Sunday, August 31, 2008

"I want to play the saxaphone like Bill Clinton and date interns."

One of my sons wants to get into band. So far, he loves the Klezmer music which I have played for him. One of my neighbors is like me (love politics and has fun) but very liberal. We both enjoy politics and we have friendly, civil discussions. Last time we saw each other at the polls, he pretended to be shocked, "What are you doing here?!!" (I said I was there to cancel his vote!) I'm going ultra conservative this election just so we can have dueling signs in our yards.

Anyway-- my son told him that he wanted to play the sax. He came home and asked to see Bill Clinton play the sax so I got him on youtube, and he went to tell the neighbor that he liked it. He came home and said, "I want to play the saxophone like Bill Clinton and date interns." It was just silly of him-- the neighbor had told him to say that. It sounds twisted that I thought it was funny.

If I can't afford a sax, he is willing to play clarinet.

Too Much Hype

Our governor was nominated to VP on Friday and I am sick of it already. I'm not sick of her-- I like her. I am sick of so many people having something negative to say.

There is a former senate president and speaker of the house who I have always admired whose name I won't say here. She has always been nice to me. She likes things to go her way and she doesn't like the Guv. For the longest time I thought that she and the guv had a public fight for the sake of the press; it would not bode well if they got along as they both held powerful jobs and lived just a couple of miles from each other. The press is always creating hype over who is getting what and they are like my kids when they have been stuck inside for too long because of the rain. If our already rapidly growing area gets "more," the press blames the politicians for swinging deals, pretending that more infrastructure is not needed to support our area! I'd always wanted to get them both in a kareoke bar to sing, I've Got Friends in Low Places.

The former speaker of the house has been quoted as saying that the guv wasn't ready to be the governor, let alone vice president. This is petty. I talked to my brother as I'd written an editorial about the scandal in our legislature that has been going on for the past two years and I had him look it over. He's in news and he said, "That bullsh-- is over. Those people are long forgotten and you mentioning them is like you bringing up your trivia on Flemmish art. They are the Old Guard and they are done, even [the youngish guy.] They will never make an impact in our state again, they are Chess pieces that are kicked off the board." A long career serving her people and she's past history. She makes the paper for slamming our governor and she is suddenly an expert on her. They are with the same party and have similar values!

The people who tear the governor down make me think of Proverbs 14:1: Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands. They don't just offer criticism, they jeer her as if they delight in finding/inventing her shortcomings. The last place the gov should be getting this is from her home state.

Bloggers are slamming her with sarcasm. Are they jealous of her? This is not constructive criticism. My brother said that a lot of people put a lot of money into the campaigns and they are furious when people don't see things their way. (I will never donate so much that it takes away from my fun; as it is, I donate $5 & $10 here and there.) Why can't it just be fun to go out and cheer everyone on even if you don't agree with them? The winners that you don't support will also represent you.

There is one person who I honest-to-God cannot stand and it's personal-- it goes back 20 years. I still see him and wave. He did ask me to donate and I told him my maiden name and said, "You f---ed my parents over. [He knew what I was talking about.] I don't like you and I will only give you money if you loose." I asked him if he wins if he will still represent me and he said that he will and that he'll listen to my concerns. He wanted to shake hands and I'd not, so he gave me a side hug, instead and told me that he liked me anyway and that I didn't know the whole story. I gave him a cheesy smile and said he could count on me if he lost. We both laughed and he reiterated that I could count on him if he won. I almost hope he wins to see if he will be nice to me.

Chad Carpenter, Alaska's Cartoon Laureate

Chad Carpenter was presented with the title of Alaska's Cartoon Laureate on Friday 29 August. His shining moment was marred by the VP nominee chick, Ms. What's-her-name. ;)

I am proud to say that I, Tea N. Crumpet, was the little bird who put the idea into Wes Keller's head back in November. . . this could be one of the finest pieces of legislation he will pass.

Checkout his website. I couldn't go to the fair because it cost too much to get in and I couldn't stay.

Friday, August 29, 2008

"We need a mover and a shaker, not a shake n' baker!"

So everyone has heard! Alaska's governor Sarah Palin has been chosen by John McCain to join him in the race tot he White House. One of my asshole conservative friends who supported John Binkley over her said, "We need a mover and a shaker, not a shake n' baker!" This person said that Sarah should stay home and be a wife and mother. Fuck that. Her parents and in-laws are very supportive of her and she is the first to state that she couldn't do it without her supportive family.

I can tell everyone that she is very down to earth. I have met her-- everyone in The Valley has met her if they have wanted to. My children and I have marched with her in parades. The first time I met her, I'd not been in the Valley for long. I had a sick baby on my shoulder and I was in the store. This nice lady who was ahead of me in the check-out line handed me a tissue and we started talking and she found out that I was new and she asked how I liked being here. It was very benign, and she seemed nice. A year or so later I got an invitation to her birthday party where she was accepting donations. I didn't think much of the picture; I just thought it was nice take my daughters to go see this young looking woman who was running for something. I was pleasantly amused when I saw her and commented on where we'd met and she said we were being moms-- her being mayor meant nothing when I had a sick baby with a runny little nose on my shoulder. (My coat was snotty. That she even got near enough to hand me a tissue speaks volumes of her! Germs avoid her!)

Her children seem unspoiled. Her daughter Bristol wore a t-shirt that said something about her mom running and to vote for her. My kids said they'd do the same for me. When I was growing up in South Anchorage, I knew a lot of children of political people who would have never done that. Her husband is a handsome guy-- I melted looking at a picture of him, Sarah and Baby Van Palin right after he was born. They knew that he had Down Syndrome not long after he'd been conceived-- it's one thing to be pro-life and anti-abortion, but it's another to have a baby with high needs who will grow into an adult with unique needs. (Having seen him, one would understand that he's not one to be sent back! Precious little person! Starshine saw his picture and kissed her finger and touched my monitor screen where his pretty little lips were!)

I kept thinking that McCain would come out at the end and say, "Psych!" and tell us that she isn't running, but she is! I do hope that she wins.

Sarah is an inspiration. My dad died around the time she got elected. Unable to save my dad from cancer, I promised him that I'd finish college and be a doctor. I asked my husband about me finishing school and he said that if Sarah Palin could have four kids and be governor, that surely I could finish college. We've just been talking about me going to Vermont for a low residency master's degree-- as in 24 hours ago. This morning he called me and was laughing saying that it looks like I can with her being able to do DC. . .

