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Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Whale Church

This week I'm feeling "Forrest Gumpish," like saying "that's all I have to say about that," and pulling the plug on the blog. The feeling will pass, I imagine, and I'll think of something new to say. Until then, I'll say something old. The following was written for an autobiography group that I participated in at my church some years back. I chose this "chapter" to post now, thanks to the inspiration of new blogfriend, Vicki, who wrote a lovely post with beautiful pix, "The First Church of Water Lilies" a few days ago.

Several years ago, Jif and I went to Boston. He had a conference for work, and I was just a tagalong. I loved it there. We rode the subway (my first), and I was very impressed with how safe it appeared. Elderly people and people with young children rode it late at night with no apparent fear. We went to the Museum of Fine Arts, and all around the city, and generally had a great time.

I had two contrasting experiences of my spirituality on that trip. The first was in the presence of whales. We went on a whale-watching boat, about 40 miles off the coast of Boston Harbor. As we prepared to leave, the man on the loudspeaker informed us that we were embarking on "a three-hour tour." All those present who had grown up with "Gilligan's Island," myself included, immediately repeated after him, singing together, "a three-hour tour." I hoped this wasn't an omen about the fate of our excursion!

The guides on the boat were very knowledgeable about whales, and told us what we might see. They also warned us that sometimes they didn't see any whales at all on these trips. As we made our way out to whale territory, I tried not to get my hopes up.

We saw whales. We saw whales like no one else on this tour company's boats had ever seen whales, according to the excited guides. We saw at least six whales, humpbacks and minkes. We saw them far away and close up. We saw their eyes. We saw them breach and dive and spout. I've never been so thrilled by the majesty of a sight. For a grand finale, one whale came within six feet of the boat, rocking and splashing us, and scaring us for a brief moment. But that moment of fear was fleeting, and suddenly everyone on the boat became about 3 years old, jumping and squealing with delight. We laughed and clapped for the whale. Some of us cried. Adult self-consciousness quickly returned and most of us regained proper composure. I remained ecstatic. I realized my applause was for God. I'm sure there were others who felt that way. Like we were in church -- the House of God -- on the ocean. Whale Church.

Later in the week, on Sunday, I guess, I went to "real" church. It was a historical landmark, in the town square, and I'm embarrassed to say I don't remember its name. It was large and beautiful, with stained glass and lots of wood. In the part where I sat, there were kneelers covered in needlepointed fabric. As I looked around, I realized that the needlepoint work was the names of different families, some symbol representing that family, and the date it was placed there. Many had been there well over 100 years. The history of the building, and the beauty of its decoration, brought a special dimension to the worship, as did the kneeling and praying where another family knelt to pray almost 200 years ago.

As I left that church (after a guided tour of it, which was offered after the service), I felt like I had been to church, but not the same as when I'd been to whale church. As I thought about this, I realized that simplicity and straightforwardness are important to me, and feel more like God to me. On the ocean it was water, whales, God and us. With a marvelous building come many complications. It was beautiful, but having been involved in "beautifying" churches before, I wondered how many arguments there were about window treatments, lighting, etc., who "won" and "lost" those arguments, who felt hurt. And in that church, public tours were given. I imagine there were many discussions about time, admission price, what would be off limits, and other considerations I can't even think of. Wonderful structures are well, wonderful, but I sometimes think the more people are impressed by them, the more God can get lost in them.

I know some people don't feel this way at all. I suppose it's a personality trait. I've been to "church" in the forest in Yellowstone and in the Grand Tetons, and felt very connected to God there. Those points of connection, like whale church, are few and far between with the lifestyle that we have (lifestyle meaning time and money available to run away from suburbia), but in a way they challenge me to attend traditional church and try to maintain at least an echo of that awesome connection, until I can go to another place -- usually outdoors -- and get recharged.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Down Wind . . .

I don't know what mrtl was sniffing when she came up with this week's "Monday Motif." She wants us to write about SMELL. I don't have deep thoughts on smell. I don't have any deep smells on thought, either. Just a few things I've gotten a whiff of lately:

For two days, whenever I have sat down at the computer, Biscuit, the VBD, has lain down beside me. And farted uncontrollably. If this were a scratch 'n sniff blog, you'd be outta here by now. It's heinous, it truly is. I don't know what's gotten into him. I know HE has gotten into the TRASH a lot recently. There's probably a connection there.

"The Source"


Yesterday in church, "smell" cracked me up. My pastor, Rev. Dr. Fruity, during her sermon, mentioned that when she does pre-marital counseling with a couple, she gives them a little "test," asking them to write out answers to questions like, "What are you most looking forward to about marriage?"

She said that when she gives them the assignment of writing answers to the questions, "The first thing they tell me is, 'I don't spell very well.'"

LG, sitting in the pew beside me, looked shocked, and whispered to me, "Why would they tell Miss Fruity that she doesn't smell very well?" There is no laughter as sweet as uncontrollable silent church laughter.


My favorite smell from childhood is honeysuckle. Not from a bottle, but the real deal. It was all through the woods where I spent most of my summer days as a very young girl. Back in the days when kids could leave the house on a summer morning, and maybe not be seen again until time for Dad to come home, and no one worried at all. Honeysuckle smells like childhood and like freedom, to me. The kind of freedom that my daughter will not know during her childhood, because the world is a different place, and I must know where she is every moment.


A smell from childhood that I hate is carnations. They smell like my grandparents' viewings -- held in their home, with everyone gathered around the caskets talking about how "natural" they looked. The smell of carnations instantly brings to mind the image of my uncle, a large man of fifty-something, throwing himself on the body of my grandmother, lying there against billowy white satin. The smell of carnations instantly brings to mind the sound of my uncle's wailing, "Mommy, Mommy..." Carnations mean grownups act like frightened, helpless kids, and that scares me.


My favorite scent to wear is one that smells like an orange creamsicle. Not a real citrus-y scent; it has to have the creaminess, too. I haven't found it in a perfume, but a couple of lotions have it: Camille Beckman's Orange Creme and Lady Primrose's Royal Extract.


This isn't really about smell, but it's on my mind, and this is my blog, so I'm putting it here. Let's just say . . . I think this STINKS:

These are some excerpts from a book in my home, a library book:

Girls are just plain messy. I told that to Dad as we were mashing potatoes for dinner.

