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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Gladness

Dear Spirit,
As I sit in front of my zombie movie enjoying my non-traditional Thanksgiving with my dog Hairy, I realize that I want to take the time to thank you for a number of things.

I recently discovered that I have a brother and sister-in-law who are beautiful and extraordinary people. By recently, I mean within the last few years. As a little girl, an only child, I wished for an older brother. I didn't realize that this was basically an impossible request because when you're little, you don't know how big brother's are actually made and that they have to be born BEFORE you. But, Spirit, you surprised me and granted my wish anyway. You just didn't tell me about it, so I'm grateful to know now and proud to call him, them my family. Oh, and I'm also grateful to know his mom. She's beautiful too.

And, Spirit, you've brought people into my life just when I've needed them. I hope that you've put me in the path of others as well, when they needed me. I don't always understand why they go, sometimes permanently, and you could make that a little easier you know. But I know you must have a reason. Each person I come in contact with changes me or teaches me something. Whether I like them or not is irrelevant it seems because I learn from all of them.

One may teach me math, another fun, another respect. Some teach me to value myself and some are reminders to stand up for myself. They are all purposeful. And I'm grateful for each and every one, especially the ones I call "friends".

And Spirit, you've also given me challenges. Let's just say I'm never happy about them at the time, but I always understand them later. I try to remind myself that with every challenge there is eventually joy and happiness again and it seems even sweeter.

For all of the material things, I thank you as well. I'm grateful for a warm bed and a roof over my head even though it leaks it little. I know the people in my life are extremely grateful I have clothes to wear, as am I. No one wants to see a pantsless Lori, trust me on this.

And thank you, Spirit, for me. For giving me strength, hope, tenacity and kindness when I need them. Again, do I really need so much strength and tenacity? Even still, I am grateful.

And thank you for the ridiculous things that I just enjoy, like zombie movies, feeling the sun on my face, warm cozy boots, bubble baths and smelly candles. These things are good too.

Most of all, thank you for Hairy. Because when I forget to be grateful, his "dog-ness", the spontaneity and joy that are inherent in his nature, remind me what's important.

For all of these things, and the things to come, Spirit, I am grateful.
Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

I'm Cuckoo for Zombies!

YES! I'M cuckoo for zombies like a tiger digs frosted flakes. All zombie movies are excellent, but the ones with humor are the cream of the crop.

The best zombie movie ever is Shaun of the Dead. It's a British film and I love the snarky humor that the Brits do oh so well. In fact, I sell a lot of t-shirts and bumper stickers in that part of the world (insert shameless plug here >> www.cuckooforzombies.com. )

I'm not a fan of all horror movies. The slasher and senseless violence movies like My Bloody Valentine or Friday the 13th: number 2, 3, 4, 5, 6...42 are just stupid and I have to say pretty formulaic. I've been looking for a chance to use the word formulaic without it looking like it was on my word of the day calendar and LOOK-here it is!

I think that's why I enjoyed Scary Movie so much. I mean, we all know what's going to happen in a slasher movie, right?
  • No! Don't go into the basement/woods/tool shed/serial-killer-rec-room-that's-clearly-marked all by yourself!
  • ACK! Look behind you! [they never never DO even when I try to warn them by screaming at the television.]
  • All minor characters get taken out one at a time to build the suspense of the final dual between the bad guy and the main character. However, the minor characters are always killed off one by one in order of importance, which generally means in order of minority/gender/ or funny but expandable sidekick. 
  • Flashlights NEVER work, or only work long enough to make you feel safe about going into the basement/woods/tool shed/serial-killer-rec-room-that's-clearly-marked!
So, that's why I prefer zombie movies. First of all zombies are the slowest villains ever! Basically, you're watching a geriatric-like monster travel at negative 7 mph towards an able-bodied hero who somehow, always JUST gets away. Suspense in slow motion! It's fabulous. And no matter what, I end up screaming and jumping off the couch in fright. I do this even when I've seen the movie on 6 previous occasions.  I've never actually watched a zombie movie with another human, I'd like to keep all my friends. I would like to watch one on the big screen, but I'm pretty sure they would bodily remove me from the theater in the first 10 minutes... and they may need duct tape.

