Tag Archives: smarm

The Grandma from Kalama


Okay, technically she wasn’t from there, but she did live there for a time.

Tonight I had occasion to dig out some little odds and ends that I inherited when my grandmother passed away.  This happened when my daughter was five months old.  She is now 9 and a half years old.

It’s really true that although you may get past someone’s death, you don’t really get over it.  It feels the same today as it did then.  There is not a day that goes by that she does not cross my mind.

I had not brought out these things in some time and at first I could not find them; this caused a small panic, that I could have let them somehow slip away from me.  I rummaged around in all the disused spaces of our house several times before the suggestion that might they be among my craft supplies?  jogged my memory a bit and so I found them, in a pasteboard box, down in the glass-fronted hutch cupboard.  I was relieved that I had not left them in the garage, which is relatively dry but cold in winter and hot in summer and smells like damp concrete and grass clippings.  It would be no place for an old lady’s trinkets.

It’s hard for me to handle these little items, physically I mean to touch them and have them out, because they still smell like her house smelled and that will cause the sharp little pang of stinging sadness like no other thing will.  But I needed something from the little cache, and when I couldn’t find it it suddenly became vitally important that I lay my hands on it, right now, tonight.

I feel better and worse, happier and sadder, for this little trip down memory lane.   These days as I find myself caring less and less for what anyone thinks of me I am reminded of her more and more.  She had her faults and her foibles but by God she was who she was.

And I miss who she was, tonight and every other day of my life.


Family Camp Week


So every year for the past four years, and conceivably for all future years, we have attended Family Camp at our church’s camp out in the sticks.

I say for all future years because there are people attending this camp who have been doing so nearly all their lives, and they are older than I am.  And I don’t think it’s any big secret that I am terrifyingly decrepit.  So apparently once you begin attending this camp you can expect to continue doing so for all eternity.  There are two ladies who have got to be in their 80’s who still come every year.

Now, “church camp” stirs up all kinds of impressions which I would like to hastily dispel.  We do not have lengthy camp meetings with laying on of hands or speaking in tongues.   Nobody thumps a Bible at anybody else.  It’s not brainwashing.

What we DO is we meet in the morning to talk about a certain amount of church related things (Jesusy stuff, you wouldn’t be interested) in the laid-back groovy UCC way that we have of doing things, and we eat lunch and go swimming down at the swimmin’ hole, and we have dinner and vespers which is a totally awesome way of saying we get together and talk about church related things again for a short time, and then we have campfire.  Also in there between swimming and dinner we do some crafts if we are so inclined, and some people also manage to get in a certain amount of napping, no names mentioned *COUGH COUGH RHONDA FOR FOUR SOLID HOURS ONCE COUGH COUGH*

Oh, and there’s also field games and hiking and all kinds of stuff.  This camp is on a couple hundred wooded acres with creeks and cabins and trees and dirt and bugs and stuff like that.  There is lots of The Nature to wander around in, if one is so disposed.

This was our first time going for the whole week, and we stayed in a rustic (translation: electrical problems meant that the stove hood light worked at random intervals and one room upstairs had no power at all for reasons that were unclear) cabin with our BFF Kirsten and her three magical offspring, the youngest of whom is only nine months old.  The other two are nearly exactly the same ages as The Lovely Rhonda’s girls.

The cabin is divided into two bunk rooms downstairs and two bedrooms upstairs, with bathrooms adjoining to the bunk rooms as well as one upstairs for the bedrooms.  We put the five girls in one bunk room and Kirsten, the baby, TLR and myself in the other.  Another camper stayed in the upstairs bedroom that did have power.  It was groovy.

Did I mention  how infants like to wake up in the middle of the night or very early in the morning and scream?  They do, in case you were uninformed.  This is useful information for those who might be tempted to travel with infant-having persons of their acquaintance, and so I mention it now in case this might describe either of you, dear reader(s).  I like to be of service to my fellows.

