My Friend Should Be the Next Top Self-help Author

In fifth grade I started hanging out with a boy-crazed, fiery and hilarious girl. By the sixth grade, I was devoted to her and moving to a new town where I wouldn’t see her devastated me. I’ve always preferred friends to environment. Nearly 30 years passed and my thoughts of spectacular friendships always included Wendy. Where did she go and what has she done? In one of those fit-for-the-silver-screen situations, it turns out Wendy attended Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff and eventually landed in Phoenix, just an abridged book on tape round trip from where the Hubster moved us in 2000.

I made Wendy pose with me in the bathroom last time we were together. She’s a good sport like that.

I discovered Wendy’s whereabouts a couple of years ago thanks to the amazing world of social networking, so thank you Zuckerberg for that. Others may think you’re a tool for imposing annoying routine updates regarding a person’s whereabouts or parental over sharing of children’s activities or the gross abuses of our privacy. I am personally grateful that you brought Wendy back into my life. Since we reconnected, Wendy has been my date to two major events sponsored by my work, has written two guest blogs for my work and lent herself to a large event for my work. She also had her handbag stolen, but that’s neither here nor there and not related at all to my job.

The point is that I loved Wendy as a child and I find her engaging as an adult. This morning, she sent an e-mail to me. The truth of it is obvious to me and because I adore her still, I’m passing it along.

“Hi! This is a difficult email for me to write because it requires being vulnerable enough to ask you for help. I am competing in a contest for a publishing contract. I need votes. Will you please take 3 minutes to vote? Then, would you ask the three people you speak to the most to do the same? For the past five years I have asked friends, students, clients, and family to help me with projects I have been involved with for others (Nuestro Barrio, 3 Day Walk, etc). Now I am asking you to help me personally. I really appreciate this and you get a free gift when you vote as a way to say thank you! I really appreciate your time and the favor.

Vote here:

If you go vote for her, you will have to register. I hate that, but I understand that it reduces duplicate votes while harvesting your address. I suggest a special spam account for that. Registration is painless and you will have helped Wen toward her goal. Even if you aren’t inclined to go do that, you should at least watch the video. I love her video. I think it speaks volumes about Wendy — both the one I remember as a child and the one I now know.

“What’s a Movie?” “It’s a form of entertainment that enacts a story by sound and a sequence of images giving the illusion of continuous movement, but that doesn’t matter right now.”

Young@Heart DVD

Dad has pretty much always questioned authority, thumbed his nose at convention, and rebelled against whatever he felt like. He keeps his mind open for continuing revelations even when those are that the status quo ain’t all that bad. For example, after much study he concluded that Elvis is probably dead and aliens are probably not a direct threat, but he’s had enough of the hospital so, smell ya later.

Dad, this movie is for you.

Since we don’t have a television at the moment (CURSES!), I’ve been watching a lot of digital video discs. I stumbled across Young@Heart: You’re Never too Old to Rock at the Pima County Library. This movie is my new best friend and proves that punk was around long before Punk. You don’t have to have pink hair, though blue works nicely. I LOLed at this movie, but I was also deeply touched. Do yourself a favor, if you aren’t going to rent the movie, at least Google their performances of Forever Young and Fix You, though they are more powerful in context.

I had dinner at “the club” with the Bendicksons the other night and we discussed the lineup for the 2010 Tucson International Children’s Film Festival. In the past they have shown movies like Howl’s Moving Castle, Egon and Donci, Azur and Asmar: The Princes’ Quest, Shaolin Soccer, Ponyo, My Neighbor Totoro, The Red Balloon, White Mane, Strings, Please Vote for Me, Microcosmos and even US films like The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T and Creature From the Black Lagoonin 3D. This year there are only two films that interest me. Perhaps the line-up is a little too Western? I’ve seen all the movies.