I am grateful for what she is giving up to serve her state and her country-- and for what her children and family are giving up, too. She/they may never be without a security detail, there will be few spontaneous camping trips and life as they once knew it will never return. We dream of a life like what she is going in to, but in return for her influence and power, she is giving up something that we Alaskans take for granted.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Wrapping Things Up

I just got my letter from Excelsior-- I am in as long as I pay the $800 enrollment fee, the $300 for a 1 credit information literacy fee, and I take one class through my home school. I have to finish up a stats class and at the end of this semester I will have a BA in general studies. For the same amount plus exorbitant gas prices I could get my English degree. Everything is so expensive. But I am almost done! Yeah! Rock on!

The math has held me back for years. It's not that I can't do it, it's just that I don't have the focus. It's hard to focus, but it just doesn't matter any more. I could be going to an eight day residency in February to STUDY and learn and meet fantastic people. No husband or kids for eight days.Of course I will miss them, and it will be fabulous to come home and apply my work and to study some more, but it will be nice for the break for all of us, I think! I don't feel bad for leaving my husband home for a week-- he travels a bit and I am here so much on my own with them!

Master Specialty

Back when I was first in college but after I had switched from commercial art to education to psychology but before I did social work ;) I told my family that I wanted to become a bibliotherapist or go into some form of expressive therapy, like dance or drama therapy. My family made fun of it and I changed majors six more times.

I stutter-- it is the most terrible thing to hear when it strikes me and it visits for just a few hours to several weeks. People drive me crazy as they think that I am "nervous" around them and I say, "D-d-d-don't f-f-fl-flatter y-yourself, you aren't that im-im-im-impreSSSSive." A stammer doesn't mean I'm nervous, tears don't mean I am sad, don't assign feelings to me.

The stutter is annoying, like having someone flick a light off and on, but much worse to listen to and I don't have the luxury of hiding. (It got bad for a few weeks after my massage teacher yanked my freaking nose!) I think that the stammer is caused a twitching neuron. It could be in my hands. I have found recently that I can overcome it by placing my hands on a keyboard, and Darrin has shushed me for years by holding onto my hands when we are arguing and it's like putting a hood on a falcon! (Do people who sign stutter? That almost sounds like I am being funny, but I am not.) When I was much younger, I had it bad (so far my kids don't.) I got through the stammer to where I could control it by performing. I was in 4th grade and discovered Ed Lear and recited a few of his poems for my "whole school!" I would later do well in debate and public speaking in high school, as well as miming with drama. Stage fright? Lord have mercy-- I am a ham and a half! I always wanted my audience to enjoy my performance, but performing in front of people is like having s~~-- if you are having a great time and you are aware of the mores and what is expected of you, the other person probably is probably liking you, too. . . I wasn't thinking of this at the age of nine, but I was having fun and my speech therapist was very proud of me when I floated off the stage! I did well in debate because I had an audience and it was when I was on stage that I turned on. If I stammered, I just plowed through it because people wanted to hear what needed to be stated, not my apologies and I was timed in speaking.

My expressive arts program is aimed at giving voices to people who do not have voices and who are often not heard. If you come to my blog very often, you will see that I am very interested in this. The great thing about this is that I'll most likely be jobbing out and still be writing for a living as well as encouraging. Oh-- when I was in a horrid court battle with my ex,one of my daughters asked what I was like as a parent. She was a bit confused and the person asked her that if she was a great athlete in the Olympics, what would her dad and his wife be doing vs me and my husband. She told him that her dad would be yelling from the stands and complaining of her performance, that her step mother would be arguing with her coach about what to do and giving advice to make her slower, that her step father (Darrin) would be her coach giving her advice to help her be better at her sport, and that I'd be running with her! That is how I see myself as a teacher, as well!

There is a program at a certain college that does low residency programs in an expressive therapies specialty. I am very interested in it.

I spoke to my local college's MFA in Creative Writing department today and they said that it doesn't teach you to teach people to write or express themselves, only to write. I want to teach and encourage. That probably sounds nerdy, but we all have gifts and encouragement is mine. This degree needs people who can write but also who want to share other passions. My husband saw it and really loved it and thinks I can do well with it. He told me to go for it as long as I think I can get a job with it-- and that is my hang up.

This is what I am contemplating this week. It's really exciting because I may start it in a few short months. I have to wrap up statistics!

Oh-- do drop by Little Plastic Castles. Ann wrote a very sweet poem to her cadaver (really, she did!) I could have never done medicine and I laugh at myself thinking that I thought that I could-- with 9 kids? Was I on drugs thinking that I could do it? (No, my dad was dying! LOL I would have done anything to have found his problem and kept him around to see my kids!) Ann is the kind of person you want in medicine treating the bodies and souls of the people you love. I hope she doesn't lose her dignity and respect for all things as she is put through the mental, physical and emotional ringer of medical school and patients who demand miracles when she has no answers. Read her blog-- this is a person who has high standards for herself, who rises to challenges and is truly good. I hope that puzzles unravel themselves with her intensity to solve them. I can't believe that every school didn't accept her, and I hope that one that has her appreciates her for the treasure that she is and feeds her passion for medicine.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Great conversation & quotes from Almost Famous

This conversation is significant to me but I cannot say why-- my writing mentor had me watch segments of the movie Almost Famous today with him. I can't say what he was referring to, but he snapped me out of my bubble when I go out reporting. (No, no one has offered me drugs, chicks or booze but I do get arms around my waist!)

Lester Bangs
: Aw, man. You made friends with them. See, friendship is the booze they feed you. They want you to get drunk on feeling like you belong.
William Miller: Well, it was fun.
Lester Bangs: They make you feel cool. And hey. I met you. You are not cool.
William Miller: I know. Even when I thought I was, I knew I wasn't.
Lester Bangs: That's because we're uncool. And while women will always be a problem for us, most of the great art in the world is about that very same problem. Good-looking people don't have any spine. Their art never lasts. They get the girls, but we're smarter.
William Miller: I can really see that now.
Lester Bangs: Yeah, great art is about conflict and pain and guilt and longing and love disguised as sex, and sex disguised as love... and let's face it, you got a big head start.
William Miller: I'm glad you were home.
Lester Bangs: I'm always home. I'm uncool.
William Miller: Me too!
Lester Bangs: The only true currency in this bankrupt world if what we share with someone else when we're uncool.
William Miller: I feel better.
Lester Bangs: My advice to you. I know you think those guys are your friends. You wanna be a true friend to them? Be honest, and unmerciful.


Lester Bangs: You CANNOT make friends with the rock stars. That's what's important. If you're a rock journalist - first, you will never get paid much. But you will get free records from the record company. And they'll buy you drinks, you'll meet girls, they'll try to fly you places for free, offer you drugs... I know. It sounds great. But they are not your friends. These are people who want you to write sanctimonious stories about the genius of the rock stars, and they will ruin rock and roll and strangle everything we love about it.

