Wednesday, December 20, 2006

You Thought I Was Kidding?

...about Mormons being baptized on behalf of dead Jews (and the rest of us)? Oh no. I'd never kid about something that disrespectful and gruesome. Ever.

From the article:

In life, Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal was among the most famous Jews of the 20th century. In death, he wound up on a list of people eligible to be posthumously baptised as Mormons so they could enter heaven.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Third Post Today! Caffeine-Free! I Swear!

I got tagged by Bomboniera! She rocks. In spite of the tagging. Heh.

The instructions:
1. Find the nearest book.
2. Turn to page 123.
3. Go to the fifth sentence on the page.
4. Copy out the next three sentences and post to your blog.
5. Name the book and the author, and tag three more folks.

"Usually we don't want to work with aggressive people because we feel they will not give us an easy time. They are a threat to our unbodhisattvalike mentality of looking for pleasure and security. And when we encounter somebody who wrongs us, we harbor tremendous resentment and refuse to forgive him."

The Heart of the Buddha, by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

I tag frog, attrice and Trudi.

Sitemeter Rocks My World, Again

I come in #9 for a search using: "silly goose Christmas frog." This tickles me so much!

Also, several people ended up here by searching for "yule bread." Let me again share the easy-peasy bread machine recipe I found last year, in case you're one of them: Thanks, Erik the Red! It's yummy -- I promise -- and your Scandinavian relatives won't even know it came from a machine.

One person found their way here by searching for "bowel movement fainting spell." I hope with all my heart you're okay and you found some information you could use. Think about seeing a medical-type person, please?

Holly Jolly

Because it just wouldn't be the holidays without the traditional Christmas link. Best served with some of these:

And a nice cup of this:

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Because Evidently I Can't Resist Crowds

I do some baking around the holidays and give the treats away. The only person I still buy a Christmas gift for is my mom. Because I wanted to do a little more giving this year, I went searching for folks who might like gifts. I found these and these and went shopping for them over the weekend. It was fun! If you have a little left over this year, I doubt you'll find people more appreciative. These folks have practically nothing (notice the blanket drive here -- how can people living in the richest country in the world be without blankets in winter?!). If you don't have time to shop, they are also happy to take money. Season's greetings to all.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Mrs. Scrooge

Because somebody in the household goes all nutty when music about The Baby Jesus is played, I get my Christmas music fix at work. My current favorite sources:

KDFC, Bay Area
Frog's Pandora

Ho ho ho!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

"What About Me?"

Go here. See an incredibly cool teacher.

When we are confused about the source of happiness, we start to blame the world for our dissatisfaction, expecting it to make us happy. Then we act in ways that bring more confusion and chaos into our life. When our mind is busy and discursive, thinking uncontrollably, we are engaging in a bad habit. We are stirring up the mud of jealousy, anger, and pride. Then the mind has no choice but to become familiar with the language of negativity and develop it further.

When desire or anger takes our mind and says, “You're coming with me,” we become paupers. The pauper wakes up each morning with the thought “What about me? Will I get what I want today?” This meditation resonates through our day like a heartbeat. We think, “Will this food make me happy?” “Will this movie make me happy?” “Will this person make me happy?” “Will this new sweater make me happy?” “What about me?” becomes the motivating force of our activity.

--Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche (longer excerpt here)

Monday, November 27, 2006

Overheard at the Gym

In the dressing room, the day before Thanksgiving:

"I always make sure we plan some kind of physical activity when we get together with my siblings, like a long bike ride. The endorphins seem to help. It's like dogs -- you wear them out and hope they don't misbehave. Maybe they'll still pee and poop on the rug, but maybe they won't chew up the furniture."

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Julia Sweeney Explains Mormonism

It's as silly as it sounds. Really.

Sunday, October 22, 2006


Turn your back for a minute (or possibly two months) and the spammers start to creep in. Here's an excerpt from a now-deleted comment. It's just too good not to share.

