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Thursday, March 31, 2005

Driving the Getaway Car

"Do not be anxious about anything...." Philippians 4:6-7

I'll be travelling for a few days, so thought I'd leave you with some wishes for peace, tranquility, chillaxation. Have some tea; take your meds; listen to some lovely music; get outside; read something inspirational.

Keep me in your prayers and good thoughts -- I'm voluntarily going into a bizarre, potentially dangerous situation with people of varying degrees of mental disorder and dysfunction. Oh no, nothing to do with my clients, they're lovely. I'm going away to visit family!

Thank you for visiting me here. I am so tickled by how kind and smart and funny my visitors are. And now I want to do something nice for you. May I recommend a most delightful spot for you to visit? I love to stop in at Summer's place. I go there purt' near every day for notahamsandwich. I went to visit Summer the first time, after she commented at dooce.com. I don't even remember what she said, but I thought, "Whoa, that chick's crazy." So, I went to see, and she is crazy indeed, and I love her. Go see Summer and give her some bloglove. (Do I have to spell it out? Love in the currency of blogworld is COMMENTS. Go SAY something to Summer.)

God bless you. Be sweet to each other. See you Tuesday.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

10 Things Addendum: Tell it Like it Is

I stand by my assessment of this guy...

I've been taking some email crap about my choice for Sexiest Man Alive. To really get the full Aaron experience, you have to hear him sing. It's not about appearance so much as it is the combination of appearance and voice. And you have to know this about me: I am an auditory person. My preferred, dominant way of experiencing the world around me is through sound. Music, laughter, nature....all about the sound. There, that should take care of the controversy.

Being such an auditory person, if I ever meet you and talk with you, I will remember the sound of your voice, and I will remember what you said to me. There is a pretty good chance that I will not remember much about what you looked like. Unless I saw you through binoculars from a great distance at an outdoor concert, while you were singing with your brothers, and that sax was blowing, and you obviously still pump some serious iron, I could tell because you were wearing that denim-jacket-with-the-sleeves-ripped-out, and I stared at your biceps until the backs of my knees were sweating, and then I just stopped that! because it's just not right to stand there staring at a particular body part like that... Well, yea, if that were the case, then I might remember what you looked like;)

Monday, March 28, 2005

10 Things About Me

I've read lots of bloggers' "100 Things About Me" lists. I'm a really introspective person, but I just don't have 100 things. At least not all at once. So I'm going to take it slow...here are the first 10, in no particular order:

1. I've been married once. Sometimes, just to be ornery, I describe Jif as "my first husband." (Cue Barry White: my first, my last, my everything...)

2. My "formative" (i.e., "school") years were spent in thoroughly integrated elementary and middle schools in Delaware, and in a white-as-Easter-shoes high school in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. This juxtaposition of cultures gave me whiplash.

3. Jif and I waited 13 years for LG. That was not by our choice.

4. The name of my blog has been, as it says, motto, mantra, future epitaph -- and also my nickname, for years. It comes from what I say, in a tired-laughing-whiney voice to Jif, as I head-butt him in the chest after I have agreed/offered, once again, to do one-too-many things. I believe the weekend that the nickname was coined (and LG made the accompanying bracelet for me) was when I had just had a large book-swap party for LG, followed the next day by leaving on a beach vacation, but preceded immediately by directing and teaching a week of Vacation Bible School, which was preceded immediately by a large adult cook-out. Plus work, etc., etc. The country song of the same name came long after I had the nickname. I would sue that curly-haired singer for stealing my name; but he's cute -- the curly hair and all.

personalized jewelry designed by LG

5. Oh, speaking of cute: People Magazine always gets it wrong with that "Sexiest Man Alive" thing. The correct answer is Aaron Neville.

6. I have attended the National Storytelling Festival about 20 times. And I hope to attend more.

7. I am an ordained elder in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). At least until they read this blog.

8. My very favorite food is steamed crabs.

9. I am not a big boxing fan. I am an animal lover. But for some reason, the one thing that ALWAYS makes me laugh, even when I've got the blues, is a boxing kangaroo. I got one for Christmas:

In this corner, in the polka-dot ribbon, MATILDA!

10. See #2, above. I like to think I can hold my own with grammar, syntax, vocabulary, pronunciation an' whatnot. I have a bachelor's degree in communication. But when I am relaxed, with those who know me best, my "casual" language is a cross between ghetto and downhome Southern. Think Snoop Dogg meets Dr. Phil. Yea, it's that heinous. (And yes, I have Shizzolated my blog.)

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Easter Sunday Post ~ He is Risen

Since I started this blog, my Sunday posts have been minimalist. Just a photo, a scripture reference, and a wish-you-well. But today is Easter. The day that changes everything. So, while I don't have a sermon, I do have some reflections, some things I'm thinking about today.

Many years ago, just before we left work on a Good Friday, a Jewish friend and co-worker came to my desk, sat down next to me and said, "Happy Easter."

"Thanks, Ellen," I said, sincerely.

"No, I really mean it," she said, looking me in the eye and putting a hand on my arm.

"OK...I knew you meant it...what's up?"

She explained, "I know your faith is important to you, but I never realized, until this week, because I'm dating this Christian guy, I never realized what Easter really means. I always thought Christmas was the big deal to you guys. But now I realize, for you, it's all about Easter. Without Easter, you don't even have a religion."

I had never pared it down to that basic level, but my Jewish friend was right. The Resurrection, for those who choose to believe, is what tells us that Jesus was who He said He was, is who He says He is. And it's what tells us that God made a way for us to get home.

I recently heard an African-American pastor describing God's willingness to enter "our" world in the person of Jesus. He said, "Our God loved us enough to come see about us." I realize that theologically, a lot more happened than that. But that sentiment, perhaps borrowed from Diana Ross and the Supremes, really resonates for me. I'm so grateful when someone cares enough to come see about me. To come to me. Where I am.

