Monday, August 29, 2005

I'm Gonna Take a Dip in the Ceeement Pond

I am lucky enough to show houses for a living. I am lucky in that while doing this, I get to know people from all walks of life by listening to their stories and we usually become friends in the process. At closing I usually give my new friends a small gift to thank them for doing business with me based on something I’ve learned about them. Last year I helped a young couple purchase a monster of a house courtesy of Microsoft’s obscenely high salaries. I helped another couple purchase an ancient farm house with 11 acres and a barn they couldn’t wait to paint red. A young man wisely invested his inheritance in a home with room for his pool table, and a single mom bought her first home with the solid wood floors she’d always dreamed of.

Last week I spent the day showing rural houses to a couple whose price range tops out at $40,000 – if they can find a family member who will co-sign. Nelly and Norman are in their 50s. They currently live in a trailer court where they and the other residents are being bullied out so the owner can clear the land and build condos. Norman is a Native American Viet Nam vet on disability. Nelly is a short, round diabetic with a mother complex and has not only adopted all of the animals in the trailer park, but also the various disabled and otherwise affected residents. Nelly adores Norman; it says so on her cell phone screen. Norman is tall, with a shambling gait, has few teeth, and tends to mutter with his deep low voice. They are, without much imagination at all, Maw and Paw Rugg of the 1965 Hillbilly Bears cartoon.

When we go on our tour of homes, it’s usually for most of the day. Maw Nelly sits in front and navigates, equipped with her travel mug and a steel thermos of black coffee, the screw-off cup of which she gives to Norman, who sits in the back. I have learned more than I need to know about the cast of characters who populate their trailer court from Nelly’s tales of woeful abuse, punctuated occasionally by Paw Norman’s wheezy laugh.

Sometimes Paw will be inspired to string together a few words, such as when a house is just too ridiculously small. He will continue to comment on the fatal flaw, his garbled comments apparently directed to the back of the seat or out the window, not requiring any response from me. But after a while he’ll return to his silence interrupted only by that raspy chuckle and an unintelligible word or two.

Somehow, a memory sparked in Norman and he began an epicurean expose’ worthy of the food channel. Since I did not have a schedule of Paw Norman’s train of thought, his sudden departure took me by surprise. I thought he was still commenting on the last house we’d been in and I had been nodding blankly into the rear view mirror for quite a while before I realized the subject of his impassioned account.

“…Better’n dat stuff from t’ grocery…. Harrup! Yup, could eat it all day,” Paw chortled. “Not too hard, y’ know? Heeeweeeweee!” He muttered to his coffee cup. “But not too soft neither!” he declared, directly to my eyes in the rear view mirror.


“Tasty too, Mmmm mmmm. Harrup! Kinda smooth-like, ya smooooooth. Mmm mmm.”

“What is?’

“You ain’t never had none? Ohhhh its gooooood. Heeweewee!”

“Had what?”

“Dat gummintchee! Harrupp! Heeeweewee!”

“I beg your pardon?” I snapped, thinking for some reason he was cussing at me.

“Gummintcheese!” he carefully said leaning forward.

He was talking about Government Cheese. That unearthly orange brick of surplus pasteurized “cheese-product” doled out to welfare recipients. No I hadn’t ever had any, preferring instead its overpriced substitute, Velveeta.

“Oh” I bit my lip and tried hard to think of something nice to say about Government Cheese, but Nelly stepped in to save me from lying.

“We’re just about done looking for today Paw, when we get home I’ll make up some grilled cheese sandwiches.”

“Harrup! Harrup! Mmmm mmmm.” He mumbled happily. “Smoooooth.”

A smile crept over me as I drove silently on, planning how I would score a couple boxes of Government Cheese for their closing gift.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Why I Am Up at 4a.m. Writing

For me, writing is an eternal and mostly nocturnal thing. I read somewhere that you should write what keeps you up at night. That’s what I’m trying to do right now, but it’s an elusive thing, like trying to remember a dream. The harder you try to give substance to those wispy thoughts, the less substantial they become.

Writing, contrary to what I may have thought in the past, is not organized nor is it scholarly, or even pretty. There are a whole herd of disorganized, irrational, unattractive thoughts bouncing around in my head trying all at once to get onto the paper and yet, in a way, stubbornly refusing to be captured. Once something is written – saved, put ‘out there,’ published, it may look to the reader as though it is organized and scholarly - in fact I suppose that is the whole intent. But how it gets there, the harvesting, shaping, rummaging around, rearranging, the whole feeling of giving birth to something that wasn’t there before, that’s the thing. That is why I pour words onto a page. It’s not the finished product so much, it’s the process. Sure, there are some moments when a complimentary or thought-provoking comment on something I’ve written does tend to make the stiff back and sleepy midmorning slumps disappear. But this is personal, private – it is the fulfillment of a need, it is the exercise, the act of learning myself what it is I need to say, it is the way I connect.