CASUAL SEX WILL CLAIM YOU OUT!!! It masculinizes women (as does hip hop), makes them cold and deadens them, and prevents them from achieving a depth of love necessary for many women to ascend.

Women have a special voice that speaks to them, a voice that illustrates a potential depth of love that makes them the favored gender, and enaging in casual sex will cause that voice to fade until she no longer speaks.

Also ever since the 50s they have celebrated the "bad boy", and women have sought out bad boys for sex, dirtying them up in the eyes of the elders and corrupting many men in the process, setting the men on the wrong path for life.

Muslims teach people the correct way to live in regard to women (among other things)::they cover up their women's bodies and prohibit the use of cosmetics.
Men ARE the inferior (disfavored) half and when women wear promiscuous dress the gods will push men into impure (promiscuous) thoughts.

The "stereotype" society ridiculed is true::women CAN corrupt men by how they dress. Because men are easily corruptable. This is a technique they used to eliminate many of the institutions the gods blessed us with, matchmaking being one of them.

Given that I personally have both sought out "bad boys" and contributed to men's corruption by my dress, I'm thinking this guy's a prophet...

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Best Dinner of the Week

For Attrice!

Since virtually every damned body is blogging about food, I figured I might as well use my favorite pastime as fodder, too. And, Attrice told me to. Reason enough.

In chat one day, the subject of faux tuna salad came up. I used Attrice's description as a jump-off point for the best meal of the week (with nods to Jenniferschmoo for the original thought seed!). The results far exceeded my expectations! Some quantities are approximate -- use your judgement and personal preference for the best results.

Yummy Faux Fish Patties
Makes about 12 2" patties

2-3 tbl. hijiki, depending upon your preference for "fishy" flavor
2 tbl. soy sauce or tamari
1 can (14-1/2 oz.) garbanzo beans, drained
1 cup bread crumbs
3 tbl. each of finely chopped onion, celery, red pepper and fresh parsley
1 egg or equivalent substitute, lightly beaten
1 tbl. lemon juice
1-2 tbl. mayo (preferably Vegenaise!) -- enough to moisten
1/4 cup canola oil

Cover the hijiki with boiling water and soak for 15 minutes; strain and rinse, then put in small saucepan with the soy sauce and about a cup of water. Heat to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Drain, cool and mince.

Mash the beans to a coarse mash. Add half the bread crumbs and the rest of the ingredients. Place the remaining 1/2 cup bread crumbs in a flat bowl or on a plate. Using a wooden spoon or your hands (better!) mix the bean mixture thoroughly. Form small patties (about 2-3" across).

Heat oil in a skillet on medium-high. Coat each patty with bread crumbs and place in the skillet. Cook until lightly browned.

Serve with tartar sauce (mayonnaise, dill relish, parsley + chopped green onion).

I served sweet potato oven fries seasoned with soy sauce, garlic and ginger on the side. It was delicious and the leftovers were fantastic.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

It's the Quality, Not the Quantity

I seem to have broken my old record for consecutive days of not-posting. Go, me! If you're one of the handful of folks who check here hoping for updates, I'm sorry. But I do admire your tenacity and optimism!

Big Things have happened in the last month, many having something to do with aging!

1. My mother turned 82. I sent her a gift, a vibrator! (I can't wait to see the traffic jam at the entrance to this blog when I hit "publish"!)

Here's why she got that gift: When we cleaned out her house, before she moved to assisted living, my sister J and I came across Mom's old vibrator. She'd had that thing since long before I was born. She said she used it for her back. She has scoliosis and also an old shoulder injury. She's also not the most sex-positive woman of her generation, so I always thought it was very possible she did actually use it for back and shoulder pain.

Still, J and I were a little creeped out by that old thing. Looking back, I know we were mostly creeped out by the thought of an old woman enjoying any kind of sex. I've given that a lot of thought in the past two years (not too much! Just enough! I've already done therapy, thanks!) and I think I'm pretty much over the creepedoutedness.