And I hate shutting my eyes at the gory parts. Instead I will pause the movie, jump around for a while and sing a happy song until I'm calm enough to continue with the show. This means it took me three days to watch Zombieland... and I loved every minute of it. The best part was that every time I would scream and jump from the couch, my dog would run to the window barking, scaring me even more. So, if you can imagine me jumping up and down singing, my dog barking at the window, intermittently looking to me for some sign of sanity and then... me laughing my ass off when I realized how ridiculous it all was. It's the BEST!

Zombieland is actually my second favorite zombie movie. Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg are brilliant and Bill Murray has a cameo near the end. Let's just say... Bill Murray, always funny! The best part of the story--and a good zombie movie ALWAYS has a story and good character development-- is Woody Harrelson's epic quest for the last Twinkies in a post-apocalyptic-zombie-infested-world. The survival list is fabulous, the humor is pee-your-pants funny and the characters actually pretty endearing.

So, I'm not sure what you're going to dress up as this Halloween, but I can guarantee you I will be on the lookout for roving zombies, probably screaming my head off and then laughing like a loon! It should be a sight.

Happy Halloween everyone!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

You Diane, Me Jane

Now, you may be saying to your screen, "I thought you're name was Lori?" or "Maybe we should call you Sybil!". Very funny, but actually I'm referring to more of a state of mind than a name.

I'm talking about Jane Goodall and Diane Fossey.

You probably know Jane Goodall as the species activist and anthropologist who lived with chimpanzees starting in the 1960's. She's advocated for environment and species protection ever since. I was lucky enough to attend one of her lectures about a decade ago and I was struck by how 'kindly' she was. In fact, she's downright 'grandmotherly' now. Her mannerisms and way of speaking were so gentle and wise that I was drawn in immediately and by the end of the speech, I was ready to follow her absolutely anywhere rescuing chimpanzees along the way.

In contrast, Diane Fossey was an outright warrior. Unfortunately she was murdered in her pursuit of species protection. Her cause: the Mountain Gorilla. If you don't know the story, watch Gorillas in the Mist starring Sigourney Weaver as Diane Fossey. It's an oldie but a goodie. Fossey's approach was the polar opposite of Jane Goodall even though they were really working on the same type of goal. Fossey was loud and violent and fierce in her attempt to protect mountain gorillas. I think the movie does a nice job of showing this. And when I watched it again, I was moved to do something fierce. Both approaches worked on me. But I'm fickle that way. If someone makes a good argument, the very least I'll do is respect them even if I don't ultimately agree with them. Even though she wasn't well liked (that's an understatement), like Jane Goodall, she was also deeply respected. And in the end, her work & murder have drawn a great deal of attention to a very dire situation, so ultimately she accomplished her goal.

I use these two women as examples because their approaches are so very different. Sometimes you need to be wise and grandmotherly and sometimes you need to be a raving bitch. Whichever is appropriate. I have raving bitch moments... but mostly I'm grandmotherly, or at least that's what people think. Hopefully they don't think I'm actually a grandmother and are just referring to my nature. I mean, for God's sake, I just barely turned 40!

I have friends who try to approach everything in a kindly diplomatic sort of way. This is nice and gentle and it's their way, and it can accomplish a lot. So there's no criticism here. But there are times that require fierceness! I think the trick is in knowing the difference. So for my gentile friends, the phrase "choosing your battles" really means "I'm walking away now." I think the phrase "choosing your battles" should mean "be fierce when you need to be."

You also have to know what kind of people you're dealing with. For instance, if you're trying to get a group of nuns to let you bathe in the church's fountain, then fierceness... probably not a good idea. If your upset with the TSA because they fondled your junk... let me just say... fierce = Guantanamo!

BUT, if you're doing a midnight rescue of an abused dog... well, fierceness is just the ticket. If you're defending someone against a bully, again... be fierce. Remember that by fierce I don't mean raise your hand to someone. I absolutely do not support violence. But defending yourself is an option at any time. And, there are ways to be fierce without being violent.

So, gauge the situation. Gauge the people you're dealing with. Take inventory of yourself and whether or not you're prepared or qualified to deal with the situation. Then breathe. Then GO JANE! Uh... or DIANE!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Little Things Make Me Happy

So, I've been thinking... I do a lot of thinking while I'm driving and I'm sure it would be better if I was concentrating on driving, but there you go. Anyway, I was thinking about the measure of a life. What makes it special and worth living?

