"Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity." ~ Gilda Radner

Monday, August 28, 2006

Church Families & Other Misnomers

I didn't want to do it, but I did.

For my fans out there -- all three of you -- my apologies for you having to now use the Comment Moderation option on my blog. But it seems one of my dear detractors from my other blog, The Independent Eye, found it necessary to spew a little anonymous small-minded venom on The Homestretch, and frankly...it's my flippin' blog, and I don't have to put up with it here. This is a friendly blog. My sanctuary, you might say.

Speaking of sanctuaries, "WCV"(West Central Valley, the school district/area that The Eye, my controversial news blog, covers) stated that I should be ashamed of having my car repo'd (we chose to surrender it actually), and further more, what does my son think? And what does my husband's church family think?

I find those questions entertaining...

My son thinks, "Hey, mom and dad are a little short on cash flow right now. But it was great having mom home for most of the summer -- we hung out a lot together. Things will get better. Every family faces tough times of one kind or another. It could be worse."

What a great, mature kid.

And, as for my husband's church family? We are no longer in the ministry, WCV. But if we were still in the ministry, I would hope our church family would pray for us, asking God to give us the emotional strength and the necessary direction to help us get back on track financially. Knowing that tough times fall on everyone at one time or another, I imagine they wouldn't judge us.

Of course, hind sight and five years in the ministry tells me that while the majority of members of our church family -- our true church family (and we still consider them family) -- would, indeed, pray for us nd not judge us, the other few church "family" members -- and I use the term "family" with my tongue rammed into my cheek -- would probably be thinking along the same petty tracks of WCV's train of thought.

So, frankly, WCV, if you must know, I don't give a damn what people think.

Life happens.


Sunday, August 27, 2006


I can't believe I've had 181 hits on The Homestretch...but just a smattering of comments. My other blog -- the one that has taken over my life (The Independent Eye) has scored more than 1,200-plus visitors since Aug. 13. And hundreds of comments -- some not fit for family viewing, of course, but hey! It's all in the name of conversational media.

I'm wondering why folks rarely leave comments here...could my personal life be THAT boring? You bet it could be. And it is. But that's OK. Now that I've discovered blogging, well...k sara, k sara. (That's the im version of that old Doris Day song...badabump.)

Truth is, I don't dare leave my house now since my eyes look like I haven't slept in months. I am hooked on blogging...my eyes are glued to my computer screen for hours on end -- and thank God for microwavable Hamburger Helper and canned fruit or my son would be totally starved.

My husband IS starved...for affection...I shut myself in my attic writing room and don't come down for weekends at a time. However, I have had a few things go on in real time...

I met the repo man, and he was very nice. I handed over my keys to the Focus and haven't missed it since. Not a tear, not a heavy sigh.

I started back at my grocery schlepping job part-time...it's great to be back, actually. It feels so strange to be earning a paycheck! What a concept! The customers all seemed so glad to see me; I just smiled. Then we talked about some old times and we drank ourselves some beers...still crazy after all these years...

Oh, drat! There I go...breaking into old Paul Simon songs...I need a nap. Can I blog in bed?

Stop! I must stop blogging!

If you visit this site, please leave some kind of comment before you leave...Don't be shy.

Less than two months till I turn 50. So please...humor me.


Sunday, August 20, 2006

Cat & A Haircut, Two Kibbles

Being on a squeaky tight budget, of course, means cutting corners, cutting up credit cards, and cutting out coupons. So what to do about hair cuts? Like so many fashion divas, when I feel a bad hair day coming on, I want a haircut and I want it NOW! But some weeks, just being able to glean a little milk money from under the sofa cushions is all I can hope for. So what's a hip blogger chick like me supposed to do when money's scarce and that threadlike growth from the top of my head is absolutely screaming for a trim?

Not to worry! I just leave it to my cat, Schmokers. Come to find out, she's one of the best barbers around. She works nights and early mornings. And she's cheap, too. All she wants in return are a few tuna-flavored kibbles in her dish and a clean litter box. I can afford that.

I happened upon Schmoker's unusual pasttime (she appears to consider it a career, and who am I to judge?) this last week. It all started with a dream, actually. I was dreaming that I had a large, black spider clinging to the top of my head, much like a large hat with tendrils , and I just couldn't shake it. As I slowly awoke from this ghoulish nightscape of the mind, I realized that it was not a woolly mammoth of an arachnid I was sporting, but it was Schmokers, nibbling and yanking little strands of my hair with her teeth. With a rough lick or two on my face (a feline facial?) thrown in for good measure. Costs less than Almay mascara remover, I might add.

At first, I thought it was a nervous habit Schmokers had acquired; it was storming, and I figured she was just wigging out over the thunder. I shared that delightful musing with my hubby.