She's mentioned it a few times since the move, along with everything else we threw away ("My old Kodak camera! What happened to that?! There were still pictures in there, I think!") So when I was trying to figure out what to get her this year, that thing popped into my head. Possibly the idea was planted subliminally. So I got her the nearest approximation made in the 21st century.

She thanked me for it with her usual charm and social grace: "Thank you for your package." So, maybe she loves it, maybe she hates it. But now she has a vibrator again.

2. I had a birthday and turned 48. This was a nice birthday. I took the day off work, went out for a lavish supper (with champagne!) and saw A Chorus Line. The joy of the day, however, was somewhat eclipsed by

3. We found out my husband needs shoulder replacement surgery, as soon as possible, and

4. He was fired from his job two days after notifying his employer of this fact. After ten years and excellent reviews. The written notice from his boss said he was being terminated "without cause" (which it turns out is perfectly legal in our state! Yay at-will employment!).

About a year ago his boss asked him when he planned to retire. He said, "In August 2007." Since then things have gone downhill. Readers, store this in your long-term memory: NEVER DISCLOSE YOUR PLANS TO LEAVE A JOB UNTIL YOU'RE HALFWAY OUT THE DOOR WITH YOUR POCKETS FULL OF PILFERED OFFICE SUPPLIES!

5. We've been talking to a lawyer about #4. That's all I'll say about that. Except that I like her very much and she had traces of chocolate on her face the first time we met with her.

I promise not to wait over a month to post again! I do! And next time I will post only good news. I hope.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Update on Pat

Erin reminded me (here) that I haven't shared the latest news on Pat! First I did as Mom suggested and took her some nice soup. Actually, chili. Which I had to lie about to get her to accept: "Pat! Please help me! I was expecting guests, made a ton of chili, freezer's full and husband's about to go on a business trip. Won't you please take some??" Most parts of that were true! So, not really lying. Entirely. And she took the chili, and ate it. For which I was grateful. I sneaked in some cornbread too. What's chili without cornbread?

Then through some very strong arm-twisting, I talked her into letting me order groceries for her online. Just once! If it doesn't work we never have to do it again! I promise! It worked like a charm and the food came exactly as promised. Except they forgot her six-pack of Negro Modelo, but she got over that pretty quickly. Hooray! She spent the next couple of weeks cooking and eating to her heart's content. And here's the best part: Today we placed her second order. For about $200 worth of groceries. I couldn't be more thrilled and she's obviously feeling better. Sometimes stuff works out. Sometimes the stubborn prevail.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Inlaws: Gotta Love 'Em

Last week we took a trip Up North to visit the family of my husband's birth. They are an interesting crew. "Interesting" being, as you know, one of those words that can disguise one's true feelings. Or not. You won't catch me telling you.

We ate, we swam, we watched gigantic explosions over the water in a very fancy boat that belongs to his niece. This niece is doing quite well, if the boat and very fancy house with the pool are any indication. She has a personal psychic. Seriously. The psychic is on her payroll. So Niece is telling us both about what the psychic's been saying about Niece's life situation. Turns out psychic believes there's a vortex to another dimension in Niece's fabulous (and fabulously mortgaged) new home. This vortex can apparently be a Good Vortex or a Bad Vortex, depending upon a whole bunch of factors I neither understand nor want to try to remember. Right now, it's bad. It's causing chaos and unhappiness in Niece's home life.

Then Mr. Gosling asks (and this is a perfect example of why I love the hell out of this guy), "So. How much will she charge you to get this vortex out of your house?"

We can't stop laughing about that question. I'm going to say "vortex" to him right now and watch him try to keep from peeing himself.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Dark Times

How can our hearts be unbroken?