Of course the answer to this question is vast and depends a great deal on what's important to you. These are the things that are important to me.

Take a ride in a Jeep (or another less superior convertible): You knew this was coming right? But it really is an important one. I had the privilege of driving in scenic Glacier National Park this summer. It was in August and the days were warm and filled with sun, the nights colder than I like. But driving through sun-dappled trees, listening to birds and the breeze rustle through ancient pine trees was just short of an out-of-body experience. I would describe my faith as something other than Christian, but I do believe in spirit... in connectedness... in something larger than me. And if you ever doubt that Spirit or God or Goddess exist, take a convertible ride through Glacier. You'll feel it when the sun and shadows touch your face and run their fingers through your hair.

Visit one place that makes you feel insignificant:  Now, this sounds a little counter-intuitive, but it's a continuation of the theme above. Standing in a place that makes you feel insignificant gives you valuable perspective. It helps you to understand your place in the world and how miraculous your life is no matter how you think of it most days. For me a place that makes me feel insignificant could be any stretch of wilderness. A gigantic mountain, the middle of the woods, or sitting next to a wild stream. For you it may be standing at the foot of the Eiffel Tower or at the Vatican or even at Ground Zero. Find that place and just be.

Have a reliable "in case of emergency" contact: I recently started the paperwork for my very own passport, but in doing so, I realized that I didn't have anyone to name as my "in case of emergency". This was the case for a couple of reasons. First, I don't have much immediate family left and those who are, really don't know me well enough to effectively carry out my wishes. Either they will be unwilling or incapable. That sounded pretty snooty, but it's true. But then something amazing happened. I found out a few years ago that I have a 1/2 brother & a sister-in-law I didn't know about. I met them in person on my birthday which was also the memorial service for my beloved dog. They flew in to attend the service and my brother helped me plant a sturdy oak tree for the occasion. They are amazing people. And when I talked to them about my dilemma, they volunteered to be my emergency contacts! Having someone to play that role for you isn't just a matter of paperwork. It means that somewhere in the world, someone cares about one of the most fundamental needs a person can have... knowing that someone, somewhere, will notice if you were gone from the earth. No matter how independent we are, we all need this. We need someone to acknowledge that we lived, that we touched their life for good or for bad.

Achieve one big goal: Everyone deserves one big thing to be proud of. And when I say big, remember that it's a subjective term. For some people, making a friend is big. For some, selling 10 Cadillacs is big. Don't forget to take stock of what you've already accomplished because you might have already done it. If not, decide what your big thing is and go after it. If you get it done, pick something else. Life is short, live it.

Recognize a miracle: Real miracles happen around us everyday. Things that we take for granted. Most of them aren't biblical or epic, they're little things that make us happy or catch our attention. Remember that getting out of bed can be a miracle. So is the fact that your heart beats without you doing a thing to make it so. Look for miracles everyday. I will guarantee that you will find them. They are all around us in the little details of life.

Have one devoted friend: I've been lucky in this area. I've had lots of people that I could call to have fun or help me move or even cheer me up. And I hope that I have been this for others as well. Friends are important. They connect us to the world. The person that I counted on the most recently had to move to a different state. I didn't realize how much I would miss her, but it's a good thing to know it now. It means that she made a difference in my life and now I can truly appreciate her.

Have one day you can call "the best ever": Wouldn't it be nice if everyone had a day that was perfect. Like big, perfect is also subjective. Obviously, there are a lot of things that are not under our control. But the way we choose to react to them can make a world of difference. I'm not saying you should go through life with an artificial smile and pretend that nothing is getting you down, but even sad or frustrating times can be lessons. Learning what you need to and moving on is the gift. So start thinking about what your perfect day would look like. Imagine it with all your might and do this until it actually happens.

