Wednesday, July 29, 2009

100 Bloggity Blogs on The Wall

This, Dear Friends, is my 100th post.

I suppose it's a milestone of sorts. Of what, I'm not sure. Maybe it just means I've stuck to something for awhile or maybe it's just a number to which significance often seems to be bestowed.

No matter. With regard to blogging, I think I'm kind of proud of this number. When I began this blog, I had no idea in what direction I was going. The simplest explanation is that I merely wanted a place where I could write down some thoughts, vent a little, rant a lot and just have a bucket in which to dump some of the thoughts that seem to always be taking up room in my brain and mucking up the old gray matter.

The determination was made early on that I wouldn't write every day unless I had something to say that I felt was worth writing. I also didn't want blogging to be about my children all of the time, or to be a journal of every mundane daily event. More than anything, I wanted it to reflect who I was at that particular moment and to act as a ruler of sorts, for measuring my personal evolution.

As I look back, I see that my writing styles have altered from time to time and that very often, my mood has changed. (Go figure!) Sometimes I'm a bit embarrassed, and other times I laugh at myself and think what a goon I am. Mostly, I see that I am indeed an evolving human being and that I'm happy with the direction in which I'm traveling.

One of the amazing things that has happened along the way of my journey through The Land of Blog, is that I have been introduced to some truly wonderful people. Many of them merely make me laugh, and that is a gift in itself. Others have shown me to view things from a perspective other than my own, and for that I am grateful. There are those who have told me that I am courageous and are always encouraging me to speak and to let my voice be heard. How can I repay that?! And some of these same people and more, have inspired me to not just hope for change in the world, but to be the change.

So, this 100th post, Dear Friends, is dedicated to you. I dedicate it to you because your words of encouragement strengthen me. Your expressions of friendship bring joy to me. Your humor lightens my spirit and deepens the lines around my mouth which give me character...right?! Your unbelievable generosity amazes me and your loving hearts and kindness inspires me.

Angie: You astound me. A book a day. I know you're hoping that someday you'll be famous for it, but I'm betting you're going to be famous for the world's first gluten free, sugar free, peanut free and chocolate free, peanut butter cup.

Inga: What can I say? I'd follow you anywhere. The gifts you give to me, I cannot fully express. I love you, Sister.

Tessa: You are nothing short of magical. You're beautiful and talented and generous beyond imagination.

David: Nothing more to say than two words: Writer Extraordinaire

Dawn: You make me laugh and say, "Oh boy! I can relate!" And, your witchy wares and devilish doo-dads make me just plain happy.

Cubil: Your point of view is always interesting and sometimes different than my own. You help me expand my horizons.

Karie: Keeping up to speed with what's going on with one of my favorite people is a joy. I'm so glad you invited me in.

Fragrant Liar: Still clueless as to why I don't know your real name. Probably because you're afraid I'll stalk you. Regardless, your sass and your wit remind me so much of myself, how could I not love you?

Angela: From across the ocean, you encourage, teach and amaze me. Your open heart, generosity and zest for life prompt me to keep searching for ways to become a better Me.

Hutchins: Your writing makes me laugh and also touches me deeply. Reading about you and your beautiful family further and firmly convinces me that we are standing on the right side of the battlefield where the fight for equality rages on.

Andrea: I can almost always relate to what you're saying and enjoy so much hearing your point of view. And, by the way...where in the hell have you been?! I miss you. Come back.

Cynthia: As one of my newer Bloggy Friends, I so appreciate your encouragement to keep writing and I'm always interested in what you have to say.

Lee: Still trying to figure you out a bit. Sometimes I think by your writing that you're in your 20's and at other times, I think by the way you go on, that you must be much closer to my age. know...30's. *ahem* It matters not, but I do enjoy your daily grind. Oftentimes your intellect soars so far above mine, that my eyes haze over for a minute or two. Dumb it down, will ya?

Tonjia: Yours is another viewpoint which, like a pendulum, swings wildly between one I can relate to and one from which I try to learn.

Rosaria: The story of your coming to America is so wonderful and then to go on and dedicate your life to the often thankless job of teaching, Having your perspective and wisdom interjected is something much appreciated.

Dangerous Pages: I've had a pin for ages that reads, "I read banned books." When I landed on your blog, I was smitten.

Reya: You're the cool aunt I never had. The way in which you view the world around you is so interesting and your photographs? Amazing. Your perspective is one that teaches me.

Dr. Maithri: Also a new friend, but one who I'm so honored to have. To me, you are beautiful in every way and your light shines so brightly that it has reached me from across the sea.Your work is awe inspiring and I am so grateful that human beings like you exist.

Laggin: A woman who claims to live in a three-ring circus, but yet seems to do so with grace and heart. I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Vodka Mom: You're brassy and sassy and often times trashy. What's not to love? You also write with honesty and heart and I dig that.