Friday, August 22, 2008

A Graduation Behind Bars

I went out to Correctional Facility a few weeks ago for their graduation as an assignment with my college paper. I'm editing and I have no reporters yet, I wanted a story so I went. Several years ago I cared for a woman's pets while she was incarcerated there and I hyperventilated when I was greeted by a shadow person behind a smoke glass screen. His voice was electronically distorted and out of the kindness of his mostly cynical heart he came out and got me outside and comforted me while I ranted at how inhuman he had seemed, then burst into tears some more when I looked up and saw a woman pushing her child on a swing behind barbed wire. (Darrin said that it hadn't helped that I'd been obsessive over Solzhenitsyn and Orwell during the previous six months.) The guard knew that the woman I was seeing "needed" to see me for her own sake so he assured me that I'd not be entrapped if the electricity went out and how it would work if the back-up generators didn't work so I could still leave. The guard was not bad, and he seemed genuinely concerned for me. Darrin thinks that I was so obviously out of my element and that he probably just wanted the best possible outcome for both of our sakes.

When I took the kids camping, we drove down that road and past the facility and I got constriction in my throat. Almost ten years had passed yet my body reacted! I never forgot how scary it was and over the years, I had nightmares about it. In college, it was easy for the human services majors to make terrible jokes about prisons and I would stand up for them and remind them what they were doing to a disenfranchised population and just making it worse. I'd pray over it, because I'd sometimes wake up thinking about it, not, "Oh those poor people!" but, "Why am I waking up thinking of this?" Can't I be woken up to think about fashion or great story ideas that will make me rich and a generous philanthropist?

The greatest battles that we fight are never seen. Going that day was one of those for me. I knew what to expect but I was still worried about hyperventilating and my husband couldn't take time out of work to drive me there. I went in and laughed right of the bat because the correctional officer (they get upset if you call them guards) said on her speaker phone, "T.N Crumpet from the SmallTown College Gazette-- whatever that is." (I really need to make our little paper better known!)

My lawyer friend had warned me about inmates who'd committed severely terrible crimes being able to pull the wool over people's eyes by being extremely friendly. I met some offenders who we've read about in the paper who are really not very nice people. They were sweet and very funny in person. I understood what my beloved friend was talking about. I met some truly amazing people who went to speak, who are huge in education. Their orchestra played a beautiful rendition of Pomp and Circumstance. A former prison chaplain and I spoke at length and she asked me to consider joining a prison ministry because she'd not been able to get an Orthodox Christian to be a part of it and there were several inmates who needed us. She burst out laughing when I exclaimed, "What? You have Russian Orthodox? In here?"

"Hmmm, a little self righteous, are we?"

I told her that it wasn't that-- it was just that the people who I know obsess and flagellate about sinning over minor thoughts, not committing actual crimes! (I think that a substantial portion are also on antidepressants, but that is only my opinion.) Well, it's not always like that, she explained. I need to actually go to church regularly so that I can bring my faith with me and know more, but it seems like something I may like. I'm considering it. She knew my favorite Presbyterian minister. It was great to talk to her.

I also spoke to the man who runs the institution, a Mr. M. He looked at me oddly but not in a gross way, like he was looking through me or at other things about me. I wonder what he has been trained to look at on people that normal people don't see. He seemed pleasant, and not as stressed at high school principals that I know. His interaction with the inmates was friendly-- one inmate wanted to show me a dog that she is training and he said, "What are you doin' bringing that dog around her? Will you show her how he eats voles then wants to lick everyone?" She told him, "He has learned a new trick!" (That dog was smart!) He and a correctional officer told me that they are role models to the inmates and explained how that facility is NOT typical in that it is much more laid back and friendly because they have this radical view that people are more likely to mend their ways if they are under less stress. They are removed from society to protect society, and they are punished for what they are convicted of, but they also have mandatory classes and training and are encouraged to change. The correctional officers are pretty-- they wear make-up and are friendly. Of course one told me that it was a graduation day and it was special, nicer than normal, but it was always hell because inmates couldn't leave. They are regulated and are told when to go to bed, what chores they can do, and some thrive, but a certain percentage will get out and recommit and be right back. I met one inmate who said that she'd been in and out for years. I never asked what she did, but she is looking forward to a release this week and just getting a job to make ends meet, but she'll be free and along with that comes the good and the bad. What makes me happy to see is that the incarcerated will leave having been removed from Society, but will go back having not been processed by an uncaring system.

I found out that there are places that inmates can access for education money, but I may not write about them. We live in a society that feels a sense of entitlement and there are a lot of people who might say, "Well, I had to pay for my education and he broke the constitution! Why does he get free money for school?" I met some wonderful teachers who are very dedicated to their work there and truly love waking up and going to work.

My first draft had my paper manager shaking his head at me. (I get that a lot no matter what I do!) He said that I made it look like a Vaccation Destination and that I will have readers committing petty crimes with the hope of getting sent there. I need to wait another week or two and fix it up.

Am I being told what I want to hear? I really wanted to like the place and be assured that people could be rehabilitated there. I don't think that people coming out would be angry at the society that put them there, given how they seemed treated.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Stylin' in my Corset

(This may be TMI for some of my guy readers. It is, however, informative.)

When most people hear the word corset, they think of feminine bondage and uncomfortable dressing. After I had my ninth baby, my abdomen was loose and t seemed as if my insides were pouring themselves out of my body, over my pelvic bone. It wasn't that I was in bad shape; the muscles were like a deflated balloon and just tired!

I surfed the internet and not knowing what to buy, I found Ann at Romantasy to be the best and most informative seller. When I told her what I needed to do, she suggested a few custom designs. Being very budget conscious, I chose a basic model in black cotton duck. Romantic? Yes, it is actually! Even in duck, but my husband says it's the woman in the duck, not the duck on the woman! It was an investment of several hundred dollars and I wondered about my sanity in buying the contraption while I waited several months for it to be made.

I have been doing yoga for years, but my muscles were just flabby. Shortly before my corset was done, I bought one off of Ebay for $60 that they said was worth $300. I felt stupid for having ordered the custom one, but the Ebay one was worn out in five wearings. When the custom one arrived, it was stiff, and I don't know if I'd have appreciated it or even worn it had I not bought my inferior one first.