There's a song by Chris Rice that talks about what Jesus did. Part of the refrain is, "Sometimes love has to drive a nail into its own hand." That violent, gruesome image disturbed me at first. But the more I listened, the more I knew the truth in that lyric. Not just for Jesus, but for all of us. Sometimes love means you do the painful, you do the frightening, you do the impossible. Like responding kindly to a colicky baby in the 10th hour of nonstop crying. Like giving birth. Like moving across the country because the one you love is following a dream that takes you both there. Lots of ways love drives a nail into its own hand. I'd like to share the song with you. It talks about "the way we used to be." I'm not entirely sure we were ever much better than we are now; but just a few minutes of the evening news confirms for me that we're now pretty much a mess.

Sometimes Love, by Chris Rice

Is our world spinning backwards?
What has brought about this change?
Can't you see that people aren't the same?

I wish I were dreamin'
and could wake up from this sleep,
and find us all the way we used to be

'Cause the love that used to be is dyin'
Is anybody even tryin'?
And I don't know how, I don't know why
But somethin' in my soul is cryin' (listen...)

Sometimes love has to drive a nail into its own hand

One pair of hands broke some bread and washed some feet
Opened eyes and soothed an angry sea
Belonged to a man who could see our deepest needs,
And showed us love the way it has to be

'Cause he knew the price that love requires
And he laid down his own desires
He stretched out his hands to save his friends
He said no other love is higher

Sometimes love has to drive a nail into its own hand

Love can change us, love can make a way
Only love can change us, love can make a way

Wandering around blogworld this week, a lot of people are talking about Easter and its traditions. I read blogs of Christians, Jews, agnostics, probably an atheist or two, and perhaps other religions which weren't identified in the posts that I read. And I know a variety of people visit me here. If you are celebrating the Resurrection today, you're pretty much already in party mode. It's a life-changing, world-changing day for you. And if you're not celebrating the Resurrection, if you believe and think differently than I about this day, I especially want to say to you, I'm glad you're visiting, I'm thankful you've read this far. And even without the beliefs that accompany Easter, may you know the spirit of Easter -- love that comes to see about you; forgiveness that doesn't keep a record of your wrongs; a fresh start, a new beginning every morning; and a way to get home. Peace to you.

He is risen, indeed.

file under: &Sunday Post

Friday, March 25, 2005

Want Some? You Know You Do...

...make your own...

Coconut Nests

1 1/2 cups melted chocolate chips, semi-sweet or milk
2 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
50-60 mini jelly beans

Makes 15 to 18 nests

Mix melted chocolate and coconut. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto wax paper. Make an indentation in center of each nest with a spoon (OK, that's so not true; you can drop with the spoon, but you really have to shape with your fingers, and make an indentation with your thumb). Press 2 or 3 jelly beans into each. Chill till set. (If you want more than 1 batch, make them separately, because the chocolate can begin to harden while you're making all those nests.)

Put them in pretty Easter containers and give some of them away. Don't eat them all, that's not good for you.

Now, go and check out this Hot Hip-Hop Bunny action and then come back and I'll tell you why I like it so much. Go on. And click "back" to come back. (WAIT!!!! If you're at work, turn down the volume first. OK, now go.)

OK. First, I like it because it makes me smile and bounce. Second, did you see the Easter B's shoes? I have those same pink Chuck Taylors. Just like the green Chucks I had in 8th grade. Yes, I'm 40something. Yes, I wear them. You wanna make something of it? This happened last summer:

Ms. Snooty Snarklebutt (not her real name): Oh, look at your shoes. You must be really confident, to wear shoes like that.

Susie (big-smiling): Well, yes, Snarklebutt, I guess I am.

But that wasn't entirely true. Sometimes I'm really confident, but sometimes I'm not a bit. So even though it wasn't technically honest, I still thought it was a better response than the first one that came to mind, which was to push her down the stairs and say, "WTF is that supposed to mean?" So even though I sort of lied, I still sort of think it was the right thing to do, because we were at a children's function. At church.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

What is Gumby Doing?

"I'm comin' out, so you'd better get this party started!"

Here’s what y'all said (more or less; your comments are in bold):

Gumby, everyone’s favorite former little green slab of clay, received an invitation to the ball. The very same ball that Cinderella attended. As he got ready for the most exciting night of his life, he took special care to wave the stench from his freshly shaved pits, and to perform a breast self-exam. Wanting to look his very sharpest, he took a long time looking for his nipple ring, although he never did find it. Do you have any idea what that DOES to a person?! Our good green friend did not know that as he played joyfully in his Air Shower, some sort of hidden shower cam was recording his every move.

At the ball, all heads turned when Gumby, who is quite a celebrity, entered the ballroom. He was asked to contribute to the evening’s entertainment by singing backup for Diana Ross and the Supremes’ song: Stop in the Name of Love. And he happily agreed. He also belted out a hearty Happy Days are Here Again! before wowing everyone by showing the world that he can pat his head and rub his tummy at the same time.

Next, Gumby was invited to take part in a martial arts demonstration. This was a piece of cake, or even COOKIES for Gumby, who had been diligently practicing karate and Kung Fu Fighting.

Then it was time for dancing. He began by slow dancing with an imaginary friend much taller than he is, first waltzing, and then reminiscing with The Safety Dance and a little Vogue-ing. As he showed his skilz on the dance floor, he checked out the competition, looking at the other hotties in their skintight green suits and thinking … nice package. Just then, he spotted his old pony pal Pokey, and the next thing you know, he’s waving to an old acquaintance he just ran into, and is pulling out his cameraphone from his breastpocket to record the moment, but oh HORROR! – Gumby forgot to put on clothes! Silly boy. Wait, what’s going on over there? Lovely Hawaiian ladies are giving hula demonstrations and passing out leis. Gumby grabs his friend, Pokey (just as he’s about to jump into Cinderella!) and leads him over to the Hawaiian ladies, a smooth move that will surely get him laid. That is, lei-ed.

