Friday, August 15, 2008

The big 2-3 for Joey the Joe

When our guy Joe was 3 months old, his grandpa took his first look at him and dubbed him "the judge." Don't know which came first, the nickname or the persona, but Joey embodies the judicial ideal: Fair. Thoughtful. Compassionate. Wise.

Joey's a natural golfer, slugger, first baseman, composer, and guitarist. And he's a natural-born friend, too...the loyal guy people call when they need advice or companionship or a safe ride home.

Favorite images of Joey:

Playing his Mattel Jaminator guitar at age 3, mastering the Slash rocker stance, and later parlaying it into his own bands: The Knuckleheads, Valium, Jekas, The Ted Bundy Love Connection, and the current brilliant music making machine, Brainbow.

Getting his first taste of cooked spinach and poetically noting, "It tastes like camel grass."

Asking to eat his Spaghettio's straight out of the can "like a hobo."

Making an unassisted triple play in third grade.

Giving his parents a big hug in front of friends and everybody.

Living his life with integrity, warmth, and one of the world's most infectious laughs.

That's our Joey. You gotta love him.

Joey? You out there? Love you, man, Happy Birthday!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Daniel William Jackson is 21 today!

Danny was three years old when "Back to the Future 3" came out. One of Michael J. Fox's lines resonated with him and became his credo for, well, forever, I guess. Danny's read of the line: "Nobody calls me schicken."

He's feisty.

At age 4 he told some loitering suburban poser mall toughs he would "throw them in the trash."

One Halloween, the mean old lady down the street asked pirate Danny "what do you say?" after handing out the candy. She was expecting a thank-you, but instead my son wielded his sword and growled, "I'll cut off your feet."

When Danny had his first set of stitches at age 6, he sat still and didn't even flinch. It was a nasty cut, too, and it left a Nike swoosh scar on his forehead.

No tears when he broke his arm and the doctor had set it with no anesthesia.

A few years ago he had his wisdom teeth extracted, and when he was sitting in the recovery room with a mouthful of bloody gauze, he motioned for me to give him a pen and paper. He wrote this: "Tell them they've been very accommodating." Talk about grace under pressure.

Last night his pals and brothers took him out to try out his new legal ID. Danny volunteered to dance with all the older girls attending a bachelorette party.

Nobody calls him schicken.

Happy Birthday, Dan! LOVE YOU!

Friday, June 6, 2008

The boys are back in house.

Our 20-something sons are moving back in for awhile for a bunch of reasons, none of which are anybody's business but our own.

Yet we're getting plenty of judging feedback. Not from psychologists or clergy or self-help gurus.

Nope, most of the tut-tut is coming from people who don't have kids, who haven't helped with homework, who have no idea about the price of young men's car insurance, who haven't paid attention to the way college funding has dried up for all but the most exceptional students, who think rip-off loans are just the price kids should pay for survival in this society, and who apparently haven't heard about kids with BAs helping people set up their Sleep Number beds or doing payroll for beauty supply companies.

FYI, my kids work their asses off and play fabulous original music and have a bunch of great friends, many of whom are in the same boat. They work full time, they pull their weight in society, they value family and integrity and creativity and kindness.

It is true that they are not on linear paths through life and they are not great at math. Nor are they currently making enough money to support themselves. So sue them.

We support their creative efforts and want to help them out a little. So sue us, too.

Frankly, I like having them around. They'll figure things out eventually. Meanwhile, judgers, please avert your eyes while we do what parents do.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Bloggy Mountain Breakdown

Things are buzzin'. In a few weeks, I'll be off chronicling eight weeks of summer school at my alma mater.

My intent is to maintain both blogs, but I'm starting to feel like Patty/Cathy Lane in the Patty Duke show. In case you're too young for that reference, they were cousins, identical cousins all the way. One pair of matching bookends, different as night and day. And they led nefarious, but coy, double lives, tricking boys and teachers with their adorable identicalness.

My double life has begun.

Visit Back-to-School Boomerang and try to keep up.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Good for what ails you.

If you're 40-, 50-, or 60-something and wondering where the life force went, an ad on Facebook says to try this:

Pay no attention to the Facebook ad. Here's what the doctor actually ordered:

"Shine a Light," Martin Scorsese's Rolling Stones concert film, shows you the age-defying powers of talent, passion, love, and attitude.

You can't really say the Rolling Stones are looking good. But you can say they're looking better than I am.

And really, how they look is beside the point.

Mick's still got unbelievable moves and stamina to go with his ageless pipes. The rock and roll--even the really old music--is vital and exciting.

The next time I see the movie, though, my plan is to watch Keith Richards from start to finish. From (spoiler alert!) spontaneously giving his guitar away to blues god Buddy Guy to sharing frequent laughs with his mates to kneeling down and making eyes at the fans in the front row. the guy is pure love.