Disabled Homeless Man Who Was Set Afire in Spokane Dies

At this time of intense international anxiety, when the world is trapped in a spiral of hatred and fear, it is natural that extreme violence of all forms should erupt. It is also in the nature of beings that dark times such as these should give rise to profound wisdom and compassion.
-Richard Reoch, President of Shambhala International

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Mom's Advice

I have a friend, Pat, who's 76. Don't tell her I told you. She has a disability that makes it difficult for her to get around well and her vision's failing. Not fast, thank goodness -- she's still able to drive. She lives alone in an apartment here in the big urban center she's lived in all her life.

Pat's been ill for over a month. She had a kind of flu virus that turned into a more serious sinus and lung infection of some kind. She didn't tell anyone how sick she really was. When I called her a couple of weeks ago, she said she'd rather die than go on living like this. A series of phone calls got her a prescription for antibiotics and now she seems to be on the mend, slowly.

Through all this, I've offered help in a number of ways. While she did let me pick up her prescriptions, she refused to let me buy her groceries. "Do not bring me groceries or I swear I won't let you help me again!" I did anyway, but I knew I was taking a big risk. I always know I'm walking a fine line with Pat and I find it nerve-wracking: How far do I push her? Do I ignore what she says and do what I think is best? That's something I try to avoid, loving self-determination as I do. Do I follow her instructions and let her possibly go hungry and/or let medical problems worsen? It's a no-win, really.

This is just Pat's way: She refuses ALL offers of help and pretends things are a lot better than they actually are. I think it's partly a generational thing. People of her age, especially women, seem to believe it's impolite to allow others to help, even when the need is dire. But when nobody cares enough to ignore them -- to take care of them even when they say they need no help, they feel hurt.

So today I asked my mom's advice. I explained the situation, how Pat won't let me take her groceries, tells me everything's fine when it isn't, and so on. I asked, "What would YOU do, Mom?"

"Well, I think I'd take her some nice soup."

So there you go.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Writing Under Pressure

A pal of mine added me to her blogroll today and that makes me think I should put something new up here in case any of her readers show up. If you came here via Tishie's LJ: HI!!

I paid a florist in my hometown to put Memorial Day flowers on the graves of my dad, grandparents and my cousin Linda, a baby who died when she was only a few days old. I did it last year, too. Taking care of Memorial Day was one of the biggest and last reasons Mom had for staying put in her old place. Every year she put together potted plants and took them out to the cemetery, kept them watered, and took them home after a week or so. She didn't want to leave those grave markers uncovered by moving away. Paying somebody to put flowers out makes me feel like a good daughter. It lets my mom relax about the holiday and it forces me to reflect on those missing relatives. Of course, none of us lives in that town any more so for all I know the florist pockets the money and leaves the graves empty. I doubt it. It's a small town.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


I've been tagged by frog. The rules:
- You must post with six weird facts or habits about yourself. These cannot be used against you later on :)
- At the bottom name the six people you will tag next.
- Leave them a comment to let them know they've been tagged.

1. I grind my teeth at night and have done so since I was small. Because of this, all my incisors are squared-off. I have broken and/or worn out multiple night guards from the grinding. I also broke a tooth once in my sleep.

2. I've met Sean Penn.

3. I recently met someone named Brook Trout.

4. I have a weird sympathetic nerve thing that causes the inside of my left cheek to tingle when the inside of my left elbow is touched. Yes, I know that one's especially weird.

5. I was "saved" twice at vacation Bible school as a kid. Once for a small New Testament, once for lemon drops. My eternal soul was apparently very cheap.

6. I once shared a house with four men, none of whom were relatives.

I'm not tagging anyone now but I reserve the right to do so at a later time, any time, without warning. Mwah, ha, ha.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Irony

I recently read Choosing Civility. Why? Because my mentor and stalk-object (though she doesn't know it) recommended it. Now I recommend it to you. In fact, I recommend you buy 100 copies and distribute them to strangers who seem to need its simple, straightforward advice for getting along in society. That guy who honks at you when the light changes? Needs a book. That woman who talks on her cell at the restaurant? Book. Book, book, book. Everybody needs it.