Once they’ve been lei-ed, the old friends team up to demonstrate their oral skilz, first, reciting an oath (On my honor, I will try, to do my duty…) then, as Gumby is importing the fourth ballet position into modern, interpretive dance, Pokey narrates the point in the story which, if it were written, would read:

I am the swan,
I swim your polluted
Waters. Poisoned
by Man, by Machine,
I shall die, now,
most symbolically.
And the
tears of my ancestors
will rain down
from the heavens
and the universe
will weep for sorrow,
for joy,
for me.

As everyone applauds the magnificent oratory, an evil voyeuristic therapist steps forward with the videotape that was recorded by the shower cam, and announces, “I have here the episode of Entertainment Tonight where Gumby unveiled his new pec implants!”

Chaos broke out in the ballroom. The voices! The voices! Make them stop!!!! But Gumby was cool. He tipped his imaginary cowboy hat, and Pokey smiled knowingly, thinking, “He’s getting ready to open up his green can of whoop-ass and let loose with some major kung-fu action.” And he did just that, sending the evil voyeuristic therapist on his way. Pokey yelled after him, “You should know better!”

Everyone was so relieved, that they spontaneously began a Gumby-song-sing-along and someone was even generous enough to bring the box to the sing-along. Cookie box. Cookies.

I was ready to leave the ball by that time, and Gumby agreed, “I’m with you, Susie.” It was at that moment that I knew I wanted Gumby’s image to represent me in my blog profile photo. He just has that oh so fashionable manner that one might see when meeting the queen. He has the ability to greet in both a common and royal manner. I knew that his was the kind of smile, the kind of wave that would someday prompt a visitor to say, “Gumby is waving ‘hello’ to all the people that visit your blog. He makes us feel welcome and happy.” I think it speaks well of Gumby. Well done, Gumby.


And well done to you, blog friends. This was so much fun. I feel like I had a little party and you all dropped in, and I got to spend a minute or two with each of you. Thank you for visiting and playing. And if you are a first-time visitor, please fill out a visitor’s card and drop it in the offering plate – oh, no, wait, wrong crowd.

Y'all come back, now, ya heah?

Monday, March 21, 2005

Gumby Rorschach

There has been some discussion, through comments and email, about what Gumby is doing in my profile photo. Please let me know what YOU think Gumby is up to. Leave a comment. I'll let you know after a while what most visitors think:)

Gumby is:
A. Performing a breast self-exam
B. Salsa dancing
C. Practicing for the arm-pit-farting competition
D. Having "the BIG ONE"
E. Reciting an oath (On my honor, I will try, to do my duty...)
F. Other -- you tell me!

And as always, your answers say more about you than they do about me or Gumby!

(UPDATE: Would you like to see more Gumby? Click here to sign the "Bring Back Gumby!" petition.)

How a Very Bad Dog Celebrates Palm Sunday

He steals the palm from a church-going child...

...and he chews it up. Like a heathen.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Sunday Post ~ Winterpast

See! The winter is past; . . . Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come . . .
Song of Songs 2:11-12

I hope this is true for you, in your garden and in your heart.

file under: &Sunday Post

Saturday, March 19, 2005

I'm Just Sayin' . . .

In the various places where my psychotherapy practice is advertised, one of the taglines in my ad is "sliding fee scale available." Therapy is ungodly expensive, for most people, and insurance doesn't cover nearly enough. For example, most insurance plans, even the good ones, don't cover marriage counseling, if the therapist is ethical and actually bills it as marriage counseling. I am grateful that my practice is busy enough, and that my husband is well-employed enough, that I am able to reduce rates for many people who would not otherwise be able to afford therapy. I have absolutely no qualms, no hesitation, no resentment about doing this. I felt called to my work almost as I imagine a minister feels called to his or her work, and out of gratitude for that calling, and absolute love of my job, I am happy to adjust my fees when the need arises.

I used to work in agencies where clients seeking reduced fees were required to bring in tax returns, bills, and all manner of personal documentation to prove that they were, in fact, as financially strapped as they claimed to be. I don't require anything like that. That's invasive and embarrassing. I use an honor system; whatever you tell me about your finances is what we'll work with in negotiating the fee. And frankly, I have faith that the clients who end up on my couch are the ones that God intends end up there, and I'll let God work out the finances. There are those people who happily, easily pay the ungodly hourly rates which are reasonable and customary in our area, and they help balance out those who must pay a lower rate or nothing at all. It all works out.

Today, we helped some neighbors move. We like them a lot, and it was a very enjoyable job, just spending the time with them, and it wasn't terribly sad because they're still nearby. But, it was exhausting, as moving always is. So as it's getting near dinner time, we're both too tired to cook, can't even think of what we'd cook if we weren't too tired, you know how that is. So we decide we'll go out. Last week, Jif and I went out for an almost shamefully expensive, extravagant meal. It was our anniversary celebration, so we splurged. Tonight, we didn't want to splurge. We wanted good, quick and cheap. Hmmmm, where to go.

"Oh, I know just where! Let's try that new place over by LG's pediatrician's office. I have these new marriage counseling clients, and they said they go there every single Sunday, they love it so much. Plus, it must be really inexpensive, because they don't have much money. I'm seeing them for half my usual rate, because that's all they can afford." Jif says sounds good to him, so we three stroll into this nice, new "grille," ready to eat good an' cheap. BUT...

The lowest entree price on the freakin' menu is $32.00.

Mr. and Mrs. Help-me-i'm-po' EAT THERE EVERY SUNDAY.