I write because there’s something fundamental about me that only comes to life when I’m writing. It isn’t about becoming a fabulous published author, the fame and fortune. It is something that is just essential about me, a need to tell stories, to run an idea through the mill of my imagination and put it out there for others to share. Spoken words are so fleeting. Written words stay. I want to keep arranging words, choosing just the right one for maximum impact. I know I am in my “zone” I know what I’m supposed to be doing when I am writing.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


Floccinaucinihilipilification : The act or habit of esteeming or describing something as worthless, or making something to be worthless by said means. The OED dates its first use in literature at 1741 in William Shenstone's Works in Prose and Verse: "I loved him for nothing so much as his flocci-nauci-nihili-pili-fication of money".

Edit: 8/29/05
I took out two links one to Quizilla and the other to some birthday site. They were causing pop ups when you'd visit this site. Yuk - I hate pop ups.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

My Token Whine Post

My McAfee Spam filter is an overachiever. More than that, it is arrogant. I explain to it several times who my friends are, but to no avail. It blocks messages wily nily and keeps them hidden in a file I can never remember how to get to. This distresses me because people have responded to this blog and I can only see that email may or may not have been received from them. Most times I can't read what they've written. I'm usually a really good responder, and my whole reputation is going down the tubes because of this uneccessary protection. Tonight, when it is sleeping, I'm going to uninstall it....

I listed a house that is VERY RURAL - the owner suggested the perfect buyer would be the manager of a nearby 'gentlemens club' to provide 'boarding' for the 'ladies' who are bussed in three days a week. This is actually a very good idea. I need to set up a meeting with this 'gentleman.'

My youngest son has recently joined a youth football league. After Downtown Dave took him to get the big things - pads, uniform, helmet - it has been my uncomfortable duty to take my son to pick up what they forgot... such as 'practice jersey' and 'nut cup.' We drove home with my youngest son grinning at neighboring cars with the 'nut cup' hanging from his nose.

My only daughter is buying school clothes- 'nuff said.

Above mentioned daughter is taking drill team and dance classes to perform at above mentioned son's games wearing things barely larger than above mentioned nut cup and practice jersey.

We must see that our plumber finishes the bathroom renovations and we must finish the new deck on the old house we have for sale that is costing us beaucoups bucks every month.

I'm annoying my friends with my shamless plugs of this blog.

I spend way too much time writing this blog, yet, everyone I know and care about says you should be a writer, so if I'm a writer and I'm writing, how can I be spending too much time?

My beater van is embarassing and uncomfortable to drive but we owe more on it that it's worth.
I hate fashion and trends. Each day, what I put on and what I say is hopelessly out of date. Each day I struggle with the comfort of clinging to my ways and the righteousness of sticking to my ideals. Each day I venture forth into the world defending my choices. And damn it, every day I wonder if it wouldn't just be easier to knuckle under and go with the flow. Each day I chose to be myself, but I go to bed wondering if tomorrow is the day I give up the fight and become mundane.

I miss my old friends.

I really enjoy the friends I have here, but feel judged and inadequate in a societal and fashion kind of way.

I hate whining.

Monday, August 22, 2005

"My blood runs cold, my memory has just been sold"

No, unlike the J. Geils Band, I'm not talking about a centerfold, though to me it's just as sensual. And I am talking about approximately the same era, the early to mid 70's. My high school years.

Despite the turbulence of the times, I must admit I hold an incredibly large soft spot for that era. I can't speak for the rest of the country, but in Goleta, California we had some hippies then. In fact my high school, Dos Pueblos, was dubbed 'Hippy High.' No doubt by rival preppies who envied our demographic. There was a local Vietnam era protest that made some news in my neck of the woods where some 'damn hippies' burned down a bank. To put things in perspective, kids in high school, and university campuses across the country were trying out new ways to express their anger over America's war against Vietnam. Hippies back then were new, and scary to some, and wrong to some, and totally what I wanted to be.

Along about that same time were the Tate-LaBianca murders, and the Beatles came out with their White Album which threw my midwestern bred parents into a tizzy about the societal influences on their daughter. What the hell was this world coming to anyway? Kids protesting the war, those disrespectful protest songs, those fool draft dodgers wearing army jackets, and those God-awful bell-bottomed dungarees! (just for the record I ALWAYS called them jeans - never the D word). The times, they were a-changin!

