her sophomore year in high school.

This is what I actually will do today: Go to work as usual.

(Continued at Mid-Century Modern Moms)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Weekly Winners: August 16-22

For some reason, as I was editing my photos this week, I kept thinking of that jingle from that fabulous French fast-food place Jacques-in-Zee-Box ... "Yippee yi-ay, mini-sirloin burgers ... YEAH!"

I have no idea why -- except, of course, for our trip to the rodeo at the county fair. Yippee yi-ay, y'all!

The wheel goes 'round and 'round:

We watched the turkey races:

... which made J-bear laugh -- a lot:

Riding through the flames of certain death:

My fave photo for this week. Just sayin'.

Lassoing the horsey:

Embracing the blur:

Yippee yi-ay ... etc.

Some people can stay on the bull ...

... And some people can't

Oh, and there was a high school football picnic, too, attended by the cheer squad in all their glory. Here's my varsity girl:

Visit the lovely Lotus --->here<--- for more weekly winners from photographers who probably won't gift you with an earworm (yippee yi-ay ...) when you visit them.

You're welcome!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Hair today, God-knows-what tomorrow

Today's topic is hair.

How you cut it. How you style it. And sometimes, what it says about you.

Regardless of whether that is your intention.

For example, Z-man got his hair cut yesterday. He's grossly unhappy with the cut (which, at this writing, I haven't seen yet). He made the appointment himself with the woman who has cut his hair (very nicely) for three years.

He also changed the color. According to the Roo-girl, it's red ("he's a ginge," she told me). Eh. Whatever. She assures me it is within the norm ("it's not emo magenta, Mom").

The cut, however, is causing him deep distress, and apparently he was "too embarrassed" (his words) to tell his stylist that he hated it.

He texted me thusly:

"It looks awful. I have to do laundry and I am actually nervous to go where Roo-girl can see it. Easily the worst cut I've ever had."

If he hadn't been so pathetic and sad, I would have laughed out loud at the idea that he didn't want his sister to see his hair in this condition. (Her bedroom is directly across the hall from the laundry room. It's tough to avoid her when washing clothes.)

But the truth of the matter is, he spends almost as much time on his hair as Roo does hers. He's on his second attempt at a color other than his natural light brown. He has a flat iron so he can straighten it (he got MY unruly waviness, that poor creature). He wants the hair to lay "just so." (The photo at left is the previous incarnation from last June.)

What does this say about him?

He cares about his appearance. He wishes to look a certain way and goes out of his way to make sure that happens. And, truth be told, he's a little prissy about it.

Is this a bad thing? I guess not. I tease him mercilessly (because I AM the Evil Mother) about his prissiness as it relates to his sexual orientation.

Fast backward to a week or so ago, when I walked into my house after a long day of work and found something fairly shocking.

At least I found it so.

J-bear had cut her hair.

Now, I have known her since she was 11, and she has always had long hair. Like halfway-down-the-middle-of-her-back long hair. Like I-don't-want-to-cut-it long hair.

Now she doesn't.

And the style she has chosen speaks volumes about her.

I debated long and hard about discussing this here. I even had an indepth conversation about the issue with Wonderhubby, after which I told him that I wanted to write about it.

He shrugged and told me he had no objection.

And so, I present two views of J-bear.


Senior photo, 2008

And after:

You may draw your own conclusions.

And you will be correct.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Driving me crazy

Every day.


Some variation on the words "When I get my learner's permit" or "When I get my license" fall out of the Roo-girl's mouth.

And I have total hysterics.

For several reasons, really.

1) The idea of her on the road scares the ever-lovin' crapola outta me.

2) How can she be old enough to drive?

3) She won't need me any more.


Well, you get the idea. I dread this with a passion that stuns even me.

Until yesterday.

3:30 p.m. (text message): i was wondering if maybe u culd take me to (city 15 minutes from home) for little-kids-cheer-team practice at 5:30-7 :-)

*We will not speak here about spelling and txtspk. I have given up. At least she asked with a smiley face.*

I was, at the time, about 45 minutes away, in the middle of an interview (!) for a freelance writing job (!!!!!). I finished up with the guy (eyerollish story for another day) and drove home.

And got BACK in the car and drove her to the practice, where she could see her old coach and old friends. Since I somehow thought she had said 5:30 to 7:30 (undoubtedly due to my ancient vision and the smiley face next to the 7), I drove home. Sigh.

7:05 p.m. (phone call): Mom, I'm done. Can you come get me?

Uh. Ok. Oops.

7:20 p.m. (phone call while I'm still on the road): Mom, can I go to the movies with Lori? It's a 7:45 show. They'll pick me up.

They'll pick you up where???? At home?

Yeah. So I'll just hurry the heck up, thanks.

And, um, can I ask how you are planning to get home from the movie?

7:30 p.m. (sheepishly, in person, in the car): Well, um, can you pick us up after?

Sigh. Again. Which movie theater? Why, the inconvenient one, of course!