I lied about my actual measurements because I wasn't able to admit how flabby my waist was and I was glad that I didn't live in California to have it measured. I don't advocate lying, especially because you are taking the several hundred dollars you are investing into your own hands, but my 32" waist was able to be compacted into the 28" corset. Since it was spring, I walked as much as I could, and I only wore the thing a few times a week for an hour or two. (Lacing it is another story-- I am glad that I do yoga!) I am now down to a laced down 25" waist. My body is slimming down quickly with it and it seems like the corset has reminded my body what it is supposed to feel like and where things are supposed to be. I took off my corset yesterday and my husband came home and ran his hand over my waist and was surprised that I didn't have it on. My "tummy pooch" is now almost eliminated, and my waist on the sides is now an hourglass. It's been less than 4 months that I've been wearing it and I still don't wear it more than a few times a week due to the heat. I am VERY lucky that my body has done as I thought it would with slimming down as fast as it did. I'm at 28" now sans the corset and I am very, very close to closing it. I'd like to get a 20" waist. My organs are in great shape and what people don't realize is that if these things harmed people, the corset makers wouldn't stay in business!

One of the unexpected bonuses of this is that I had needed surgery to correct a sagging bladder but don't now. This comes fromthe corset only allowing me to stoop, just as I was taught in finishing school, as opposed to simply bending over. Over the years I quit stooping and got sloppy and started bending because it was just easier on my legs. Because I stoop many times a day picking up children, toys and putting things away while I tightlace, it's tightened those muscles up. Forget the 200 kegals the OB/Gyn tells you to do-- they are pointless when you are not strengthening other muscles that support them.

For wearing and holding up nice stockings, I advocate getting at least four garters on each side of the corset. The garter belts with only two belts on each side are no good as they don't hold seamed stockings in the right places.

My husband works with diseases and he hates the thing. He does not find it romantic in any way, shape or form, which is really a drag but since he also doesn't object, I won't complain. He is one of those awesome guys who'd really still genuinely love me if I didn't stay slender.

I do not advocate dieting when you tightlace. I used to model and I had an agent who said you don't diet, you develop habits. You don't start developing habits, once you feel "fat" you cut back on the extras. Have a piece of chocolate every day if you think you need it, but limit how much you have. If you know you are going to a birthday party that night or planning to have a few drinks, don't eat the chocolate. It's about balance. You need to get your heart rate up a few times per week, too. I think the best advice that she gave me was when I told her that I would start "tomorrow," she said that "good habits start today, this very moment." She also told me to never discuss dieting socially which I did at the age of 18, because the purpose of a good party is to indulge a bit, "to eat, drink and be merry." The advice has never failed me.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Amusing Situation with My Massage Teacher

You may remember what happened with my massage teacher. On the 19th he grabbed my nose in anger because I wasn't getting a routine and told me to listen to him. I said nothing at the time, had dinner with my husband, called a lawyer friend and spoke to that massage teacher, referred to as Mike in my blog but really called Thomas, and told him that in The Last Frontier what he did was considered assault and to never do that to me or anyone else again. He said that it was a learning technique that he used on students but said he'd not do it again to me. The next morning, in a non massage related technique called "Emotional Release" he did it again-- but in front of the class. I bitch slapped him and said he was done and that I'd sit down. The Tucker laughed and did it again. I gathered my stuff and left. I filed a report.

I went back only because my husband insisted and thought we could work something out with the Alaskan massage certification board. (It was a weekend. I had no one to call.)

When I was camping a few weeks ago, he called my husband's cell phone. He seemed nervous, would I please call him back. I sent him a nasty email and he responded that he'd been summoned to appear in court up here! LOL I said I'd check on it (when I had time and I have none and didn't plan to call him.) I didn't bother. It was out of my hands because assault is a felony up here and if the DA wanted to take it on, there was nothing I could do.

I recieved a letter from the DA's office saying that the case had been dropped but that the complaint was still on file and that there was an official record of it. Meanwhile, he sent me another note asking if I'd done anything about looking into it and I, knowing that it was closed, said nothing of it but mentioned that had he not yanked my nose THREE TIMES that he'd not be in his situation. By now he has gotten the letter, but it will either serve to make him think twice before he tries it again or serve to establish a pattern of behavior when someone else complains.

He hurt me, but it wasn't that he hurt me so much as that what he did was demeaning and that I'd told him not to. The guy was a flirt and works with young women as well as older ones like me and even older-- but he really has boundary issues. At no point did I give up my autonomy. What he did was almost eerie because the first time he did it, he appologized and sounded like an abusive boyfriend assuring me that he'd never do it again. The 2nd/3rd time he did it, his appology was the same, but he said that no one would care if I reported him and said that any publicity that I created would be good for his school. The guy is an MD by training and I can't help but wonder about him.

Friday, August 15, 2008

High ho! High ho! It's off to Home Depot I go!

I bought a vacuum at Sears. Do you think they sell VACUUM BELTS there to go with the vacuums they sell? On some they do not. Sears. . . where America shops. I will not shop there any more. I have purchased clothing there for my kids, I furnished my home with them and they can't run in and purchase a $5 vacuum belt? (It's $18 shipping for 5 business days or. . . ta da! $39.95 in two business days!) This is so infuriatingly stupid. When I purchased the damned vacuum (a Kenmore Stylite Retraxx,) they didn't tell me that I had to go online and order from their parts department at exorbitant prices. Then they take advantage of Alaskans-- they make it sound like you can only get here by dogsled and boat, "We don't ship to Alaska." Why not? They just don't. I was crying and cursing in frustration. Any store that makes me that upset isn't worth it for me to shop at-- or for anyone else. Don't shop sears, where the rest of America shops. It's not worth it. JC Penney's prides itself on customer service as do many other stores, so what happened with Sears?

I am in desperate need of a new dryer and washing machine, not to mention an oven, and I always went to Sears for them because. . . my mother did! I could have had better service at Wal~Mart for a vacuum. I will go to Home Depot for these things now-- Sears is kinda smarmy when it comes to this. I can't believe that they would let a customer be high n' dry.

Edited later: One of my friends was getting ready to buy her daughter a vacuum and thinking about Sears. I talked her out of it. I cost them money already. I really do not like that store. Where is customer service with them? I can't even get the vacuum fixed and donate it to Salvation Army because someone will buy it and wind up where I was at, paying $40 in shipping for a $5 part.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Food, Sports & Partial Crises

Tonight Tiger came home and I made "Roll Bowls" (big roles that I make and cut open and fill with soup) and cheddar beer soup with broccoli, bacon wrapped chicken livers and a salad. I'd not made this in years for her and she was very happy. The kids have demanded this three times in the last week and they are learning to make bread now. Today Basil noted this and asked why I have measuring cups. I was confused and said that you measure stuff with them and he said, "You never use them! I do not remember the last time you used a measuring cup. Starshine has had your measuring spoons with her tea sets for over a year." He's right-- I play it like I need to. The only time I get concerned is when I have to make something spicy. I don't have a good nose and can't taste that well so I either pack a punch and do overkill or I don't do enough.