Have one epic love affair: I'm not talking about cheating. Not at all. But everyone deserves one big love, even if it's short-lived. I am not a conventional woman. I've never actually been able to picture myself married with the white picket fence. And I haven't actually had my epic love affair yet, but all good things take time. It's something I will never lose hope in, although I have to say my hope has been flickering lately. But here's the thing... it doesn't matter to me if it lasts a weekend, a summer or a lifetime. Of course I'd be lying if I said I didn't think a lifetime sounded like the best option. But really, I just want to have experienced that one connection. To meet someone who gets me and that I feel the same way about. Someone who I can talk to for hours about ideas and life and love. Someone who is passionate and kind, happy and affectionate... and maybe a little viking if you know what I mean.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Indiscriminate Peeing and Other Debacles

I haven’t been blogging in a while and I’ve really missed it. I have to apologize to my loyal readers, and by loyal readers, I mean those people I relentlessly hound until they read my blog. I’ve been out this summer living life in full mid-life crisis mode. In fact, I’ve been doing things that have flabbergasted my friends and thoroughly surprised even me.

Honestly, it’s really a summer that I should have had when I turned twenty. You know, when you’re young and naive and full of “I’m indestructible” narcissism. But my life has been a bit outside the norm as far as rebellious phases go. I’ve been falling down drunk only one time in my life. I’ve been to eight states in these states United and I’ve never been out of the country, even though Canada is just a few hours from my home town. Speaking of home town, I’ve lived in Billings my entire life, yep I was born here. In fact, I’ve been experiencing adulthood since I was about four years old. Without reliable parents, you learn a lot of things early, like how to get ready for school on your own, how to do your homework without asking for help, and how to make ramen noodles in order to keep yourself alive. It’s good practical experience, but you swap that “I’m an invincible rebel” stage for working four jobs to put yourself through college and make your life better. And I wouldn’t trade any of the ‘responsible Lori’ that experience bore... or so I thought.

It seems trading or not wasn’t really a conscious decision after all. Apparently, if you don’t experience crazy teenage impulses at the time you’re a teenager, you might come face to face with them during your mid-life crisis. For me, it happened in the summer of year 40. I’ve been saying things like “How bad could it be?” or “What’s the worst that could happen?” or “I can take care of myself, I’m freakishly strong.”, yeah right!

If you don’t know me in real life, you may not know that I’m a bit reserved, a bit cautious and also a bit unconventional. It’s an odd mix of personality traits and sometimes the opposing sides cause a full on war in my head. Honestly, I’ve spent most of my life just fitting in and trying not to be noticed. It turns out, this is not who I am at my core. Consequently, I haven’t lived as the real me quite yet. This summer, I think I finally met the real me and let’s face it, she’s a little nuts. She’s also kinda fun, adventurous, outspoken, artsy-fartsy, very emotional, a little irresponsible and... did I mention, nuts?

Let me try and nutshell my summer of indiscriminate peeing and debauchery.

May: Spent my 40th birthday alone, well actually with my dog. Spent the rest of the month working my conventional job, throwing pots and medicating my rain-depression with too much coffee and obsessive tv-watching.

June: More pot-throwing, it seems I don’t have a realistic sense of time, so consequently I was throwing and firing right up until four days before my big summer art show. EGADS! I would not recommend this although I seem to be fairly consistent about doing it. Got a couple of topless road trips in (the Jeep, not the girl!) and put in some hard labor trying to get my yard ready for the big show day. Started a life-altering diet. Had my show, which turned out fantastically! Also, met a fascinating, funny, beautiful man who played the guitar, got stuck in the rain with me and politely ignored my craziness. Met another interesting, bright, creative man who’s own craziness seemed to amplify mine. Watched some more TV.

July: Did some t-shirt designing and worked my conventional job. Had some more topless road trips. Piddled around on Facebook. Met some new people on Facebook and “face to face”. Took Hairy (my dog) to the park, a lot. Lost 38 pounds. Got Apple TV and used it to watch Netflix way way too much! Started a long distance relationship I was completely unprepared for. Finally figured out what sexting actually was... and suddenly July was over!

August: Got hit on by a cowboy & an artist, but didn’t realize they were actually talking to me until it was too late to do anything about it. Huh? Up to minus 50 pounds. Realized that not dating for 15 years has put me up a creek without a schema! Took a whirlwind trip to Glacier National Park with someone I’d never actually met, but thought I knew. This included camping and nearly freezing to death, but that’s an adventure for another blog entry. Let’s just say this person was comfortable peeing whenever AND wherever the mood hit him.