Despite the fact (or maybe because of it) that my parents were Nixon Republicans, I felt a close affinity for those protesters. The barefoot and besandaled children of the earth whose clothes were Beatles-drug-induced-pilgramage-to-the-dali-lama inspired. It wasn't fashion then, it was truly second hand store cast offs. Stuff your mom made, or you made yourself, or stuff you wore till it fell apart, then you patched it and wore it some more. The avocado greens, the burnt oranges and browns. The little glints of shiny beadwork and the lucious texture of crochet and macrame. Ah, the memories....

But wait, it's 2005 and I'm shopping for school clothes with my teenage daughter at The Mega Mall. What's this I see? Drndl skirts? Peasant tops? Gauzy hues of avocado and brown? I checked the name of the store, thinking we had wandered into an offbeat import store by happy happenstance, but then realized we hadn't. This was just another shiny logoed franchise store hawking knock offs of the latest styles. After my initial teary burst of infatuation and longing, I noticed that store after store after store was offering what felt like an acid flashback! I found myself not encouraging the purchase of these etherial items as I had just moments earlier, but sadly shaking my head and feeling much the same as I did upon entering an elevator in the 80's and hearing Stairway to Heaven covered by Musak. A inner battle worthy of DaNang waged within my torutured soul. As I reached out to touch the burnt orange crocheted shawl, yarn dyed to match exactly the batik-print skirt which, in turn had ecru highlights which could easily be paired with that romantic peasant inspired blouse, I recoiled. My inner hippy screamed 'Stand firm and don't cheapen those riteous memories by buying this crap!' Ah, the Earth tones and crocheted textures with shiny sequins? Macrame? It all proved to me too magical to touch, to see them marketed this way was really just too much! Oh no I just can't deny it - Oh yeah, I guess I got to buy it!

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Way Less Than Six Degrees of Separation

After building a deck at our home-which-is-still-for-sale in the hot sun for most of the day, Downtown Dave and I came home to relax with a cold beverage, read some email, and surf the web a bit. I happened to click on a link from for some dude's weblog, which had a subsequent link to another weblog where this guy had a list of the top five most intense scenes in the movies. One of those scenes was the 'squeal like a pig' scene from Deliverance. The backstory on that is that my ex-brother-in-law is Bill McKinney. He is the guy who utters that infamous line mentioned from Deliverance. My older sister and he got married just about the time he got that part. Thinking back on how my conservative, overprotective parents tried to deflect the dinner table conversation away from my 10-year-old self as to just what that line would mean, and why he would say such a thing, is pretty humorous. Bill wasn't my brother-in-law for very long, and probably wouldn't know me from Adam (or Eve - as it were) today, but I still claim him as my ex-brother in law. Honestly, partly because it is a damn good cocktail party conversation starter, and partly because I admire him. I admire him because he seems to have a knack for getting that special quirky part and delivering his one or two lines in such a way that while you may not remember him, you do remember the character. I think he's a hell of an actor!

So anyway, as we all know, one click leads to another and I ended up on some link to Bill McKinney's filmography and from there found his webpage. I said (outloud to Downtown Dave, which turned out to be a mistake) 'Omigod, Bill McKinney has a website!' Downtown Dave, who has always gotten a weird kick out of the fact that we have way less than six degrees of separation (via Bill) to 'stardom,' clicked around and saw a link to have Bill make a live personal phone call, (oy vey) and then all the publicity shots, (yikes!) he even has a new CD. Dave clicked on all of them - commenting and hoo-hooing the whole time. I know he bought the CD, and he probably signed up for the birthday phone call - I don't know what else because after that I called him a retard-a-mundo and left the room.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

No wonder I drink!

I usually wake up at 4:30 a.m. Not because I have to generally, but because either the Big White Dog has bow-wow-wowed the paper boy off the front porch, or because I've had some vivid dream that is begging to become a blog post. Most of the time, I holler at the dog, turn over and wait for Jim Ed Poole and Dale Connelly to wake me up again after my sanctified 30 seconds of actual REM sleep. Sometimes though, I drag my lazy ass out of bed, make a pot of coffee-by-braille, tiptoe past the sleeping New Puppy and make my way down to my desk where, before I even look at my computer, I open my Franklin Planner and plan-plan-plan my perfect day.