Whoever thought pure love would look like that?

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Back to the Ozarks

Yup. The hubby and I packed up our hoodies & sweatpants and headed back to the Lake of the Ozarks.

We visited our pals the herons just west of the Bagnell Dam, a major hydroelectric deal:

You'll never guess what we saw on our way back to town. Here's a hint:

That's right, Sherlock. We had to hit the brakes to avoid making a nice warm coat for me out of one of these:

How weird is that? We're leaving the dam. And we see a beaver. Verily, the god of wordplay smiled on us that day.

Later on, wanting to watch the KU/Villanova game, we decided to stick with the weekend's "immature euphemism" theme and tried this place:

There weren't actual woodpeckers playing the pianos, although after the beaver thing nothing would have surprised me. I recommend Peckers if you enjoy unselfconscious group sing-alongs with fairly accomplished piano players. Karaoke for cowards, you might call it. Good, clean, loud fun.

We drove home today through Cole Camp, Missouri, home of this famous crossroads:

Oh come on. Can I help it if the universe wants me to think like a seventh grader once in awhile?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Guys in Ties!

My guys, that is.

Joey's and Danny's band, Brainbow, had a big break last week--a gig at First Fridays, Kansas City's monthly tour of art galleries. Joey popped in at our place around 3:00, freaked out because the guys couldn't find their trademark rainbow-colored ties.

Parenting books will fault me for this (the guys are 20 and 22, after all), but I volunteered to handle the sartorial crisis so Joey could tend to more pressing matters (loading up the equipment for the gig and getting Dan's oil changed).

When I hit the stores and found four somewhat-matching ties, I felt like the conquering heroine. (Did I mention that I get a new house when Brainbow hits the big time?) But on the way to check-out, I was reduced to tears by the rack of miniature three-piece manchild suits displayed for Easter.

It took me back to Easters past, when the guys were too little to rebel against the short gingham pants with embroidered bunnies.

I also remembered dressing the boys up for Grandma...

And the panic on the mornings of middle school choir concerts, when we had to find white shirts, dark pants, and nice ties for all three boys. Planning ahead is not in anyone's DNA around here!

The band members do look great in their ties. And God bless Steve for teaching them how to tie the Windsor knot. (I married a preppie!) Artsy glamour shot or photographer error? I'm not saying.

I don't know what this Easter will look like for me but am pretty sure it won't include dressing anyone up in gingham shorts. Also, there will be no ham. Or bonnets. like in 1961:

That was the only year my sister Lisa and I managed to talk mom into ordering the matching dresses (coincidentally gingham) from the Sears catalog. We thought it was cool. Mom found it cheesy.

Once again, life's tiny details come full circle and connect me to parts of the past I thought I'd forgotten. Amazing how that works.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

I coined two new words after the last Ohio debate

Shrillary. Come on. Just answer the questions. So what if you have to go first? Maybe after they get Barack a pillow they should get you a box of Kleenex. The "poor me" thing isn't going to play too well in a state screwed by NAFTA.

Hillabuster. I've been in meetings where this happens. One domineering party fails to "take turns," so everyone else fights to get a word in edgewise. Clinton justifies not yielding the floor with phrases like, "No wait. This is important."

Oh...we get it. This is way more important than whatever the candidate everybody LIKES is trying to say. It feels like old politics to me.

The weird thing is I started out feeling good about both of these candidates. (Well, I do feel better about either of them than McCain.) Still, what's the opposite of "endearing oneself?" That's what Hillary has done to me over the past few months.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Steve & Molly Save Valentine's Day

It had been one of those weeks in our marriage. The kind of week that starts out on a slightly irritable note and crescendoes into "do I even know you?"

Like most of those weeks, this one included no major spousal wrongdoing...just a series of miscommunications, festering frustrations, unmet (possibly unreasonable) expectations, and excessive recriminations. Yep. The four major "ations" were all there, and looming on the horizon: the national day of Lo-o-o-o-ve.

I'd already bought several Valentines, and last night in the middle of administering a healthy dose of the silent treatment, I even tried to sign them. But I couldn't do it.

The pressure was on to have our traditional Valentine lunch date. Couldn't do that either.

Cupid be damned, I was still totally pissed off. And so was my man. There was no door slamming, screaming or quotable angry exchanges. Just the quiet, scary kind of pissed off that makes you wonder how the two of you will ever clear the air. Now that the nest is empty, and there's no need to make nice and keep up appearances for the kids, these quiet, brooding fights feel even more threatening to the life we usually like quite a bit.

We'd hashed and rehashed the initial offense in a boring remake of "He Said, She Said" retooled for the 25-year club. Elizabeth Perkins, not nearly as fetching in her Maxine bathrobe, claims that Kevin Bacon was obviously distracted and messing around with his computer when she called from work to ask for feedback about an emotional situation. Kevin Bacon, trying to save his bacon so he can get some much needed sleep instead of engaging in the inevitable all-night "conversation," denies it.