"Not any messier than boys," Dad said. "Boys ejaculate, you know. We always figured you couldn't get much messier than that."


He had his hands on my waist . . . and his lips were against the back of my neck. He was slowly running his hands up and down the sides of my rib cage, and I felt a whoosh! go through my body like everything was drawing up tight, and my nerve endings were tingling.

"Ummm, Patrick," I said, leaning back against his chest, and this time he bent his head and I turned mine so that we were kissing sideways, full on the mouth, and I felt another whoosh!

I lay back in Patrick's arms, and he kissed me again. One of his hands rested on my chest, and although he wasn't touching my breasts, I think I wanted him to . . .

I felt wet and tingly, and began to realize I was definitely a sexual being . . .

OK, before you go to find your partner or small appliance, let me tell you where these passages are from. They are from a book in Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's "Alice" series. Naylor is the author of "Shiloh," about a dog. This character, Alice, is the heroine in a series of "Alice" books that were recommended to my daughter's third grade class.

I became aware of the passages above when LG brought the book to me last week and said, "Mom, I like this book, but I don't think I like this part." This was her sweet, 9-year-old way of asking me, "Is this OK for me?" I read the passages, remained calm, and looked on the back of the book for an age recommendation, as children's books often have. It is recommended for age 10 and up.

I know that children today grow up faster than I did. But . . . that is for a 10-year-old? Not MY 10-year-old. So now I know that a book shelved in the children's section (not "teen" or "young adult," but "children"), written by a children's author, and endorsed by a third-grade teacher, is not automatically a book that my daughter can read right now. My Mama job just got a little bit more difficult.

If you disagree, you can knock yourself out making a case here, but you'll be wasting keystrokes. This Mama is quite clear on this matter. Hell, even my 9-year-old knows that isn't good for her. "Age 10 and up," it says. There is a lot of difference between "10" and "up." I don't know at what age LG will be ready for such things: 12, 14, I don't know. I know it won't be at 10.

Remember the "hospice porn" story? After that, I talked with LG about why it wasn't good for her to see the book that she found at Nana's. She told me that she had a feeling it wasn't good, but she didn't know why it wasn't. We talked about "conscience," and that little voice that tells us when something isn't quite right, even when you don't know why, because it's something that's new to you, and no one has ever told you that it isn't right. When she brought me this book, I affirmed how well her "little voice" is working, and how she will be in good shape if she keeps listening to it so well. It will help protect her when I can't be there. That part doesn't stink. That part is kind of like honeysuckle.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Sunday Post ~ Consider the lilies.

Luke 12:22-31

file under: &Sunday Post

Friday, June 24, 2005

Biscuit Friday ~ Happy Camper

Biscuit had the time of his life last weekend when the Girl Scouts camped here. I am sure he thought the whole thing was arranged just for him, to import playmates for him. He was with us outside all the time, except when we were cooking or eating. Then he was right here, nose glued to the screen.

You have to wait, boy. (At least he didn't come through it this time!)

When he was outside, everyone threw the ring for him, to his heart's content. For the first time in his life, he became tired of playing fetch, and voluntarily took a rest:

"Under the table"

Stuff Portrait Friday

I realized today that blogging is leading me down a slippery slope. I am succumbing to peer pressure; that has never been an issue for me before in my adult life. Today's first SPF item is "something I stole."

Problem is, usually, just as soon as I steal something, I take it right here:

I don't leave my stolen goods lying around the house! Have you seen what they do to therapists who get arrested in this state? They put them on TV in their undies, that's what they do. No, thanks. But anyhow, I wanted to play, so what could I do? I had to go out and steal something. But the only place I was going today was to the pool for LG's swim class.

So, here it is:

*I stole some glances, and a shot or two, of the instructor. Who is a MINOR. Not for me. For YOU PEOPLE. I fear that stealing may be the least of the crimes committed in this situation :0

Next on my list is "something I forgot to return." I procrastinated about returning this item, which was ordered from a catalog. When I finally did return it, the company sent it back to me, because it had been too long! Ebay, I guess:

It is a "wallpocket," which is a metal bucket, with a handle, flat on the back so that it hangs against the wall. Make me a freakin' offer!

And last, "a perfume:"

Lulu Guinness (oh, but I guess you knew that already ;)

Actually, this is a winter fragrance, too heavy for summer, but I like the packaging and decided to take a picture of it. Perfume and powder. Available at Nordstrom.

*OK, this is not LG's instructor. The real one was posted here, or at least part of him was, for about five hours, but then that felt too creepy. He's somebody's KID, for heaven's sake. That damned "Golden Rule" thing gets me every time! So I stole Hasselhoff instead. At least his mom won't hunt me down.

Thursday, June 23, 2005


In my last post I told you how we saw a family member's therapist on the news, in lingerie, accused of terrible crimes, missing, and being hunted by the police and the dogs.

Well, you ain't gonna believe this. Just moments ago, just minutes after Oprah left my TV screen, guess what? Another helping professional, MY GYNECOLOGIST, to be precise, showed up on the local news. Charged with all manner of poor practice: mislabeled lab specimens, unsanitary waste disposal, failure to pay employees, oh, and disappearing. There was film of a bucket of used speculums, uncleaned for weeks. Um hmm. It's happened again. By the way, my gynecologist is also a psychologist. And a most lovely, delightful woman that I've known for oh . . . 18 years. She was a serious over-achiever. I reckon she figured she had achieved enough.

At least she wasn't on there in her undies. Yet :(

Where's Dr. Joaquin when I need him?

Update #1: She may not be truly missing; her staff says they have been unable to reach her all week; her husband has contacted the 11 News Team, and said that she is away at a medical convention, in a state that begins with the letter "A."

Update #2: The good news is, I was trying to get in to see her next week. It's good news, because if I hadn't been made aware of all this, I'd have strolled right in there and maybe kicked the bucket -- or at least tripped over it!

(I couldn't make this stuff up. I am stunned, amused (because of the timing with the previous post), and worried. I do like her very much and hope she's OK. But this is just too bizarre. That's why I'm writing real big and colorful. If I could blog this in crayon, I would; it's just THAT wacky!)

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Therapists Gone Wild

I've been thinking about this post for a while, trying to figure out how to tie together some threads that, in my mind, are related, but not sure whether I can communicate that clearly in writing just how they are related. Here goes nothin'.