Kirsten was afeared that we would disown her for this but Happy Fun Ball is such a cheerful, adorable baby who smiles ALL THE TIME  that we couldn’t really hold a grudge.  Not much of a grudge.  Not too much of one.  Not much.  Of one.  Of a grudge.  Thing.

What was I saying?  Fatigue has made me a bit punchy.

Anyway, we made sure the cabin was stocked up with snacks and Cokes for late night cribbage and towels for swimming and fans for the incredible sticky wilting summer heat, and we had Family Camp.

On the last night we had a very fun campfire with lots of singing (I have become a Camp Song Dork) and s’mores, and then we coerced the camp counselors to hang out in our cabin while the children slept so that we, the alleged grown-ups, could sit in the lodge and play games.  This was super fun, made even more so by the fact that when we broke out the modest array of snacks that we had remaining, the response was so enthusiastic that we dispatched The Lovely Rhonda back to the cabin for more, and then watched as everything that was offered was devoured nearly instantly.  I think it is safe to say that neither of us expected these people to eat cheese doodles and peanut butter M&M’s, after seeing them eat salad all week, but they did, and with considerable gusto.

Camp is this place with singing and crafts and really, really nice people, and for all that it is an hour from home it’s a magical hour such that when you drive out to town to get something it’s like you’ve re-entered civilization.  We love it.

However, we’re not as wild about the mounds and mounds of funky camp laundry that we have to wash when we get home.

Still worth it though.

Sneaky Moms


So we have a lot of children.

Okay, we have three.

Three is like a lot if they are girls.  These girls.  These three girls.

We also happen to have a small amount of “extra” money due to unforeseen circumstances, and we have spring break.

And we are sneaky, especially The Lovely Rhonda.

Sneaky Rhondas plus internet = vacation fun times.

So, we are packing up some stuff in bags and then we are going to this place we’ve heard about in California.

We’re not telling the Collective Spawn.

We have to get up super early on the day of departure, so we’re going to tell them to plug in their various electronic babysitters the night before, because “we have a lot of super dull grown-up errands to run tomorrow so we don’t want you to be too bored.”  We will apologize in advance for all the tedium and say that perhaps, if everyone is well-behaved, we might go to the dollar store or something along the way.

Then in the morning we will get them up at the crack of dawn and our friend Kirsten will pick us up and take us to the airport, and so it will come to pass that they will learn that we are going somewhere, possibly on an airplane.

Probably when they learn that we are going to Los Angeles the oldest child might figure out that we are headed to that one place we’ve heard about.  She will then inform the others, and we will neither confirm nor deny.

I plan to play dumb until the great big gates hove into view of the shuttle, saying instead that we are no doubt visiting the World’s Largest Ball of Twine or something.

And then we will enter the Happiest Place on Earth, and the magic will begin.

The Last Valentine’s Day Post, I Swear


So  I was in kind of a funky place all day vis-a-vis the whole Valentine thing.  Not so much because I was feeling pressure to meet some societal standard of adequate gifting etc.  The standard is self-imposed and is one that I’m comfortable with.

No, the problem was that the item that I had carefully hand-selected has not arrived.  And when I went online to check on its progress through life, I was informed that the website was sorry but that it could not provide updated information about whether it had even shipped, let alone where in the hell it might actually be.  I was welcome to call Customer Service.

I was not, frankly, in the mood to call Customer Service.

So, I resorted to the next best thing which was to substitute a place-holder gift to tide The Lovely Rhonda over until the real deal finally makes it off the slow boat from China or wherever it will be coming from.  Thus did the children and I hop in the van and head over to a place where such things could be obtained.

Just before leaving I was struck with some kind of flash of inspiration, or maybe it was something I ate — there is a wicked virus blowing through the house, more on that later — and found myself sitting at this very keyboard tapping out a little something.