I ordered soup and salad. A phrase I've recently seen another blogger use comes to mind ... "that shit ain't right."

I'm just sayin' . . .

file under: &I'm Just Sayin'

Friday, March 18, 2005

We Are the Fairchilds, Couldn't Be Prouder

When I married Jif, I took my husband's last name, unlike many women in my generation. My maiden name is an ordinary one (in the south), of German derivation. There was nothing wrong with the name, but it always bugged me that it ended in -ie, and since my first name ends in -ie, it was just too too much much -ie -ie, and I looked forward to trying something new.

When most people hear our last name, they think, and sometimes ask, "Is that Italian?" If they see it written, they know it is not. But they don't know what it is. That's because it is the shortened form of a longer, more exotic central European name. I've never seen or heard what the original name was. But if you or I ever did hear that name, I am sure it would call to mind smells of cabbage rolls and images of Pysanky Easter eggs, and maybe the Danube. Not bad, but not me.

If I could choose a last name, just pick my very own, I would want it to be one that would call to mind the smell of honeysuckle and magnolia, the flavor and feel of sipping sweet iced tea on the veranda in the breeze of a evenin'. Ya'll with me? About 12 years ago, my dear beau chose for us just such a name, with the help of a Cracker Barrel hostess.

We were headed to Tennessee (C'mon baby, drive South...with the one you love...) to meet our friends, Shelley and Ed, at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesboro, Tennessee. We stopped en route at a Cracker Barrel restaurant, as we do when we head south. I don't fry, I don't have a large lard cuisine repertoire, don't do much southern cooking, but we both love the food, so we indulge when we go visiting in those parts. We walked up to the hostess to put our always mispronounced, often misspelled, two-syllable, Americanized Slovakian name on the list. But her southern ears couldn't hear what Jif said. Even after 4 attempts, they couldn't catch it. What she did hear was a four-syllable, Southern pronunciation that was something like, "Fay-uh-chah-uld." And she said, just a little inhospitably, after Jif's fourth attempt, "Yay-us, ah hay-uv it rat heah," and she showed him on the list, right there, big as life, F-A-I-R-C-H-I-L-D. Fairchild. Fairchild. Jif and I looked at each other and knew we'd been born again as Southern aristocracy. Never again would we go in a Cracker Barrel and be shamed by our name. "Yes," says Jif. "Thank you, that's it." And we browsed among the downhome tchotchkes until they called, "Fairchild, party of two."

As we continued on our journey, everywhere we stopped, we were the Fairchilds. And believe you me, we only had to say it once. That there name OPENS DOORS. We met Shelley and Ed in Jonesboro, and had a wonderful time at the storytelling festival. On the last evening there, we had a special dinner at a lovely restaurant called the Parson's Table, probably the fanciest restaurant in the town, housed in what was once the First Christian Church. The meal was exquisite, and as we neared the end of it, we started discussing the next item on our itinerary -- the ghost-story telling, to be held in the dark, in the cold, in the town cemetery. We decided that some big ol' cups of hot-chocolate-to-go would be the perfect accompaniment to sitting on the cold, cold ground hearing spine-chilling stories.

I said to our young waitress, Maggie, "We'd like four very large cups of hot chocolate to take with us, please." That's when the evening took a turn for the weird.

"I'm sorry, ma'am," says Maggie. "We don't serve hot chocolate, and we don't have any to-go cups." And she continued clearing our table.

You don't talk like that to a Fairchild. Didn't she know with whom she was dealing? I decided to find out. "Maggie?" I said in my sweetest condescending aristocrat voice. "Honey, do you know who we are?"

She looked at me for a long moment. "No, ma'am, I don't."

I gave a slight smile and shake of my head to my dinner companions, as if to say, "Let's forgive her, for she knows not what she does."

Then I said to Maggie, "Does the name, 'FAIRCHILD' mean anything to you, dear?"

Maggie took a fraction of a step back, and looked me in the eye, then answered in a small voice, "No, ma'am, it doesn't. But I'm new here. I'm sure the manager would know you." And with that she turned and walked away.

Well, we sat there talking, laughing, waiting for the check. We waited a long time. I started to feel a little bit remorseful. Did I shake her up? Did I frighten her? Oh, here she comes. And she's carrying . . .

"Here's your hot chocolates, Mrs. Fairchild. I'm sorry I didn't know you, like I said, I'm new. My manager sure knows you, and she said sorry about the misunderstanding about the hot chocolates. And she says she hopes ya'll enjoyed your dinner, and will come back and see us again soon. And the hot chocolates are compliments of the house, because of the misunderstanding."

Oh, yea. We've been the Fairchilds in every restaurant, ever since. And on our Christmas cards to Shelley and Ed.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005


This is a guest post, written by LG, last year in second grade. I was cleaning up some files and came across it, decided to share it here, exactly as she wrote it. This was an "assignment" from Jif and me, as a consequence for an occasion of dishonesty. Apparently the child who started life in a crack house became increasingly concerned about avoiding "the big house." Do you think we laid it on a bit thick about how lying is bad?

In case you ever wondered...

Lying is wrong! It can put you in bad places. Also, it can make people dislike you. If you lie you will be unhappy like me. Nobody will trust you because they don't know if you are telling the truth. If you lie and your lie gets hundreds of people beliving what they think is true you lose friends very easiley.

Nobody not even you siblings will want to be around you when you lie. I don't want to lie any more and belive me I won't. People can get hurt by lying! Like if someone says, "Jump off that cliff I've done it hundreds of times and I never got hurt."

Grownup's lie about stealing and stuff like that that puts them in JAIL! I won't lie again espashally when I'm an adult because I don't want to be in jail! If your in jail you lose all your friends and than your lying will make them know your a bad person on the inside instad of a good person. I will never lie again I just want to be a good person and not lie.

