22 01 2007

I got a call at work last week that our favorite neighbor, Natalie, was a tad bit pissed. She, apparently, had innocently used her stair rail in her house to aid in going downstairs and plunked her had in a wad of almost freshly chewed gum.

I got a call from Mickey, my daughters’ nanny, that the girls were not allowed to play with her daughter until someone came forward with the truth.

Natalie had obviously ruled out her husband, myself, and the dog Roxy as the culprit.

When I got home I sat the girls down at the table and turned on the bare light bulb – trying to get to the truth the old fashioned way. Both Maya and Sophie denied that it was them. I pointed out that Sophie had just scored a pack of Hubba Bubba Watermelon and I still had my suspicions.

“I give you 24 hours to come forward with the truth,” I said. “And Hubba Bubba Watermelon definitely has a destinctive color. Tomorrow after work I will call Natalie and ask her what color the gum was. Then I will know for sure.”

Still, the denial.

The next morning at approximately 10:00 am I got a phone call at work. It was Sophie. It went a little something like this…

“Hi Mom? Um, I was just remembering that maybe when Grace and I were playing? And she was downstairs and I was upstairs? That I might have been laughing and the gum maybe fell out of my mouth? It possibly could be my gum?”

Oh…the shock.

When I got home Sophie and I talked. I told her that she knew whether or not gum fell out of her mouth and it was better just to own it than to dance around the subject. And I must say that in her seven-year-old way she got around to owning it.

Because she beat the deadline I told her that she was not getting any punishment from me – but we did need to go to Natalie’s to admit to the wrong-doing. This had the desired effect and mild hysteria set in.

Sophie loves Natalie and her husband Mistah (his nickname given to him by Sophie) so much. I think she likes hanging out with them more than she likes to play with their daughter Grace. The thought of facing up to this was almost too much to bear.

I let her stew on it awhile and sneaked away to my bedroom to call Natalie. She, too, had her suspicions – so it wasn’t a huge shock. And she is a big softie. After the stickiness of the gum wore off she was feeling quite a bit better about things. I encouraged her to put on her “Bad Ass Mom” hat and help me through this learning experience.

Natalie is one of those parents that is a great communicator. She probably never would have given her child the “Dead Man Walking Deadline” as I had. I knew that she would handle it very well.

The walk to their house was agony. Sophie wanted me to hold her hand – which I wouldn’t. I just told her that I was going to be there, but this was her responsibility to own up to her mistakes and offer to make it right.

The face-to-face meeting with Natalie happened in her kitchen only moments later. Sophie did well with eye contact, but started sobbing and wanted desperately to be let off the hook.

No dice.

Natalie was much nicer than I and offered a place for Sophie to sit down, eventually offering her lap. Not only that, but she said things like, “Do you really think there is something that you could do that would make me not be your friend?” and “I will love you no matter what and we will work through this together.” Finally, Sophie was able to whisper the bad thing into Natalie’s ear – and then fell against her sobbing and shaking.

Then, in the best communicator way she has, Natalie said, “Wow! You have really grown! Not on the outside, but boy! You have grown a whole lot on the inside. I can even see it – it’s that important.”

How great is she?

Sophie was so relieved that she offered to clean their bathroom. (Which she truly excels at, I can attest to that.) After the crying jag she was back to her old self – stopping the singing and dancing in the living room to hug Natalie every few minutes.

And honestly, I have to admit that Natalie and I had to make an excuse to go out to the deck because we both were crying by the end of it. I think Natalie cried because it had been made into something much bigger than it really was – and Sophie was so truly sorry. I cried because I was proud that she really was that truly sorry. It surprised me a little.

I remember the first time I had to admit a bad mistake. It was awful. I will tell that story soon, but I can tell you it involved a kindergarten me flipping off my sister and then deciding I would live in the back of my Dad’s shop forever instead of facing my Mom….

Do you remember the your first big admission of guilt?


Day Seven of Snow Days…The Pressure Mounts

17 01 2007

So, Toga Ken, when you were found by Barbie “in flagrante delicto” with Biker/Malibu Ken….how did it make you feel?

(You absolutely have to click on this picture for the larger version. Really, you do. Then you can see their facial expressions.)

I declare a “Caption that Photo”contest! Best one gets….um….a collection of single (un-paired, that is) Barbie shoes!

Please God, Let The Snow Melt, Already!

16 01 2007

The girls have been out of school since last Wednesday! Snow day turned into snow days – and insane boredom has set in.

I went to work, finally, for a few hours on Friday. Only to be faced with a three day weekend after an already unexpected three days off. It was cold and the snow refused to melt until Monday showed a glimmer of warmth. (That is to say three hours of 34 degrees.)

Tuesday finally came with it’s promise of back to school and work….

And we woke up to MORE SNOW!

It is insane. We never have this amount of persistant cold and snow. If only the torrential downpours would return with their liquidity and predicability.

We almost made it to four entire days without any type of precipitation. Almost. If we would have made it, those four days, it would have been the first four day period since October that we have had no precipitation of any kind.

Doesn’t that seem a bit excessive?

I normally enjoy the gray and drizzly winters. But I am ready for a bit of sun and temperatures above 40 degrees.