September to Present: I tried to kayak and it turns out, I LOVE IT! My long distance relationship returned home which completely surprised and scared the bejeesus out of me! To this, I reacted with even more craziness and completely and unintentionally found myself saying “Come here! No, wait, go away! No, wait, come back!” You get the picture. I may have to finally admit that women are a little nuts and I AM a woman! In fact, I don't really know what I want to this very second. To date I have also lost 72 pounds. This is something I didn’t think I would ever share, particularly on a blog, but it seems to factor into the summer madness. You see the more weight I lose, the crazier I get. My body is slowly returning to it’s normal un-lump-like state and with each change I feel more like a girl. A crazy girl, but still... My only conclusion: I got my boobs back and completely lost my mind!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Creepy Vans & Perfect Hair

Now that I'm older and wiser, I am the big FOUR-OH, I thought I'd share a couple of the rules I live by.  I'm going to share them because I think they are incredibly observant and important. And finally, I know these are sound rules simply because I know of one exception to each, and of course an exception proves the rule.

The first rule is...

Anyone who drives a full size van is a potential serial killer.
I know. It sounds radical right? But I totally believe it. The probability of it being true goes up, the fewer the windows in the van. I'll say this again, the fewer the windows, the more likely the driver is a serial killer... or has the potential to be. Unless the van has lots of windows and accompanying window shades or blinds. Window shades = "danger Will Robinson"Don't you watch TV? This is always true. It's the perfect vehicle for n'er do wells. For instance, I have some neighbors, the creepy McCreepersons, have 2 full size vans in their driveway. They also give me the willies like you can't believe. Not even my dog trusts them. I'm thoroughly convinced that there may be bodies in their backyard already, but I can't see over the fence, so I can't say for sure one way or the other. But if you watch shows like Criminal Minds, CSI or even Law & Order SVU, you know that the perp will always be the guy in the van! So, there's nothing wrong with being cautious. Just keep your eyes peeled for crazies in full size vans.  My exception that proves this rule is actually a fictional character, but nevertheless, it's still an exception. Dexter the fictional television serial killer. Dexter drives an SUV, enough said. I also have a friend who drives a full size van and he is definitely not a serial killer. Double proof of the validity of this rule.

Never trust a man with perfect hair. Yep, men with perfect hair aren't trustworthy.
Women are different. Women are supposed to obsess over their hair. It's encoded on the x chromosome. I don't really want to be friends with most women who have perfect hair. We just don't really have anything in common. Even though I obsess about mine a lot, my hair is never perfect. During conversations with perfect-haired women, all I can think about is how many of my own hairs are out of place or are the wrong color or that my cut has been neglected for too long... but that's not to say they can't be trusted.

However, a man who obsesses over his hair is a completely different duck. It's just not quite natural. It doesn't have anything to do with orientation or looks really. I think it has to do with vanity. We expect women to be at least a little vain. This isn't a disparaging remark, it just is. Women and men are judged by their looks, but men have a wider range of acceptable looks. You've heard the adage that "men only get better looking with age", right? For women, the range is much narrower, thus we get a bit more neurotic about our hair... our ankles... our noses... and the sizes of our butts. A man with perfect hair is just... wrong. Not wrong as in good or bad... wrong as in askew. (I’ve been dying to use that word in a blog.) It just doesn't jive. And when something is amiss like that, well, I spot it. It's like a painting that’s slightly crooked. For me, it stands out like a sore thumb! Men shouldn't have perfect hair. If they do, their intentions just can't be good. Now, the reason I know this is a rule is again because of it's exception. I've met countless men with perfect hair but only one that is completely trustworthy. His name is Howard and thus proves the rule.

Now, I know that these sound like odd rules and not exactly based on cutting edge science. But trust me on this, they will serve you well. Keep them in mind and do your own research if necessary. You'll thank me later.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Bumble Bee on RedBull

(or www.blaylockpottery.com) <--coming soon

[written saturday morning 6/25] I went to bed a mere three hours ago.  It’s not that I don’t burn the candle at both ends most of the time, but preparing for a show is different. I hold shows at my home one day each summer and fall. The “show” has evolved over the years and now there are several artists who participate with me.

The show prep is exhausting. I am a world-class procrastinator, so I love to put off until next week what I could do tomorrow. It’s just the way I work. But I've decided this may not be the best approach to my “aging gracefully” plan.