I have learned my leason that lying can hurt you and other people. I have learned from punishments that when I grow up could be jail. These are reasons why lying is really very, very wrong. I have learned never to lie.

It can put you in very bad places.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Maternal Mortification

A week or so ago over at dooce.com, Heather invited commenters to share memories of embarrassing moments. Good times. I made a rather risque contribution over there, but I think I'll dial it back a bit for the ones I post here, since I aim to try to keep this here establishment PG-rated. I mean, I know you bloggers can handle whatever, but everybody from my kid to my pastor knows about this thing now, and I don't want to frighten anyone away. Where to begin... Giving birth is always an excellent step toward amassing an impressive collection of embarrassing moment stories...

First, you have to know how ridiculously cute LG was, as a toddler. She was, from birth, all cheeks and eyelashes (still is, pretty much). Big green eyes, loooooong black lashes. People said she was a "good church baby." And she was. From the very beginning, she sat quietly in the pew with us, never fussed, never had to be taken out. (Don't hate me, we've had other troubles!) She flirted with everyone around us, and they were pretty much smitten with her.

The first embarrassing moment I'm thinking of occurred when LG was just over two years old. She talked very early, was putting sentences together by 14 months. So even though she was introverted, if she wanted to tell you something, you'd be told. At that time, we lived in a tiny, old house, a "bungalow," realtors called it. It was quaint and cozy, and always had something going very, very wrong with it. Plaster walls and ceilings were often the culprits. Cracks galore. One crack in particular, would not leave us alone. It was in the kitchen, which had been added on to the back of the house at some point. Where the roofs of the old and new sections of the house joined, there were frequent leaks, causing water damage to the ceiling, resulting in the crack that would not be defeated.

LG heard about this particular crack every day of her life. "Are we going to fix the crack this weekend...has that crack gotten bigger...damn, the crack's back...I spackled the crack..." You get the picture. One Sunday in church, two-year-old LG was standing on the pew, facing the ladies in the pew behind us. They were, in every sense of the word, "church ladies." They were elderly, prim, nicely dressed, good, God-fearing folk. They were enchanted by the toddling angel who stood there smiling at them, occasionally tilting head down and looking up through the extravagant lashes. World-class flirting. She rarely spoke in such situations, but today, she had something on her mind. And the ladies could tell she was about to proclaim something. They leaned forward as LG held court, and she said to the church ladies, clear as a bell, "I live in a crack house." The church ladies gasped and fell back against their pew, Jif and I cringed and slunk down like guilty teenagers. LG smiled, turned and sat down. Her work was done.

Not long after that, LG performed a similar scene for the same church ladies. This one let me know that the TV was on too much at our house. There was a commercial running all the time here for a law firm that gave the attorneys' names and then said, "If you've got a phone, you've got a lawyer!" LG did the same, flirtatious, I-am-an-angel-forced-to-live-in-a-crack-house routine, then announced to the church ladies, "We've got a lawyer!" Again, gasping, cringing, slinking. I'm sure the ladies weren't surprised, I mean, you'd better have a lawyer, and a damned good one, if you plan on raising your child in a crack house. When I could, I said to her, "Why did you say that? We don't have a lawyer!" "Yes we do. If you've got a phone, you've got a lawyer. And we've got a phone."

Still around age two-and-a-half, LG and I met Jif for lunch at a restaurant near his office. We were seated in the hallway, on a loveseat against the wall, waiting for a table. This particular restaurant appeals to, shall we say, the more mature crowd. Lot of senior discounts being given there. As we sat there waiting, a group of friends, ladies in their 80s, came filing past on their way out. There were about six of them, as I recall. The first two, with canes; the final four, using walkers. As the first one passed right in front of our little reviewing stand, LG said, sweetly, "Now, THERE goes a pretty lady." The lady beamed and smiled. Here came lady number 2. Having been rewarded for her first effort, LG delivered the goods again, "Now, THERE goes a pretty lady." Lady #2 beamed, smiled. And on it went.

The ladies bringing up the rear of the procession heard what was happening, heard the ladies in front oohing and aahing at the beauty, the sweetness, of the complimentary cherub, and they all eagerly paraded in front of the little judge. And I must confess, I was PROUD. I could have cried. Here's what I was thinking: This is wonderful. I am doing such a good job with her. She is not limited by superficial, societal ideals of beauty. She sees beauty in the infirm, in the wrinkled, in the gray, in the imperfect ...(can't you just hear the swell of the orchestra? see the swell of my head?) PROUD, I tell you.

She's finally ready to pronounce the last lady. Last lady is already smiling, knowing what's about to come her way. And LG says, "Now THERE goes a pretty lady. HEY! WHY IS HER BOTTOM SO BIG?" I don't know what that lady did. I froze. I pretended I wasn't there. I went to my happy place inside until all the pretty ladies and their bottoms had gone away, leaving Jif to deal with that rotten kid of his.

Monday, March 14, 2005

You Think I'm Kidding?

I wouldn't lie to ya'll. I'm sticking to my story.

Goin' callin' on the neighbors...

He steals LG's markers, and goes running through the house, writing on the walls, at Biscuit-level. No lie.

Things You May Have Overheard if You Were Hanging Out With Us

(CAUTION: Each entry stands alone. If you try to make them make sense, you could hurt yourself.)

Don't let the dog write on the wall!

S: You're incredibly unobservant.
J: Yea, I've still got that going for me.

No, Biscuit.

I'm going to wrap up this banana nut bread and take it home for tomorrow. I might make a SAMMICH with it! What, why you lookin' at me like that? OK, I just felt like saying "sammich."

Mom!! You are not believin' this! Michael Jackson used to be black! I'm serious, we found a book in the library, and he was right there! Being black! Mom, how do you do that?