"Darling," I said. "It was so funny...Schmokers was chewing on my hair this morning. I think she chews my hair when she's nervous."

"Thank God she doesn't prefer eyeballs," he offered.


But it occurred to me this bright, sunny a.m., as I brushed Schmokers, alias Edwina Scissorteeth, from my head once more, that hair nibbling from her feline perspective is truly an act of love and caretaking. It is no different than when Schmokers and her kitten, Flower, bathe each other. Schmokers loves Flower. And Schmokers loves me. And she wants to take care of me like she takes care of Flower and like Flower takes care of her in return. Classic mother-daughter bonding, at both the feline and human level. Either that, or Schmokers merely hates my hair and thinks I'm odiferous and in dire need of a bath. Hey, either way, it's all good. And free.

Yup. Me and the Schmokes are good pals. Have been since she came tiptoing up our driveway out at my mother-in-law's farm early last fall. She's a Tortoise Shell cat, and she is by far the sweetest cat I have ever known. I felt sorry for the little stray, made her a shelter out of a basket, some blankets, a plastic tote, an old camping cot and a sleeping bag, and she claimed it as her digs right away. Then the little dear wound up pregnant (obviously she was doing more than chasing mice in her spare time), and when the day came for her to bring those six adorable little kittens into the cold and cruel world of stray farm cats (we're so connected, I just sensed it was time), well, I took pity on her.

I've given birth, and the thought of pushing out six kids in the hollow of a tree stump or behind an old barn just didn't sit well with me.

So I drove her in to my house in town, made a nest of towels for her in the bathroom, and just in the nick of time, I might add. Within the hour, she gave birth to Flower, Elliot, Oliver/Olivia and three others (whose names I cannot recall at this point because blogging has fried my brain). Two Torties like Schmokers (girls; Torties are always girls), and four little yellow balls of fluff that look like their no-good, deadbeat dad who hasn't seen Schmokers since the day he had his way with her.


Anyway, I kept Schmokers and Flower (named after that cute little skunk of Bambi fame; she looked like a baby skunk when she was born). Much to my hubby's chagrin. But Daniel loves them (he watched the kitties being born), and I think the tenderness the cats bring out in him is a powerful anecdote to the violence thrown at him at every turn in the music he listens to, the video games he plays, and the movies he manages to see -- and the news -- despite my vigilance.

Besides, when all else in my world seems to be crumbling around me, there's just something about having Schmokers and Flower curled up in my lap, snuggling, or Schmokers nibbling on my noggin cuz I'm her "mommy/baby", that soothes and comforts me. Adds warmth to that Big Chill we call Life. Oh, if only Schmokers could talk. I'd ask her what she is thinking when she is "cutting" my hair in the still of the morning. I know what I'm thinkin'.....how is she at manicures?

Hey, I'm just tryin' to save a buck.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Blogmania Strikes Podunk

Hi. My name is Annie. I can't stop blogging.

(All together now) "Hi, Annie!"

Yes. It has come to that. In just one short month, I've become a blogging addict. As if keeping up with one blog is not enough, I've gone and started yet another blog with Susan, my writing friend. We're just a couple of semi-retired news hounds who used to put out our own weekly newspaper, The West Central Valley Voice (moment of silence in its memory, please) with the help of four other crazy folks. Anyway, we decided to start a news blog, The Independent Eye (see my links), and it is taking off so fast, our bleary eyeballs are spinning.

Blogging is so much fun! So what if my son has been on a steady diet of sugar-laden cereal and water while I am ensconced in my attic writing room adding site meters and animation, whatever, to my new blog. When Mom's happy, EVERYBODY is happy.

I've got "Nothin's Gonna Stop Us Now" by Jefferson Starship blaring, and I am pounding out pontification upon pontification here, and news to beat the band there, and, omigosh! The comments! I love the comments! The news blog comments have been a bit tawdry thanks to our mystery commenters Coco, the ardent speller, and Deborah, with the real classy username, but it's all good! It's what the blogosphere is all about.

And to think a month ago, I was wondering what I was going to do with my life! I've re-discovered my purpose! Save for my son looking a bit gaunt and pleading for protein, and the repo man coming to take my auto any minute (where IS he...I cleaned out the Focus two days ago...) and my fingers cramping from typing...I'm the happiest I've been since the hogs ate little brother (that's just one of my late father's favorite sayings. I don't really have a little brother. My one and only sister was hoping that I'd be her little brother when I was born, but no such luck. Then she tried to push me into my grandparents' fireplace one Christmas Eve -- I've got slides proving it -- blah, blah, blah. But we're best friends now.)

Am I blabbing? Yes, I am. The adrenaline rush from publishing our premier issue of The Independent Eye has not totally worn off.