I’m not much for mushy cards full of Hallmarky sentiment, but it turns out I can churn out a limerick for any occasion.  Behold:

There once was a nurse with red hair

Whose life needed urgent repair

She stole a man’s wife

‘Mid stresses and strife

Despite all advice to beware


They married, those ladies bespoke

And some might think she treated it a joke

But love is mysterious

She takes it quite serious

So, disregard naysaying folk


I love you more each passing day

I’ll go anyplace that you say

I’ll stick to you always

And chase you down hallways

If ever you scamper away


Be mine always

…. I didn’t really steal her but it sounds better that way.

And the virus?  Two kids out of three so far.  We would not have made that trip to the place in the van this afternoon had I realized it wasn’t just one of those things for the first kid.  It hit the second one as we sat at the dinner table.  Lucky us!

The Weddin’, Part V: The Reception


So I got married on Saturday, January 5th.

After we promised to love each other until the end of time, it only made sense to then strap on the feedbag at a fantastic spread provided by the best friends two lesbians could ever have, the toothsome Kirsten and her inexplicable husband, The Davey.

We met Kirsten and their daughters at family camp a couple of years ago and, as I’m sure everyone they meet does, have grown to love all of them almost more than is healthy.  They have kids very close in age to Rhonda’s girls, they like to play games and drink things and dip things into other things and eat them, and they are delightful in every possible way.

So you can imagine our breathless incredulity when they heard that we were thinking of gettin’ hitched and the first thing they said was WE WANT TO DO THE FOOD.

Did I mention that The Davey is one of those people who cooks?  Like, so well that he used to do it for a living?

There followed a certain amount of disorganized yammering at them by us, which they kindly interpreted and/or completely ignored. They occasionally asked us questions in the weeks leading up to the wedding, questions that began with, “Do you mind if we have some –” and which we always interrupted by shouting YES PLEASE SERVE ANYTHING YOU WOULD CARE TO MAKE, POUR A BAG OF PURINA CAT CHOW ON THE TABLE IF IT SUITS YOU, WE ARE NOT WORTHY.  And so against all odds a delicious buffet was produced, for which neither I nor my lovely wife can take credit.

And which our boisterous guests stripped completely bare.  It looked like rabid locusts had descended on the table and left only what they couldn’t grasp in their horrible hairy pincers.

Dear reader(s), it was lovely.  There were nibbly things of many types and an enormous slab of smoked salmon that was hand-caught and smoked by yet another friend and church-member, Clay.  It should be noted that I was so busy schmoozing, and obviously woozy from the fumes of matrimony, that I never even saw the salmon in person but have only now become acquainted with it via photographs.  There were Cheesy Poufs, and those little quiches that are like a little savory mouthful of paradise, and also: WEENIE wraps and meatBALLS.  Because, of course, it was a lesbian wedding.  Ha. Of course.  That.  Yes.

And little cubes of cheese and crackery things and bread and all kinds of things.  I ate, um, one weenie wrap and I think a Cheesy Pouf?  Because I was busy.  And dazed.

Buffet Table #2

I have already described the cake, but I show it again here because it is so wonderful that it deserves another look.  There was even a little tree-root sticking off to one side at the back, designed specifically to be cut and fed to one another by the newlyweds.  This was a good thing because it looked complicated to slice otherwise.

Deb and Rhonda Cutting the cake


We also had a chocolate fountain, because we are brilliant like that.  Because Rhonda and I were fussing over the idea of having some chocolate-covered strawberries but they are so expensive and delicate and and and, and that of course was when Rhonda’s oldest piped up about how we should just have a chocolate fountain.

The reason why we wanted chocolate-covered strawberries at the reception was because way back on our first real “date,” The Lovely Rhonda brought a small cooler filled with chocolate-covered strawberries.  (This is the same reason we have a Christmas ornament shaped like a chocolate-covered strawberry.  It’s a really nice one too, not plastic or anything.)