9:30 p.m. (phone call): Mom, we're done. Can you come get us?

Let us recap: Approximately every 90 to 120 minutes, I got in the car to drive her somewhere.

Wait. WHEN does she get her license again??

Can it be tomorrow?

Monday, August 17, 2009

A little taste of my future

Ten things learned while my 15-year-old daughter was away for three nights ...

(Continued at Mid-Century Modern Moms)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Weekly Winners: August 9-15

A little turn around the garden for this week's set ...

Peter Piper picked a peck of red peppers:


Eye spy:


And when I get tired of running around the garden, you know where I point my camera lens next!

A Roo-girl sunglasses spectacular:

Go --->here<--- for more weekly winners.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

C'est la pool

Way before her freshman year -- back when she was in the sixth grade, in fact -- the Roo-girl decided she wanted to take French in high school.

I spent a considerable amount of effort trying to talk her out of it, and it turned out to be a less than stellar experience.

A tutor saved the day last spring, and as the school year came to a close, I spent a considerable amount of time trying to talk her out of French 2 and into Spanish 1.

To no avail, I might add. She is a stubborn thing, and wants to "finish" what she started.

Accordingly, I was just about to make the call to set up some review sessions with her beloved tutor before school starts again in two weeks. (OMIGOD! TWO WEEKS????)

Yeah. So, before I picked up the phone, I punched the button to listen to our messages and heard this:

"Hi, Mrs. Planet. I'm Ms. High School Counselor, and I was calling to talk about a conflict in Roo-girl's schedule for next year. The only French 2 class is offered during the same period as ..."

*wait for it*

"... Cheerleading. And so please give me a call so she can pick which one she wants."


Guess who's going to take Spanish 1 this year.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Too much, too late

The Roo-girl has her "special weekend" in a mere two days.

Thursday night, I will deposit her with the pole-dancing grandma and the "I know what I like" grandfather for several days packed to the gills with shopping, restaurants, museums, the theater and pedicures.

And I am thrilled for her. Thrilled that she will get the attention she deserves. Thrilled that my parents are finally figuring out what they have missed.

Thrilled, mostly.

Actually, I'm trying very very hard to maintain "thrilled," but I'm having a severe "Disney dad" response to this whole thing.

And as a result, in a cold little place in my hard Evil Mother heart, I am angry.

I am angry that this has been referred to as Roo-girl's "special weekend."

I am angry that they are trying to take 15 years of neglect and repackage it into a weekend of fun and games.

I am angry that they will use STUFF to speak to her, when TIME should have been enough.

My parents are local. They live a mere 25 or 30 miles from us. So why does this have to be a THING of epic proportions?

It could have been a day of lunch and shopping.

Then next month, they could have gone to the theater.

And maybe another time, she and my mother could have gotten pedicures together.

Perhaps what really yanks my chain is that it comes mere days after monologue discussion I had with Roo Monday night while sitting on a leather couch at our local Costco.

A discussion prompted by her unreasonable expectations of what she is entitled to in a redecorating her room a la House Beautiful.

A discussion prompted by her champagne tastes on my beer budget.

A discussion prompted by a series of statements that all started with "I want" or "I need."

Because I want, and I need, too.

I want peace, and I need balance.

And everyone to get over themselves.

Even me.

Monday, August 10, 2009


I know every generation is the bane of the previous.

The clothes.

The hair.

The music.

(Continued at Mid-Century Modern Moms. Enter at your own risk.)

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Weekly Winners: August 2-8

The dog days of summer have taken me. I'm fairly unphotographic these days. But when the Roo-girl told me she was going to the park to throw back handsprings -- AND I COULD COME AND TAKE PICTURES!! -- the answer was, of course, yes.

Unfortunately, Niki (the Nikon -- we're buds like that) failed me by declining to focus, making auto-focusing a laughable moment.

I managed one that I was happy with. Others were rejected by Roo for form issues (see here for an example of what she shouldn't be doing).

So, here it is:

... As well as a gratuitous portrait of the lady in question:

Go --->here<--- for more weekly winners from people who actually photograph stuff!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Fan mail from some flounder?

My father is a funny guy. I guess he'd have to be, since he's married to the pole-dancing grandma.

Our relationship has had its very SERIOUS ups and downs, but one place where he and I stoop to the same level is on the internet.

Some of the funniest nastiest email jokes I have gotten have come from my dad, who thinks nothing of forwarding things to his daughter that would make a sailor blush.

In return, I save the best of the worst for him. Only once can I remember him firing back that he didn't want to hear THAT from his little girl.

Recently, I got one of those infamous forwards that make the rounds on the 'net. Mostly, I open them and promptly hit the delete button, but this one? I actually found interesting.

It was titled "The Bottle ... An Illusion" and issued the following instructions:

Take a look at this picture: What do you see????
Check the explanation that follows!

You saw a couple in an intimate pose, right?

Interestingly, research has shown that young children cannot identify the intimate couple because they do not have prior memory associated with such a scenario.