The solution? Saturday night Movie Time at the Bendicksons. Last week, it was on a Friday because the Bendicksons are all punk like that. They don’t need no stinkin’ badges. This week, they are going tropical with George of the Jungle followed by Tarzan. The plan is to wax nostalgic all DeAnza (RIP) like with their late night double feature picture show.

Perhaps they might consider City of Bees: A Children’s Guide to Bees out of Denmark for a future screening ala Microcosmos. I always love to see insects buzzing about and kiddos running in fields in their underwear, but the narrator uses his preschool voice and that is a huge turn-off. The information is appropriate for an older kid and there is some sick propolis action. Also, there is a seven page guidebook that is a little worksheet-y and perhaps a twee young for my kids, but since the 8 YO Girl did a project on bees for Hawt Mz, she is on it like honey on a comb. And just for that local touch, the guidebook has a link to a University of Arizona URL that provides lesson plans for kids K-12.

For family night, Handsome Hubster rented Airplane! That part compelling him to push the envelope is still in tact. Somewhere, I lost my obvious punk edge (never could afford the accouterments anyway) and became a little mommy-two-shoes as evidenced by my watching City of Bees with the 8 YO followed by subsequent Internet searches for further study, but deep down I have the heart of a RebL as placed by my daddy-o, who never wanted me to call him “Shirley” either. Turns out Dad’s cancer is Stage 4 and he’ll decide soon if he wants to ward it off with chemo or garlic or both or neither. I’m grateful for my dad and the community who have come out in such numbers they sometimes must wait their turn. You can follow him and whatever he chooses to tell you here. As for me, I’m off to the Bendicksons.

Did I mention I am a sellout Amazon Associate? I am and even managed to make $2 off you suckers!

Christmas Gifts

Gifts we gave. We made all our gifts this year, including zipper pulls for the cousins’ backpacks.

Gifts for the kids. The tree is propped up by presents especially selected by our loved ones for us. Some of us were excited and some of us played it cool.

The leather jacket emphasizes the cool, don’t you think?

Gifts for the dog. Toys marked “chew me” don’t last long around these parts.

Gifts for the future. I pray that I have enough of my children’s great grandmother’s genes to look this good in my mid 80s. She works out every day. Bleh.

Gifts to make me cry. Caddo Artist also gave handmade gifts. It’s too bad I couldn’t catch the detail on the beading along with the way it catches the light. Then again, all I’m trying to pass along is that people not on her Christmas list should be jealous. I’m jealous of myself!

My mom told me that I would have to wait until she died to get this scarf, just like she had to wait until my grandmother died. I didn’t have to wait and how nice is it that my mom is alive? She also recounted in a lovely illuminated letter the story of the scarf and a childhood trip with her mother to San Francisco.

Dreams of our new year. I can count my blessings at Thanksgiving, but I learn so much more about giving at Christmas. Between now and the new year, I’ll be considering the generosity of my family by birth and by choice. This season I’ve been put on notice that the world has the capacity to be beautiful, kind, and creative. I must respond likewise. I’ll have challenges, but I’ll have support. In this way, I (you are welcome on the journey) can continue to dream for a world in which every day we celebrate the best in each other (after you quit gagging, of course).

When I posted the 9 YO boy’s Tucson Winter, I went on a search of Just Another Banana’s bog because I remember she ran to the bird sanctuary one snowy day to snap some photos. I couldn’t find her snowy cacti pictures, so I went to the school’s Web site to see if they had possibly loaded some. Instead I took a trip down memory lane.

That place is special and is where community for me first burst into full bloom. One person has an idea, another does research, yet another gathers the supplies, and before you know it, you’re placing the tiles for a human sundial.

I love that hat.

You can see how the project proceeded here. Follow the links for the human sundial. Maybe check out the plan identifier links too. You’ll see photos of Fungal Heart’s eldest.

We can all consider this my Thanksgiving post as it’s way full of the gratitudinal mush one wold expect this time of year.

