Just hanging at the airport

I’m sitting in the Chicago airport, waiting for a connecting flight. Airports are usually not the most fun places, but they do seem to hold a world of possibility with so many people crossing each other’s paths. I always figure that if I fly enough, I might just see a celebrity in a big airport like this one. I’m guessing that they don’t usually hang out at the Chili’s bar though, so I might be out of luck. I’ll bet if Nick Nolte or David Hassellhoff were passing through, they might end up next to me ordering the Skillet Queso and a cold one, but I was hoping for someone more like Oprah. Not likely.

Unfortunately, of my two most interesting airport sightings, one was a pigeon just wandering through the Newark airport, and the other was when I saw Willie Nelson’s butt in an airport in Hawaii (it was in jeans, and he wouldn’t turn around). To be honest, I was so mortified by my travel companion on that trip that I’m glad that Willie didn’t know we were stalking following him.

My travel partner was a boyfriend who wasn’t exactly the sharpest tool in the shed, and he had a way of doing exactly what would mortify me the most at any given point in time. He blamed his lack of quick thinking on a past with wayyyy too many drugs, but I don’t think he ever really had that many brain cells to spare. Luckily, what he lacked in brain function he made up for with sweetness, and he tried to smarten up for me, taking ginkgo biloba by the handful…”Baby, I gotta stay SHARP for you!”

My guy was so excited to be going to Hawaii that the minute we boarded our plane he started flashing the shaka ‘hang loose’ hand sign at everyone. Yeah…that one. Note that Elvis looks pretty cool doing it…my friend did not.

My BF didn't look this cool doing this, but he certainly thought he did!

The King…no ginkgo required

I smiled and figured that a little of the touristy thing is ok once or twice…but he kept it up, and every single human being who crossed our path for the next WEEK was greeted with a goofy smile and the wagging hand gesture. Sometimes they got BOTH HANDS.

It wasn’t his only infraction…there was a long list. Among them, he called the hotel front desk to ask them if they were charging us for that call, stood on live coral after being shooed off several times, frequently walked away from his bags in the airport (in spite of the taped “Do NOT leave your bags unattended!” mantra), asked a lot of strange questions and generally just gawked at the world. I guess the only saving grace was that Willie didn’t turn around in the airport to be shaka-d to death!

I don’t fault my friend for not being worldly, but I did say ‘Aloha’ to him soon after we returned from our trip. It just wasn’t a good match, and it turns out that I was okay hanging loose all by myself.

I imagine, though, that ginkgo biloba sales in the Portland area dropped significantly…sorry, GNC.

When your feet aren’t handy…

I’m pretty handy, if I do say so myself. I know how to use a screw driver, think needle nose pliers are the perfect tool, and I almost always hit stuff with a hammer the first time I aim.

I wasn’t exactly born handy, though. In high school I was tricked into taking a wood shop class (it’s a long story, but the teacher needed girls to take shop in order to keep the funding for the class, so someone talked me into it). The class turned out to be remedial shop though, and was filled with somewhat troubled (aka rowdy) boys who couldn’t be trusted with power tools. We used a lot of very small pieces of (pre-cut) wood and did a lot of sanding…and I still managed to almost cut off my little toe when I dropped a chisel on it. The teacher ended up helping me finish my one project, a tiny footstool, after I whined a bit. (Okay, okay…so he actually just picked it up and did it for me, probably out of fear that I might really cut something off the next time.) I guess I just hadn’t found my inner handy-woman yet.


My favorite handywoman Ralph (from Green Acres) may not know how to cut bread, but I’ll bet she wore SHOES!

When I was married I assumed that the husband was the tool user, but that didn’t always work out so well. I was a little agitated when I came home years ago to find husband #2 tearing down a wall on our back porch. He had a huge water-glass full of red wine in one hand, a crowbar in the other, and was standing in his sock feet among a big pile of boards peppered with bent nails and huge splinters…and probably some razor blades…and maybe a grenade. He just grinned at me with what looked like a KoolAid mustache while I yelled to, “Put some damn SHOES ON!” He didn’t flinch and just stared at me like I was the one doing the crazy thing. I eventually gave up and stomped away, leaving him to certain foot-doom. I realized right then that I was probably just better off fixing stuff myself.

A few years later Mama asked what I wanted for Christmas, and I told her that I really needed a cordless drill. Like #2, (who by now had moved back to his mom’s in New Jersey), she just looked at me like I might be a few cards short of a full deck.

“Honey, are you teasin’ me?” she asked, looking like I’d just told her that I desperately needed a back hoe…or a cannon.

I shook my head and replied, “No ma’am…a girl needs to be able to FIX STUFF!”

I guess she just didn’t have it in her to buy her first daughter a power tool for Christmas, so Mama sent me a gift certificate instead. I went straight to Walmart and got my very own Black and Decker 12V cordless drill (no, it’s not pink), complete with a big old set of bits. I finally felt HANDY! I was like a dog with a new toy, and I wandered around the house looking for stuff to drill holes in. I didn’t find much actually…but I was PREPARED!