WWHM: I don't know who you are, but I know you make me laugh until I cry. Sometimes, you also make me want to throw up a little, but in a good way. And, thankfully (or not?) you'll never run out of material.

So, there you have it. You are the people who I read and attempt to keep up with. A million thanks for your comments and support and for continuing to help me exand my mind and heart.

And to those of you who comment on my blog, but who I'm not following yet...thank you so much. I wish I had another 24 hours in each day to read everything you write. I've just dropped a few bloggers who haven't posted in months so I'll be stalking you in no time.

And, to those of you who read but never comment, well...I know who you are. (Technology is least when it's working for you and not against you!) You must have your reasons for standing in the corner at the party and drinking alone, so I won't press the issue by asking you to join in the fun. (But, please... do use a coaster.)

Crash, Boom, Bam!

In the short span of time that I've been wandering through The Land of Blog, I've read several posts on the subject of blogging itself. One of my favorite Bloggy Friends, Reya, recently wrote a post about how blogging has created families of a sort.

It's an interesting concept and if you've been actively blogging for awhile, you've begun to see how we travel in packs or cliques. We log on to a blog that we find interesting, only to find that someone we know from The Land of Blog is already following that blogger!

Although I have Bloggy Friends in Africa, Germany, England and other wonderful and interesting places, the blogging phenomenon seems to have proven the notion that it really is a small world.

Today I noticed that I had written a total of 98 posts thus far along my journey into the Land of Blog. I thought to myself, "Self...that's pretty cool. But, I wonder how long it will be until someone I know in "real" life, "meets" someone I know only from blogging?"

Well, kiss my grits and slap me silly, but it happened today. Today! I was completely flabbergasted and without words of any kind for a minute or so. Of course, I'm sure some sort of sound came out of me seeing as how my mouth was hanging open like an airplane hangar.

I logged on to my mother-in-law's blog and was scrolling through the comments and there it was. Fragrant Liar. I couldn't believe it. How did this happen?! The universe has tilted and worlds have collided!

At first I felt shocked. Then I felt confused. What the....?! Now I just feel weird. What's this? What's going on here, what's happening?!

My finely delineated and compartmentalized world has had the ink of its Sharpie perfect borders smudged and smeared and there are no longer Family Blogs and Bloggy Friend blogs. Holy hell.

You see, I draw mental lines around things. This is here and that is there and everything has a place. Nice, neat and psychotic, no?

I can see you there, sitting smugly behind your computer screen thinking, "This one's a freak, she is. Why does this have her so bamboozled?" (Wipe that judgemental smirk off your face, will you? It's SO unbecoming.)

This one's going to take some working out. I may have to call a therapist. (Nooooo...I am not already in therapy, thank you very much. What are you implying?!)


Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Long Non-Winding Road - Part II

In an effort to stave off the mind numbing boredom that threatened to bore through our brain boxes, Mr. Right and I decided to play our own version of Password. I took to it with zeal, whispering into my hand each time it was my turn, "The password is..." and then whipping off brilliant clues to Mr. Right. We occupied about two hours of the sixteen hour drive with this and both decided that not only are we superior clue givers, but astonishingly proficient guessers as well. We're humble like that.

At one point during our game, Snotty decided to make up a little game as well and set about attempting to teach The Duchess how to play 20 Questions. Snotty explained to The Duchess that she should think of a word and then whisper it to Mom. Then Snotty would try to guess what the word was by asking questions. "No problem!" squealed The Duchess and then excitedly thought of her first word and whispered it to me. The word was "truck." It was nothing short of hilarious to listen to The Duchess respond to the questions Snotty was asking in order to guess the secret word.

This went on for several minutes and happened. The Duchess leaned forward and whispered, "Mom...the word is penis!" I looked at Mr. Right and started laughing. Of course, that set The Duchess off and she looked over at Snotty who had her ears covered so that she wouldn't hear the secret word and squealed delightedly, "It's PENIS!" This revelation prompted Snotty to start laughing and now that the four of us were laughing loudly enough to drown out Grumpy's Ipod, he pulled out his earphones and inquired what the deal was. The Duchess, in her best sing-song 4 year old voice, sang out loud and proud, "Penis, penis, penis!!"

To passers-by, we must have looked a sight. Four road weary people surrounded by luggage, rolling down the road laughing hysterically with tears streaming down our faces, and one incredibly delighted four year old waving her green apple Blo-Pop in the air while screaming the word penis.

I'm pretty sure I've lost yet another Mother of the Year nomination, but what the hell. Who needs a trophy when you can have a memory like that?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


His name was Lyle Jacob Colclasure, but everyone called him Jake. I never called him that of course. He was just "Pa" to me. Five foot nothing and hair like white silk. My father, Jake's son, used to talk about how harsh Pa was when my father was growing up. I never knew him that way. To me, he embodied all that a grandfather should. Warmth, love, humor, affection...this was the Pa I knew.