So I'm reading along in this book, which I borrowed from the library, when what do I notice? Handwriting! A person who borrowed it before me had WRITTEN IN THE BOOK. Underlining, comments, exclamations. Writing in a library book! I hope this book-mangler was helped by the contents. Who could need them more?

Monday, May 15, 2006

Post-Mother's Day Debrief

Mom got her card and flowers. She thanked me for the flowers, not the card. Since she can't really read any more, and her memory's not what it used to be either, I joked with my sister J that she should just pull out last year's card every year and read it to Mom. She'd never know. I crack myself up.

I was wished "Happy Mother's Day" by three different people (who don't know me) yesterday. These days I just say "Thank you" and move along. It does bother me that strangers assume I'm a mother based on my sex and age. Motherhood's the default choice in our culture. I need to get over that. Because it doesn't look like it's changing any time soon.

On the other hand, Mr. Gosling was also told "Happy Mother's Day" once yesterday. So maybe change is a-coming after all.

Frog always has something outstanding to say about Mother's Day and this year's no exception.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

All Beings Our Mothers

In Buddhism, a practice recommended for increasing compassion and raising bodhichitta (literally, "awakened mind") is recalling that all sentient beings were our mother, our friend, our child at some point in limitless time. Whether one believes in reincarnation or not, this practice can move one to act compassionately.

I was reminded of this practice when I had the great good fortune of hearing a talk by His Eminence Terton Namkha Drimed Rabjam Rinpoche last night. He was clear and firm: "Every being without exception has been your mother, your father, your child."

I've struggled with this practice at various times -- not surprising, given the nature of my relationship with my mother. Thinking of this or that person as my mother in some past existence hasn't always aroused compassion.

It's been suggested that those of us who struggle with the practice might do well to focus on the caregiving we did receive. Even the worst mothers (or other caregivers) fed us, got up in the night when we cried and diapered us, literally wiping our butts. Maybe, like my mother, they made us birthday cakes every year. They struggled in childbirth so that we might enjoy this moment right now. Focusing on even the smallest kindness shown by a caregiver has the potential to increase our compassion if we imagine every being showed us such kindness at some time.

One of my earliest memories is of Mom rocking me to sleep, singing. Everyone else was in bed, so clearly it was late at night. Still, she sang. I remember well the comfort of the embrace, her patting me on my little back as she rocked and sang. She might have missed a lot of opportunities to be a "good" mother later on, but that night she was kind and nurturing. Thank you, all my mothers, for this kindness. May it be returned to you 1,000 times over.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Terminal Grumpiness

Last weekend when I called Mom she said she thought it might have been the assisted living staff calling. They call her once a day to check on her: "How are you doing today?" I didn't realize they did that, though Mom's been living there for two years. I said I thought it was nice.

"I don't think it's very nice sometimes!"

"What do you mean?"

"Sometimes they call too early and I have to get out of bed to answer the phone!"

This is the way my mother communicates. Always. About everything. It's like she's in a race to get the the worst, most awful thing about the topic as quickly as possible. This time, it only took her two sentences to get to What I Don't Like. That's pretty good.

A couple of weeks ago we were talking about my grandmother, Mom's mother-in-law. This woman wasn't perfect, but she did an awful lot for us. I adored her. She used to have my sisters and me stay overnight at her house, which gave our very depressed mother some precious relief. If we were sick and needed to stay home from school, it was her house we stayed at. She and my grandfather helped my folks out when times were hard, though they didn't have a lot themselves. Still, the only thing Mom seems to remember about Gram is a harsh exchange they had when my father was ill for a year, over 50 years ago.