Should you, gentle reader(s), ever have a wedding or gathering where children will be in attendance but will also be bored to death by all the dull conversation and lack of fun that grown-ups have when they get together, might I suggest a chocolate fountain?  Because the children will happily destroy all surrounding landscape with dribbles of chocolate.  They will gleefully race to and from the chocolate fountain table with precarious platefuls of pretzels, fruit and marshmallows fossilized in chocolate.  They will decorate their clothing, shoes and hair with chocolate.  They will practically dive into the chocolate and do the backstroke à la Augustus Gloop.  And it will keep them fantastically busy, and afterward they will leave and you won’t have to deal with the aftermath of giving children unfettered access to sugar for two hours.



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Seriously, that table was surrounded by children at all times, to the point that TLR had to elbow through them to dive for the last strawberry, twirl it through the dwindling chocolate curtain and present it to me, moments before the teeming mob of pirahna-tots dipped that fountain dry.

Best.  Idea.  Ever.

Once everyone had attacked the buffet for a while we served up glasses of sparkling cider (this is a church, after all, no alcohol unless it’s the sacramental wine) and jointly tried to express our gratitude and humility for all who had helped us, all who had showed up, all who were happy to see us reach this day.  We tried to express this via an extremely inarticulate toast.  What it lacked in polish it made up for in enthusiasm, which I am told can compensate for a great many things.

We drank the toast using champagne flutes given to me by my grandmother years ago, beautiful cut-crystal things with platinum rims.  It was my way of including her in this happiest day of my life.  I am happy to say that my other grandmother, still pretty spry for 87, was in attendance and welcomed Rhonda to the family.

I am a very lucky woman.

At the end of it all, when the last chocolate-smeared parent was herding the final protesting child out to the car, we turned to find our friends who had slaved in the kitchen all day, and half the day before that, busily cleaning and putting things away.  Other church friends were there to stack chairs and tidy things up.

We tried to help but they chased us off.

We have the best friends imaginable.

The Weddin’, Part IV: MAWWIAGE


So we got married on January 5th, twice, and the second time it was a little fancier than the first.

I’d made this powerpoint of photos of the five of us, arranged chronologically, set to music.  When we met, the younger of The Lovely Rhonda’s two daughters was only a year old, her older one was not quite three, and mine was just turning four.  It’s nearly five years later, so they have changed a bit.

This powerpoint was playing on the gigantic plasma screen in the sanctuary as guests were filing in before the ceremony.  I can’t include the music without paying for some kind of upgrade, so imagine Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World playing as you view it, and if there is time, Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds singing You & Me.

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Then when it was time, Sting’s The Secret Marriage.  This is a short song, only about two minutes, and I think it kind of sums up the way it is for people who for whatever reason cannot marry: 

No earthly church has ever blessed our union
No state has ever granted us permission
No family bond has ever made us two
No company has ever earned commission

No debt was paid no dowry to be gained
No treaty over border land or power
No semblance of the world outside remained
To stain the beauty of this nuptial hour

The secret marriage vow is never spoken
The secret marriage never can be broken

No flowers on the alter
No white veil in your hair
No maiden dress to alter
No Bible oath to swear

The secret marriage vow is never spoken
The secret marriage never can be broken

Toward the end, Rhonda’s youngest emerged as the flower girl.  She walked very slowly at first, tossing each hand-selected petal carefully first to one side, then the other.  After a few such occurrences she looked up and realized everyone was staring at her.  At this point she bolted to the front of the church to stand in her appointed spot, mortified and alone.  So I am told, as I was waiting in the entryway of the church like a good bride.  The ring bearers walked out in turn without incident and soon we stood before the altar, our super awesome minister poised above us.

There was a brief pause, and then, a la Peter Cook in The Princess Bride, Pastor Don opened his mouth and intoned:  “MAWWIAGE!  MAWWIAGE IS WHAT BWINGS US TOGEVVAH!  TODAY!”