In recent months, some lovely blogfriends have posted, shall we say, risque photographs of themselves. Well, not exactly of themselves, but of their particular body parts. These photos are, depending upon the blogger depicted, adorable, astonishing, amusing, amazing, terrific, too-much, teasing . . . you know, other "A" and "T" words. I have no problem with people in or out of their undies on their blogs. And that ain't never happenin' here.

There are many reasons it ain't never happenin' here. The first one that comes to mind is the "fat and forty-something" factor. Most of the blogfriends depicted have been skinny-twenties or flirty-thirties . . . and then there's Bucky, who's a genre unto herself. There's also the "it ain't me" factor. Even when I was a skinny-twenty, that's just not something that I would have done. On the internet. (I did email such an image to Jif the day the Kohl's cashier tried to have me put in the old folks' home, but I digress.) But the BIGGEST reason (yes, even bigger than my ass) I won't be joining in this particular type of blogfun is that I'm somebody's therapist. Quite a few somebodies. And I have seen the pain, the hurt, the confusion, the news coverage, that a therapist in public in her underwear can cause.

In the Spring of 1999, a Baltimore psychologist, 42-year-old Elizabeth Feil, was arrested and charged with such things as "accessory after the fact" and "harboring a fugitive," after she allegedly helped her prison-inmate/client/boyfriend, Byron Lester Smoot, and one of his associates, escape from the Maryland Correctional Institution. I am not lying. And it gets worse. During the investigation, the police found photographs of Feil, dressed in a black bustier/teddy sort of thing, garter belt and stockings, in Smoot's cell.

Feil's husband said that he took the photographs of his wife while they were on vacation. And when the police showed up at his door and told him where they found the photographs, he said he believed that his wife may have had an affair with Smoot while he was behind bars. Resisting the urge to say, "Ya think?"

He also said, "I thought we were deeply in love. You have no idea how devastated I am by this."

And I must tell you, the husband was not the only one. As you might imagine, the local TV news had a helluva time with this story. How often do you get to put an attractive psychologist on TV in lingerie? And call it legitimate news? Woohoo! So, I saw this chick all over the place, and cringed a little each time, because I am a therapist. Then I got a call from a family member. And this family member told me that her husband (also a family member, of course) was freaking out because his therapist was on the news in her underwear, on accounta she was helping her armed-robber boyfriend/client escape from prison!

Now, this female family member, known for her sensitivity, was having a terrible time not laughing her ass off at the situation in which her husband found himself. Or, more to the point, the situation in which he found his therapist (to recap: on the news, in the garter belt). This female family member quoted her husband as saying, as they lay in bed watching the 11 o'clock news, "OH MY **C*ING G**!!! THAT'S MY *U**ING THERAPIST!!!!" ~!@#$ %^&**** +_)(*&&^%$$#!! .....

He says he wouldn't have used that kind of language. I wasn't there. But I did talk to him about the situation, at his wife's request. He was having a little trouble understanding why such a thing would affect him so strongly. (Incidentally, by his account, and by his wife's, Feil was a good therapist. ) I assured him that his reaction was absolutely normal and appropriate. The therapist/client relationship is, or can be, an extraordinarily intimate relationship. There is often a profound level of trust present. And part of that trust, although it is not often discussed specifically, is that the client trusts he won't ever see the therapist half-naked on the news while there's a statewide police hunt going on for her, with bloodhounds, because she has helped her prison boyfriend escape. That just feels like a betrayal. We like to hold our therapists up to higher standards of non-jackass-ishness than we do other people. We put them up there with clergy, elementary school teachers, moms, where these things are concerned. The public has a right to expect that such people won't expose themselves.

That experience prompted me to look at my own life. I renewed my personal commitment to never have nekkid or semi-nekkid pictures available to the world. And of course, my commitment not to have sex with clients OR prison inmates, much LESS both in one. And...oh, yea, no helping anyone escape from an actual correctional facility. In fact, nothing that will ever give the media cause to use my name and "tracked by bloodhounds" in the same sentence.

It also prompted me to look at my own therapist. Oh, yes, I have a therapist. I probably always will, in one form or another. I am one who believes it is obscene to be a therapist without ever having been a client. I also believe that for a therapist in solo practice, like I am, it is essential that I have someone other than myself monitoring my crazy-gauges. Anyhow, when I selected the therapist that I had at that time, I was very discriminating. I asked about her education, her experience, whether she worked with other therapists much, her preferred theories of psychotherapy, etc. But I had never asked her if there were any nekkid pictures of her that might end up on the news! And now I felt I must.

"I need to ask you to give me your word that you will not show up on my TV in black lingerie," I said to her.

"You don't have to worry about that," she says. "Black is not my color." Smartass.

That family member and I are not the only ones who have trouble with the notion of "therapists gone wild." An entire episode of the poisonously funny "Curb Your Enthusiasm" was dedicated to this sort of thing. I think it was called "The Thong." The main character, Larry David, and his friend, comedian Richard Lewis, are both seeing this awesome therapist. The BEST either has ever had, and they've had plenty. Until one day, when Larry goes to the beach. And sees his therapist there in the sand. IN A FREAKIN' THONG. (Cue Sisqo: thong th thong thong thong) They both agree, they can no longer sit and pour out their hearts to this thongapist.

So, again, it ain't happenin' here. And if you are a therapist, for the love of Freud and Jung, don't go there. And if you are a client, ask your therapist not to ever do you like that. Oh, you might think you want to see your therapist in his or her underwear. But you don't. Have I ever steered you wrong? YOU DON'T.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Teach Your Children Well

mrtl the frtl* has announced that this week's "Monday motif" is "A Favorite Teacher." As I've said many times in blogworld, I believe good teachers and good nurses are among the most valuable members of our society. I've had a few favorite teachers. I'll just talk about two today.