In the dark of the new dawn, I am the perfect me. I will multitask by walking for 30 minutes and taking the dogs along. I will drink water throughout the day and shun coffee for green tea. I will clear my mind and energize my body by practicing yoga. And finally I will follow the advice of my inner perfect self to achieve all that I can. The day, like an open page, spreads itself out langouriously before me. I have eight unencumbered hours before noon even, to accomplish the menial tasks, hard chores and tedious details that have been banging around in my head from the previous night.

1. Planning I write in perfect longhand
2. Checkbook follows
3. Yoga is next
4. Write 500 words is my new goal and next task after the first three are completed and set aside.

What comes next in my to do list for the day can only be called Herculean in scope and Preposterous in feasability. This list takes uncompleted items from my unrealistic list made the day before and combines it with my unrealistic goals for the Today which seems to loom so clear and innocent before me. No problem, today I am strong and rested and invincible!

Oh yeah, some real estate client follow ups, oh and the dogs have a vet appointment, and then there is the eight-mile list of school supplies, the groceries and the odd construction accessory that needs to be purchased. The bills that need to be paid, the checkbook that needs to be balanced and the tax documents that need to be gathered. A few appointments scattered throughout the day, and oh yes, the function I'm required to attend this evening as Mrs. Downtown Dave.

By this time, The New Puppy has started her morning yodle, so I take her and The Big White Dog outside and grab that first cuppa java. Once the dogs have peed, they want to eat, and, after filling their bowls and replenishing the Cockatiels dishes, I notice that the people dishes from last night and probably yesterday's lunch are crusting on the counter. So, since I, and I alone am apparently the only one who knows the super top-secret code for opening the dishwasher, I empty that, fill it again, and start it. Now the dogs want out again, and I should check the pool filter. So we trek outside. After I've cleared the drowned bunnies, the leaves and twigs and spiders out of the pool skimmer, and the dogs have pooped, we troop inside.

Time now for another cup of Joe, and to roust the sleeping Downtown Dave. Thank goodness it's still summer vacation and I don't have to wake the kids! I take a quick glance at the obituaries, the two comics I actually read, and scan the opinion page for something scandalous, flick the finger mid-coffee slurp at Downtown Dave in the shower hollering that Theres-No-More-Hot-Water, then play a little fetch and tug with The New Puppy. I take my vitamins, drink a big glass of water and now, since most of the clutter is again cleared from the day I make my way back downstairs to my desk.

6:00! How did it get so late!? The day is starting to slip away! Ok, start the laundry and iron a shirt for Downtown Dave. Crap, I forgot to put out the recycling and those sneaky little bastards must collect at midnight because all the other bins on my street are emptied and there, lined up neatly in my garage, sit my eight paper sacks of glass, plastic and tin. Oh well, I'll schlep them to the drop off bins on my way to the vet.

Another mug of coffee and another 55 minutes are consumed before Downtown Dave is on his way and the dogs are gnawing their bones and I am able to resume my placid planning. What's next? Ah yes, balance the checkbook online... another 45 minutes gone, since that task has been "deferred" for the last 3 days. Crap it's nearly nine and I've got to get the dogs to the vet at 10. Is there time for yoga? "Make the time. Take the time." coos my inner perfect-fucking self. "Read your email. Do some writing." purrs the devil on my left shoulder. "Fold the wrinkly dry clothes, slop the molding wet stuff into the dryer, put in another load to wash, empty the dishwasher, clean up the New Puppy poop, vacuum the hairy stairs." intones the freaking perfect angel on my right shoulder. I, of course sit down at my computer to quickly check my email, and make a couple of notes for a future blog post.

9:55! SHeeeit! I grab the dogs, their leashes and my keys and wonder briefly if I should pull on some sweats oh, and maybe a bra.... I herd my canine kids into my messy minivan and remember the recycling. Oh, I'll only be a little late... so I open the side doors and start heaving in the wet and stinky paper bags of two week old bean cans, liquor bottles and plastic pop bottles. A couple bags bottoms give way but most of my ecological treasure stays contained.

One hour elapses, we have a clean bill of health for the pooches, and we are off to the recycling bins. Unbeknownst to me, due to Led Zepelin blaring, The New Puppy has found the weak bag bottoms and has decided to mix up my previously organized mess. No matter. Another 30 minutes and some pretty sticky hands and dog tongues later, we are on our way home to resume The Perfect Day.