Forgive me?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Fiddler On The Blog

Nero wasn't fiddling while Rome burned.

He was blogging.

Blogging is so addictive. And fulfilling. So fulfilling, that I left my son to forage for food for himself and two friends pretty much for two days while I locked myself in my attic writing room and designed yet another blog. When I finally emerged from my blogging stupor, stumbling down the attic steps bleary-eyed from adding site counters and the like to this site and my new one, I discovered, lo and behold, that a small earthquake had erupted in my kitchen.

Open egg cartons, empty juice containers/half-full Gatorade bottles, dirty plates, baking dish with burnt chocolate chip bread remants, smelly socks, crumpled napkins...thank God school is starting in less than a week.

What's that old saying? If it weren't for schools, insane asylums would be filled with a lot more mothers.

Oh yeah.

Anyway, my new blog is news related, and has a lot to do with a rebirth of sorts, of finding my true passion (no, not Johnny Depp) once again. I'll be running it up the flag pole, along with another reporter friend of mine, later this week. And I will probably link to it from here, tho it will be of interest only to a specific population, really.

In the meantime... we're surrendering one of our cars to Ford Credit -- the piece of crap Focus -- and that will greatly reduce financial strain. Our reduction in income due to being underemployed (love that buzzword). Thank God for Lexapro, or I'd probably be curled up in the trunk in the fetal position clutching my Focus handbook. As it is, I'm eyeing the tequila and singing, "And she had fun, fun, fun till the repo man took her Focus away..."

If one must surrender her car, one must keep a sense of humor. Or one will run far away. But one can't really run far when one doesn't have wheels, so it's best one just sucks it up and goes on with one's life.

Oh, hell. It's just a car. John's still got that other piece of crap Ford, the Escape (oh, God, if only I could) -- at least for now. We made it with one car for YEARS. We can make it with one car again. Besides, I need to lose 25 pounds before I turn 50, and walking hither and yon ought to assist me in doing just that. And it's been well worth being home, spending time with my teenage son. Precious fleeting moments.

See? Always a silver lining. Always.

Actually, I think it's this blogging thing that has me feeling almost giddy this morning and not giving a hoot about losing the Focus. Maybe it's because blogging has given me a new personal focus (aha! Epiphany!), one that doesn't cost me $3 a gallon every couple of days. But it does give a sense of accomplishment (I've taught myself quite a bit about html, I'll have you know) AND I am writing just about every day.

True, I can't snag a freelance gig to save my soul, but what the bleep.

I'm a Blogger Chick, baby.

Right on.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Waddya Mean 'No Gels'?

Hold the flippin' iPod and pour out the British Gatorade.

You mean to tell me that because of the (thankfully) foiled terrorist plot, I can no longer pack my hair gel in my carry-on bag? WHAT? Do Tony Blair, George W, Homeland Security, et al, truly expect me to stash not only my hair gel, but my beloved shampoo, mousse, root lifter, a plethora of perfume bottles, anti-aging lotions and skin-softening potions -- not to mention my trusty packed-to-the-gills makeup bag -- in my checked luggage? And risk having the airlines LOSE my entire morning beauty regimen between Des Moines and Cincinnati?

Are they nuts?

Obviously, it was a man -- or men -- who made that new security measure decision. Why, just imagine the thousands of dollars in health and beauty products that got pitched, and the millions of women who bitched as they were forced by airport security to hand over their economy size Oil of Olay Regenerating Hydrating Dear God-Make-Me-Look-20-Again-Cuz-I'm Worth-It-Damn-It Fluid.

Talk about terrifying! Sakes alive! I mean, sure, take away our iPods, take away our laptops, take our shoes, our fingernail clippers, and certainly our fingernail files and box cutters. But don't mess with our hair gels, etc. A woman without her beauty regimen safely beside her, above her in the plane's overhead compartment, or below her seat tucked safely between her feet, is a woman who is, in effect, a ticking time bomb. Especially if the airlines lose her checked luggage -- which is, I am afraid, apt to happen now and again.

I am not making light about the horrific lengths terrorists will go in planning and scheming ways to sneak explosives on board an airliner. I realize that under last night's emergency circumstances, what else could airline security personnel do BUT make everybody toss their toothpaste, shaving cream, water, etc. as they passed through security in order to ensure that travelers were safe in the aftermath of discovering the terrorists' ruthless plot.

But show me a woman without her gel in her carry-on-- or worrying about her gel not meeting her at the luggage carousel -- and I will show you an agitated, aggravated, absolutely unpredictable passenger capable of, well, I shudder to think.