When my sister and my mom bought a house a few years ago, I flew back to South Carolina to help them get settled in. My nephew and I did all of the repairs and hung a houseful of window shades, curtain hardware, shelves and pictures. I was up and down a ladder for three days in a row and happily perfected my power drill skills…I was in DIY heaven! Unfortunately, no one ever told me that you need to wear shoes when on a ladder, and I ended up with a painful case of plantar fasciitis in my (bare) left foot that left me wearing orthotics and very boring shoes for almost a year.

The lesson, I think is that being handy is tough on your feet…or at least that’s been my experience. Mama, if you’re reading this, how about a pair of steel-toed boots, this year…size 8.5 wide…basic black is best.


The shiny ain’t worn off yet…

You know when something new starts, how there’s a break-in period when everything just seems soooo perfect? People refer to it as the ‘honeymoon phase’, but I personally think of it more as a shiny period. Whether it’s a new job, computer, car, boyfriend or whatever…the first few weeks/months are often idyllic…the sky is blue, your skinny jeans fit and God loves you! Then one morning you wake up and walk outside to find that first damn scratch on the fender, or maybe you arrive at work to find out that your new cube-mate is a non-deodorant wearing self-talker. Yep, it’s all fine and dandy until that fabulous new laptop won’t boot up or, much much worse, when your new guy decides it’s been long enough that farting in front of you is ok. That’s when you know for certain that the perfect life is over and done. That perfect new Kia/Hottie/Job at the car wash just isn’t what you thought you were signing up for. Oh, there’s shiny there, but you have to actually look for it.

I’m still in the shiny phase right now.  My car (while not pristine) still runs, and though the skinny jeans don’t quite fit, there are lots of other good things going on…hell, the flowers in my yard are even blooming! Life is good, and I just figure that once that shiny starts wearing off, there’s always spray paint…or Glade.

Best cubemate ever

Best cubemate ever


Of hobbitses and such

I’m watching The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey on HBO, and it’s bringing back memories. I’ve had several encounters with the world of Tolkien, the first of which was when I read and loved The Hobbit in the ninth grade. I never managed to make it through the other books, and didn’t think much more about it until I met husband #1 about 10 years later. He was a huge fan of all things Middle Earth, and told me on the night we met that he actually had kept a backpack ready and waiting next to the door for years…just in case Gandolf came to invite him on an adventure. It was a part of the mystique of the man, this love of adventure and fantasy.

During my first few years with #1, I learned a lot more about the world of Bilbo and Frodo (and Hemingway, and guns, and survivalism, and lots of other things…but those are different stories). #1 had Tolkien-oriented nicknames like Strider and Sting for various things, and once purchased a particular walking stick because it look very Gandolf-esque. I learned to love cottages and any house that looked even remotely hobbit-like. It was a wonderful world to want to belong to.

When we bought our comic book store, we decided to include regular books, but limited our selection to science fiction and fantasy. The Hobbit and the Trilogy were always big sellers, and it was comforting to have them in such close proximity on a day-to-day basis. I had always loved Ray Bradbury, and I soon learned to appreciate Anne McCaffrey, Terry Pratchett, David Eddings and many others, but Tolkien was the granddaddy to all of it, and his works were home.

Since Peter Jackson brought this fantasy world to life on screen, hobbits, dwarves and elves are no longer just geek territory. I hope that, in doing so, he’s opened up the world of fantasy to millions who didn’t have a #1 around to make them sit up and take notice of the marvels that await there.



Dear baby Jeebus…

It’s almost Easter. Now, I’ve never been a very religious person, but I have certainly worn my share of shiny white shoes. For your enjoyment, here’s a pic of a 6-year-old me doing a little Easter Sunday après-church fashion modeling. (I definitely missed my calling!)

Easter model

Work with me, baby…

Lynnie and I were baptized as babies and, up until the age of about 15, were herded off to Resurrection Lutheran Church every Sunday (whether we liked it or not). We were forced to sit through (the boring babysitting service called) Sunday school, and then we did our best to keep quiet during the sermon. Grandmama let us draw and fed us butter rum Lifesavers every Sunday until we were old enough to be interested in what Pastor Derrick was actually saying, and some of it made a lot of sense (how can you argue with ‘treat others the way you want to be treated’?) I was even Mary in the Christmas pageant, complete with a warbly solo. I figured that playing Jesus’s mom pretty much sealed my future as a Church Lady, but it turns out that I was wrong.

What I didn’t count on was one day thinking to myself, ‘Hey…WAIT ONE MINUTE…ANGELS?’ Did they really expect me to believe that stuff? And what about the whole deal with HELL (the place I’d end up if I didn’t stop talking back)…really? Didn’t anyone realize that I was the smart-ass kid who, at 5, looked up the Santa myth in the encyclopedia…did they really think I’d fall for harps, wings and sulphur?