Snow Day!

11 01 2007
Not to reiterate the obvious, but this has been a strange weather year.

Many winters we don’t see any snow at all. Rain, rain and more rain – and in normal circumstances maybe one day with snow.

This year we have had three snow storms, three (or four?) bad windstorms, and record breaking rainfall. The girls have been out of school on snow days so much they will be making up snow days until July.

Being from Montana everyone expects that this should be no problem for me. The problem is that Montana snow is extremely dry and powdery – it basically has no moisture content at all. Here, however, the snow is heavy and wet – and it immediately turns to ice, coating the roadways with inch deep sheets of the skating rink material. If you don’t have a zamboni, don’t even bother trying to drive.

So, for the second day, we are at home. I secretly love it, but unfortunately have no vacation time left to take at work so it goes unpaid. Oh well…the girls and I are having a blast having snowball fights, playing board games and drinking cocoa.

Happy snow day everyone!

My poor cold house.

Look at the power lines! They have about three inches of snow on them.

Mysterious footprints.

The brave and chilly Minty Squirrel.

Mom, Don’t Read My Diary

4 01 2007

For Christmas Megan got me the book “Mortified – Real Words. Real People. Real Pathetic.” The back of the book reads….

“In the days before blogs, teenagers recorded their lives with a pen in top-secret notebooks, usually emblazoned with an earnest, underlined plea to parents to keep away. Since 2002, David Nadelberg has tapped that vast wellspring of adolescent anguish in the stage show Mortified, in which grown men and women confront their past with firsthand tales of their first kiss, first puff, worst prom, fights with mom, life at bible camp, worst hand job, best mall job, and reasons they deserved to marry Simon LeBon.”

I knew I was going to love it, and read it in two days. It’s a scream, and I recommend it to anyone.

As fate would have it, while talking to my Mom tonight, she admitted to reading my diary while she was here this year. This “diary” is actually my journal I wrote in in 1995 while I was working in Alaska.

She suggested I burn it before the girls read it.

This prompted me to pull it out (no need to wipe the dust off, Mom) and look inside. These were wilder days…before kids…what the hell did I write? Obviously, crazy things like…

“It was almost a full moon tonight so I took a long walk up and around the cove. Gorgeous. There are waterfalls, huge trees, flowers – its like a little elf world. I sat on a bench by a waterfall and watched the trees in the moonlight.”

Where are my matches!?

But maybe it was this…

“Then there’s Kenny. Why can’t I get him off my mind? I cannot believe the way he made me feel in such a short time. It’s hard to tell what is really going on between us. I can’t read his mind and I know what his motives were for our relationship, but all I know is he made me feel so incredibly good when we made love – it was like I was a totally new person. I usually am very guarded or almost flippant about sex but I was saying and doing things before I thought about what the repercussions might be. I don’t know if it’s love, but I do know that I have experienced lust and this isn’t that.”

Or could it be this quote that I jotted down?

“Only the rather stupid and insentient, nowadays, have strong and sharply defined personalities. Only the barbarians among us ‘know what they are’.”
-Aldous Huxley “Eyeless in Gaza”

And really…that’s about it. There’s some comment on my co-workers, a few tirades about the captain, some descriptions of nights were I drank too much. But the excerpts above were really the raciest it got.

Dang. Good thing she didn’t find my erotic fiction.

Call Me Ishmael

3 01 2007

I am a nerd.

My idea of fun often lies in sketching chemical compounds (ah…covalent bonding..), diagramming sentences or watching documentaries.

Not too long ago I invited a friend over for an evening of pizza, beer, and the Enron documentary, “The Smartest Guys in the Room”.

One of my very favorite things to do on the weekends is to watch the Discovery or National Geographic channels if they are showing any ocean/underwater documentaries. It could be about the breeding habits of sea cucumbers, I don’t even care.

I am mesmerized by anything underwater. Sharks, kelp, whales, those weird fish with the photoluminescent fishing lures that are actual body parts!

A few years ago I watched a documentary on giant squid – and I was hooked! They are huge, and gnarly, and any real specimens that were shown were half rotten. You just don’t get any better than that. In a follow up documentary they had found baby giant squid bobbing along in the currents off of Australia. They were on the right track and the clock was ticking before they were going to be able to film one alive.

I was a bit obsessive about this. That is all I really wanted to see out of the scientific community for months after. Finally, my interest lagged and I moved on to other things (namely ancient caldera locations in Russia and the Chamchatka peninsula to name a few).

Then, it happened.

They captured the first ever live squid on camera. I jumped online and looked and viewed and looked some more. And I was disappointed. I don’t know what I was expecting. Maybe something violent. Maybe the giant squid would leap out of the ocean and envelope the research vessel in it’s tentacles, forever dragging the courageous captain and crew into the murky depths…..

(I was listening to the audio version of Moby Dick at the time. Maybe that was my problem.)

My giant squid fascination petered out. Kaput.

Until right before Christmas when this happened. I hope you agree that this is the coolest picture ever. Twenty four feet (seven meters) long – and its a young female.

I bet there is going to be the greatest squid documentary soon! You are all invited over for popcorn and cheap wine!