Criminal Quotes

The poet, Populist Pugilist, is a criminal public defender. By that I mean he is a public defender of criminals and not a public defender who is criminally inclined. I’m pretty sure that’s what he is. Yes, he’s ridiculously principled. If he wasn’t my friend, I’d shrivel away from the brilliant light cast by his steadfast honor and dignity. He’s also smart, compassionate, and far, far away. He’s missed at Thanksgiving.

On the other hand, his job and his ear for poo and/or sage advice has provided the Universe with a great deal of entertainment in the form of his daily quotes. I’ve determined they belong in a collection so while I haven’t copyrighted anything on this site, please know I will hunt you down, plant incriminating evidence, call the cops and make sure you have a lousy lawyer. Or, I’ll just let Populist deal with you. If I haven’t mentioned it, he’s a Brazilian kickboxing mo fo with a pitt bull’s determination. So, you know, you’ve been warned. This poo is copyrighted because I said so and I’m pretty sure that’s the only standard that needs to be met.

Without further ado, Populist’s first collected court quotes:

  • “No jury will believe I was moving that kind of weight. We’re in the middle of a recession.”
  • “The $6500 in my pocket was to pay the rent tomorrow, the 30 bags of heroin were for personal use, and I carry four cell phones so my girlfriends and my wife won’t call me on the same phone.”
  • “Thank your lawyer. He fought hard and did a good job for you. And follow his advice. I say that in part because I believe he gives good advice, and in part because I overheard him telling you that you should never drive again.”
  • “I agree with you counselor, but the legislature has strangled me. Which is a separate crime now, by the way.”
  • “I can’t imagine that a law enforcement officer would find evidence hidden away somewhere and then claim that he saw it in plain view.” — an Asst. U.S. Atty.
  • “Well, she should have come to court, but I’m not worried about finding your client, counselor. Looks like she gets pulled over about once a week.”

I can’t pick a favorite, but I do admire the thought process of the guy who justifies his flimsy defense with the current state of the economy. That dude watches the news! I also find the guy who excuses his large stashes of cash, drugs, and phones with seemingly normal lifestyle choices to be steeped in logic. Such rationality could be put to use in more honorable pursuits, I’m sure. It is reassuring to know that Populist is there helping these guys out and apparently at least two judges agree.

Todd-O Update

Todd-o, who is in need of thousands of dollars in dental care including an “elective” crown (I think that means either Todd-o wants a golden grill or insurance companies are stupid), underwent minor outpatient surgery last week. During the course of setting up that surgery, two cancerous bumps were discovered and removed from his nose. YAY nose scabs! Toward the end of the week, Todd-o got to feel the glory of state budget cuts resulting in increased tuition. OUCH. I guess we’ll be having him over more often for dinner, which is really in my favor anyway.

As you can imagine, Todd-o is in need of some good news. It may have arrived this week along with several empty packing boxes that have been dragged into the home of loud, inconsiderate, and surprisingly tolerant of high adult tenant to square footage ratios neighbors. Todd-o alerted Mike the Mormon who responded with this poster.

Click on it for the full-sized image in all it’s clever glory.

Meet Puffy ’cause Fluffy is too shy

Something wonderful happened on Monday – betts* returned from Mexico. Oh the glory! I straight away stole her son for swimming and hot dogs. He loves him some hot dogs because his mother is a veggie eater. I guess that makes me the awesome mom and I can’t tell you how appreciative I am that betts* gives me that.

Today we relived old times by pulling weeds under the blow-torch that is a Tucson summer sun. Pull, chat, sweat. Pull, chat, sweat. Later Mr. Mechanical, who is still single ladies, showed up to pull weeds with us. The cathartic rhythm of the task at hand and the resultant feeling of tidy accomplishment set me straight for weeding possessions at home. We do need to make space for Landlady, who I still think shouldn’t move in with us nor force us to move out.