Even though it is mere minutes until noon, I still believe that I can marshall those fleeting minutes into submission. A quick switch of the laundry. Now, what next? "Yoga." calls my perfect self, as she sits crosslegged filing her perfect nails. A throbbing nerve in my spine quickly seconds the motion. A throbbing nerve in my head, speaking much louder than the spine, insists that we pour a few ounces of rum into a glass of Diet Coke and sit by the pool.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Chicks at the Lake

Growing up in Southern California we went to the beach like some people now go the the mall, on a whim, with no particular planning. It was a 10 minute trip from practially anywhere. We wrapped our Velveeta on white bread sandwiches in foil and shared one 12 ounce glass bottle of Coke between the 4 of us. We laid in a row on our mothers bath towels on the hot sand talking to the sky. We threw ourselves into the salty embrace of the waves when we got too hot. Even at 14 and 15 we took off our tops to prevent tan lines and glared down any passer by ill-mannered enough to look.

Thirty-something years later I have just returned from my Minnesota version of going to the beach. No longer a 10 minute trip, this is an hour excursion which requires at least three days of planning to produce the right menu and correct ingredients for libations. Gone are my foil wrapped Velveeta sandwiches, replaced now by Brocolli florets and artichoke dip. Buttery Nipples and Long Island Iced Teas are now served in matching plastic goblets with individual charms so we don't get them confused, along with iced bottles of water to keep us hydrated. Plush 22 lb. terry loop beach towels with fancy dobby hems now protect our aging thighs from the harsh lounge chairs circled evenly for ease of conversation on the manicured lawn. We step gingerly into the lapping lake water and wade out waist deep then retreat the the comfort of our chaise, modestly wrapping our hawaiian print sarongs around our spreading middles.

Attempts on my part to draw any comparisons of this lake experience to the actual beach either to this midwestern bred congregation or to my similarly displaced compatriates from the past, draws alternately polite laughter or confused silence. Why, ask the lakies, would you prefer the gritty sand to this nice grass? Why, ponder the beachies, even bother to drive that far to sit on the grass? And what does lake water do?

Aside from the obvious tactile differences, I suppose there are subtler distinctions. A sort of unspoken code known only to seventies era teenagers who grew up on the coast, now long since forgotten or burried under thirtysomething years of midwestern cultural brainwashing. I shake my head and long for the easy grace with which we would glide from one thing to another on a whim, with no particular planning.

A sneaky peek deux!

Having exposed one set of friends, I feel obligated to equally expose the other. Herewith are my obviously food obsessed Upper Midwestern girlfriends - deep in the throes of planning a late summer get together - let's listen in:

CY: Hello friends - I thought we should start planning our little lake get-together. Don't take offense guys but I'm sure I don't need to remind anyone of the importance of keeping this quiet. It's not that we want to hurt anyone's feelings; there are just some people we don't want to spend the day with – deal with it. I have, and I'm guilt free. LAKE DAY-MONDAY, AUGUST 15 Anytime after 10:30 a.m. LH and I were talking, and decided the theme for the day should be HEALTHY EATING (however, that means healthy for us as opposed to healthy for a healthy person). LH has decided she will bring deviled eggs (relatively healthy) and possibly some cheese (hopefully not that brie stuff, just something normal like cheddar – that would be Gouda!) LOL! Just so we don't get too carried away with this health kick we think LD should bring cheese cake. I will be bringing vegetables and dip-because vegetables were made for dip. And besides, nobody really wants to feel the furry stuff on broccoli. Please feel free to explore the possibilities of other healthy options while ensuring that we won't be disappointed by taste and talk about you the next time you miss tour. I have the makings for Mrs. Rinke's World Famous Long Island T's. I'll have to check the cabin to see what else I have. I'm pretty sure there's a couple of bottles of Chardonnay, however probably not Kendall Jackson! And there's always beer. You can see who this has been sent to. If you have any other suggestions, feel free to bring that person's name up for a vote/discussion. If you can't make it, we'll miss you and we promise NOT to talk about you. P.S.-Begin making your list of topics of discussion/items of business-just so we don't run out of shit to talk about.

1. TC's next visit.

LLA: First... Wear the fox hat. (... if you don't get it - improvise) Second... I for one got excited during the first part where CY was handing out food assignments, and then was sorely disappointed when I was not assigned something. As you know, I lack imagination, so therefore cannot function without an assignment. Left to my own devices I may bring something like Peter Pancakes with Lost Boysenberry syrup, or something way more inappropriate. To save this event from culinary disaster I beg you, please assign me a food or drink! Something totally in keeping with the theme of course.