Because I’ve put off what I could have been doing a few months ago, the last two weeks have been like the third level of hell. I work full time during the day, then for myself from three to six hours most nights after I get home. This is in addition to the normal stuff like... let’s say... personal hygiene, laundry and sleep. All of these things are important to say the least.

My dog Hairy thinks I’ve completely lost the plot. I mean for a dog, life should be a zen-like experience. Be one with your kibble... not to mention, smelling the air must be like touching god. My life, however, has gotten the farthest from zen as it can possible get. Somewhere between an impulse control challenged tween and a bumble bee hopped up on Red Bull without the actual help of Red Bull because that would probably send me right over the edge of sanity. (Red Bull reference dedicated to James Clark)

I’m not sure how this happened, but honestly, it happens every pre-show. Some ethereal master of sanity kidnaps mine and won’t give me proof of life until I’m on the brink of a coma with over-work.

I used to really enjoy it, but now I’m old... remember I hit 40 this summer. It’s starting to seem a little counter-productive.

So I'm faced with a dilemma. Or at least I think I am... “Can I make this better, or do I have to cut back in order to stay upright?”, "How do I balance a full time job which for now I have to keep, and work toward what I believe to be my ideal life: making art?"

Now normally, my blogs make brilliantly astute observations (that was sarcasm) and sometimes even give sage advice (again with the sarcasm). You become very wise and worth listening to when you turn 40. But in today’s blog, I’m actually asking for comments. How do I transition into full time artist without going insane or bankrupt. Send your ideas to: 100 Desperation Way, Anything-but-Margeritaville, Montana... Turns out Blogs have comment spaces below! Leave your ideas or comments as you please. I would so appreciate the help!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Oh the Angst & the Poking

Dedicated to Paul Milligan, a man not afraid to hug even a virtual girl. Thank you, Paul. You know why. 

So, I have to admit that when I first started using Facebook, I couldn’t understand the appeal. I mean someone writes “just finished doing dishes” (a gem from my latest facebook day) and I’m inclined to say “Who the hell cares?”

But not too long ago, I became one of the countless facebooking zombies who posts the uninteresting details of their life on the site. And I like it. Of course I also thought the internet was a passing fad and now I can’t live without... Seems I’m a slow-adopter. But that’s okay. It almost guarantees that most of the bugs are gone by the time I get there and I’m fine with that.

In this world of speed dating (that’s one I didn’t adopt at all), hallway conversations, stand up lunches, and texting instead of actually talking, posting our minutia is not that bad of an idea. PS- I love to text. I hate talking on the phone. I always feel like a moron on the phone. Anyway, it’s one way for us to connect with humanity and just say “Hey, I’m here, don’t forget about me.”

I’m always fascinated at what people post and what motivates them to do it. There are the cerebral, the funny and the everyday. Some people talk about God, some politics, some art, literature and business... and some just bitch. Hey that’s alright too. There’s nothing wrong with venting as long as you have another point of view. If you don’t you may want to ease up on the grande espresso.

It seems I’ve turned into a bit of a facebook whore. The kids say this describes people who post a lot. And right now, that would be me. I accept that.

Now, let’s talk about un-friending. I don’t do this very often, but I do occasionally. Someone won’t actually know they’ve been un-friended. I mean they don’t get a message that says, “Hey, Lori hates your guts, you’ve been deleted.”, but eventually they might notice they’re not seeing posts from you anymore. And if they're ambitious enough (this is doubtful considering they’re facebookers) they can double check their friend list to see if you’re gone. Here’s a hint to the un-friended... If you find yourself in this situation... meaning someone’s mysteriously disappeared from your friend list... move on. Save your dignity. Don’t re-friend. Please. It’s awkward and for the most part, it wasn’t any kind of glitch.

You can choose to "like" someone's post or comments and I like that feature. But I think there need to be a few additions to the like: unlike, don't like, you suck. And the other day, on facebook no less, someone suggested a 'bitchslap' option. I support that.

There’s another interesting feature on facebook that not many people use. It’s called “The Poke”. Facebook won’t even explain what this is supposed to be. But honestly, I’m glad they won’t. It leaves the decision up to the user. So here are my suggestions for using the poke.

In anger: as a metaphorical poke in the eye... It’s all fun and games until someone gets poked!

As a pick up line: How you doin’, interested in a poke?

In friendship: pokity poke poke... You know, like that annoying friend (me) who’s always elbowing you at the movies.

