Tuesday, June 30, 2009

where you come for your creep

Summer began beautifully.

An anniversary.

Vacation Church School for my kids.

A dandy cold.

If only I was so cute. No, when I catch some silly summer cold, I take to my bed. I take to my bed while my kids whine and complain about my utter lameness. I take to my bed while my kids whine and complain about my utter lameness while I read to the colony of zits that took up residence on my cheek like it's 1989 and I'm contemplating colleges.

At least I've had some creepy companions until I rose from my tissues.
Part bodice ripper - at least according to the reviews I read, after listening to A Reliable Wife in short order - part Gothic tale set in the never ending white Wisconsin winter, I loved this story from beginning to end. Ralph Pruitt places an ad for a reliable wife and opens up his world to the enchanting Katherine Land, reawakening past demons and holding my attention with spellbinding prose.

Remember when I raved about Gillian Flynn's debut novel, Sharp Objects? (Just smile and nod for the nice lady if you're new around here.) She came out swinging with her second novel, Dark Places, and proved you can too impress your readers after your first book is a huge success. Most reviews I've read are quick to point out that the protagonist is dark and unlikeable, but I'm tired of the Oprah book club approved, cookie-cutter Plucky Pollyannas. Show me someone steeped in tragedy and give me the truth: They damaged and altered, and I don't mind it a bit.

And that leaves me with Knockemstiff, a collection of overlapping short stories based on the resilient and troubled residents of Small Town America. After each perfectly crafted piece, I would pause and read the back flap again and sigh. Pollock grew up in Knockemstiff, quitting high school to work in a meat packing factory and later spent 30 years working in the town's paper mill. The stories are bleak, and full of longing and desperation. Beautiful. I can only hope he has many more tales to spill.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

fifteen years

Fifteen years ago tonight, I sat on a patio - my belly full of good food, and most likely wine - in southern Oregon, under twinkling lights that gave way to stars, my last day as Lisa Wheeler.

We had friends there, sitting at that long table, me in a little sand-colored skirt in an age before blogs and digital cameras, no evidence of that long ago warm summer evening, except for what I hope to remember long after youth leaves me.

I'm okay with that.

I knew he was the one for me, even as a naive bride. I knew he was the one for me, even before I had any idea how right we were for each other.

I'm just thankful I had the sense to say 'I do'.

Sometimes I get it right.

greg and lisa (we don't sing)
Happy anniversary, Gregor. I love you.

Monday, June 22, 2009

soggy day at the zoo

Ah, spring in the pacific Northwest. One never knows how to plan, especially for an outdoor concert, but you can rest assured that it will pour like it's November if your kids played with your enormous umbrella the day before and forgot to put it back in its proper place, the trunk of the car.

No matter. These elegant, massive sea creatures didn't seem to mind.
zack the bear
Not even grumpy bears could keep us away from the zoo.
give us a break
Despite the obligatory eye-rolling shot, we were in good spirits -wet, as in I could still wring my jeans out when I got home around 10:30 wet - but happy.
soggy zoo  concert
And the rain turned to spittle just as the B-52s took the stage and we danced danced danced with the throngs in Portland that won't let a lot a little precipitation deluge spoil the first day of summer vacation.

Friday, June 19, 2009

underground like a wild potato

It may be raining, but we Miltons are hearty. We'll be shamelessly singing along; there could be dancing.

Summer vacation is off to a great start...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

the eye

I hate it when I'm rattled.

My brain has been shaken, not stirred, and all goodly thoughts have fallen out my ears, leaving me humming little dittys like 'Shoo Fly', meaningfully.

I long for a calm inside myself; the ability to let things slide, and to remain steady as kids - mine, the neighbors', random kids at the park - scream and race and hassle and beg and whine and run.

Perhaps it would be better if I didn't join them in the shenanigans and played the adult, the parent, the reasonable one.

So I packed up the kids, plus one, and we went to the park for a impromptu 5th grade party - because 4 days of celebrating at school wasn't enough - and I spread out my cheerful polka dotted blanket and read.

I read while Zack whined about being left out.

I read while Lexi rolled her eyes at me, the only parent that showed up for this supposedly supervised shindig. (I knew there was something fishy about this plan.)

I read while the ice cream truck sent children into convulsions.

I read, and I nodded and I kept my voice clear and low and detached.

I soaked up the sun, and laid my weary head down on a picnic table. The hours passed.

We packed up the car and I breathed a sigh of relief: Goodbye to the school year, and welcome waffles for dinner because it is hard to be crabby when eating gooey syrup and fluff.

Monday, June 15, 2009

laptops for flat tops

With my husband on the road more than to my liking, I am keenly aware of the toll it takes on a family.

I can't even imagine if he were in peril, fighting overseas for months at a time, missing life as we know it and not having a dependable computer to keep in touch.

(I nearly lost my mind when I couldn't get online twice this week and that was to monkey around on Facebook. I'm unworthy.)