Going to Pa's house almost always meant homemade ice-cream and turns swaying on the hammock. Hummingbirds stayed well-fed in the feeders he and Gram put out and I remember vividly, sitting on the front porch at Pa's drinking Gram's homemade lemonade and listening to the buzz of the hummingbirds. Such was life at Pa's place.

I was in my thirties when Pa first saw an ATM machine. My sister and I were going to take him and Gram to lunch and we pulled up to an ATM to withdraw some money. Pa was confused. "Well, where's the money come from?!" Pa had only dealt with the teller, whom he knew by name, in the bank of the little remote rural town where he spent the latter part of his life.

My grandfather had been a professional jockey in his younger days and therefore was diminutive in stature. I loved how small he was. He was the perfect kid-sized grandpa. He was big enough, however, to hold me down and tickle my feet until I laughed so hard I cried.

My Pa taught me how to tie my shoelaces.

Pa also taught me, without words, what love looks like. He and my Gram finished each other's sentences and she knew exactly what he was pointing to at the dinner table and would pass it to him without a word being spoken between them. They spent over fifty years loving each other.

Pa developed Alzheimer's a year or two before Gram passed away. Alzheimer's is a vicious and vile beast that brutally robs both the victims and those they love. When Gram could no longer care for Pa on her own, he was moved to a nursing home. I think it's what did Gram in.

At Gram's funeral, Pa seemed very lucid. He stood over Gram and cried and spoke softly to her. At the cemetery, as they lowered her casket into the ground, he cried and touched her casket and said, "Goodbye, Sweet Mama." He knew she was gone, and that was about the end of him. His mind faded fast, but his tiny body refused to quit.

Last week, Pa began refusing food and water. We knew it was only days before he would leave us. On July 19th, at 4:12 a.m., Jake's body had finally had enough.

His death marks the end of an era in my life. The Era of Grandparents. He was the last and I'm trying to adjust my brain to the reality that I am without grandparents.

The adjusting process has been going on for a while now. As Nancy Reagan once said, Alzheimer's is, "the long, long goodbye."

I didn't know Jake the man, really. I only knew Pa. And, the Pa I knew had a life worth celebrating. He and my Grandmother left us beautiful warm memories and the knowledge that we were loved. I couldn't ask for a more wonderful inheritance.

My grandfather's funeral is today. If I had just one more chance to be with him, I would ask him to to turn the crank on the old ice-cream machine one last time while I sat on the quilt that covered the bucket. I would tell him how much I loved him and how the memories that he and Gram made for me are the most cherished of my childhood. I would reach out to him, fold my arms around him, kiss that beautiful old leathery cheek of his and whisper goodbye.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Long Non-Winding Road - Part I

When I look at my GPS and it says, "Next turn is in 524 miles," my limited Yiddish vocabulary comes in handy. Oy vey.

If you've never made the drive between Arizona and Texas...don't. Get your tokhes to the nearest airport and let the captain do all of the work for you. It's seriously, and literally, a pain in the ass to drive it.

The route went like this: 1.) Phoenix, AZ to Dallas, TX 2.) Dallas, TX to Grapevine, TX 3.) Grapevine, TX to Plano, TX 4.) Plano, TX to Stillwater, OK 5.) Stillwater, OK to...well hell. Even I'm bored to tears with this. To summarize, during the ten-day trip through four states, we logged fifty-two hours on our asses in the car. Fifty-freaking-two. Nebekhdik!

I made a solemn pledge to myself that I would, under no circumstances, gain weight on this trip. Please...tell me what in the hell I was thinking. Fifty-two hours of sitting on my arse eating fast food for ten days, does not a skinny girl make. I gained four pounds. The muffin top has exploded right off the muffin and has revealed the lard filled pastry that is me.

The trip started on a high note. In my determination to not swell up like a show pig, I'd packed some apples in the ice chest. A couple of hours into the drive, I retrieved an apple and smugly crunched it while mentally patting myself on the back for my stunning display of health consciousness. That would be the last healthy morsel to pass my lips for the next ten days.

One morning I had cold buffalo wings for breakfast. The next, I inhaled kolaches and donuts. Across four states, Chinese fare was devoured as were hamburgers, empanadas, trout butter, pizza, salumi, french fries, pancakes, coconut M&Ms, tacos, cheesecake and banana pudding. And, don't even get me started on how many vodka laced drinks I poured down my pipe. Let's just say that I drank enough to inspire my friend Kyle to name a drink a drink after me. That's right. Next time you're out, ask for a Malibu Amy.

To be continued...

Sunday, July 5, 2009

This Land is My Land

Independence Day has come and gone and the smell of gun powder has dissipated in the wind that swept over the purple mountains majesty and across the fruited plains.