It's a way of communicating and relating to the world that I'm trying to unlearn, well into the middle of my life. Always focusing on the negative, complaining, criticizing, tearing down. On one hand, it's a way of bonding with people: "Isn't it awful? Oh, YOU think it's awful TOO?" Misery really does love company. On the other hand, it communicates the hopelessness of our inner world. It encourages others to see the clouds with us. It penalizes the happy. It places a burden on those around us. That's what growing up around this kind of talk did for me. To be happy -- genuinely joyful -- was seen as an affront. This is what can happen when depressed people parent, I think. The exuberance of a child becomes an insult. It feels threatening for the joyful child and the depressed parent. Children learn to adapt to the family status quo and hide their natural curiosity and enthusiasm for living. Eventually, they may adapt so well they stop feeling any wonder at all.

It's too late for Mother, I'm afraid. It's probably too late for my sisters. But it's not too late for me.

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save.

By Mary Oliver

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

T-Minus Five Days and Counting

I ordered some flowers for Mother's Day yesterday. For Mom. She can't see well and her sense of smell has always been severely limited so I wonder why I'm sending her flowers. She doesn't need or want any clothes, nightgowns, slippers, soaps or perfume. She has candy left over from Christmas and Easter still, so she doesn't need treats. There just aren't many options. But sending nothing would send her into a tailspin of grief and "What Did I Do To Deserve This?" (I know this because I was late with her gift one year.) So flowers it is. My oldest sister J thought it would be a good idea, because she's not sending Mom flowers and she's sure neither of the other sisters will, and "She should have flowers for Mother's Day." So she'll have them. They won't make her happy or help her feel loved, especially, but they will remind her she has children who think of her. And they'll tell the other residents and staff of the assisted living facility that Mom's cared for. That seems to be enough.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Long Time Gone

Some people have implied that five weeks between blog posts is extreme. Maybe they're right. Maybe they'll regret nudging me if they read this one.

Yesterday marked the 26th anniversary of my dad's death. The thing about a profound loss is, no anniversary is the same as the one before. They're unpredictable. Some years I've barely thought about it -- just a sweet memory on April 1, a smile, a sigh. Other years I've practically taken to my bed because the grief overwhelmed me. This year was something in the middle.

Wednesday night at my Rosen bodywork session, my dear bodyworker asked me "How do you feel about death?" Good grief! How could she know she was tapping the raging waters of April 1?! The grief of years came pouring out. I think Ms. Bodyworker grabs a few extra boxes of tissues when she sees my name on her calendar. I'm a crier.

The grief of 2006 seems to be as much (or more) about the loss of family as the loss of my dad. After all, he's been dead for over half my life now. I've lived without him for longer than I lived with him. He died when I was only 21. The family we had before his death -- visits, phone calls, celebrations -- began to disintegrate the year he died. Now that both of his sisters are also dead, there's essentially no family there. We're a bunch of cousins, sisters and brothers (and one mother) who very rarely see each other, virtually never call and for the most part are not connected to each other's lives. It used to be so different. That's the thing I miss this year.

I've also been thinking a lot about the year that followed Dad's death. At 21, I had no idea how to handle such a huge loss. I was completely unprepared. And no one was available to guide me through it. Or if they were, I didn't find them. Instead I took refuge in the things that were at hand: Alcohol and men who were completely wrong for me. It worked for a while, in some ways. I was distracted enough to keep moving through my brand new adulthood without needing too much from anyone. That's a pattern I wish I hadn't established back then and one it's taken a lot of years to begin to unlearn.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


When I talked to Mother over the weekend, she told me about her Valentine's Day. She got my package (and thanked me!). She got a box of homemade peanut brittle from L, who had promised it for Christmas but delivered a couple of months late, as usual. I refrained from making any comment even remotely nasty. You may begin heaping praise for my amazing self control.

Then I brought up the same subject I bring up every year: "Remember when Dad used to buy each of us our own heart-shaped box of chocolates and a card every Valentine's Day?" Her answer this year was the same as every year: "No." My dad put some care and thought into giving "his girls" a special Valentine's Day every single year. But Mother can't remember it. She can, however, remember every nasty comment made to her by her mother-in-law and every argument she and Dad ever had about his mother.