So then it became not just an argument, but an argument about how we argue. Not just how we were arguing last night, but how we argue in general. God help us both.

And He/She (God, that is, or the Higher Power or Spirit Self or St. Valentine whatever name you give to the part of yourself that is capable of hitting the EXIT key on the badgering) did. Help us both.

While I don't consider myself particularly religious in the conventional go-to-church sense, I do like the Bible verse about "love hopes all things, believes all things, endures all things, etc." How else can you explain the way rage sometimes, without warning, evaporates and turns into tenderness despite all your efforts to hold a grudge? How else do the healing thoughts pre-empt the hateful ones? And how can the power of two people's history together (which had seemed irrelevant in the heat of battle) suddenly help you see how really stupid the argument was in the first place? Can't explain it. But that's what happened.

And this morning we woke up, still a little tentative and sheepish, but realizing we'd made it through something.

I would be able to sign those Valentines after all, and he could cook me a nice dinner, which we could share by candlelight, laughing again and easing back into the rhythm that sustains us through the more unpredictable and less forgiving parts of our lives.

So, all you sweethearts: Be good to each other. Because whether it's Valentine's Day or your anniversary or just Thursday, and whether you're feeling it right now or not so much, in love togther for the long haul is a pretty damn lucky place to be.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Did you see Little Richard on the Grammys?

The guy can still rock and roll.

Here's some fun footage from back in the day.

Monday, January 28, 2008

I learned something last week.

An "artifact" on one's mammogram film does not refer to an arrowhead, skeleton key, or pottery shard. Here's the medical definition of "artifacts:"

Artifacts are misrepresentations of tissue structures seen in medical images produced by modalities such as ultrasonography, x-ray computed tomography, and magnetic resonance Imaging.

In other words, there was some gunk on the film.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

And now for something completely different.

You've barely had time to digest my gadfly media escapades and I'm up in your face with stories of my agrarian roots.

Sorry. Short attention span. So sue me.

I was home today recovering from a bout of ague and found this genealogy information about my great grandfather, Christian Schendel. Now we know where I get my workaholic tendencies. This man was a doer. (Click text to enlarge.)

It's lucky for everyone that I didn't come along until three generations later. (Not a fan of bugs in the house, outdoor plumbing, or hard physical labor.) In theory, though, I've always envied people who grew up on farms and got to show livestock at 4-H competitions and drive tractors and stuff.

Can't help it. It's in my blood.

Here's the link to the searchable ancestors site.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Is there anything I don't have a problem with?

Apparently not.

The current targets of my wrath: newspapers publishing anonymous hate comments on "blogs."

In case you missed it, here's my most recent letter to the KC Star.

And, proving my point, here are the the anonymous online comments my letter spawned:

* * *
Never one to leave well enough alone, I sent a note to the paper's readers' representative questioning the Star's policy of publishing unsigned commentary on unmonitored blogs. I quoted a particulary offensive string of comments readers vomited onto the Star's Crime Blog.

The ombudsman's response:

"Ms. Wigand, can you please be more specific? Are you talking about the comments thread? If so, I will ask the Web editors to review them, but no, doesn't moderate comments. Editors reserve the right to remove things, though. As I've written multiple times on my blog, it's a problem all over the Internet, and I don't know any way around it. User participation is absolutely vital to a Web site, but some people demonstrate time and again that they can't behave. I'm afraid that's just the down side to the interactivity."

To which I replied:

"I understand that it's your job to be an apologist for the newspaper's policies. But you will never convince me that this type of anonymous commentary is of any value to newspapers and the communities they serve.

I am not a techno-newbie. I love the internet. And the First Amendment. But as a former journalist, I am appalled that newspapers are taking the low road and allowing their sites to be used for unsigned, vulgar exchanges.

It's like public stonings. Nobody knows where the comments are coming from, and unhealthy, irresponsible hysteria ensues."

* * *
For the record, I swiped the stoning analogy from my husband, and I think it's a good one.

Not every online newspaper blurs the line between reporting and commentary. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune has a separate Blogging section enabling people to comment on public affairs without compromising or tainting the reported content on news pages. It's dangerously deceiving to place the anonymous opinions right next to the
stories on line. People get confused as to where the facts end and the rabid opinions begin.

I miss the days when good reporting and thoughtful commentary sold papers. And I believe our society is damaged when the media equates unsigned, hateful, off-the-cuff frat boy slams with measured, reasoned discourse.

To quote the maitre d' in Ferris Bueller, "I weep for the future."

Next week's target: Officious medical bureaucrats. Stay tuned.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The good thing about the Hollywood writers' strike... that it forces us to watch important films like this one:

Caught it on the late, late, late, late, late, late show on AMC tonight. Hope I don't have bad dreams.