As my family and I made preparations to celebrate the 4th, the slight, hot wind that was sweeping through the desert carried refrains of "God bless America." I heard it everywhere and listened as a choir of voices, not heard so loudly since the presidential campaign, screeched wildly, "We are one nation, under God!"

The craft store chain, Hobby Lobby, carried a full one-page ad in a local paper. It was a scroll meant to look like the Constitution and on it were several quotes from many of our founding fathers and framers of the Constitution and of The Declaration of Independence. By reading these short quotes, one would most certainly say, "Why, yes! We ARE one nation under God!" But, as I read each of those quotes, I became increasingly angry.

Several of the quotes in that advertisement were said by some of our founding fathers who were self-proclaimed Deists and Secularists. I know those quotes because I have read not only the founding documents of this country, but biographies, autobiographies and books of letters written by or about these men. You can take words out of context or take small excerpts from public speeches and come up with just about anything you want to in order to make an argument that someone is in agreement with you. But, history is history and I'm quite fed up with those who seek to revise it to suit their own self-indulgent purposes.

I am not a person who believes everything she is told. I do not believe just because my parents told me I should believe. I do not believe because the majority tells me I should believe. I do not believe because a trusted news anchor tells me I should believe. My beliefs are based on research and study and on common sense and discernment. Although not an expert in history, I have read and studied enough about it to know certain truths. When I read a letter written in the hand of our 27th president, William H. Taft that says: "I do not believe in the divinity of Christ, and there are many other of the postulates of the orthodox creed to which I cannot subscribe," I know from this letter and others that he wrote, that he was a Deist, not a Christian.
Thomas Paine was probably one of the most outspoken of our founding fathers. He made few bones about the fact that he was most definitely not a Christian. There is an immense amount of documentation on the subject, the bulk of which comes from his own writings. "The Christian system of religion is an outrage on common sense." Sound like a Christian to you?

Benjamin Franklin: "I have found Christian dogma unintelligible. Early in life I absented myself from Christian assemblies."

This country, very contrary to the current clamoring and hollering about it, was not founded as a Christian nation. In fact, if you'd care to pick up some books written by our founding fathers, you'll find quite the opposite.

The framers of our great Constitution took great pains to draft a document which made clear that there was to be a wall that separated "church and state." They were adamant that our country was to be governed free from religious influence. The proof of this is in the documents themselves. The Constitution contains not one single word about Christianity, the Bible or Jesus Christ. Nor does it contain any reference to the United States being founded on Christianity or Christian principles. The Ten Commandments are mentioned exactly zero times. The Preamble contains the phrase, "...they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights," and is the one and only reference with any sort of possible religious undertone. In writings of the men who wrote these words, it is made clear that the reference was to the Deist creator and not the God of Christianity.

In 1797 the United States ratified the Treaty of Tripoli. The treaty was negotiated by George Washington and signed by John Adams, his successor. In the treaty, it was declared that, "The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian Religion." The treaty was read aloud before Congress and was unanimously approved.

Those who seek to revise history will loudly proclaim that our currency is printed with, "In God We Trust." Yes. It is. Those words were added in 1956, 180 years after the founding of our nation. And, what of our Pledge of Allegiance which states, "One nation, under God?" The phrase, "Under God" was added in 1954.

George Bush Sr. was once asked by a reporter about how he planned on getting the atheist vote. There was a brief exchange and this is part of what was said:*

Bush: No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.
Reporter: (somewhat taken aback): Do you support as a sound constitutional principle the separation of state and church?
Bush: Yes, I support the separation of church and state. I'm just not very high on atheists.

I am an atheist. I also consider myself a patriot. I am not the kind of gun-toting, flag waving, "you're either with us or against us," proclaiming American who we've all been told are the "real Americans." But, I am most certainly a proud, law abiding citizen who has such love of country that I'm willing to yell and scream and fight and vote for it to return to its origins. It's origins are plain and clear. They are pure and not open for interpretation. They hold a promise for each and every legal citizen of this country.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness."

The same group of Americans who have tried to hijack patriotism and who are trying to revise our history to make it conform to their own belief systems seem to also be the same group who constantly and consistently attempt to deny the inalienable rights of those citizens who do not subscribe to the same dogma as they do. These Americans have never learned, or forgotten or just flat out refuse to accept that our brilliant founding fathers believed in not only freedom OF religion, but freedom FROM religion and that they steadfastly believed that our country should and must be governed free from religious influence.

I am an atheist and I am a patriot. This is my country too.

*Some have disputed that this exchange took place. I have read the chain of correspondence between the American Atheists and the White House regarding this exchange. The correspondence consists of eleven pages and is stored in the Bush Library in Texas and available to the public upon inquiry. Although Mr. Bush's White House counsel does not directly confirm the exchange, he also does not deny it. The video of this exchange seems to have disappeared.