In comfort or joy: Poke = Hug. In the way that guys kind of nudge each other when they want to show support.

Being playful: Like: Poke! You're it.

It’s really a versatile tool. I'm a fan of the poke in almost any context. Well, I've gotta get back to facebook and let everyone know I've just blogged about something.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Pickles & Prohibition are for the Birds

I’m blessed to have known my grandparents on my mother’s side. I’ve probably spent more time with them than with anyone else in my life. My grandpa passed away several years ago, but my grandma, who is now in her 80’s is a regular part of my life. I learned a lot about life from the two of them, but in this post, I’m going to concentrate on my grandma. My grandpa deserves a post he can call his own.

First, my grandma is a great cook. She’s made several tons of comfort food throughout her life, feeding anyone who would eat. Even feeding me when I didn’t want or need to eat. It’s her way of showing people they’re loved. It can be a little frustrating, especially if you’re round like me, but it’s also really lovely. There’s nothing like a good bowl of homemade clam chowder with real cream and butter and a freshly baked loaf of bread to make you feel like someone cares. Even though she’s good at making just about anything, my grandma is actually famous for her dill pickles. I call them “poignant pickles” because they're a mixture of so many things.

She gives a jar to random strangers when she feels like it and of course always shares with her family. I can’t tell you how many times someone has said to me, “I ate that entire quart jar of pickles in one sitting, they were excellent.” or “Can you get me some more of those pickles.” Our family attorney has even settled the bill in pickles... they have to be good right?

I’m not going to share the recipe here even though my grandma would say it wouldn’t make any difference. She says her pickles are special because of the water she uses. It’s well water from the place her and my grandpa built together in 1967. She still lives there and swears that the well water is full of the right combination of minerals which in turn affects the flavor and crispness of the pickles. She’s shared the recipe with others and they never have the same result, so she could be right about the water. However, I prefer to think my grandma’s secret ingredient is a little magic. She puts a lot of love into everything she makes and I think that's what makes the pickles so special.

My grandma is also a little quirky. Sometimes... a LOT quirky, okay? She’s scared to death that I will quit my job to be a full time artist because the job means security. But my grandma risked everything in the early 1960’s to start her own beauty salon. In fact, she had a successful business for 43 years and finally retired when she was 78 years old. She also encouraged my grandpa to take risks. Before video rental was the norm, she suggested they think about starting a video store. He declined. She also suggested he buy a truck and do water-hauling for outlying communities operating cisterns, this would have also been a very good business in our area. But, he declined. Here’s the paradox: my grandpa never took a risk but always encouraged me to do what made me happy no matter what it was, even art. My grandma always took risks and doesn’t want me to leave my steady paycheck. Now you know why I’m confused most of the time.

My grandma also uses quirky turns of phrase. Anytime we were considering adopting a new dog or cat, she would say we should check the “pond” not the pound. I’m honestly not sure where that came from, probably just pronunciation, but it makes me laugh every time I hear it. When we’d watch the news together about someone who committed a crime and was getting probation, she would refer to it as “prohibition”. “He’ll probably only get prohibition...”, she would say.  Also not sure where that came from, but hilarious. It’s the little things that people do that make you love them.

And finally, my grandma loves the birds. She’s an honest to goodness “mother nature” figure even though she still wears bright pink lip stick and dyes her hair platinum blonde.  She’s in her 80‘s now. Like me, she loves to plant things, to dig in the dirt and sit in the yard and watch the birds. This connection or similarity I have to her was something I didn’t fully appreciate until the last year or so. It’s because of her that I love these things as well. Don’t get me wrong, my grandma can be “scary hell on wheels” and stubborn as a goat, but she can also be gentle and kind and full of heart. I’ve watched her nurse kittens with eyedroppers and hold broken birds tenderly in her hands. She looks at flowers like she can actually see God in them.  And she can grow nearly anything. And even though she fought with my grandpa over almost everything, she loved him with all her heart. And he loved her back.

