Thursday, June 28, 2007

Attack of conscience.

I deleted a post stating my feelings about this person.
(She puts enough hate out there for all of us.)

Sunday, June 24, 2007

What's wrong with this picture?

Last night my friend Trieste was recalling a terrifying Mount Hood horsefly incident from her youth.

This was all it took to induce a flashback to my family's summer picnics at Lake Independence (a public recreation area just outside of Minneapolis).

That's me upper left, creating a slacker pyramid with my siblings and our neighbors, the Russeth kids. Mysteriously absent from the photo are the hundreds of horseflies we'd battle on our way from the picnic table to the murky and lukewarm water.

Aside: Dad would strap a giant orange airplane inner tube onto the roof of the Country Squire station wagon for these outings. (We'd take turns making our moms nervous by floating too far out in the lake.) But then one year our route to the beach led us past the archery range, and, well, you don't have to be a professional humor writer to guess the punchline of that one.

Back to the scary bugs, though. Those horseflies were stupid and slow. They'd flail around in your face and then crash into you with a thud. And when they bit you? It hurt like hell. We're talking serious welts.

Steve can't remember horseflies from his childhood on Long Island. The comparable pests in that part of the world are something called "greenhead" flies.

Similarly, we didn't have chiggers in Minnesota, nor did we deal with "no-see-ums," the mysterious bugs whose nasty little bites I doctored on my sons' arms and legs after watching the fireworks at Shawnee Mission Park one year.

Of course, it's the mosquito that's the legendary hardship for my Nordic people. It's taken me awhile to get used to sleeping on a summer night without being awakened at least once by the hum of a skeeter in my ear.

Oh, and speaking of loud insects...what's the deal with cicadas? It's just wrong for insects to be larger than mice.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Ennui of a Weight Watcher

I was doing so well. Lost about a pound a week so far this year. Dutifully recorded and tallied every ort of food ("Write it before you bite it.") Attending every meeting. Counting my points. Getting all my water in. Bringing my lunch. Doing the mind work. Nagging my spouse.

Then, "bam." I realized I'd become a Weight Watchers zealot. Some would say a-hole.

And the next thing I knew, I was really sick of the whole thing.

Yeesh. Those meetings. People bringing empty food wrappers and reading the nutritional information. Teenage girls counting how many chips are in a serving. The weigh-in ladies pointing at the numbers with smug judgement. The women who make peanut butter out of some astronauty powder. Or weigh chicken breasts. Or measure their ice cream. Or make a scene in restaurants. Or walk in circles around their tiny offices to get all their steps in. Or take off their wristwatches before they get on the scale.

I know everyone means well, and our leader is inspirational and funny.

But I think something is terribly wrong when I have 18 points to use in a day and I choose to blow them all on a Krispy Kreme breakfast. Or save them up all day so by dinner time I'm a low blood sugar time bomb.

Maybe I just need a break. A break made of Chips Ahoy, Lucky Charms, and a couple blocks of Tillamook cheese from Costco.

Yeah. Cheese. Some cheese sounds good. Bye for now.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happy Steve Day!

It's the third Sunday in June, and you know what that means.

Welcome guest bloggers John, Joe, and Dan, giving well-deserved props
to the one and only Steve-O.

I, John, As the oldest of the three sons of Molly and Steve (hugging them in the picture), feel it necessary to write the first portion of this celebratory blog. Steve-oh has always been a great go-to guy and we have shared some wonderful times in the past. From laughing and talking in our cabin in the woods of Branson to hearing about him almost getting in a fight in McDonald's drive thru. All of the wonderful parts of this fantastic person all come into one when you have known him as long and well as I have.

I love you Dad...Happy Father's Day
John Charles Jackson

heya pop. joe here. i just want to say thank you for helping to
shape me into the person that i'm so proud to be today. i couldn't have asked for a better upbringing or a cooler father to have. thank you for introducing me to rock and roll and getting me started on guitar. i can always rely on you for sound advice or to just shoot the shit or complain about stupid people.
happy father's day
i love you.