I was never more sure of my lack of belief in churchy stuff than on Easter, when I was supposed to buy off on the idea that God’s son got out of his grave (after three days, no less), walked around for another month or so doing stuff, and then disappeared. It was kind of creepy and certainly not very logical. Of course, I also didn’t believe that a rabbit came through our house in the middle of the night to dump off a bunch of candy and eggs, but I preferred that to the Jesus zombie tale. I decided that it just made more sense to keep on eating the candy, and I managed to keep my mouth shut about both works of fiction…no sense messing up a good reason to eat sugar. (And those Cadbury eggs are only around that one time of year.)

It’s well worth mentioning at this point that I have absolutely NO problem with whatever it is you want to believe…knock yourself out. Luckily for everyone concerned, I gave up being judgmental for Lent.

Here’s a link to the best prayer ever, in my book.

Will praying


To my sister from another mister

My dear friend’s birthday is on St. Patrick’s day. In years past we’ve celebrated it in a few exotic locations, but this year we’re both in town and going to an Irish bar for a traditional St. Patty’s party. We’ll have fun. I can say this in confidence because no matter WHAT we do we always have fun. We’ve traveled around the world and laughed at strange customs, settings and situations, and at even stranger people…but we always had fun and were able to laugh mostly at ourselves. Sabrina, this is for you.

I’ve learned so much from you, my friend. You’ve shared times with me that I never would have had and, more importantly, you’ve helped me understand how to really enjoy those times in a way I never would have, had you not been in my life. Without you, I never would have learned from the drunk Japanese tourists in Munich to always, “…have the maximum experience!” I would never have been able to marvel at ‘Berber Logic’ (“Pay me half now, and you can come back tomorrow to pay me the other half…Berber Credit! Oh, I promise I’ll be here…no worries!”)

T&S on the wall

Sorry that your eyes are closed in one of the only photos of us together! Wall-sitting in Morocco.

We’ve spent some amazing days together, exploring the markets of Marrakesh, dancing after hours in Kehei while (unbeknownst to us) the drummer from Soundgarden checked you out (“I don’t know the question, but the answer is yes!”…Creepy much?) We’ve partied the night away in many different time zones, ridden camels together (remind me again why I thought that mumu was a good idea?) and dodged a few unsavory sorts (some of whom I wasn’t even dating!)

My favorite day together was the one we spent in the hospital, waiting for your daughter to arrive. Being there when she came into the world was a precious gift indeed, and one that I’m so grateful for.

You’ve done much to help me gain the confidence to really live this life I’ve been blessed with. Your feedback and advice has been so important to me, and even when it didn’t seem like I was listening…I was. You’ve believed in me and have been a positive, clear voice in my life. Thank you for all of the wisdom you’ve shared…you truly are a wise woman.

I hope this year is the best one yet for you, my friend. Your presence in my life is a gift, and you deserve everything that life has to offer. I look forward to many more years of friendship and adventures!

Happy birthday, sister girl.

My grudge against Mother Nature

We’ve had three days in a row of sunshine and temps over 60 degrees…spring is here in the Pacific Northwest! The daffodils and crocuses are blooming, the tulips aren’t far behind them, and even the roses are starting to put out leaves. How lovely, you’re possibly thinking. Well…yeah, it is nice to see the flowers and greenery after a gray winter, but the harsh reality is that, about the time those flowers fade, the weedy green stuff that fills the rest of my yard will be knee-high and, even worse, cat shedding season starts.

2011-07-25 11.39.26

I call this one “A kitty yin yang thang”

I pretty much gave up mowing my lawn a few years ago. It just doesn’t suit me, and my back doesn’t like it one bit. I save all my strength for brushing these two shedding machines and for vacuuming every 15 minutes during the warm months…it’s a curse, but well worth it once I see these two critters being so damn cute.

These days I usually just give in and pay someone to mow my lawn and trim my roses. I really did try to do the gardening thing for a while, but it just made me crabby and dirty, and I think I’ve made it pretty clear that dirt is not my thing.

And beyond that, I’ve actually had a grudge against roses in general since I was 5. I was on the playground in kindergarten and decided that I wanted to learn to skip (no, you’re not necessarily born knowing how to do it). I tried and failed for about 20 minutes…maybe Mama was right about me being a klutz? I finally got going and was so proud and excited! Well, at least until I decided that I didn’t know how to stop…I mean, I’d learned to skip, but I’d never tried stopping before (gee Tammy…over-think things much?!) I just kept going, gathering momentum, and before I knew it I’d gleefully skipped right into a big old rose-bush! I emerged, covered in bloody scratches, my dress torn and stained, a welling hatred of all thorny things building with every step. I like to think that I raised my 5-year-old fist to the heavens, shouting, “Curse you, Mother Nature…I’ll never be scratched again!!!” but I’m pretty sure I just stood there with tears running down my face while the other kids snickered at me.

So yeah, rose bushes are pretty, and I do live in Portland, the City of Roses, but anything on my list of arch nemeses just doesn’t get a lot of tending to. We have an arrangement – I leave nature alone, and it just sits there and looks pretty. I’ll vacuum and do all manner of inside chores, but I look at the yard like it’s a foreign land, filled with weedy jungles, mysterious plant life and thorns….lots of THORNS. I won’t be bloodied again, I tell you!

I think this e-card pretty much sums up my attitude about yard work…

Swiffer mower