My kids are crazy about the Olympics. Basil thrust his bald 9 year old leg at me yesterday and asked if he should start shaving. I asked if he was going to do ballet. He said no, he wants Michael Phelps to be the second best Olympian! (I'm getting him swimming this semester.) He'd heard that shaving your hair makes you faster. I told him that Michael Phelps is double jointed and that his feet are like fins. He Googled leg exercises and is trying to condition himself. I cannot think of a better role model than Michael Phelps-- Basil is cute wanting to be like him. I told him that Michael Phelps also loves math, science and keeping his room clean. Basil said that two out of three isn't bad and ran outside to play.

My husband is about to take off for a couple of weeks right as school resumes. We are so broke with everything happening. Years ago he bought me a gift certificate at a spa that I didn't use because I felt guilty. Now I cry thinking about it. We have much to do before school starts and I wish more than anything that I could have my feet and lower legs worked on, as well as my neck and hands. If I can just have the house clean and seem relaxed when my mom gets here as well as be on top of school, I will be thrilled with myself.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

1) I Can still Speak German and 2) Raising Girls is Hard

1. Today I was at the grocery store and I met a really cool lady. She was speaking in German on her cell phone. She was in a wheel chair and without thinking (I do a lot without thinking!) I pointed to the cans that she was glancing up at asked her, "Mag ich Sie helfen?" (May I help you?) The lady burst out laughing and told her friend that she'd call her back. It was a simple conversation but she made me keep speaking and I realized how much I knew, not just of what I understood but what was still in my memory from being an exchange student (she was born in the same city!) I told her that I missed Germany and she said that I can meet her for coffee and she will help me. I am so thrilled! She gave me her email and her grand daughter who is my age told me to please email her, the family didn'tpick up her German and she really wants to share her skill. She said that in what I used that I still have my southern German accent. That means nothing and if it's acouthern drawl, it's probably not that great, but it's special to me! I am so happy!

2) My 12 year old, Cloud, is boy crazy. My eldest daughters, who never realy hit this because at her age we were fighting my ex for custody and they were just trying to keep themselves together to have a say with the judge, who resisted my attempts at relgion, are now telling me to adhere to all that we know that is religious. My eldest responds to her in Proverbs. My second eldest tells her how much she loves reading God's word. If I didn't have children, I'd be Jewish. My daughters say, "We don't have a synagogue within affordable driving distance. Use what you have." They seem to think that my Cloud is destined to get pregnant before her 16th birthday. This is not what I signed up for.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Felons: the New Swing Voters

Civil rights activists going after felon vote

Push to register thousands long disenfranchised

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Herbert Pompey had gone through rehab, stayed sober, held a job, married and started a landscaping business in the two years since he walked out of Taylor Correctional Institution. But what Pompey hadn't done - and what he assumed a string of felony drug and drunken-driving convictions would keep him from ever doing again - was vote.

So his pulse quickened when civil rights lawyer Reggie Mitchell called to tell him that his rights had been restored.

"You're eligible to vote now, Mr. Pompey," Mitchell said, calmly relaying the news. "Can I bring you a voter-registration card?"

Pompey whispered, "Lord, you was listening."

Mitchell smiled - he had gotten another felon back on the rolls.

Mitchell is a leader of a disparate group of low-level Democrats and civil rights activists trying to register tens of thousands of newly eligible felons. They have taken up the cause on their own, motivated by the belief that former offenders have been unfairly disenfranchised for decades.

Despite massive registration efforts, the presidential campaigns of Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama have not designated anyone to go after those prospective voters.

In Alabama, Al Sharpton's younger brother, the Rev. Kenneth Glasgow, will take his "Prodigal Son" ministry into state prisons with voter-registration cards for the first time. The American Civil Liberties Union recently filed suit there and in Tennessee to make it possible for an even larger class of felons to register.

In Ohio, the NAACP will conduct a voter-registration day at the Justice Center in downtown Cleveland next month to register "people caught up in the criminal justice system," a local official said. In California, a team will stand in front of jails Saturday to register people visiting prisoners and encourage them to take registration cards to their incarcerated friends or family members, some of whom can legally vote.

"This is a voting block that has never been open before, and it has opened up at such a time as this," said Glasgow, who was a felon himself.

In Florida, a change in the law last year has made more than 115,000 felons eligible to vote, according to the Florida Parole Commission. In other states, local civil rights and criminal justice groups estimate there are similar numbers who have not registered.

All but two states - Maine and Vermont - have laws that limit voting rights for people with felony convictions. Some felons are banned from voting until they have completed parole and paid restitution, others for life. Kentucky and Virginia have the most restrictive laws, denying all felons the right to vote, though Virginia Gov. Timothy Kaine, a Democrat, has encouraged non-violent offenders to apply to have their rights restored.

Generally, though, restoring voting rights has hit resistance from all directions. Not wanting to appear soft on crime, Democratic and Republican leaders have not aggressively pursued the issue. In Florida, black state legislators led the fight for a decade before populist Republican Gov. Charlie Crist pushed through the change shortly after being elected in 2006. The legislation permits many non-violent felons to vote as long as they have no charges pending, have paid restitution and have completed probation.

Mark Bubriski, Obama's spokesman in Florida, said the felon vote "could certainly swing an election, but there are millions and millions of voters." Bubriski added that finding ex-offenders can be hard to do, and that "there's also the perception, for some reason, that they are all black and all Democrats, and that's certainly not the case."

The majority of felons in the state are white, and there are no studies on ex-offenders' party affiliation. Yet, black men are disproportionately incarcerated and disenfranchised, which Mitchell sees as a civil rights issue. Before the law changed, nearly a third of the state's black men were banned from voting, according to the Florida chapter of the ACLU.


Tea Speaks


I am not a person who is soft on crime-- the husband of a close friend was recently killed and I like to see bad guys kept off the streets. One of my best friends from high school got out of the fed pen 18 months ago (corporate corruption) and we have resumed our friendship which has been a nice thing. (I spoke to him of my finances and he was able to advise me. It was what Darrin had said but he spoke in a way that wasn't condescending, and even told me how to agree with my husband without feeling like I had lost face.)