Thank you for making the cookies, Daddy. They're edible.

If the child is allergic to nuts, she'd better stay away from our house.


Your brother called. The sane one.

Never play Twister with anyone over 75. No matter how much they pout.

Is your collar too tight, or have you put on some pounds around your neck?

J: You never used to hear the words, "erectile quality" on TV.
LG (just passing thru):. . . What is reptile quality? Never mind, I don't even like reptiles . . .
S: I'm liking "erectile" as a noun, as in, "That's one quality erectile you've got there."

Rrrrrring. Rrrrrring.
Susie: Hello?
Caller: I think your dog is in our yard. We're on the street behind
you . . .
Susie: Um, I don't think so, I believe he's napping in the living room, wait, let me . . .
Caller: . . . He's wearing, uh, formal attire . . .?
Susie: (embarrassed pause) Oh . . . I'll be right there.

When are you going to use your powers for good?

Dammit! The dog wrote on the wall again!

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Sunday Post ~ May you uncover some today

Jeremiah 29:11

file under: &Sunday Post

Saturday, March 12, 2005

God Loves Me a Lot, Exhibit A:

I am home alone tonight, and my husband is out with another woman. They had dinner, and I imagine by now they are dancing. Today is our 22nd wedding anniversary, and I have never been more happy to be married to this man I've been calling Jif here. His name is John. That doesn't give away too much, does it? He can go back to Jif tomorrow.

March 12, 1983. Apparently, I had a Hassidic hairdresser, who only knew the one style...

Tonight, my husband, John, is square-dancing with our beautiful, brilliant, irreverent daughter, at the Girl Scouts' Father-Daughter dance. He and I will have, God willing, many more nights for anniversary dates. Father-daughter dances are precious and few, so I happily gave up my special date night to these two fabulous creatures whom I love more than words can say.

Like so many of the things God does, I don't know why. I don't know why He hand-picked this man to be my partner, my lover, my best friend, my hero, my baby's Daddy. But I know He did. I don't know why, but I get to walk through life beside, and wake up every morning beside, the best person I've ever met. The most honest, the most honorable, the most decent, the most reliable, the most forgiving person I know. The person most likely to know the right thing to do, and to have the courage to do it, in any situation. I don't know why God gave me this gift, but I know that's just what John is, God's gift to me. After 22 years, he still laughs at my craziness, he still makes me laugh, still alters my states, and still tells me often that he's glad he married me.

And if that's not enough, he's the best Daddy I've ever seen. I was going to take a picture of LG's little finger, to show you John's second home, where he lives, very tightly wrapped. But you get the picture. And that is as it should be. I wish every little girl could have the experience of having a strong, loving Daddy wrapped around her little finger.

...practicing their promenade...

In all these years together, we have been through some wonderful experiences. And we've been through hell. And there have been moments when we've felt like we had nothing at all we could count on, except each other and God. And in those moments, that was enough.

This is a song, written by Billy Joel. I love lots of love songs, but I always come back to this one when I think of John:

You're My Home

When you look into my eyes
And you see the crazy gypsy in my soul
It always comes as a surprise
When I feel my withered roots begin to grow

Well I never had a place that I could call my very own
That's all right, my love, 'cause you're my home

When you touch my weary head
And you tell me everything will be all right
You say, "Use my body for your bed
And my love will keep you warm throughout the night"

Well I'll never be a stranger and I'll never be alone
Wherever we're together, that's my home

Home can be the Pennsylvania Turnpike
Indiana's early morning dew
High up in the hills of California
Home is just another word for you

Well I never had a place that I could call my very own
That's all right, my love, 'cause you're my home

If I travel all my life
And I never get to stop and settle down
Long as I have you by my side
There's a roof above and good walls all around
You're my castle, you're my cabin and my instant pleasure dome
I need you in my house 'cause you're my home.
You're my home.

Happy anniversary, John. In my native language of Hillbillian, I would say, "I'm plumb crazy about you." My granny would have said to me, "You're plumb crazy even when you ain't about him!" Both are true. If I were a famous actress, or a famous anything, I would stand up on a stage at an awards show, in a pretty dress, and tell the world how wonderful you are. But this blog is about as close as I'll ever come to telling the world anything, so here I am, in jeans, at the keyboard, telling as many people as I can. I'd like to thank you for your love, and I'd like to thank God for you. (They're playing the music that means I have to shut up now...)

Friday, March 11, 2005

The Corrections

After consulting with ...um ... a consultant, I must correct some errors in the previous post:

Lulu is youthful and sexy, and has excellent eyesight. She does not color her hair; it is naturally L'Oreal #113 Chestnut Brown. Her alabaster skin is smooth and dewy. No parts have retired South, they're not even packed up to do so yet. In fact, all parts are firm and gravity-defying. She can work and play all day and night, and nothing will hurt at all. Lulu has only gotten better in every way with age, while I, on the other hand, peaked in high school and have been in steady decline ever since, physically, intellectually, and financially. While Lulu weighs exactly the same as she did in high school, I now weigh exactly the same as the total of Lulu's and my combined high school weights. It is, in fact, I, who cannot see, and whose parts hurt, and who has more wrinkles than a Shar-pei, and who cannot find a chemical powerful enough to cover all the gray in my hair, and who needs to wear a complex system of pulleys and hydraulic lifts under a pale blue cashmere sweater. And furthermore, Lulu is witty and charming, while I have the personality of a pencil eraser. And not even a plump, pink, competent eraser. No, more like the kind that is flat and hardened and gray, and just smears things around making a bigger mess until it finally tears the damned paper. You know the type. That's me. I got it all wrong in the preceding post because, in addition to the aforementioned changes, I have also developed senile dementia.

I am Susie, and I have approved this correction.

(There! Happy now?)