Mrs. Thornton
She had such an impact on me that she came to mind when I did the "I am From" meme. She was my second grade teacher, and later, she moved to the middle school, so she was my sixth grade Language Arts teacher. Mrs. Thornton was tall, maybe late 50s or early 60s. Her face, I remember as circles. Round apples for cheeks, with a natural blush; large, bright blue eyes. A bowl haircut, gray-white. She was always so ready to smile. Remembering her makes me think of one of my favorite quotes, which I think is credited to Amy Carmichael, "A cup that is filled to the rim with a good, sweet nectar, cannot spill out poison, no matter how suddenly or how violently it is jarred." That quote is probably not 100% accurate, but you get the idea. She was such a good, loving person, that that's all she seemed capable of putting out. Nothing provoked her to respond with anything other than love and concern. Even when she had to discipline children, it was firm and loving, never shaming, and you had no doubt that it really was because she loved you, that she wanted you to do better. Not that she had to discipline very much; she was one of those teachers whose demeanor commanded respect. She never raised her voice.

Mrs. Thornton always referred to herself in the third person, as "Mrs. Thornton." "Mrs. Thornton and Mr. Thornton went out to dinner for our anniversary last night, and Mr. Thornton arranged for a violinist to come to our table. Even after all these years, Mr. Thornton doesn't know that Mrs. Thornton does not like violin music! She does like Mr. Thornton, though, so she decided to enjoy the music!"

Mrs. Thornton also talked about her daughter, Jeannie, who was apparently the most beautiful, most brilliant, wittiest, most charming, kindest daughter that anyone has ever had. I loved hearing Mrs. Thornton talk about her daughter. I loved feeling happy for their happiness.

Years later, when I started learning about infant development, I learned how important the expression on a mother's face is to a baby's sense of self. Babies look at their mothers' faces, their mothers' eyes, for "mirroring." Some babies look at their mothers' faces and what is reflected back to them is weariness, annoyance, or worse. Fortunate babies look in their mamas' "mirrors," and see absolute delight, pure love, no doubt that they are worthwhile creatures, who are to be treasured just for being. Studying about that concept, I was reminded of the way Mrs. Thornton looked at her students. I was reminded of the way she looked at me. That is why Mrs. Thornton showed up in my poem, as someone whose eyes told me I was really something.

Mr. Cooper
Mr. Cooper was a middle school Social Studies teacher. He was probably about 50, not terribly tall, African American, with closely cut hair and horn rim glasses. He called all of his students by our last names. I believe he could be described as "gruff." And I could occasionally make him laugh. I adored making him laugh. Not out loud, never out loud, he was too stern and too dignified for that. But I knew he was laughing because he'd cover his mouth and turn his head and make coughing noises that weren't very convincing. If you were blessed to see his smile, you'd see some gold caps on his teeth. I loved him.

He was another teacher who NEVER raised his voice. He just commanded respect. It would have been outside the realm of possibility to treat Mr. Cooper with anything other than respect. You just knew that; I still can't explain how. Mr. Cooper had this bizarre thing that he did when someone in the class was talking out of turn. He would become silent, and then look at the intercom, tilt his head up and look all around the perimeter of the ceiling of the room, sort of Stevie-Wonder-like, saying nothing, until there was silence. Then, he'd say, "Did you hear that announcement?" No...we didn't hear any announcement. "Well, there WAS an announcement. I heard voices, it MUST have been someone talking to me from the office, because NO ONE IN THIS ROOM HAD PERMISSION TO SPEAK." He did this maybe three times at the beginning of the year. At first there were snickers, which he did not acknowledge. Then there weren't snickers anymore. And after about the third time of his, "It MUST have been an ANNOUNCEMENT," all he had to do was tilt his head back and look at the intercom. Silence. He was COOL.

It is probably no coincidence that a former student of Mr. Cooper's looks all around for the pigs in the room when she hears her daughter "grunting" sounds like "uh huh, uh uh," and the like.

One day Mr. Cooper's son came to the class to visit. His name was Oliver Cooper, Jr., and he was a law student. I remember thinking, in the moment that Mr. Cooper introduced Oliver, Jr., "THAT is what a proud father looks like." We saw plenty of Mr. Cooper's gold caps that day. Shortly after that day, I got a guinea pig. I named him, "Ollie," so no one would make fun of me. His full name was Oliver C. Ooper.

I do not know whether Mrs. Thornton or Mr. Cooper are still alive. I sometimes think of trying to track down Jeannie or Oliver, Jr., and telling them things like I've told you here.

*If you haven't heard yet, mrtl the frtl is expecting a bundle of joy! Go congratulate her pie-eating self!

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Sunday Post ~ Saying "Thank you, Father," today.

Matthew 10:24-30

file under: &Sunday Post

LG and Jif have a special "family handshake." It ends with thumbs linked, hands flying up in the air like a butterfly, until they must separate and fly apart.

Happy Father's Day to my baby Daddy.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Camp Fairchild: I Lived to Tell the Tale

I am too tired to write about what happened, but I do have some pictures. It all started when the Girl Scout mom in charge of finding us a campground for our end-of-the-school-year camping trip . . . forgot to find us that campground. Our Brownies were "bridging" up to Juniors, and they wanted to earn a camping badge as the first of the 10,000 badges that their mothers (or drycleaners) will have to sew on their new Junior vests. But that mother had to confess recently that she failed to procure a campground, and all viable ones were booked. So guess what I said?

"We can camp in my backyard." I did. I said that. I was not tortured, threatened or otherwise coerced to say such a thing. I just did.

What was I thinking?

Give or take 14 kids, mostly staying; 1 teen helper (a Godsend); 1 dog (played well with the children, pooped under the dining tarp); 7 adults coming and going, 4 staying, including Jif and me.

From approximately 10 a.m. on Friday to 10 a.m. on Saturday.

This is what I saw:

Store essential gear here until we get the tents up.

Biscuit dresses for the occasion.

Camp Fairchild, as seen through the screen from my bedroom.

Hiking in the wetland park.

Girls: Can we feed the snail some trail mix?
Ms. Susie: They're allergic to nuts.
Ms. Karen: They eat green things.

Do you see what the Junior Girl Scouts did with this information? A green M&M is green.

The long road home.

Pick a color.

Learning to make friendship bracelets.

Playing games.


Learning to use a knife.

Biscuit helps clean the dishes.

Mess kits hung out to dry.


My favorite part!

OK, girls, I need a picture of "the perfect s'more!"

After songs like this (sung to the tune of "God Bless America"):

God bless my underwear,
My only pair
I wore it,
And I tore it,
On the seat
of the old
rocking chair . . .

And skits like this:

Jenna: Help! Squirrels are chasing me!
Meghan: Why?!
Jenna: They think I'm nuts!