This being said, I think that once a person is convicted and serves his or her time, they become tax paying citizens and should get the same rights as everyone else. My friend from school gets to vote again in 3 years and he can't wait. I believe that when you disenfranchise a group that it becomes powerless. Once a person is out of a half-way house, they are still on probation and still need to earn a living. In an area like my city, that poses a problem because we have a housing shortage. Four guys from a halfway house can't get a place together because they are not supposed to fraternize with former convicts. How do they survive? Rent is about $850 for a one bedroom apartment on a bus line. They can't pay rent and child support and utilities with a $10 an hour job, they can't get state or student loans, and they are pretty much cut off from a decent lifestyle as no one wants to hire them or promote them.

I think that by allowing ex offenders to vote will bring a voice to them and that their needs will be looked at and that laws will be made to make their road easier and they will have a chance to make a living, too.

I realize that when it comes to civil rights, a rapist takes away the right of his victim, as of course does a murderer or a person who beats someone up-- and it goes on. That being said, I know what at least some in MY STATE go through and the politicians have not made it easy on ex offenders getting back into society. It is easy for politicians to take away from this group because so many people can casually say, "Lock'm/er up and throw away the key!" before hearing what has happened. Who questions how judges show evidence to juries and the laws that allow that? Politicians are not committed to creating laws for judges or lawyers to follow that maintain a foundation for a fair trial; a rich person will not throw him or herself at the mercy of the court in our country. Maybe this is what is needed.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I Sometimes Don't Get Along Well with Others

I was at my children's charter school the other day to drop off some paperwork. One of the teachers asked me if I could stay for a couple of minutes because he had a contraption that I'd appreciate that he wanted to show me. Cloud came in and said that everyone was acting crazy in the Diva so I went out-- kids' body parts were flailing around and I started laughing and hollered, "OK, you guys! Knock that sh-- out, you are providing proof that man descended from orangutans!" They heard me through the open windows and started laughing and stopped. I told them to give me five more minutes, and we spoke for a moment on how to not act. ("We are not supposed to get into your purse and get our allowance early!" "I can't pull Cloud's hair!" "We can't give Basil a wedgie!" That always gets them laughing. I'd come back and they'd tell me what they didn't do. I'd take them to Dairy Queen, they thought it was because they'd behaved but I was just enjoying them.)

Yes, I use words that are considered curse words, but I am not swearing. It's just getting to the point. I was not brought up to swear and I don'tknow from where the words come, but it's how I speak. I went back into the school. A mother was very upset. "Do you believe in. . . evolution?" My mind was in the teacher's office and she may as well have been speaking to me about invaders from Mars. I looked at her and said, "I have no idea what you are talking about."

In stilted words she acted appalled that I. . . spoke. . . about my children . . . and all mankind. . . descending from . . . apes. I told her that I don't believe in Evolution. We are past that. I beleieve in deevolution and that they get it from their father. (My husband knows that this is a joke-- when the kids do things that infuriate me but are funny, I tell him that they must get it from his side. Had I meant it, I'd have said nothing.)

I went back and the teacher showed me his latest LEGO creation-- it was seriously cool with a remote control. (He let me play with it before I had to go.)

On my way out, the secretary who'd gotten an earful from the woman I'd spoken to said that she never knew from which field I was coming and was laughing about it. ("That makes two of us.") I often cover my hair unless I don't, I am usually very mellow except for when I am not, my kids are pretty good except for when they are not, etc. The kids came in to use the bathroom and she and I started talking about people. It seems like many turn into charicatures of themselves, "I'm this way and this is how people who are this way act." They only act in a box. It's painfully annoying. I can't change them, but I'll be damned if I try to blend in with bland or be something I'm not.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Chinese Olympic Opening Ceremony

I was going to not watch the Chinese Olympics at all because of their human rigths violations. Darrin said that I'd be cheating myself out of something amazing.He'd seen the dancers and said that I'd want to paint them. I have been mesmerized for the last hour.

For being repressed, the country somehow did not miss out on creativity. I started to cry watching the dancers paint with their bodies. I am a terrible painter and gave it up-- but I saw in myself why the dance and painting went together. The painted ladies, the astronauts-- oh, and the children who are so precious! I haven't forgotten T------ Square-- how could a place of so many human rights violations create something so amazing? Their creativity has not been crushed!

The contrasts in this will get to me later. The dancers are strong, dancing around a moon, holding their bodies a certain way, the painted ladies were delicate yet throwing silk as if it didn't even make them breathe faster. The children smiling faces at the end had me in tears again.
Zhang Yimou is amazing. . .

Watching the athletes come in again had me getting tears in my eyes-- they all look so amazing, each country's brightest and best coming out. The lady athletes from Mali are Calamity Jane's favorites. She wants a dress like the ones they are wearing. Her hair is a wild mass of curls, the curliest of all the kids, and she ran to my room for a head covering and declared that she looks just like them. :) OK, so she looks a little Irish-German, but yeah, she could pass for a Mali athlete-- I see the resemblance!

My kids were yelling for the teams-- the younger 7 were watching and were yelling for the teams but decided to cheer only for the little teams. That was cute. They noticed that the Chinese children who represented each of the main provinces looked just like Edna Hibels' paintings. I have a huge coffee table book that is in my room that they sometimes look at and recognized them. That made me VERY happy that they recognized her. She has done a lot of work with Chinese children as her subjects!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

All is Nice

Today was one of my rougher days of parenting. The boys are in 5th, 4th and 3rd grade and aggressive. Cloud is 12 and a raging case of hormones and then the babies, ages almost-6,5, &3 have been into everything.

The whole evening came to a peaceful close with me reading to the babies and my husband playing Monopoly with the Cloud and her brothers. I am enjoying the sound of their laughter filling the house-- I can hear them in my back room because the back door is open as is my window.


On my massage teacher, my brother told me to just answer the state's questions and his lawyer's questions if I get called to testify. I don't want to bury him-- he yanked at my face and I told him to stop or I'd call the cops and he did it again-- twice. He has worse boundaries than my almost 3 year old when she hears the N*-word! I hope they just warn him that we don't do that sh-- up here and that students don't lose their autonomy just because he thinks he knows something.

He will use any publicity he gets from a court case with me to his advantage. He is charismatic and friendly. He will have the biggest turn out for his class ever and he will, to twist the knife in me, thank me for suggesting that he come up here in the first place. Mark my word.


Wednesday, August 06, 2008

"It's like I was born with bladz on my feet!"

I went shopping today for a cake pan-- I always go by a thrift store first because the prices are better. Basil went to where they have roller blades and shoes and found a pair of "Bladz" that fit. He put them on and I saw him gliding through the aisles, acting as if nothing were amiss. I asked what he had on his feet.