Wednesday, March 09, 2005


There are some things, lovingly snarky things, that only best girlfriends can say to each other. I have a very dear friend whom I’m going to call Lulu, because she would hate that a lot. Lulu and I have been friends for (I just did the math and gasped) 30 years. Being so very much older than I, Lulu has gone before me in life, doing many things ahead of me, like marrying, having a baby . . . and lately, we talk a lot about the changes she's going through due to aging. Lulu needs old-lady reading glasses now. She colors her hair, she has some wrinkles, and if she works or plays too hard, she suffers from pain in her joints and her muscles. Some of her uh, lady parts have chosen to relocate. Mostly they seem to want to head south, like Jersey retirees. The old gal just ain’t what she used to be. Good friend that I am, I listen to her describe these changes, and then I laugh at her, because she’s so much older than I am – almost a whole month!

A while back, she and I went outlet shopping. A beautiful sweater seductively called out, “Lulu, Lulu.” It was pale blue, cashmere, very nice. She takes it into the fitting room while I wait patiently outside, holding all the very heavy bags. I could do this because I’m so much younger than she.

“Susie, come in here and look at this. It doesn’t look right, does it?”

It didn’t. But I knew she loved it, and I love her, so I said, “Well . . . you know what, darlin’? I think it’ll be perfect, you just need a bra with it. I mean, you know, at our age, no sweater looks great without a bra . . .

Lulu is inhaling, taking a very deep breath, which she holds for a moment while she looks me in the eye. And then she says to me, through clenched teeth, “Susie?”


“I’m WEARING a bra!”

Time stands still for a moment. I seek refuge in my faith: ohdearGod, please help me . . .

And I say very gently, “Umm . . . PWAHAHAHA! . . . . oh, honey . . . umm . . . OK, I got nothin’!” And I continue to laugh my face off, doubled over, being heinous.

Lulu recovers. “YOU KNOW WHAT? Your hair is SO GRAY!!!!”

I am still heinously doubled over and laughing, “Yeaaaa, maybe so, but at least I can fix that without general anesthesia!”

I love you, darlin’.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

The Wedding Singer

I have a theory, or maybe a superstition:

If a bride or groom sings to her or his honey during the wedding ceremony, that marriage is ill-fated.

It seems to me that if you're marrying the right person, you should not feel that poised, you should have many more butterflies than that, on your wedding day. If you're chillaxed enough to be the entertainment at your own nuptials, you're tooooo chillaxed and the one you're marrying doesn't scramble your brain cells (among other things) quite enough.

I told someone this yesterday and she (a very happily married woman) said, "My husband sang to me at our 25th anniversary party." I told her that's different; he'd had enough time to calm down by then.

Do you know of a singing bride or groom who've stayed married?

I have three anecdotes to support my theory, and none to discredit it. I recently met a lovely bride whose groom serenaded her as she walked down the aisle. And I hope and pray that they shoot my theory all to hell.

Monday, March 07, 2005

One-Armed Intruder

Last night, I hear a strange noise, about 1 a.m. Jif goes to investigate, as he always does on such occasions. This morning I say to him, "You know what I don't like about you?" (This is, by the way, the question that every husband loves to hear from his wife.)


"If I hear something in the middle of the night, you get up and go looking around like you're going to take care of it, but you don't put your glasses on! What could you do if you found something, or someone? You wouldn't even be able to SEE them!"

"What does seeing them have to do with anything? I don't have to SEE them to take care of the situation."

"WHAT? Of course you have to SEE them, to give a description! You'd be all, 'No officer, I cannot provide a description of the assailant, because I am blind as a bat and didn't see a thing . . . "

He says, "No, I 'would be all' 'No, officer, I cannot provide a description of the assailant -- but HERE'S HIS ARM!!!!"

Oh. OK, then. I guess that works.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Sunday Post ~ May you see some light, feel some warmth today

For those so inclined ~ 1 John 1:5

file under: &Sunday Post

Friday, March 04, 2005

Partying with Minors

Strike a Pose!

I should have known, when every last parent who dropped off a kid asked, “How many are you having?” and when I answered , “Nine,” and when they said, eyes wide, “Wow, you’re brave.” I should have known then that it would be a bad scene. It was LG’s birthday, her very first sleepover party. I knew there would be giggling and staying up late. I didn’t know that by 4 a.m. I would cross over to the dark side of motherhood.

A bit of background. At the risk of sounding totally lacking in humility, I throw the best kid parties ever. Every late February, children cry when they must leave our home; children go home and whine, “Why can’t I have a party like LG’s?!” I go overboard; I admit that. Maybe it’s because of years of infertility and many miscarriages, maybe it’s because I don’t remember many birthday parties when I was little, I don’t know. But we surely do celebrate the heck out of the anniversary of the day LG arrived.

First part of the party went great, for the most part. Dinner was pizza, chicken nuggets, veggies. I had carefully taken all nuts in the house (except the human ones) and tucked them way back in the pantry, because I knew one of the guests had a major nut allergy. Thought I was on top of that, but then the little girl asks, just before biting into her nuggets, “Were these fried in peanut oil?” Duh . . .

“They’re from Chik-fil-A; do you know whether you can have them?”

“I don’t know.” Frantic calls to her mom, unreachable, then Jif goes on the website and learns that YES, CHIK-FIL-A FRIES THEIR NUGGETS IN PEANUT OIL!!!! Crisis averted.

Next, games (email me if you need elementary-age girly party games), a fashion show complete with sparkly stage, and self-written silly bio read into the microphone as each supermodel strutted down the runway. Makeup was applied, and glamour photos were taken, printed out and inserted in the 5X7 frames each kid decorated during the mandatory crafts portion of the par-tay.