So, when someone asked if I would spread the word about a laptop/webcam giveaway for soldiers' families, I said I'd gladly pass on the information:

Actually, click HERE
All-American Direct is running a national campaign through 2009, giving away TWO laptops/webcams every two months to a deserving home that has an immediate family member serving in the armed forces overseas.

You can snag all the contest details over at: http://www.allamericandirect.com/military

Sunday, June 14, 2009

are we there yet?

My mind is racing like the squirrels dancing overhead on the roof each morning, keeping me company when I wake up before dawn.

(Hi! My name is Lisa, and I'm an Insomniac. It's my new thing.)

The past week was lovely: the last orchestra concert of the year, lunch with a friend from high school in a cute part of Portland, field day and garage sales and Zumba and moving and shaking - my booty and my body, from one thing to the next.

We're down to the last four days of school, there's cake in the oven and the promise of a sweet summer in the wind.

I am ever ready.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

that's F as in Fred, A as in alligator, I as in Igloo, L as in lunatic

Morning broke and we were off and running; the kids, the dog, the dishwasher.

But not my modem, or router or whatever you feel like calling it. I paid it no mind. I headed off for Zumba and figured it would be fine.

So began my day:

2 trips to:

for a thingagig (modem/router) that cannot be configured without:
2 phone calls to
2 continents

losing hours in my day and possibly braincells (I don't have any to spare)

All I can say is that I am glad my day started with a lot of this:
Do you like my hair?

and I am ending it with a little less whining and a little more of this:

I feel so techy.

Monday, June 08, 2009


When we weren't able to sell our house last year, I felt pretty cruddy about it. At least at first. I wanted to give the new location a go, to support my husband's career.

But then the economy flagged and many of our closest friends found themselves out of work. Many stay at home moms I knew went back to work and not for self fulfillment. The strain was evident in my once rather well-to-do area, and I adopted a new mantra when asked why we are still around. (Yes, some people say it just like that. It's so inviting to see their disappointment or at least the lack of good manners. Heh.)

We are just so thankful to have a good job for our family. We are grateful, even as Greg works long hours. We are thankful to have health insurance. We are grateful to be sticking around in a community we love.

We are thankful, and we stopped asking for more.

So, imagine our delight when Greg was named an Achiever last week, recognized and rewarded for all his hard work over the year, a year with east coast accounts (think of Wall Street troubles) and a lot of pressure.

I can't wait to run away with him this summer.

The Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii

I'm so proud of you, honey. ox

Pictures courtesy of Google.

Friday, June 05, 2009

a side of kindness (I'm running away with my T-Mobile call center rep)

My cell phone unceremoniously died a quick death last week, dying in its sleep and leaving me feeling crummy because as luck would have it, the kids would suffer some schoolyard bloodfest/bone break, and I would be tralala, gallivanting about town.

(School secretary sighs and whispers under her breath: bad mom*. That's how I picture it anyway.)

So I dial up T-Mobile - with my land line - and prepare for a drone-like response, to suffer through a litany of unhelpful suggestions, like 'is it charged?' or some such nonsense. Lately, my customer service experiences have been lacking.

I explain my dead phone and I am greeted with coos and 'oh nos' and sweet sympathy and though I know that she is paid to be so damn nice to me, I can't help but picture the two of hitting it off for coffee or maybe wine. Even when she told me to bury my old phone and buy a bright new shiny one, she sounded so sorry I'm out a phone and some cash, I swear she was in fact sincere, and if she's feigning said sincerity? I don't care.

I like me some kindness.

Days later, I called - again - and spoke to another rep, equally friendly and inquisitive about my day. I all but laid on my couch to spill my guts because I've paid for less attentive therapy.

Now my phone works swimmingly and I'm out of reasons to give them a ring.

Maybe we could hang out, friend each other on Facebook, leave each other insufferably cheerful notes.

They would help me solve *my* world's irritations: Bickering kids, pooping dogs, sore knees.

There would be nodding and 'there, theres'. The word 'awesome' tossed around when I did the things I should.

Or at least I'd like to think so, if I ran away with T-Mobile.

*Not that Bad Mom. That would be complimentary and completely welcomed, phone or no phone.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

deep down tired

It took me all day to realize I was in a bad mood.

My husband heard it in my voice, over the phone, many miles stretching between us, but I blamed it on our bickering kids.

I heard myself repeating stories, relaying negative experiences that are better put to rest.

Still, I'm a slow learner; slow to acknowledge, slow to change.

I am just thirsty for something I can't quite quench, and it leaves me restless.

So I tried to start anew. I sat my parched butt down in my comfy big chair and turned down the tired thoughts, hiking familiar paths in my mind, and looked out the window.
running through the sprinklers
To my healthy kids, romping in the grass...
wet feet
Getting along, laughing.
It did it for me.

I find I am never more thankful for this full life than in these moments when I feel so unworthy, and not up to the task at hand.