"Oh-- what?!! I still have them on? I forgot! They feel so natural, it's like I was born with Bladz on my feet! May I have these?"

He was so damned charming that I couldn't resist after I looked in my wallet. (they cost $5.) "Sure."

All of a sudden, three other pair landed in my basket-- I had to tell the others to put theirs away. I wasn't ready for four kids to learn to Blade. The hospital doesn't have a punch card or group rates, but if they were all learning, I might as well go down, park in the back, sweep the pavement and let them learn there so we'd be closer to the ER. Princess Cloud pouted and started crying. She is 12. She said, "You always let him get EVERYTHING he wants. You are so unFAIR."

I growled at her, "Life is unfair, kid. Get over it."

Another mother smiled and whispered as if she had a secret, "I never get my children anything unless I get one for each of the kids. I treat my children equally."

Instead of telling her to mind her own business, I told her that she was being lazy if she was that way and that her logic was flawed. I told her that if I treated my kids equally, I'd be letting my 2 year old bike and hold a job and chose my 17 year old's clothes for her. "Go home and tell your husband I said that." (She seemed like someone who'd run everything past her husband. I don't know why. She annoyed me. Why do I attract those women?)

Basil is coordinated and the other three are uncoordinated (Guy,) whiny (Cloud,) and really not into it (Dmitri.) Let Basil get the hang of it, then let the others see what he is doing and learn by watching. Cloud cries if she scrapes her skin, and Guy wears more Bandaids than he has to and tells everyone how bad it was as his sory grows. Dmitri-- his would just sit in the closet. With Basil on Bladz and confident, the others will later get their own.

He just came in a bit ago. He was wearing his helmet and pads and said that had he not been wearing his helmet that he'd have probably fallen and been brain injured and told me of going down a hill the first time. . . Lord, have mercy. He was so casual about how bad it could have been, "So it's a good thing that I listened to you!" (I am not sniffing glue. He really said that.) He'd wind up with a scraped up knee later because he thought he didn't need the pads and came in with his lower leg bloody but assuring me that it was better than it looked.

I must have looked stressed because he looked at me and said I needed a cup of tea, so he made me some Earl Grey and thanked me. I had my tea served in fine china by a guy on roller bladz. Cloud was still mad and while he did nothing to her, he skated past her and she said, "There you go bragging. I can hear what you are thinking.You are laughing at me." I told her about imaginary audiences and that her real life audience was about to send her to her room if she kept it up.


Do I Dare Snicker?

My massage teacher sent me a note that he's been summoned to court.

I cannot help but be amused. It the tucker hadn't decided to grab my nose a second time, denied that he'd hurt me and put me down when I said that no one but my husband touched my face, this wouldn't have happened, now, would it have?

I think it is out of my hands. In my state, when you report something like this, the police and DA take over. I haven't been contacted by the DA and I was just happy that I'd created a paper trail so he'd think twice before he did it again. He said that he grabbed people's noses all the time-- I seriously doubt it. I read my posts from that time, and I kept saying that he was a nice guy. He's an arrogant prick! I can't find him in the court system so I wonder if he is just being a jerk trying to make me feel badly for him. I never did. I started laughing when I read it. My husband cashed in a week's vacation to pay part of the tuition and I won't even be finishing my 500 hours with him. I probably won't finish massage school. The people who do it are mostly flakes. Massage feels good. There are some great people out there who are consummate professionals, and this guy probably was at one time. He is flying fast and loose and his ego has gotten in the way of his gift. He's slick!

Massage feels great. It cannot perform miracles.

Supposing that he has been actually summoned, the judge will see that he didn't break my nose but that he did invade my space after I told him not to and slap his wrists and give him a fine that him being an MD will laugh at. I wanted to not go back and I didn't know if it would get worse so I filed a report. The man broke his word when he did it again and has a problem hearing no.

We hugged and made up but I was never back to being a member of the class and I was trying to figure out that maybe I did have a problem. I appologized but I can't figure out for what. For not liking my face being touched, telling him to not do it again and warning him that I'd report him then following through when he did? He made a huge deal that I had nine children-- he has to know that no parent of a family this big makes idle threats! For two weeks that whole thing seemed surreal. It was so unprofessional-- how does one react to that? What he did was classic abuse, belittling me afterward, telling me that no one on the class took me seriously and that i was just over reacting, holding on to emotional pain. If I get my Girl Scouts harassing each other, I call parents, I don't tell the victim of an incident that she is holding on to emotional pain.

He reminds me of Jimmy Swaggart, a famous televangelist when he'd take people up on stage and command that they "Heal!" but it was staged. Was that Jimmy Swaggart? I think it was. This emotional release BS is such a joke. "Come to my school and I will teach you how to get a court date!" He'd said that if I publicized it that it would only show people how good he is. Maybe it will. I don't doubt that there will be followers.

This is so silly. If he has been summoned, all he had to do was not grab my face. I warned him. He's rich and he'll get out of it. Jerk. I am paying him off and that is all that I am obligated to do for him.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Camping Trip: Part 3 The Cemetery

The camping area that we went to was right next to a cemetery. I have always annoyed my family with my interest in cemeteries. My mom would say to me, "We are in a different city! You don't know anyone!" It didn't matter that I knew no one-- behind each tombstone was a story and I liked looking at them, noticing if flowers were still put in vases and what they showed of the person buried or their survivors, be it pictures, trinkets left behind or wedding rings carved on the tombstone. I'd take fresh flowers in if I could and put them on tombstones with vases embedded in them.

On Saturday night I took several of the children to the one that our campsite was near. Cloud, Dmitri, Calamity Jane and Mudd came with me. The kids acted scared at first, little victims of Scooby-Doo shows and scary ghost stories. We just walked and Cloud wanted to sing, so we sang some pretty hymns that I've sung to them since they were babies and O Danny Boy which I have been singing since my music class last semester. As we walked, I noticed a very elderly lady sitting at a grave and I shushed the kids but she invited us to come over. She told us about her long marriage and her husband who also loved to sing even though he sang out of key. (Perhaps like us!) She asked us to sing for him so we stood behind her and just sang. We sang three songs, I'll Fly Away, Down to the River to Pray, and O Danny Boy. She was crying as were we. Her son who was with her but standing a ways off came over and lead us in Danny Boy-- my voice started to crack and I had a rough time going on and we kind of pulled each other through with the kids having the same problem. The first two songs in what we sang for her husband are from the movie, "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?" We love that sound track.