LH: Okay, I feel the need to defend my anal, party-planning self. I suggested the food assignments so CY wouldn't feel compelled to provide all for all. And also so we don't all show up with only veggies. Can't wait. I've got a couple extra floaties if anyone needs ‘em. Tell me though, or I won't bring extras. CAN'T WAIT! Does anyone besides LLA know what PETER PANCAKES are??

CY: Let it be known that I never thought planning the food would be a bad thing. I love planning, I just don't want to come across as being bossy. It sounds much better (and less bossy) coming from LH. OK you two goofs. We'll think of something for you to bring. I neglected to mention we have the makings for a nice "buttery nipple" also. God, I love saying that! I don't know what the hell Peter Pancakes are or where the fox they are at. I just thought it was another by-product of LLA's overactive imagination.

LD: I don't know what they are either, but I'm coming up with some great visuals....

LLA: They are pancakes that stay rather flat I assume... get it? Or perhaps ones that never grow (M)old in the back of your refrigerator! Hahahahahahahaha!! I made it up - you silly anal-party-planner!

CY: God, we're getting so weird! I'm starting a new e-mail to make an important announcement. As LH and I talked about food assignments (yes, LH, I am once again implicating you) we also explored the thought of extending our highly sought after invitations to others that have piqued our interest. No, I'm not talking about PH, since she was already invited-whom I will say has been suspiciously quiet during all of this. I hope this doesn't mean we can't trust her; perhaps she's merely frightened... Anyway, I took the liberty of inviting GD. Anyone who can pound back that many beers may eventually have good shit to talk about. I did convey to GH the importance of keeping this coveted invitation on the down-low. Gotta go, I'm on vacation. P.S. Somebody please come up with ideas for food for JN and LLA since their brains are just too full of whatever it is they think about all day!

Sunday, August 14, 2005

A sneaky peek

I am fortunate in that I have two sets of wonderful women friends. One group made up of cool chicks formed in the unlikely setting of Real Estate Agents who normally would be at each others throats in this competitive setting; the other group, quoted here, are cool chicks from high school - no wait, TR and NN are oddly enough, cool chicks I met online via my friends from high school. Here is a transcript of a recent e-conversation typical of our banter. LLA is me. A red wagon is our metaphor for "I don't get it." No further explanation is necessary.

LLA: Hi, Don't know if you remember me or not. My name is Linda and I used to email you guys pretty regularly..... Ha. So, are you guys just really busy, or did emailing get boring without me? Oh, and check out my "blog." How strange, how new wave, how not me, but yet here it is. Yes, I have a Blog. I do so wish there was another name for it. I'm almost embarrassed to say the word. Anyway, I've also got a goal of 500 words a day to keep, so I'm furiously writing at 3:18a.m and will begin to post things already written as I begin to dry up, but just because you've been so supportive, (lucky you) I'll let you know this exists so you can read if you want. Woopee.

TR: what's a blog?....

NN: Oh, I remember you! You were the one that kept us all in stitches (or complete confusion) with your witty tales. A blog, how exciting! Although I don't have time today to read it, I have kept it as one of my "favorites" so if I have a moment I can jump on and give it a read. Don't expect a reply from KS for a few more days. They are in Yellowstone this week.

TR: Hi grows your tomatoe plant?

NN: The Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!! They are both over 8 feet tall! The Early Girl has over 100 tomatoes on it and the Cherry tomato has over 200! I have no doubt they will all get ripe at the same time too. Know any good bulk tomato recipes? Sauce or something that can be frozen?! It is the hummingbird poop I tell ya!

LLA: Ooooo goody! KS will come home to 268 emails – I can just hear her now… “Oh FFS!” NN you are such a nice person to take her off the list, but me being just as nice, well, I just put her right back on. Wouldn’t want her to miss out on one teensy tiny detail! 8 foot tall tomaties?!?!? Girl, they are gonna pull up their own roots some night and walk into your house demanding celery salt and vodka! Oh, and if you’re really interested, here is a link to a fascinating report on an analysis of hummingbird poop – complete with pictures no less! C’mon, admit it, you missed me didn’t you?

NN: Well, OF COURSE we missed you. Where else would we get this useful information? Celery salt and vodka, hahahahaha! Although if you saw the size of the plants you might not be laughing. I might have to start locking the door! By the way, I didn't take KS off, it must have been TR. Hmmm..... Oh, by the way, that website is kind of disgusting. I am going to wash those tomatoes really well.