What they will see, however, is the nine dolphins in the picture! So, I guess we've already proven you're not a young innocent child.

Now, if it's hard for you to find the dolphins within 6 seconds, your mind is SO corrupted that YOU probably need help!

OK, here's help: Look at the space between her right arm and her head, the tail is on her neck, follow it up. Look at her left hip, follow the shaded part down, it's another one, and on his shoulder...

OH, SURE, NOW you see them!!!!!
I love this kind of stuff. Like those drawings where you either see the old woman or the young girl:

So I forwarded it to my dad. I also sent it to my mom -- who is notorious for being technologically impaired.

Mom's response was immediate: laughing heartily at my dad, who apparently had a little difficulty finding the dolphins. *Snicker chortle guffaw*

Papa-san, however, took a couple days before he emailed me an answer:
"Sure.....NOW I see the dolphins. Still.....I know what I like.......and it ain't fish."

I really don't think I want to know ...

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Days of auld lang syne and -30- (edited)

Have you voted for which photo I should submit to a photo contest? Well, what are you waiting for??
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Facebook has brought me back in touch with a lot of people from my rusty, dusty past. Some from elementary school. Some from high school. Some from college.

And a couple from the old days at my very first newspaper job. Those are the ones that bring back some interesting memories of an industry that has undergone more change than you can find in my piggy bank.

Here are 10 things I remember from my first newspaper job as a general assignment cityside reporter, almost 35 years ago.

1) Getting our wire service news on teletype machines. Talk about noisy.

2) Using manual typewriters to write stories on half-sheets of paper that were so rough you could get splinters from them.

3) Making what were called "books" out of half-sheets and carbon paper. Three half-sheets and two pieces of carbon paper equaled a book. Does anyone use carbon paper anymore???

4) Being told to write a "book and a half" on a story. That's not very long, people.

5) Not putting your own byline on a story -- ever -- and not GETTING one unless you wrote more than 2 books. When I left that job and started working for another newspaper, I was positively freaked out by the idea of putting my own byline on a story. I thought I had to EARN it. I was so young.

6) Punching a timeclock. To this day, I find that weird for a reporter.

7) Needing a badge to get OUT of the building. Security issues, anyone?

8) Hearing about the firing of the security guard because the publisher tricked him into letting him out of the building without his badge (true story).

9) Taking dictation* from the guy at city hall or the cops dude and not being able to hear, so I would squish the headset against my ear with my shoulder, leading to a muscle-spasm issue that plagues me to this day.

10) Making a massive gum-wrapper chain because the city editor -- a guy who wore a yellowed white shirt and skinny tie and chewed a massive cigar all day long -- refused for some unknown reason to send me out on a story for DAYS. I had to entertain myself somehow ...

Ah, memories.


*Edited to add: Yes, dictation. No email, no electronic anything. If you wrote a story from a remote location, you called in and READ it to one of the poor general assignment suckers. We typed it up and turned it in. And no, we didn't put THEIR bylines on them either.

Monday, August 3, 2009

You like me. You really LIKE me.

We have several orders of business today.

First, please see Sunday's post and vote for which photo I should submit to a photo contest. I can only pick one and I'm having a little difficulty choosing. Feel free to vote AND leave a warm and fuzzy comment. *hint hint*

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Second, the moment you've all been waiting for: the announcement of who will get my blogoversary gift card.

Well, SURPRISE! I decided to give away THREE cards, still to the recipients' choice of Target, Starbucks or Amazon. There were 53 commenters (thanks, guys!!!!!), and I consulted the guru of numbers at

Here is what Mr. Random had to say:

No. 17 is *drum roll please*

Roger from A Screed in Time!

No. 39 is *trumpet fanfare please*

One of my fave rave bloggers, Huckdoll of Eternally Huckdoll and a whole slew of previous incarnations.

And last but certainly not least, no. 9 is *cue choir of heavenly angels*

Simply Jenn from Simply Not Simple, one of my very first blog friends!

Roger, Huck and Jenn, you will be receiving an email and a request for your choice and your info!

Thanks to ALL of you who have stood by me for 600 posts and two years -- and for helping me celebrate!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

And finally, I am posting today at Mid-Century Modern Moms about the demise of the English language. Please please come visit me there.

It's, like, scary!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Weekly Winners: Opinions, please!

I am thinking of entering a photo contest, and I am having an internal war with myself.

Of course, I can only submit one photo. Otherwise this would be easier.

And since my camera was unusually silent this week, I'm using my usual Weekly Winners spot to ask for your opinion.

Here are my choices:

First day of high school:

First day of her freshman year. There goes my heart ...

A Roo and her dog:

I love the way the light hits them.

Tuba boy:

This is my BFF's oldest son, at a Christmas concert at the mall.

Kids on a bridge:

Taken years ago of Drummer Boy and Drama King. This is a scanned version of the original photo.

Go --->here<--- for more weekly winners, undoubtedly photos from people who can make up their minds!
All Rights Reserved. Planet of Janet, 2010.