I wonder if my music teacher thought that I'd be croaking out music with my kids in this manner. . . it was very moving. I think the greatest performances are the ones that few see. I may not produce great musicians, and I don't have the money or the time to invest in lessons, but on Saturday night I felt like we did something very, very special.

As the kids and I walked through the cemetery, Cloud and Dmitri were doing the math and figuring out ages. Old people over the age of 20 die and that's normal, but they crossed themselves for the babies and young children. The grass had just been mowed and they were kneeling down on the flush tombstones and wiping it away.

Later Dmitri thanked me for taking him. I asked why and he explained that there is a story behind each stone. . . that made me happy that he thought so much about them.

On Sunday Dmitri wanted to go up to the playground with a new friend. Darrin reminded him of the rules and he said, "Do you know why you don't talk to strangers?" Dmitri said, "Because they will ask you to sing and you will feel sad for them."

PS: I almost posted a picture of a little boy's tombstone but then wondered if it would upset his parents. Anyway, it moved the kids a great deal.

Shorts about the camping trip: Part 2

On Saturday morning we got up and took off, back to the same place that we'd been. The SCA was meeting and that had Darrin cracking up at me for choosing the place. There were these "freaks" (I say that lovingly) in period garb running all over the place and ignoring normal folks. They jousted and spoke in a mix of Present Day and Early Modern English.

We needed two spaces, so we chose them right across from each other.This worked well because I had my new Dutch Oven to cook on over coals and the kids wanted a camp fire. Each space had a fire place. The kids went to the play ground and hiked on and around the trails with my husband.

My dad used to hunt-- everything from do it yourself back country hunting with pack horses to luxury hunts where he was catered. I also dated a guide who did the luxury hunts. Both said essentially the same thing, being that camp fire food is some of the finest cuisine available and that if you can master it, you can please a lot of people. I made some delicious food. This time it was simple-- a chicken chili and a goulash. I also baked a cake in my oven while I fried bacon on top of it. (Mmm: bacon!) My sons loved helping me cook-- there is fire, an element of danger, and they wanted to be there with me and that was cute. I have always been a decent cook, but this time they were eating like ravenous wolves, but with manners. For my crew we had to make two cakes-- we ate, cleaned the oven by putting it upside down on the fire pit, then sprayed it with non-stick cooking oil and did it again.

The boys were asking my husband if they could build a pit for my Dutch ovens-- or maybe two pits and they could buy me another Dutch oven, for Mother's Day, then decided that they didn't want to wait that long and decided that I needed a pit by October, "What holiday is in October? Can we give her a fire pit for Halloween?" Ah-- the gift that keeps giving back! If they do a fire pit for me, I hope they enclose it-- one of my brother's friends fell into one when he was little and burned much of his body and was in a lot of pain. I am terrified of that happening, but we could work something out to make it safer.

On Sunday morning we awoke to rain. I think that rain is romantic-- but not when you are in a tent without padding. (No one told us that we needed padding on the bottoms of the tents!) The grass that I had been wrestling with my kids on the night before that had seemed to soft was not soft. We postponed it. I got up and made the delicious breakfast outside which was really nice for the kids to wake up to.

The dog slept all day on Sunday. Apparently the noises outside kept him awake all night, or the noises inside the tent kept him awake.

Starshine was startled by a chipmunk. While Mudd called it a "Chip-monkey-- ook! Ouk! Ouk!" she did not like it. I said, "Look, it's just a squirrel!" She cried into my shoulder.I pointed out his bushy tail and she screamed. It was comical later-- I don't know why he upset her so much! I wonder if he was hoping to scare her and cause her to drop her cracker!

We had wanted to hike, but I think that this being our first time, it was good that we did it close to home and at a place with a nice bathroom, a playground, and lots of other nicer things that are not at most camp sites. Because we were not at home, we were not thinking about what needed to get fixed. We all took off our watches and had cellphones on in case our parentshad an emergency.

Shorts about the camping trip: Part One

Our camping trip was a learning experience. I was raised being told, "You hate bugs! You like to shop!" In reality I was a miserable little teenager and I think that my parents told me that just for the excuse to not take me along. I knew this and decided that when they took me camping, they never gave me a job. They should have made me the camp cook so i could stay at the camp site and man the fire and keep things going. I get sad hooking fish (can fish eat again after you catch and release them?) and I really do not like bugs. I was wearing a v-neck t-shirt with slight cleavage and my husband was amused that insects kept flying down it.

But-- first things first. On Friday we went to a site in Eagle River. We wanted to hike around that damned Eklutna Lake (damned because of my obsession-- I have no qualms with the lake.) I chose a site that I did not know had been taken. (My husband was supposedly "right behind" me. He would get there three hours later.) While waiting for Darrin, the kids got out and I unloaded a few things. People kept walking by and we were referred to as the very large family and they were asking me how they managed to get along. I would always say, "If they don't behave in public, they stay home."

"Do they get along at home?"

"No. They like going out!"

That was funny.

Rigth after my husband showed up, the woman and her huge entouage who'd reserved the space came by, they came by with a ranger. They drove past us several times and I finally asked what was wrong. The woman was blubbering and pointing fingers and I was like, "Hey, we are new to this. Why did you get a ranger? We'll leave. Karma kisses to you and yours, have a great time." I asked if she would pose with me for my blog but she wouldn't.

At this point it was 9:30 and not a space was available in the Eagle River area. I thought it was funny that we were trading our roughly one acre piece of land for much smaller plots to sleep in tents and sleeping bags with portapotties at least 100 yards away.

We drove and we drove. My husband grew up in Eagle River and we kept driving. Aroudn midnight I was getting hissy. We went home but stopped at a camp ground near Palmer. We got out and Princess Cloud, at 12:30 in the morning, started yelling her joy that we'd found a place. We got back in the vehicles.

A Trip to Anchorage

Before I start showing pictures and telling of my camping trip, I want to show off some pictures that I took while in Anchorage a few weeks ago that I just hadn't uploaded. To the left is a pulley from an old ship in a garden off fifth avenue. It was possibly used on a ship to pull up anchors or something else. I think it's about 6' long and 4' wide.

While down there, my husband and I went to a wine bar called "Crush." I loved the wine, but several hours after three small glasses broke out in hives later and itched uncontrollably until I drank a quarter of a bottle of Benadryl and brought them down. This is not good-- last time I drank a Margarita, my reaction was to wake up several hours later itching with minor hives. I love wine but I can't afford to drink enough to turn into an alcoholic, but I seemed to have poisoned my system. I do like these pictures, though and hope you like them, too! Crush is a nice little place-- we didn't know what to order so my husband had the Italian "flight" and I had the Argentine flight.