They slept. Yea, they. Not we. Not me. Then . . .

Pancakes for breakfast.

I am tired. That is all.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

I've Got Your "What Was I Thinking?"

No writing or visiting for a couple of days. I hope to be back Friday night or Saturday with my SPF pix. For those who don't know, BlogPrincess Kristine "sponsors" Stuff Portrait Friday. If you want to play, here's this week's stuff:

Stuff that makes you wonder "What Was I Thinking?"

Stuff you're obligated to keep/display

Something you think no one else owns

I could just use my blog for the first one. But, no, there IS a reason that "What Was I Thinking?" is so near and dear to my heart. I get myself in situations that elicit that question, again and again. You remember "I Love Lucy"? It's like that around here, except it's kind of "I Love Lucy on Crack." I am now preparing for what will be the mother of all WWIT experiences, God help me. It involves a level of insanity not seen around here since this.

I will post in a couple of days, if I survive.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

I Am From

I am from a glass bottle collection balanced on white shelves, from Co-Cola in the Kelvinator.

I am from the prettiest house on the road, with gray stone, green shingles, wine trim, and a big "W" on the storm door. From a back porch with white poles for climbing and swinging, from a clean kitchen with green vines on the walls.

I am from the biggest garden, from pole beans and watermelon, from the bushes in front with red berries you mustn't eat, but step on to make jelly on the sidewalk.

I am from early Sunday dinners, and monstrous tempers, and "people have more fun than anybody." From Linnie and Nellie, Maude and Jesse, Linzie and Alice. From Esther, and Betsy's farm, and Mrs. Thornton, from people whose eyes and mouths said that I was something. Really something.

I am from depression and escape, from suspicion and vulnerability, from finding funny in what's not. I am not from around here.

I am from "treat the janitor the same as the governor," and "you catch more flies with honey."

I am from Presbyterians and Southern Baptists and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. From Vacation Bible School and giggling at unchurchy things on the church bus. I am from long visits at my Sunday School teacher's house, which became my friend's house.

I'm from England and Germany, Ireland and Scotland. And Up North and Down Home. I'm from biscuits and gravy, and Uncle Jonce's chicken from the church barbecue, and Aunt Jessie's pumpkin pie.

From the man I never knew, and that my mother didn't know long enough, who drank too much and taught in a one-room schoolhouse, and told funny stories and sang bawdy songs that made Maude mad. From women whose dreams and nightmares came true.

I am from a jewelry case filled with beautiful families. The necklaces are the mamas, the earrings are the babies, usually twins, unless one is lost. Bracelet aunts; no men in that smooth, sparkly world. From a box with peeling black and blue paper, photographs faded, frayed and flooded.

With every visit now, I take more and more of that box back home with me.


I swiped this meme from Vajana, who lifted it from HDL, who got the format for it here (in a yellow shaded box, about half-way down the page). I would encourage you to go get the format and give it a try. It helped me remember things I hadn't thought of in years, and pull together some threads that needed weaving.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Blogthings that Make Me Go, "Hmmmm"

These are some random thoughts on blogging that have been rattling around in my head. I decided to put them out of my head and on my blog, and invite your input on them, if you'd be so kind as to share. Also, please share your own random blog-related questions and observations, and "talk amongst yourselves; the topic: blogging."

1. What is going on when I visit your blog and can't leave? A few of you have places that I can't get out of by clicking the "back" icon. Whassup with that? I feel trapped. I like to move freely among the inhabitants of blogworld. When I get trapped like that, I have to shut down IE and start again. Let my people go. I start hearing "Hotel California" when I come to your site: You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave...
UPDATE: My commenting friend, "Anonymous," has already taken mercy on my techno-dunceness, and helped me with this! Problem solved. Thank you, Anon!

2. What is up when someone visits a site MANY times a day, but never comments?

3. If I visit and comment rather frequently on your blog, and you never come to mine, is that OK? I mean, it's fine with me; I don't require tit-for-tat in blogworld or real world. But then I started wondering, is your not visiting me a way of gently telling me not to visit you? (And I'm not talking about a "famous," thousands of daily hits blogger, just an ordinary everyblogger.)

4. If I have insomnia, and am browsing my "referrals," and click on you, and come to your site, and we have never "met," and I see that although I've never heard of you, I am on your "links" or "my favorite blogs" list . . . what do I do? I am flattered/tickled/confused/only-on-rare-occasions-creeped-out (see #5), and I feel like I should say something. Like "thanks." But then I think, "no, this person doesn't want to 'meet,' or they would have left a comment." I don't know, though. What's the right thing to do?

5. While on the subject of links, and since some have asked me, here's why I don't have a list: First, it was because I didn't know how to make one. I still don't, but I know some people now who would help me if I wanted to. Then it was because I started seeing people who were sad because they weren't on so-and-so's list, or because they got kicked off of so-and-so's list. And I don't need that. I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, and I REALLY don't need to feel like there's one more thing that I must keep on top of, edit, etc. Plus, I have read that the polite thing to do is to link everyone who links you. Sometimes, and truly, not with any regular commenters here, but sometimes, I have been to sites that link me, and they aren't really sites that I want to send y'all to. They might have, for example, euphemistic references to ejaculation in the title, and accompanying photographs (I wouldn't make that up). I have nothing against such a blog, nor its proprietor, but I'm not going to say, "Go here! I like to read this every chance I get!" Which, I think, is what a link says. You know?

6. The down side of not having a links list, especially for one with unofficial ADD such as myself, is that you forget all the people you want to go and visit. So I most often visit those who visit me, with the addition of those who never visit me but who tickle me so that I would visit them anyway (unless y'all convince me that I should stop that because I'm not welcome, see #3). But sometimes I do forget about people whose blogs I truly enjoy. Then I rediscover them at some point and try to remember to add them to my "favorites" list. That's working well, when I can remember. I have also thought of creating a blogging notebook with all the sites I like, with columns for "date last visited," "check if comment left," etc. That sounds compulsive, doesn't it? That's probably what I'll do.

7. I also try to send y'all to people that I "discover," that I think you might not know about, from time to time. That is my way of "giving back" to blogworld.