Getting Ready for the Show

At one point, the lovely and talented Aunt Jen showed up to help Jif and me. She cruise-directed the games while I got the craft/makeup/dining room table ready for cake and ice cream. Aunt Jen is young enough to remember her college days, so she decided to teach the 3rd graders a college-age (read: “drinking”) game. She called it “signs,” I think it’s also called, “thumper.” Anyhow, the girls loved it, but before long Jen calls out to me, “I’ve never seen anyone so good at this game; I have to make it more difficult, they’re not making a single mistake . . .” And I’m all proud mama, thinking to myself, these girls really are very intelligent . . . well, we are a National Blue Ribbon Elementary School . . . Then it hits me. “Hey, Jen! They’re sober!” Aaaah, that explains their brilliance at the drinking game.

After games and a movie, it’s about 1 a.m., and Jif and I are ready for bed. The girls are jammied, teeth brushed, getting into their sleeping bags in the family room. I walk through the obstacle course of little girls handing out pre-moistened makeup removing towelettes. “This tastes AWFUL!” “No baby, you don’t eat it, you wipe your face with it.”

Upstairs, we hear them. No worries. We knew that was coming. And we hear them, and hear them. It’s 2 a.m. Then I hear a sound I can’t identify. We have a lot of fun things for kids to do in our house. I know what they all sound like. What we don’t have in our house is a BOWLING ALLEY. And that’s what I hear. Ohdearlord, they’re BOWLING! I run down the steps, turn the corner just in time to see my angelic LG turn the corner heading the other way, and hear her sweet baby voice yell, “PARENT ALERT!!!!” By the time I get to the family room, they’re in their bags, quietly giggling. “Um, girls, were you … it sounded like you were … bowling …” Giggles turn to guffaws. Silly mom. “OK, then. I don’t mind how late you stay up; I just want you to be quieter. No screaming, and no more doing whatever it was that sounded like bowling. Goodnight, ladies.”

We can get LIFTOFF here if we tie enough balloons to 'im!

As I leave the room, I hear commentary on how cool I am, telling them they can stay up later as long as I can’t hear them. I’m cool. I rock. Back to bed.

3 a.m. I hear them. I have not yet been to sleep. Lying there exhausted in bed beside sleeping Jif, I hear, “Get the nail polish!” Aw, hell no. I go to the top of the steps again. Then I hear motors. They’re small, but I swear they’re MOTORS. Nail polish and whirring motors. This can’t be good. Back downstairs, I learn that LG has nixed the nail polish idea, but sure enough, there are motors running. Little disco ball / strobe light things, battery operated ($9.99 at Target). OK, no harm done. “I just don’t want to HEAR you anymore. I’m ready to go to sleep now.”

3:30 a.m. I nudge Jif awake, give him a recap. “You go down this time,” I say. He goes. I should have known better. He came back a defeated man.

“What did you say?”

“I told them if they don’t go to sleep I’m going to start cooking them breakfast.”

“You threatened them with WAFFLES?!! What did they say?”

“They cheered and said they’re hungry.” Doh! Lightweight.

It gets a little quieter. I start to drift off . . . BANGBANGBANG gigglegigglegiggle. They’re knocking on my door. They run away, I get up, and THIS TIME IT’S PERSONAL. It’s 4 a.m.

“Who knocked on my door?”

“I did,” says the allergic one, now emboldened by sugar and sleep deprivation.

“What did you need?”

“We’re scared.” Then a chorus of “Yea, SCARED TO DEATH!”

“All right,” my voice would freeze Pop-Ice instantly. “Since you are scared, I will stay down here with you.”

The chorus again: no, we’re not scared anymore, we don’t need that, we’ll be OK, you need your sleep . . .

I curl up in a chair and begin to fantasize about duct tape. Lots and lots of duct tape. Most of the evil-doers are silenced (well, almost) by my eery calm, but a couple continue to be loud and giggly. The NERVE. Then my own sleep deprivation, exhaustion, righteous indignation kicks in.

I begin to channel Dirty Harry (Dirty Harriet?): Do you feel lucky, Punks? Go ahead. Make my day.

And then I morph into the drill sergeant character played by Lou Gossett, Jr., in An Officer and a Gentleman: Some of you LOSERS have never been to my house before. Some of you will never be invited back here again! Are you eyeballing me?! Don’t you eyeball me, girl!!

OK, I didn’t actually say any of that, but I DID confiscate a flashlight. And I did give each and every one of them their own, individual, personalized DIRTY LOOK before I very dramatically rose and strode (yes, rose and strode; I told you it was dramatic) from the room in my floor-length, black velvet robe with faux leopard print shawl collar (think Joan Crawford). And even though they couldn’t actually SEE the dirty looks, because it was pitch dark in the family room, I think they felt them. And I really did confiscate a flashlight.

got duct tape?

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Dr. LG listening to Biscuit's heart Posted by Hello

That's M'girl!

My kid is funny. And I do thank the Good Lord Above for that. I can't imagine living with people who have no sense of humor. The other night in a restaurant, she keeps using "uh huh, um hmm," etc. This is one of my pet peeves. When she does this, I say, "I hear grunting," and I pretend to look around for the pigs that must surely be afoot (I know, it's weird; it's just a thing I have. If you don't mind it, fine, but I do). So I ask her once again to drop the grunting, to use "yes" and "no."

She says, "Do I have to use, 'yes, ma'am?'"

"That won't be necessary," I say, "but I would like you to use, 'Mommy, dearest.'" (She doesn't know THAT story.)

LG argues, because that's what she does, "I don't want to say that. What else can I say instead?"

"How about . . . Your Highness?"

"No . . . how about YOUR HYENA-OUS?" she offers.

"Hmmmm, your hyena-ous . . . " I try it out.

"No! I've got it: You're Heinous!"

I like it. "OK. Whenever you address me, say 'You're Heinous!'"

How did this child get to be such a wiseacre?

File under: " &Family"