Friday, July 30, 2010

Overheard in Kroger

"I hate my mother."
I was shopping in Kroger's when I heard this phrase from a woman standing next to me. She was in her mid-forties. She had beautiful blond hair and was extremely tall. She motioned to the butcher, pointing to the steak she wanted as she gripped her cell phone and raised her voice again.

"I mean, I really, really hate her. That woman has been a curse all my life."

As I listened to those words the wind went out of my sails. The air from my tires. Her energy, her hate for the woman who gave her life, it was almost palpable.

She grabbed her wrapped steak and wheeled her buggy away quickly, still talking.
"I swear, I'm going to change my cell phone number. Every time I see she's calling I want to throw myself in front of a bus."

I went about my shopping feeling inexplicably sad.

When I think about my own mother, I always think about this painting. When I was little, my parents bought me a dollhouse. It was decked out with wallpaper and a spiral staircase. I had people and furniture and even miniature fake plants. But mom thought it needed some artwork. So she painted this tiny replica of a larger painting she did years ago.

Have my mom and I always gotten along? Um. No. We spent many years with our horns locked. But as time goes by, God gave me wisdom. He allowed me to look at this tiny painting, which must have taken her days, even weeks, to finish, and realize how lucky I am to have her. Because here's the thing. There is no such thing as a perfect parent. But if we can stand back and say, "My mom/dad gave me 100% of everything they had to give" then we've been pretty darn lucky.

This tiny painting is evidence that my mom, Margaret, gave every available part of her soul to her daughters. Whether it was miniature oil paintings for doll houses, complicated costumes for Halloweens, a million miles driven to school, basketball practice, choir practice, or art classes... Mom found a way. She made cookies in the shape of Frankenstein's head. She made sure Santa came year after year, even when money was thin. She gave 100%, 100% of the time.

I realize there are people who have parents who were awful. Mean. Spiteful. But most of us, if we're completely honest with ourselves, can say, "I had it pretty good." I wonder about the woman in Kroger. I wonder if her mother is truly evil. If not, I hope she figures it out. And I really hope she stops screaming about it in a public place. It really bummed me out.

But today I'm thankful to say, "I really, really love my mother."

You can't put a price tag on that kind of peace.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

These Days

My creative process is a lot like this little frog. Usually it stays hidden beneath all that mud and sludge in my brain I like to call "cleaning-commuting-sleeping-eating-working." But every now and then it raises its head. It peeks up from between the foliage and I think, "Hey, there you are. Took you long enough to show up!"

Thankfully that illusive, buried creative 'thing' that lies dormant in my brain has been hanging around steadily. That's a good thing. I've needed it.

There are lots of exciting things going on right now that I can't talk about yet. But hopefully soon. Until then, enjoy the frog pictures. Isn't he adorable? In a muddy, croaky, warty sort of way? I thought so.

*Aspiring writers be sure and check out (my agent) Laurie Abkemeier's iphone app here.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Ice Cream Block

How do you know when you've finally annoyed those around you with incessant 'blog' pictures? They start by offering you bribes.

"Here, Liz. Seriously. I'll let you eat some of my ice cream if you'll put that camera down. No really. Get it out of my face."

Then they resort to blocking your shots with inanimate objects.

"It's not gonna work ladies. I'm like a machine."

Click Click Click Click...

Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday Morning vs. Monday Morning

Remember Monday morning?

When I wanted a do-over?

An early wake-up call as I leisurely watched the sun come up?

And to watch Dan in Real Life before going about my day?

Well MONDAY morning, you should pay more attention to how Friday morning does business.

I've had time to repaint my toe nails.

I've had time to watch a little tv.

I've eaten oatmeal with blueberries.

Mabel's ears have been scratched.

I love do-overs.
I love Friday.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


I'm like all women. I have the very best of intentions when it comes to my hair. And most of the time, when it comes to simple things, I do alright. Hot curlers? No problem. Straightening iron? Again, no problem. Basic pony tail? It's a cinch.

But again, like all women, I'm always on the lookout for something different. Something fun. And that's what happened early this morning.

I was inspired to try out Victory Rolls when I read this. I even found a video online showing me how to do it. Needless to say, it didn't work out.

Women from the 40's must have been freaking architects.

Oh, yeah. And that's the face I make when I notice the gross mildew growing in the shower.
But that's another subject entirely.

So instead of Victory Rolls, I ended up this this twisted, messy, loopy thing.

Ah well. Sometimes you do the best you can. And sometimes that means a weird, twisty, loopy hairstyle for all the world to see. Oh, but I'm not done. I'll try this again. Then again, maybe I should just stick with hot rollers.
(*Be sure and watch the video below. It's adorable.)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Why I Almost Missed Eclipse

* First, thank you. Thank you ladies so, so, so much for all those encouraging comments and emails yesterday. It's official. I have the very best blog-friends in the whole world. Big hugs to everyone. OK. On with the true story.