…Okay, so when we asked him if he would do this for us, he had never seen the movie.  We showed him a clip of that scene on YouTube using Rhonda’s phone and he immediately agreed.  “I’m a bit of a ham!” said he.  We were fairly sure that many of our esteemed guests would be fluent enough in Dorkish to get this, and we were not disappointed.  There was a roar of laughter.  This very neatly set the tone for the rest of the ceremony.

After this there was the usual stuff about what makes a marriage and all that mushy stuff.  There were things we were made to repeat to each other.  Rings were produced.  I helpfully indicated which finger the ring should be placed upon.


At one point the minister asked the assembled guests whether they would support us as a married couple to which, to my great and happy surprise, they responded shoutingly to the affirmative before he could even finish asking the question.

The minister from the church we used to attend was there too, reading poems in between things that we were repeating and so forth.

After the third and last such poem I turned to face the assembly.

“Okay, so, Rhonda doesn’t know about this part,” I said cheerfully, and pulling a folded poem that was tucked into my highpockets (as my Grandmother called it), gave the signal to the computer guy running the show in the back to fire up the secret powerpoint that I had smuggled in earlier.


Here I have inserted the poem into the powerpoint so that both of you can see it:

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I must say that it was deeply satisfying to express all of this in the nerdiest way possible, i.e. using a powerpoint and a piece of paper retrieved from one’s brassiere.

At the end of the ceremony there came that magic moment when you could kiss the bride.  There was kissing, despite the fact that I am not the sort of person inclined to do such things whilst on display in front of my family, friends and co-workers.  It was made clear to me that this was necessary, to the point that bodily harm may come to me should I merely present a cheek for the kiss.

I am told that the flower girl chose that moment to throw, with great enthusiasm, the petals remaining in her wee basket.  This constituted a lot of petals since, as stated earlier, she only cast a few down before stampeding down the aisle in a panic.  Nevertheless, the timing was perfect.First Kiss

We made our retreat accompanied by hooting, catcalls, cheering, applause, and the ringing of a sh!tload of bells, lovingly crafted into beribboned fistfuls by stray members of the behind-the-scenes wedding party (millions of thanks to Bobby and Alison).  The song, not that anyone could hear it, was Lyle Lovett’s She’s No Lady. 

It was, in a word, perfect.

Stay tuned for the gripping conclusion:  The Weddin’, Part V: The Reception

The guy in the place with the thing


So recently in Our Fair State the voters decided it was okay to be gay.

Well, a narrow majority decided that if you’re going to be gay, you might as well be able to share in the abject horror dream within a dream that is marriage.  While you’re here.  In the state itself.  Not so much in other states, except the ten others that agree on this point.

Naturally, many individuals of the homosexual persuasion found this to be pretty exciting.  At last!  Just like the straight folk, we can kiss half our stuff goodbye if things go south!

I kid.  I’m a kidder.

Some people lined up at midnight in your larger cities.  Well, probably just the one.  Washington state really only has one large city.  The Lovely Rhonda and I don’t happen to live there, so that option was not available to us unless of course we wanted to drive for three hours in the dead of night and stand around in the chilly night air.  This would involve a babysitter and all kinds of hassle, so we opted out.

Instead we hustled the kiddies off to school and headed over to the courthouse by way of Starbucks.  Because coffee.

Once we arrived and wandered in the main door, the elderly volunteer stationed there took one look at us — sensibly-shod, traditionally-built women carrying lattes — and directed us to the second floor without asking what we were there for.  “How DID he know?” we marveled at one another.

Upstairs a very dapper African-American gent — he was so dapper that “gent” is the only word possible to describe him — instructed us to pre-register at the handy computer terminal and return to him for one of those take-a-number slips.  He even had a corsage pinned to his lapel.  We found out later that he has worked at the courthouse forever and had toiled long into the night and returned early in the morning to make sure everything went smoothly for people like us.  And he was issued the very first license, to finally marry his longtime partner.

Needless to say it took all my steely resolve not to blubber like a French soccer player.