8. I have noticed that within blogworld, there are a number of different communities. That is, groups of a few, or maybe a few dozen, bloggers that mostly visit one another, only occasionally venturing outside of their turf. And there is some overlap between some of these little communities. Do you know what I'm talking about? I LOVE the community that I somehow landed in, and I also do a fair amount, maybe more than most, of traveling outside of it. Would someone comment on this? I mean, on why we "belong" where we do, and how we include others, or how difficult it is to "join" another community. Don't tell me I'm the only one who's observed this(?).

9. I just want to say that more than a few times, I have stumbled onto the blog of someone I don't "know," usually by the "referrals" feature of Sitemeter, and have found them quoting something from one of my stories, or using a pic of mine, and EVERY TIME, so far, they have given me credit. I realize that people have been ripped off, plagiarized, etc., but I just want to say, every time I have encountered someone using my ideas or pictures, they have given me credit, even those who've never "talked" to me. I think that's remarkable. That's why I'm remarking on it. GOOD FOR YOU, honest, ethical bloggers.

10. Those of you with partners, spouses, SOs, and whatnot, who do not know that you have a blog: How the hell do you pull that off? Blogging is time consuming. How do you conceal such a big chunk of your life? I'd feel like I'm leading a double life. When Jif and I are hanging out after dinner, he might say, "Anything good happen in blogworld, today?" And then I can direct him to the funny or poignant or bizarre stuff I've encountered. That's fun. Wouldn't you want to do that? I'm just curious as to how that works, when the partner doesn't know. Anyone willing to share?

11. Thank you. I had no idea anyone but Jif and I would ever read anything I put on here, much less comment and email and become friends. THANK YOU for doing all those things. This is the most non-face-to-face fun I can imagine having. One more time, I thank you.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Sunday Post ~ Keep looking up.

Psalm 105:1-4

file under: &Sunday Post

Friday, June 10, 2005

Biscuit Friday ~ Screen Test

Auditioning for the part of "Good Dog" who sits on the deck patiently.

He's no good dog. Look how he got to the deck. By bursting through the screen. A Very Bad Dog.

Stuff Portrait Friday

What I wish I had more of:

I wish I had more time. That's not quite right; I want to have more control and discipline over what I do with the time I have. (Plus, I like pretty clocks and fun watches, and wanted to show you some.)

What I have too much of:

Too many hostas . . .

And some are just too big.

What I have just enough of:

Truly, pretty much everything. I don't know how to take a picture of it. A picture of my brain to show the way I think, or my heart to show the way I feel. Especially in the last several years of my life, I have felt called to practice gratitude. That phrase might sound strange, but it's precisely accurate. "Called to practice gratitude." Enough is enough, and I have faith (most of the time; I'm learning) that I'll always have enough. And I'll give thanks for it. Words like these help me:

"I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength."
Philippians 4:10

What? Yes, smartass, I know it's not time for my Sunday Post yet. Shut up.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Shop Talk

I need to just stop. Going shopping. I don't love it. And last week I had a "last straw" experience. A sign that I need to just stop. It led me to look back over my shopping life at all the trauma and devastation that I have lived through in various stores, fitting rooms and the like.

Shopping for "school shoes" with my Dad. Today, my daughter has no concept of what "school shoes" are. I remember once, when she was in preschool, actually being moved to tears of gratitude that I could say to her, "Do you want to wear the blue shoes or the pink ones? Or the light-up sneakers?" I'm not kidding, in that moment I welled up, just thinking, "My God, she gets to choose between shoes for school. And there are all those children who have no shoes, or even no school. Thank You." (A little detour, there. Welcome to my brain, with ADD-T -- Attention Deficit Disorder with Thanksgiving.)

But I digress (ADD-T, I told you!). Back in the day, I had school shoes, "tennis shoes," (it would be years before I ever touched a tennis racket), and church shoes. That's all. And I was not deprived. That's what everyone else I knew had, too. Oh, maybe some flip-flops. But on this one day, my father had me in Sears & Roebuck, ready to buy school shoes. This was the one and only time I went shopping with my father. All I can think of now is that my mother was nearing the end of a difficult pregnancy, and didn't have it in her to take me.

My father was in way over his head. I was wearing the brown-on-brown "saddle oxfords" that I had worn the year before. Sort of milk-chocolate "saddles" on a caramel base (not that I have a sweet tooth or anything). Did I mention that they were hideous? I could tell that my Dad was very uncomfortable with his assignment, and not at all confident in his ability to pick out a little girl's school shoes. Just then, I noticed that, there on display, were the very same shoes that I was wearing. The ones that were now too tight, and too scuffed, and about to be retired.

"Look, Dad, they have my old shoes."

"Oh, how about that? You like them, right?"

And for the first, but probably not the last time in my life, I told a man what I knew he wanted to hear. I knew that my father would much rather hear, "Oh, yes, I like the shoes that you and Mom bought me with money that you worked so very hard for," than "Oh, goodlord NO! They're hideous!" I told him what he wanted to hear. That I really liked the brown saddles. I figured, "What the hey? I'm about to get new ones, anyway . . . " And just to put a cherry on top of his "my-child-is-gracious-and-thankful sundae," I said something like, "And they're really a good value, because look at what good shape they're in, even after a whole year!"

&u#k!!!! I shouldn't have said that!

You know what happened next. I spent another school year in brown saddle shoes.

My best friend, Denise, and I went shopping at John Wanamaker Department Store. This was a VERY big deal to me at the time. Denise's mother dropped us off and we were having a blast, buying very cool, very hot outfits in which to begin high school. There was a lot of, "I'll buy this in the navy and you buy it in the burgundy! I'll buy the sweater and you buy the vest, and we can mix and match!"

While Denise was engrossed, probably in some ridiculously high-waisted elephant-leg pants, I ventured into the fitting room. GASP! I had never seen anything like it! There were psychedelic lights, pink "fur" covered walls, black and white shag carpet, more pink fur on the giant plush blocks that served as seats. It was GROOVY!

I rushed back out to the "floor," grabbed Denise and pulled her toward the fitting rooms, chattering the whole time. "You have GOT to see this! I have never, EVER seen anything like this in my LIFE! You are not going to believe your EYES!" I'm saying all this as I pull her by the arm toward the tiny room that I had left only moments ago.