Oh, heck-schmeck. Maybe it will become easier to pack for a flight this way. I never can decide which perfume (I layer scents), hairspray (maximum or medium hold?), flavored toothpaste (vanilla or cinnamon?), deodorant (solid or invisible or invisible solid?), or body lotion (Sweet Pea, Cherry Blossom or Moonlight Path?) to take with me when I travel. Besides, I get bored with my old makeup anyway. I'll just leave all that toiletry crap at home and buy new after my plane lands. Then I'll wrap it all up and leave the stuff for my friends to divvy up between them as early birthday or Christmas presents.

A costly plan, yes. Do airport security personnel realize how much even the cheapest do-it-yourself micro dermabrasion scrub costs? But then again, what price homeland security?

Yes, ladies, we CAN do this. There's more than one way to travel with our hair gel. Either leave the gel and its cosmetic cohorts at home and prepare to sign your children's college savings away in order to buy new upon landing (and do remember to re-gift) or stash your anti-aging cache in your checked luggage, cross your fingers it won't get lost, and double up on the Lexapro.

One way or the other, it's bound to be a bumpy ride.

Bon Voyage!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Another Saturday Night

My, my.


The exciting life I lead.

What? Who is that exciting, strange couple to your right? Why that is me and my dear hubby a few years back at our son's 6th grade Medieval Feast. I thought I should practice uploading images to my blog, and that's the first one I came across -- don't hate us because we are beautiful. It truly exemplifies the mind-boggling good times we have here in Podunk.

Actually, it's been a great weekend. My Sis came up from Des Moines ( I think it's up -- I'm map-challenged) and painted Daniel's room. It looks like a guy's room now, tan walls, complete with goofy sports posters, and empty Gatorade bottles stashed under the bed.

We had a great time just yacking and eating ice cream and laughing about the old days when we were both single and living in that other excitement capitol, Davenport, IA. In the best of times/worst of times category? The New Year's Eve we put a party hat on the cat and clanged pots and pans together in ridiculous revelry out on her second floor apartment balcony. Nevermind that, being Iowans and 60 minutes behind Dick Clark as well as all my friends back in Cinci, Baby New Year had done come and gone to bed. I still laugh when I look at the pictures from that night -- the cat in the hat and all. It don't get any better than that on New Year's Eve!

For my diehard fans -- and I know at least two of you are out there -- I apologize for not having written anything for a few days. I helped my friend Mary move to Ankeny, IA, and stayed for four days as my summer vacation! Some folks go on Alaskan cruises. Others go to Niagra Falls. Me? I prefer Ankeny, IA. If you're ever in Ankeny, check out the HyVee grocery store! Wow! Am I the last one to know that they now make MICROWAVABLE Hamburger Helper? Gotta love the Big City.

But we really did have a blast. Or at least Mary's 21-year-old daughter, Kristin, and I did (Mary had to hightail it back to work). We lounged in our PJs till noon, dined on turkey sandwiches and chocolate Snickers cake, and watched "The Family Stone" and cried our eyes out.

Have you seen that movie? Omigosh! It's labeled a comedy but I beg to diff! All the angst and gnashing of teeth a family goes and grows through. It is almost right up there with some of my other eternal favorite flicks -- if you've perused my profile, you know that The Way We Were, Bridges of Madison County, Something's Gotta Give, are the best in my book. Oops...I might have fogotten to list Thelma and Louise. Saw that movie once a week for 12 consecutive weeks in a row...OK, so I had a little anger issue with men. Even took my counselor and my women's therapy group to see it. Now THERE is a chick flick if ever there was one. In fact, I think Thelma and Louise was THE defining moment in chick flicks.


Got home from vacation, and started digging through old totes in my basement. Found my old junior high diary, my long-lost copy (how appropriate) of Lost and Found Lovers by Dr. Nancy Kalish, and started ruminating how connecting with old boyfriends is all the rage now. I once had the notion that it would be great to gather all -- and I mean ALL -- my old boyfriends around a table -- a big, round table -- and just ask each of them to tell me what they liked or disliked about me back in the day, and why they think it didn't work out. I, of course, have my own theories, but I'd love to hear their sides of the stories. Why, you may ask? Just curious. I want to put my life -- and more to the point, my former love life -- in some sort of perspective. I mean, it can't hurt at this point, can it? Ha! Famous last words. Anyone who has ever dreamed of what it might be like to connect once again with their first true love should read Dr. Kalish's book. And read my short story -- fiction of course, dahling -- that I am bound and determined to write and have published before I die. More on that later.

Well, that's it for tonight. Daniel is at the figure 8 races (wee dogs!) and John is cleaning his mother's basement (always a good time) , and I am blogging my brains out in my little attic writing room. Oh, and yes, I changed the look of my blog. It's easier to read, which at my interesting age of almost 50 is such a blessing! Besides, I had nothing else to do tonight.

Just another Saturday night in Podunk.