TR: Hahaha the humming bird poop! very impressive my dear and Mike have a very GREEN thumb so to anyone interested...BBQ by the lake on August 20th for red head Pam's birthday ( Lamar;'s girlfriend) the lake is open for swimming and the bar is open for the non- swimmers...3pm on...bring a chair bring a dish, bring booze

KW: WELL, I NEVER! I certainly do TOO answer your e-mails. Well, maybe not all of them. But by the time I get to sit down and go through my e-mails, I'm so tired I need to be put out of my misery. So, I did cruise your blog. And there's something I've been thinking about for awhile now. We're both quick-witted and well written, but for as long as I can remember, I was quick with the verbal wit and you were quick with the written wit (say that 10 times real fast). I can blurt something funny out in a heartbeat but it takes me awhile to put it to words. You, however, can think it and then write it so effortlessly. I can't do that because I'm a born editor and have to scrutinize everything BEFORE I accept it, instead of just pounding it out and scrutinizing it later. So I think you should write a book about us growing up. I've always thought our life stories, separately and together, would make a great novel of the late 20th Century. Whaddya think?

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

See, here's the thing...

I'm all about accomplishing the goal. Heaven knows I am driven. But now that the goal looms there before me, I still have to deal with the mountain of laundry and ironing, the bills that need to be paid, the pets that need care, oh, and the husband and kids who still need my attention. At this point, the "work" involved in being a writer occurs long before any writing occurs.

Then there's the motivation issue. I have a friend I call Wheat. She and I have the same twisted sense of humor, the same slightly crooked way of looking at life. Ever since the day we met in 9th grade we've been writing. Little missives we called "notes" that turned into parodies of soap operas, kooky commercials, song lyrics gone awry, and odd romances. We connect in the written world. I suppose to put it in the mildest of terms, she motivates me. We have one of those relationships that allows us to pick up a conversation interrupted by distance and years, right where we left off. We can entertain our mutual friends and family with our quips and banter for hours. Our conversations are the stuff of brilliant sitcoms, but alas, none of it has been written down.

Since moving away from Southern California to the Midwest I do have other friends, and don't get me wrong, we have our moments. At least a few think I'm pretty clever with words, and I do keep them entertained. But I really haven't found anyone I can talk to that connects with my offbeat sense of humor. No one who can put a spark to the ideas that float through my head like Wheat can. (If you are reading this Wheat you'd better post a comment!) But, here's the thing, as funny as our notes and journals were to us 30 years ago, how does that translated into a story that is entertaining today?

I was hoping that this post would go somewhere, to answer that question for me, but alas, it is just a hypothetical question posted in cyberspace. More on this later.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


I've been a Franklin Planner disciple for almost 10 years now. Setting goals and using daily task lists to chart my progress toward them is as much a part of my life as eating or sleeping. The thing is, I've only used this tool in my "professional life." I truly believe that until just now, I've been merely paying lip service to one of my deepest desires - writing. Sure, I add "write" to my daily task list but more often than not there is an arrow defering it on to the next day rather than a check mark saying I've done it. Since no one goes hungry or gets left at the airport if I don't do it, I wasn't truly making it a priority. Well that all changes today. Since joining the Forward Motion Writers Community I've found out there is forum there where you can publicly declare your goal and then track it. Very cool. Scary, but cool. This means of course, that I'll have to actually think of writing as real instead of just that thing that happens when I get an idea that coincides with some free time. I'm hoping that once I get rolling with my goal, which is 500 words per day, I'll somehow get over that lost feeling of 'write? Write what?' Which is what I'm feeling right now.

I suppose I can liken this to the feeling I had three years ago when I first started in real estate. I got my desk, and orientation around the office, even some mentoring classes. I had stuff to read and forms to fill out and tasks to accomplish. But once those were all done (and efficiently checked off of my Prioritized Daily Task List) I sat there looking around at all the other busy agents. Busy doing what? I wondered. Well, they were calling people, having conversations, writing letters. The really busy ones were doing all that AND writing contracts and listing houses and negotiating deals. The better they did those things, the more closings they had - hence more money! Trouble is, for me anyway, they were doing it on their own, there was no manager, or supervisor assigning tasks. Stated or unstated, these people had goals and they were working toward them - on their own! What a concept!

It was and still is hard for me, coming from the daily busy-work corporate world into the fend for yourself world of commission sales. I was so used to sitting at a desk answering phones, transcribing other peoples' bad handwriting, dutifully attending meetings, all for someone else. It was totally unfulfilling, but it brought in a regular paycheck. I still long for the sense of accomplishment I'd get after turning in a particularly well worded report. The trouble was no one read the report for the sheer joy of reading. No one thought 'oh who wrote this, it's so insightful and entertaining!' And, whats worse, it ended up filed away right next to the crapily written ones. But, I still got paid... the same as the people who couldn't string together two words, no more, no less. In hindsight, it's hard to remember what kind of daily or monthy goals I would have had in that environment, or when I'd have time to accomplish them if I did!