OK, go into slo-mo with me here: I am looking back over my shoulder toward Denise, as I pull her by the arm. I fumble in front of me for the fitting room door handle, still looking back at Denise because I don't want to miss the look on her face when she sees what I have just seen. I fling open the door, and shout, gleefully, "Would you LOOK? Have you EVER seen such a thing in your LIFE?!"

But the look on Denise's face isn't exactly what I expected. Not at all. I turn to look at the decor that Denise isn't reacting to with proper enthusiasm . . . but it's not the decor that Denise sees. No, there in the awesome fitting room, Denise sees the very chubby young teen, who has just struggled into a clearance-priced bikini that's not really going to work for her . . . the one that I am POINTING AT, saying, "Have you EVER seen such a thing in your LIFE?!"

I cannot fault Denise for what she did next. I understand. I really do.

Next, Denise literally kicked my ass. She kicked me so hard in my ass, that I went flying into the now crowded fitting room, sprawled on the floor at the feet of the swimsuit model. And as I assumed a fetal, "defeatal" position there on the shag carpet, and clutched my afflicted parts, I laughed ohmygoshsohard, and I COULD. NOT. STOP.

Note to girl in bikini: I cross-my-heart promise, I was NOT laughing at you. You didn't know this, but I'm really not like that. I was only laughing at me. And I am very much like that.

Fast forward to . . .

February, 2005
A good friend, someone who loves me, someone whom I really love, needed a dress to wear to a special family wedding. She says to me, "Will you please go shopping with me and help me find a dress? You always find nice clothes."

"Sure, I would LOVE to be your personal shopping assistant!"

"Oh, good. Willow (whisper-thin, beautiful young bride-to-be) offered to go shopping with me, but she's so skinny! I don't want to go shopping with someone with a figure like that!"

Aw, hell no. You don't want that. If you want a shopping buddy, I'm your girl. I'm plenty fat enough, anybody can happily go shopping with me!

Last week
I went to Kohl's. Kohl's is my household stuff general store. I filled up my cart with some towels, some shoes for LG, and a LOT of socks and underwear for all three of us. I put my merchandise on the counter. The cashier was very sweet. And very polite. Cute. And young. Really young. We talked about how cute LG's new shoes were. We talked about how nice it is to have the really big towels. She was friendly. I was, too.

She hands me the charge receipt to sign, and she sweetly says, "Mrs. Fairchild, today's 'Senior Discount Day!'" She says this like it's supposed to be of some significance to me. And I'm still trying to keep up our friendly banter, but I'm drawing a blank. Then I realize what she's saying...

And I say, "Ackgg..." because I am 45. I probably look it. Most people who have ever said anything on the topic say that I don't look my age, that I look younger. However, no one, to my knowledge, has ever offered that I look 10 to 25 years older than I am, depending upon Kohl's' definition of "senior!"

And she interrupts me to say, "So you've saved $27.00!"

"Ackgg...OH, GOOD!!!!"

That's what I said. What I did. I took my pride and my additional $27.00 and left the store. And I got home and wrote an email to my brother, Greenie, in which I described the incident, slightly differently than I did here, because a number of times I used a word that begins with "mother," but has absolutely nothing to do with my Mom. And I also described to Greenie how I had come home and emailed my husband, with the story and an attachment containing the type of photograph that some of my much younger blogfriends have recently posted on their sites. And I asked Jif, "Does THIS look like a senior citizen to you?!"

And Jif loved getting that risque email pic. He replied that I am a "sexy senior citizen."

Catalog shopping from now on.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Update: Hakuna Matata

UPDATE, Wednesday night: As previously reported, The Lion King was maybe our BEST theater experience ever. And while others have had more experience, my audience member resume is not too shabby: I saw Yul Brynner in The King and I, Robert Goulet in South Pacific, and James Earl Jones as Othello, among other classics. If you POSSIBLY can, go to Lion King.

As for LG's concert, it was excellent, high energy, cute and loud. Third, fourth and fifth graders. Because we didn't think she'd be performing in the evening concert, I attended the in-school performance on Monday. And because we didn't know that she'd be performing tonight until last night, I was unable to get away from work early enough to attend tonight's show. However, Jif did. SO, both her Daddy and I got to see and hear her, her good grade in Chorus is secure, and we aren't complaining about a thing.

Oh, and one more thing: My GOSH, y'all are sweet, to take time to yippy! with us about our little fluke of fortune. Bloggers are good people :)

We went to the Lion King tonight, as planned. It was spectacular. I loved it so much. We were right on the aisle, so LG got up close and personal to the amazing critters as they paraded by. Last week I asked for your opinions on going to the Lion King, and having LG miss a "mandatory" school chorus performance. It was unanimous, take a bad grade in chorus, and go to the Lion King. I had informed LG's teacher that she would not be performing in the concert.

Well, guess what!? LG came home from school today with a note that her concert was postponed until tomorrow night, due to air-conditioning troubles at the school. So she didn't miss it after all! She gets to do both.

Hakuna matata. That's what I'm talking about : )

Monday, June 06, 2005

What's Love Got to Do With It?

I think mrtl misses teaching, because she has taken it upon herself to give a Monday writing assignment to whomever is willing to accept it. Today's topic is "love." Too bad she couldn't have come up with something of some importance or something that everyone has some interest in. (By all means, run back to your blog and write about love if you're just learning about the Monday Assignment and want to play :)

I'm not willing to work hard enough in blogworld to really extract from my soul what I think, feel and believe about love. But I am willing to share some of my favorite words that others have written, spoken and sung.

I've actually been looking for a good excuse to post this on my blog. This is a song that I believe was sung by the legendary Mr. Green Jeans on the Captain Kangaroo show. We're going back, but it remains among the truest descriptions of love that I have heard:

Love is something if you give it away, give it away, give it away
Love is something if you give it away,
you'll end up having more

It's just like a magic penny;
hold it tight and you won't have any
But if you lend it, spend it,
you'll have so many
They'll roll all over the floor!

Love is something if you give it away,
you'll end up having more.
One of my favorite lines about soul-mate love is from "In Your Eyes," by Peter Gabriel, a song which Jif told me many years ago makes him think of me:

In your eyes
The light the heat
In your eyes
I am complete
In your eyes
I see the doorway to a thousand churches
In your eyes
The resolution of all my fruitless searches

One of my favorite songs about God's love is (turn down the volume if you're at work) "What Wondrous Love is This?"