I took some bland snapshots that I am going to force you to endure. It may appear as though we pulled everything but the two birds of paradise, but we kept other stuff according to betts*’s aesthetic. She is, after all, a professional landscaper. Even so two birds were the order of the day as we also saw two house finches about four feet away from us as we worked.

At the top of the mound is a lovely little home for ants. We weeded the crap out of their abode and they didn’t like it. Nope, they didn’t. Not one bit. I swear it was all betts*’s doing as I totally identify with being uprooted by the powers that be, but the ants didn’t see it that way. Nope, they didn’t. As I innocently bagged the weeds upon project completion, those ants came after me. I guess I had a bit of a reaction.

I added the arrows since the 9 YO indicated that the non-swollen hand looked to him as bitten because my normal arthritic (not really) knuckles are so prominent. He also said the hand that had been bitten looked younger. Perhaps ant bites can be used in place of Botox?

I also have a huge blister on my index finger from pulling weeds without using gloves. That blister irritates me most of all because it’s at that spot where I turn locks, the car ignition, and the water faucets, but more importantly because I can’t get a good photo of the blister. The children have nicknamed the blister Fluffy and later thought the swollen knuckles should be called Puffy.

Denveater Blogs from Okie Noodling Tournament

Still longing for news from Oklahoma as I do? I’m hearing from all ya’ll, “More, more, more!” Well, I won’t disappoint. Or should I say my pal Denveater won’t disappoint. She’s blogging from the Okie Noodling Tournament (we will let the term “Okie” ride for just now) and I’m scraping her content — well part of her content. To understand my Oklahomies is to understand noodling, local music, and most of all people because community is king. The noodling tourney epitomizes the very sort of thing that I’ve always admired about my home state, when populist ideals seep up from the iron-rich dirt.

Go to her blog to read her full posts, because Denveater tells it best:

First she posted this:

Like megamesmerizers The Flaming Lips, like notorious Normanite & owner of great gourmet shop Forward Foods’ Wampus, like doc-directing dynamo Bradley Beesley & spell-casting yarn-spinner

Phil Henderson—

fisheries biologist & proprietor for the past 3 decades plus of the beloved 76-year-old BBQ pitstop Bob’s Pig Shop—I grew up in the Sooner State.

(So did I! Oklahoma! Oklahoma! Oklahoma!)

Then she posted this:

Horse***Over the course of the next few days I’ll spill all the half-baked beans I happily gathered at the 10th Annual Okie Noodling Tournament in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma, while hanging with an array of insiders whom I’d now count among the coolest, kindest, oldest souls a person can be lucky enough to encounter all at once.***

Let’s get a few things straight:

Noodling, also called grabbling, is fishing for catfish with your hands, or, in some cases, feet—essentially grabbing hold of them from the inside by letting them clamp down on your arms & legs, risking digits in the process, & then wresting them loose from the riverbed nooks & crannies they occupy.

It’s legal in a handful of states, including Oklahoma, where flathead catfish are the favored catch (& excluding Missouri, whose die-hard noodlers do it on the down-low while grappling with local lawmakers to get the papers pushed).

The tournament is held one day every July in the parking lot of Bob’s Pig Shop, a venerable BBQ joint & de facto antique showcase of curios I’ve only begun profiling here.

(Handsome Hubster and I have logged many dinners at the Pig Shop.)

And most recently, this:

***Part 2 of a miniseries about the kaleidoscope of scoundrels, souses, smartasses, shit-kickers, schookids, septuagenarians, flathead catfish & barbecued pigs that is the Okie Noodling Tournament in Paul’s Valley, OK; see Part 1 here.***

To have even heard of noodling is to know Lee McFarlin. To look “noodling” up on Wikipedia is to see his picture. To Google “noodling” & “Gordon Ramsay” is to catch a slide show of the respective stars of Okie Noodling & “Hell’s Kitchen” gurgling à deux amid the red swirls of an Oklahoma fishing hole. To scan article after article on noodling on the New York Times & ESPN websites is to learn of his legend.(Uhm… I enjoyed the doc and could enjoy the tourney, but I have not, nor would I attempt, noodling. Just FYI.)