I do pretty well at real estate. I established some goals and I work toward them, guided of course by my trusty Franklin. I get paid according to how hard or how little I work, which is exactly what I wanted. But in all honesty, my motive in changing careers mid-life was two-fold. One, it broke that safe dependance on a routine paycheck, and two, it gave me the free time I needed to pursue what I really want to do - write. At this point, business tends to roll in without grueling effort on my part, and I'm about as busy as I want to be. Now, I can give my writing goals the respect they deserve.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Finding my voice

Here I sit, in front of the blank posting screen with that cursor blinking at me. It reminds me of the fear I'd feel when my mother was put out with me for some reason - she'd cross her arms, arch her right eyebrow and tap her foot - at much the same tempo as the blinking cursor, waiting.... waiting. Waiting for what? Waiting for me to say something brilliant to explain or excuse what I'd done. I learned over time that the most expedient way to get out of whatever trouble I was in was to make her laugh, to deflect the focus away from my faulty judgement and onto the rediculousness of the situation. It seems I've endowed the cursor with my mother's expectations, trouble is I'm not so sure what to say anymore.

It occurs to me that this is much like getting to know someone, finding a comfort zone. I'm rejecting ideas that come into my head because inwardly I groan at the prospect of having to give the backstory or setup before the story. Even though no one is reading this, there is the possibility that someone may, and even more than my mother's tapping foot, I fear boring. Intellectually, I know I can tell a story, or make a point. It's just my inner editor, that overbearing perfectionist, has his iron fist clamped tightly down on the pump handle of my idea well, tapping his jack-booted foot, waiting, waiting for me to say something brilliant.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Another day...

So whats this about a miraculous healing? Its all about microcurrent therapy. I'd been to "regular doctors" who diagnosed the pain in my two big toes as arthritis. Two years later and additional back pain which I attributed to premenopause and burgeoning weight around my middle with no real relief sent me looking elsewhere. I happened upon a Naturopath (a rare thing here in the upper midwest). Complaining chiefly of the nagging chronic back pain, she sent me home with three herbal/vitamin proprietary blends, told me to purchase a body ball to exercise my iliopsoas and scheduled me for a microcurrent appointment. Not knowing what to expect, I returned in a week, already seeing improvement in the back pain.

Nancy, the technician greeted me warmly and briefly explained what we were going to do. Skeptical and a little unnerved at the black gloves, the electrodes and the box with dials, I did my best to relax on the table in my hospital gown. Nancy placed her black gloved hand just above my hip bone and kept it there for the whole session. Throughout my session our conversation which was almost constant for the 60 minutes I was there, she told me personal experiences, and made astounding recuperative claims that made me seriously question my decision to do this. At the end, she told me to get dressed and meet her at the front window - then left the room. I rolled my eyes, and could just imagine the abuse I'd have to take for falling for what I still thought was a hoax. Then, I got off of the table. What had been on a scale of 1 - 10, a 7 in back pain was not there! NOT THERE! At first, I attributed it to relaxing in an ergonomic position for an hour, but the realization kept coming back - the pain was gone!!

When I met Nancy at the front window, I was nothing short of amazed. I lamented that I hadn't mentioned my painful toes during the session so that they could be addressed too. She told me that they were connected to the same muscle group we'd worked on and said that she thought the pain might improve in a couple of days. She said that she'd like to see me one more time to see what the progress was and to treat me further if necessary. I left, still marvelling at the absence of the pain that had been my constant companion for quite a while. I went about my daily business and slowly the realization dawned on me that while my back was pain free, so were my toes!

So I am going back for my second session a complete believer! More on this later.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Starting Out

There are worse places to live than Fargo/Moorhead. Smaller towns, bigger cities, scarier demographics, more boring. But here is where I live right now and now is what I'm writing about.

Words are my medium and while I have yet to find a way to make a living with them, I do love to share my words with others. Hence starting this Blog.

Here and now I am a Realtor wishing I was a writer. Earning a living, raising children, finding time, overcoming pain and lethargy, have been my blocks to having my wish come true, but little by little, I am overcoming these blocks. The Realtor gig gives me the free time if I work it right, as well as providing a second income. The kids are now teens not needing much raising albeit considerably more involvement. I'm down to pain and just plain laziness as my excuses now and in my next post I hope to chronicle my newfound vitality and how I got there!
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