Please don't let me be that at 81. Please let me forget the arguments and bitterness. Let me remember the chocolates on Valentine's Day and smile.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


This is just about the sweetest Valentine's Day story ever. If you have something cranky to say about it, shut up. Seriously. Today's the day for cynics and curmudgeons to have a little down time.

Around the nursing home, the couple are known as "the lovebirds." The two hold hands like teenagers and stare into each other's eyes. He leans in to tell her a joke and she smiles. Whenever Carl says 'I love you,' Joan pulls out a little stone. Inscribed are the words 'I love you more.'


Thursday, February 09, 2006

Look! Over There! Something Shiny!

So yes, I suck at this blogging thing. I know that. I own that. I have some really good excuses but they would all sound so very very boring if I typed them. So in a blatant attempt to distract you from your impatience with me (all six or seven of you who actually check here every week for something new), let me offer my new stalking object. If this woman lived a little closer I'd be camping out in my car in front of her house trying to work up the courage to ask her out for coffee. Or something. Read her! Now! Go! There's nothing to see here!

Friday, January 06, 2006

Freeze Frame

Mr. A and I were sick as sick could be over the holidays with two viruses back-to-back, which meant we hardly left the apartment for ten days. We watched a lot of DVDs and trash TV (okay, I watched the trash alone -- Mr. A is so much more evolved) and went through FOUR! boxes of Kleenex. Oh. And ate candy, including an entire tin of Williams Sonoma Peppermint Cremes, which I'd happily take a case of in exchange for my immortal soul. Hear that, Prince of Darkness?? Also a bag of these, which were big news to me when I dragged my mucus-ful self to the grocery store for some soy milk and found a huge table of half-price Christmas candy! All the chocolate seems to have helped -- we're well enough to be back at work. Where there is NO CHOCOLATE.

About halfway through the time off, I felt well enough to obsess over my complete failure to do anything with a giant box of family photos I took home with me when we moved Mom out of her house a year and a half ago. These include ancient pictures of long-dead relatives and not a few pictures of people nobody in our family recognizes. When we were dividing up Mom's stuff, my oldest sister J decided that "Somebody with a scanner should take them all and make electronic copies for everybody!" Evidently I was insane at that moment because I volunteered. The very full banker's box has been sitting in the closet of our spare bedroom ever since. The guilt grew.

I thought about simply scanning the photos and making everybody in the family a CD. Then I thought about putting together some kind of database that would help people identify those in the photos. Then I thought about putting up a website that could incorporate all the genealogy my Mormon family has done with all the photos. Then I stumbled upon Tribal Pages. I've downloaded all the genealogical data I have and over 100 photos so far. There are a couple of problems with the templates on Tribal Pages but overall I recommend their site for this kind of thing.

Looking at (and Photoshopping) these pictures has been an amazing experience. Looking into the eyes of my relatives, without needing to talk or interact with them, has been profound. I see my mother's face as a young woman -- on her graduation day, on her wedding day, with my sisters when they were small -- and I see a woman I've never known personally. She looks happy. I see there are no pictures of my mother and me together until my wedding pictures from 1984. I see my grandparents as a young married couple, Grandmother looking like a vamp in her fashionable coat and Grandpa looking like some kind of playboy in his fedora. I see my dad's hard life on the North Dakota farm during the Depression. I see my sisters as small girls, at Christmas, at Easter, dressed up and looking with love at whoever was taking the picture (probably my father). These photographs are mesmerizing. They hold secrets I can't fully comprehend or communicate. They offer a lesson in impermanence, seeing members of my family grow and age, then disappear. I look into the eyes of my little-girl self and wonder, "What are you thinking? What's making you smile? What's worrying you? What do you love right now?" And sometimes, she answers.

Because I want to protect the privacy of family members (and because I don't want the internet to have a list of our mothers' "maiden" names and our birthdates), I'm not publishing the link to our site here. If you're a friend and would like to see the site, e-mail me.