We got our paperwork all taken care of and a photographer was on hand to take a few candid shots of us afterward.  I was not permitted to keep my latte in hand as was my wish, but apparently this is not all about me.

Afterward we drove away.

I am 45 years old.

This is the first time I will be able to legally marry the partner of my choosing.

*commence blubbering*

It comes in a plain brown wrapper!



So I’ve had this exchange recently with my mother via email.  It’s not the sort of thing I want to share on this blog, but an offshoot of it is that we ended up discussing the fact that I am a big weepy crybaby.

It’s true.  I am.  Do you hear that?  I’M COMING OUT AS A CRYBABY.

I cry at stuff all the time.  It waxes and wanes with The Hormones a bit, but the underlying baseline is that if it will make someone cry, I will cry at it.  If it won’t necessarily make someone cry but might, I will cry at it.  If it will make only the most inveterate of wussy crybabies cry, I will cry at it.

I’m not saying I cry every single day, but sometimes it’s a crapshoot.

An excerpt from the email exchange:

Mother: You’re my sweet little crybaby!

Me: Delia has inherited this from me.  You know what else makes me cry?  Live music!  WHY!!!

Mother: It’s all my fault. Did I not tell you stories of my tear-filled childhood?

Grandma would send me into the store in Wood Dale, a town of microscopic size where everyone knew everyone, with a list of items to buy and even then, insulated by the list, attended to by someone who knew me, no conversation required, I would STILL cry.

Live music evidently falls into the category!

So there you have it.

And?  It’s the holiday season.  There are HALLMARK COMMERCIALS.  I cannot  watch television for the next 22 days.

On Grandmothers


So I’m unpacking boxes of books and mementos and china.  In a way these boxes represent my life before nursing school, before my daughter; they contain photo albums and little odds and ends and endless supplies related in some way to paper.  Evidently I really, really love paper and doing things with paper and things made of paper.  Paper paper paper!

There are also a lot of things given to me by my grandmothers.  One of them has passed on and I think of her every day, one way or another.  She was my mother’s mother and lived closer by than my other grandmother, and so I saw more of her.  There were times that my mother and I stayed with her.  I wish she was still here, that my daughter had had the chance to know her.  She talked with everyone, anyone, and I doubt that a friendlier person ever existed.  She was a character and even the lady from the Tupperware kiosk at the mall came to her service.

Today as I rummaged in the boxes I unearthed a set of canisters that Grandma gave me.  They are plain, stainless steel with a plastic knob on the lid that you can unscrew and fill with a little of whatever is in the canister so you can tell what’s in it without opening it.  She told me a story about how she’d gotten them, I wish I could remember the details but it might have been something like she saved Green Stamps for them or something.  They are in very good condition and one of the reasons I finally got off my ass and went and got the boxes (aside from extreme guilt at them languishing in Helen’s basement for four solid years because I apparently suck as a person) was that we needed canisters.  I had all but forgotten they were still around but suddenly they flashed in my brain.  And now they are drying on the counter, and I am about to fill them with flour, sugar, coffee, and — I’m not sure what else.  The smallest one, what should I put in it?  Probably cocoa, because I put some in the French press when I make coffee.

Grandma also gave me the beginnings of what became a full set of china, and every so often at Christmas she would give me a set of crystal glassware.  When she died we found a set of silver under her bed that no one laid claim to, and I asked if I could have it.  She had probably picked it up at an estate sale.  That woman loved her an estate sale.  I think she felt about fabrics and linens the way I feel about paper.

I really, really miss my Grandma tonight.

Oh I forgot


So when we got home from the beach, we found that the planets had all aligned or something and all of the cats were lounging on the bed. Like, at the same time.  Almost touching, even!

I'm not sure if this has ever happened before.

Later I found the most curmudgeonly, Grandpa, in a compromising position with Heals’s back legs around his neck.  I tiptoed out and didn’t ask any questions.