Some time after he passed, we were talking about her “ladies”, her friends and customers from the beauty shop. She said a lot of them were on the look out for boyfriends at the senior center. First of all, they were all ages 70 and above and I thought this was adorable. In fact, I thought “maybe there’s hope for me yet!” But I wondered if she was trying to covertly ask permission to date maybe thinking it would offend her daughters or grandchildren. I told her that if she wanted to find a companion that it was her business and that no one should hold that against her. That I wouldn’t hold it against her. It was only natural and she deserved to be happy. She said something that I will never forget. “Why would I want a boyfriend? I had my love. That’s all I need.” Yes, grandma, it turns out, that’s something else I got from you.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I'm a Little Fringe-y

[Dedicated to Jim Thomsen]

So, I know I talk a lot about Vikings and manly men and yes, they do make me a little weak in the knees, but funny or quirky is equally attractive. I’ve never really been into the perfectly coiffed preppie, at any age. I appreciate that type of manly beauty as an artist, but don’t really see them as mate material, at least for me. In fact, when I see a man with perfect hair (you’ll see this in the upcoming “Rules to Live By” blog) or a perfect suit, I want to push them into a puddle or mess up their hair. It’s a nearly uncontrollable urge! But I also like my freedom, so I refrain from showing my crazy in public.

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I actually dated a young Republican once. He was in college, I was finishing high school. I felt very cool dating an older “man”, who were we kidding. And he was a really great guy. I did genuinely like  him. He’s married and happy now, I’m sure. And that’s good. At the time I thought I was also a young Republican, but it turns out I was just confused. I realized this when a friend, who coincidentally was voted “most likely to overthrow the government” sat me down in her basement to read me the Democratic Platform.  It’s only recently that I’ve truly embraced my fringe-y nature.

Why am I “fringe-y”. Well, I love pretty much anything alternative. It’s just more interesting. UFO nuts, Goth & Emo freaks, wiccans & pagans... Buddhists. I’m just teasing about the last one being alternative, but sometimes here in the agri-business capital, Buddhism IS alternative. Which ultimately makes me... really weird.

I actually started thinking about this because a new friend on facebook posted a picture of a pile of magazines containing a UFO enthusiast publication. (Thank you Jim) There’s a magazine for everything, right? I bet there’s a magazine for people who wear black shoes on Tuesday. Really! Anyway, he posted the image with a “Would you date this person?” comment. Behind the UFO mag was a copy of Men’s Health.

I have to say, I’d much rather spend time with an obsessed X-Files fan... even an alleged “abductee” than someone who talks about their abs all night... or their ass for that matter. Give me looney or give me death, they’re just more interesting.

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I dated a very nice stock broker once. We were sitting at a table, having a drink and he was chattering away about the Market and I had to think for a second about which market he was talking... When it finally came to me, I had lost track of the conversation and as I was trying desperately to catch up, I also realized that I had completely and utterly forgotten his name. Not really a good sign when you forget your date’s name. I don’t usually worry too much about this, because I forget names all the time. I never forget a face or conversations that I have with people... unless we’re talking about the stock market... Anyway, I had to do some creative word association in order to find it again, but managed to do so before the “good nights”.

I’m not good at “good nights”, either. They’re just awkward. You know what I mean. You’re wondering how it went, if you’re hair needs a comb, if you’ve got spinach in your teeth or if you said something stupid. I’ve resigned myself to just knowing I’ve said something stupid... probably more than one thing, actually. And of course the elephant in the room is the “to kiss or not to kiss” question.

Now, I’ve said this before, but I'm an extremely independent woman. In fact, I can be a little bullozer-y if I have a strong opinion. But I will not, under any circumstances initiate the good night kiss. I just can’t. It’s not in my DNA. I feel like a total bonehead and I am suicidally afraid of rejection. Besides, that’s a “man’s job”...  and that will be the ONLY time you hear me say “that’s a man’s job”. I  can’t believe I even said it, but it’s true. That’s how I feel about it. Like I said, I like the manly Viking/caveman approach. But I also like funny and smart, so this presents a dilemma.

I’ve decided that I will write a description for my future mate. I’m going to write it like a personal ad, but just so you know, I wouldn’t ever actually run it. Here goes:

Strong independent woman, willing to bring home the bacon for a progressive Viking who does laundry, dishes and has a clever wit. Must love dogs and a curvy woman. [Lumpy might be a better word here, but this is on the fringe of fiction, so what the hell.] Math & computer skills appreciated. Must be willing to go topless (jeep reference) and a kilt would be a bonus.

Well, there you go. It's out there in the universe now... let's see what happens ;)