I love LOTS of love songs. There's also an old country song, by Don Williams, with which I concur:

It takes one good well, deep and ever-flowing
It takes one good well, to draw from night and day
Pure and fine, it's yours and mine and it's always enough
We've got one good well, overflowing with everlasting love

Don't it seem kinda funny how people with a lot of money
only hunger for more?
You'd think they'd learn that money can burn;
It's love that keeps the wolf from the door

Precious love lies deep inside, hearts you can't buy and sell
When the money's low, still we know
We got -- one good well

A couple of my favorite non-musical quotes:
Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds, or bends with the remover to remove. O no! It is an ever-fixed mark that looks on tempests and is never shaken . . . ~ Shakespeare

Work is love made visible. ~ Kahlil Gibran
I really like that one. Thinking of love in this way helps me to do the menial things that I despise doing sometimes. I want my love to be visible. It helps me see things like yard work, oil changes, trash cans to the curb, as pure, visible LOVE.

Most Powerful Movie Love Scene
One more little love story. When I married Jif, I loved him. And I was terrified that it would be a temporary state. I get bored very easily. Emotional ADD. I even told a priest and a minister, during the course of pre-marital discussions, "I can't promise to feel something for the rest of my life. How can anyone say that and mean it?" They both pretty much told me that "you just say it, to get married, whether you believe you can mean it or not." Now how pathetic is that, for religious leaders to say to a 20-something about something so important? I kid you not.

After we had been married a few years, Jif and I went nearly every weekend to visit his Aunt M, who was in a nursing home. She stayed in bed all the time, and the time came when she did not want to eat. She would, however, eat mashed potatoes if Jif would feed them to her. So every weekend, I'd sit in the chair, and Jif would sit on her bed, and I would listen while he and she reminisced about vacations at Cape May, many, many years ago. The same stories, every week. And every week, Aunt M would light up, to hear them and tell them. And every week, my husband, her nephew, would laugh at her stories as though hearing them for the first time. And in between stories, he fed her. He fed her. With absolutely no embarrassment or self-consciousness on either of their parts. She was completely dignified as she ate mashed potatoes from her great-nephew's spoon. I sat there taking it all in.

Some time later, the movie, "Driving Miss Daisy" came out. I adored that movie. The scene in which Hoke feeds Miss Daisy killed me. I sobbed and sobbed to see it, and later, to think of it. And after a time, I realized why. It was the same love, the same respect, the same trust and faith that was there when Jif fed Aunt M. And then I knew. I knew that I could mean "forever" with this man. I knew that a man who could so gracefully, so graciously, feed his beloved Aunt (the babysitting Aunt whom Jif's parents once found asleep, tied to a chair, wearing a cowboy hat and a holster with bananas in it, as she had been arranged by Jif and his brothers), that man . . . that's not a boring man. That man is deep enough and rich enough to never, ever bore me.

Oh, mrtl, see what you did?

And I cannot end a discussion of love without sharing these two, who truly represent so many different kinds of love . . .

What? They've been best friends for 50 years! They love books! OK, I really just wanted to show you my new toys. They're stuffed!

Your turn. Speak to me of love.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Sunday Post ~ Take time to smell the peonies.

Psalm 90:12-17
"Teach us to count the days; teach us to make the days count." ~ Chris Rice

file under: &Sunday Post

Friday, June 03, 2005

Real life intrudes on bloglife today. I don't normally see clients on Fridays, but I have some folks in extreme crises today, so I will be going in. No Biscuit pix or stuff pix, at least not until much later. Some dear people have hit really rough spots this week. If you think of it, mention "Susie's clients" in your prayers. Thanks! And have a lovely day in blogworld.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

What Animal Am I?

Do you ever call up the public library information desk? I never have, but I always think of doing it. I'll wonder about something and think, I'll bet the library information person could answer that . . . but I don't call. Because that seems like kind of a lazy way to find things out. I think the person would say to me, "You lazy slug! Come to the library and look it up!" So I just keep wondering.

I have a friend who works at the library, sometimes "on the desk." Since it's her story I'm telling here, I'm going to call her . . . Easy Writer. So EW gets a call one evening from a young man with a very heavy accent of some ethnicity that she has thus far neglected to specify, but if she reads this and wants to email me with an ethnicity, then she can. Otherwise, just fill in the accent of your choice. EW tells me the caller was speaking very quickly, and she always feels bad when she can't understand someone, doesn't want him to feel self-conscious. But still, she has to have him repeat the question a number of times.

The caller is asking, "Do you have the American Almanac?" EW finally gets this.

"We do have a copy of The Farmer's Almanac. Would that help?"

"Are there animals on the cover?" He asks hopefully.

"Yes! Yes, there are some animals on the cover," says EW, thinking she's found what he was looking for.

"What animal am I?"

"Excuse me? What animal are you?"

He then tells her his birthday, in early February, and asks again, "What animal am I?"

EW figures that since he's associating his birthday with an animal, he may be asking for a Zodiac sign. (Hmm, that's new. Instead of the old, "What's your sign?", now it's "What's my sign?" But I digress.) She tells him that he would be an "Aquarius," and she offers that they have a copy of Sidney Omarr's book for Aquarius.

"What animal is that?"

"Aquarius isn't an animal. It's the 'water bearer.'"

"Does it have a fish tail?"

"No, you're thinking of 'Pisces, the fish.'" EW could tell he was disappointed not to have a fish tail. She offered to look up what animal he was in the Chinese zodiac, but no, he wanted what was in the American Almanac.

Then he decides to take another avenue toward discovering his animal. "Is the otter in the groundhog family?"

EW is nothing if not thorough, so she looks up "mammalian taxonomy" and discovers that the otter is in the family MUSTELIDAE, and the groundhog is in the family SCIURIDAE. The caller has no appreciation for the thoroughness of her efforts.

Turns out he wanted to be a groundhog all along. He was born near Groundhog Day, so it only seems reasonable that he should be allowed to be a groundhog if he wants to. And while it would have been nice if the American Almanac had confirmed it . . .

When EW told me this story, I thought it was just a funny story. Writing it out now, I see the progression that the caller followed to get where he wanted to be all along . . . from water to fish tail to otter to groundhog. I see that the caller wanted what most of us want -- someone to confirm, to make it official, that we really ARE what we'd like to believe that we are.

So, what animal are you?