Thanks Ruth for the awesome posts. I wish I could be with you to be crowned queen, enjoy the exfoliating back rub, and hang out in walk-in freezers.

Todd-o’s Time in Tucson

Todd-o caught Valley Fever. His BFFs got it too; one got it twice.

His bike was stolen. The bike he found and repaired was reclaimed.

His BFF was beaten unconscious and left for dead (but totally recovered with little more than a few rugged, handsome scars as a reminder).

While running Thanksgiving errands, some thug shot Todd-o. He got a ride to the hospital and his car impounded.

He cleaned dog poo in my yard for a full year.

A ceiling caved in on his bed.

In an unrelated event, his home was struck by lightening splitting the wall and damaging his electronics.

He lived next to a Mariah Carey fan with a sleep disorder.

Am I forgetting something? Most probably, since we suspect some one of siphoning gas from his auto. Lots of exciting stuff happens to Todd-o. For example,


a f- f- Friday,

he woke up to find his car stolen.

None of this ever happened to him in Oklahoma. But it’s totally okay. We took him to lunch for wings hotter than Brad Pitt.

What a Rush!

At age 14 I lived in the last house on the left (the literal one, not the movie one*). The tree shaded dead end street played home to three main residences, but so many more of us lived there. My grandmother and great grandmother resided across the street. My current computer guru lived in a tiny cottage out back making stuff on his Mac for the Oklahoma Film Society or something cooler than whatever I was supposed to know about Algebra. Various people moved into and out of our basement. There were others.

Our House* was a very very very spooky house. I foolishly didn’t want to live in Norman. Midwest City was much less pretentious and much more edgy. Big bro and I used to sneak out to find an oasis from the land of upturned Polo collars, of which I totally would have been a citizen if I owned more than one Polo. We would catch the midnight show of Rocky Horror* or run around the cemetery or see who was at Cafe Royal. We didn’t have to sneak out. My folks were way lenient about that sort of thing, but sneaking out made it all the more fun. Once we returned home about 2 a.m. running down our little street in spite of the fact that our dad was standing in the middle of the road smoking a cigarette under the full moon. He just hung his head. It made no sense to him at all that we would sneak out but neglect to sneak back in. I don’t recall that we got in all that much trouble, however, the shame of our dumbassary clouded the next couple of days.

It was about this time that my taste for Alternative Music, whatever that was, hit my radar. Big Bro was listening to 88 Lines about 44 Women by The Nails* (mental note, put that on the iTunes list). He picked it up at the used record (vinyl, I said it) store on Campus Corner before Harold’s bought the whole damn place up. I also caught my dad singing Dead Milkmen*. Or was it Dead Kennedys*? Eeww. Dad had to tell me that he knew a thing or two about hep – a fact I seriously doubted and yet totally believed.

Soon after, Dad’s friend Rush (pictured above and ripped off the LA Times) arrived for a visit. I had met Rush by a different name, but he was the same impossibly cool. He said things like, “Better dead than mellow” and “Bury Dali in Lichtenstein.” I used that latter line to end a Blue Book essay on First Amendment Law in college when it was clear I would run out of time without a conclusion. It won big points. I asked Rush why he thought Dali should be buried in Lichtenstein. “Why not?” he said. And he was right. After all, isn’t The Lizard King* buried in Paris? He also played a song for me that he’d been working on. The lyrics were as follows:

I’m sick of everything.
So sick of everything.
I’m sick of everything.
I’m sick of you,
And people like you!
I’m sick of your shit,
And I’m not going to take it!

Ah, the beauty. It was my anthem.

Rush is famous.

* Did I mention I am a sell-out, er, Amazon Associate?