Steve-O - The most rock n roll father in all of the world. An open minded, but outspoken city person making suburbia rock. Sticking it to the man in those little ways that the man can do nothing about. Unparallelled in his positive creative and social energy that radiates from his face almomst constantly. A wonderful father and a wonderful person all around.
Love ya, steve-o

Sunday, June 10, 2007

This old (stupid) house

Our house hit the big 3-0 recently, which means that after having things on autopilot for a long time, the whole place is going to hell. Which, I know, is a normal consequence of home ownership.

But when both partners are writers with very few practical, concrete skills, it's "Fear and Loathing in Lenexa" every day.

In the past six months, we've replaced our driveway and front porch ($6000), our water heater ($550), our circuit breakers ($1200), our air conditioner's capacitor ($350). Barely caught our breath from all that when we learned our basement crack badly needs attention (initial scammer estimate $10,000, downgraded to $1500 by a structural engineer who did an inspection), and we need to regrade our back yard ($2000) to avoid further basement trouble. We had already planned to replace our rickety fence, and now that the neighbor's German shepherd can vault it, that project ($3000) has acquired new urgency.

Thursday evening, we were headed up to bed when we heard an electrical "whirrrrr" and saw the lights dim about every two minutes as the a/c starts to kick in. Found out Friday it's the compressor ($1000), but our neighbor/HVAC contractor will give us a deal on replacing the whole unit ($2050).

Needless to say the badly-needed exterior housepainting ($3500) is on hold for awhile.

It looks like a home equity loan or refinance is in our future, which stinks, because if there's anything we're worse at than fixing things, it's dealing with numbers.

Calling Dr. Kevorkian...

Thursday, June 7, 2007


I haven't been sleeping well, ever since Saturday, when Kelsey Smith was abducted from our local Target store.

I'm haunted by the image of a beautiful young woman bopping out to the parking lot with a roll of gift wrap and a bag of presents, completely unaware that her life was about to end.

I think about the little boy with the pinwheel (see my May 20 post), and I wonder if innocence and trust are set-ups in a violent world.

I think about babies in Africa and old people in New Orleans and how the slow violence of neglect steals their lives away.

I worry about the mothers' sons and daughters whose innocence is stolen in the name of Iraqi "freedom."

I'm tormented by the face of Kelsey's suspected killer, believing that at some point he, too, was an innocent.

I think about the day twenty years ago when new neighbors moved into the house behind us. She had a brand new baby, and after introducing myself to her, I touched the baby's curly hair and said, "Look at him. He's just perfect."

The new mom turned on her heel and snipped, "Well! Scripture clearly states that we're all born into sin."

I've been mocking my neighbor ever since for that comment, but when human beings are horrible, I start to wonder if she was on to something.

Are all of us humans intrinsically bad people? Or just some of us? Or do we all start out okay and then regress morally, some of us more than others? is it like a big Roy Rogers or Star Wars episode, and the whole point is for the good guys to vanquish the bad guys? How does that happen? Is it true that all we need is love? Will love change the heart of a damaged, violent, murderous soul?

I'm at a loss. And now I'm trying to wrap this up with some kind of hopeful thought.

Maybe my blogfriends can help?

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

No such thing as a "friendly game of Scrabble"

Things you'd never hear in a Scrabble game with my family of origin:

"Oh well, it's only a game."
"That's ok, take your time."
"Hey! Nice play!"
"You won fair and square."
"You're only 8 years old,
so you can look up your word."

Things you'd always hear in a Scrabble game with my family of origin:

"Anybody can win if you get the damn letters."
"Is Q-U-E a word?"
"Whose turn is it?"
"I didn't go to college, and yet I'm beating you by 100 points."
"Whose turn is it?"

One time my mom was so convinced that her son-in-law was "feeling the letters," she made him wear garden gloves. Seriously.

Are you from a Scrabble family, too? Click the link at the left to find out.