My sister Rebecca has a thing for turtles. It's not just a passing fancy. She loves them, and not in a "the concept of turtles is so cute so I'll collect figurines" way. She loves them in a "I would hold them up to my face and cuddle them like a puppy if I could" way.

My other sister Rachel? She's more in line with my thinking. Her motto is, "Ew. Those things carry salmonella."

Anyway. Here's the true story. Rebecca and I were on our way to see Eclipse. She was driving.
As we're passing by the lake below my house, she slams on the breaks in the middle of the road.
"Oooohhh... it's a turtle!" she yells, craning her neck, totally distressed.
And there it was. A turtle trying its darnedest to cross the road. Except this wasn't just any turtle. It was the big-foot of turtles. It wasn't small. It wasn't cute. It looked like a crusty mini-dinosaur from ancient times.
"It will be fine. He'll make it." I assured.
Crusty-dinosaur-turtle was making good time, his mammoth flipper/legs propelling him across the asphalt.
"No, he needs help!" Rebecca yelled, turning on her emergency flashers, slamming the car into park and jumping into the street.
Cars were backing up behind us. Oncoming cars stopped. Drivers looked to see what was happening.
I suppose Rebecca underestimated the size, girth and overall scary quality of crusty-dinosaur-turtle.
She reached down to pick him up and yelled at me, "He's huge!"
"We're going to miss Eclipse!" I shouted.
She reached down to pick him up again and he hissed.
"HE HAS GIANT CLAWS!" she shrieked.
"If you make me miss Taylor Lautner I'm gonna be pissed!" I yelled back.
So she stood there amidst what was now a traffic jam, tossed her giant blond curls back in defiance, reached down and grasped crusty-dinosaur-turtle into the air. He must have weighed 20 pounds. She hefted him across the street, set him down with a squeal, and ran back to the car.
The people in the car behind us clapped.
She glared at me, "You're missing the milk of human kindness, you know that? If that had been a dog you would have done the same thing, but oh no, not for a turtle."
I handed her a bottle of antibacterial lotion, "Use this, turtles carry salmonella. And hurry up, the show starts in five minutes."
"Turtle hater," she muttered.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Liz Quiz Part 6: Mean Comments

Mean comments. We all hate 'em.

But if you've floated around in the blog world long enough, you've been slapped with them. I read in an article once that these people are referred to as 'trolls'... they hide under a bridge and pop up just to do something mean and nasty. 9 times out of 10 they sign in anonymously.

I went through this. And my final conclusion was the only way to handle 'trolls' was to not engage... just delete. And so I do. If someone gets snarky in the comment section, they're outta here. If I get a hateful email, I don't respond.

But I recently got an email from a lovely lady who was really, really, really upset. She'd received a barbed email from a complete stranger. She asked me if I ever deal with such things. The answer is yes. The meanest email? When a woman explained to me in detail why I should never have children.

Even Nie Nie recieves mean emails, for crying out loud. Who would do that? (Just to clarify, Nie Nie wasnt the woman who emailed me.)

The bottom line is... there are a lot of unhappy people in the world. And sometimes, most times, when they show up snarking at your doorstep, it's more about their issues than anything bad you've said or done.

So to give an example of how I handle it... I'll list some comment/email questions I've received in the past year that were, eh, not particularly friendly. Then we'll explore what those questions might really mean. Sound good? OK.

Isn't it about time you got a new banner?

My guess? This person has had their own blog for about 2 months. She's still in the stage of constant-background-layout-changes, trying to figure out how it all works. And the fact that I'm lazily leaving my blog the exact same day after day bugs her, not because it's an ugly banner that needs to be changed, but because she's not sure how this whole blog-thing works (not that I do either).

Did you know your brown and white curtains don't really match your black dining table? That's a no-no.

Eek. This person and I probably would not get along in real life. Not because they're tremendously bothered by the whole black and brown matching issue, but because they feel entitled to dictate. My guess? This woman/man has control issues, a job that stresses them out and a house so clean you could lick the floor.

Does Matt really cook every meal? Doesn't that bother him? I think it's a little sad you make him do that.

This lady/gent probably isn't super happy with their spouse/marriage. Just a guess. And Matt loves cooking, btw. The only time he's bothered is when I hang out in the kitchen and get in his way while he's prepping food. I've been told on no uncertain terms that the breakfast nook is 'my area.'

Don't you think you should at least consider having kids? Especially since you're 30 now?

OK. So this email wasn't mean and nasty. But still, pretty darn personal stuff when you don't actually 'know' someone. My assessment is this woman may have issues about children in her own life. I usually react pretty nicely to such emails, b/c I realize how much this means to so many women. And just to throw it out there... Matt & I like children. But it's not our fault if we like our dog more.

I know you say you're a writer, but you haven't been published. So technically you're not a writer. Maybe you should make it clear that it's your hobby.

I got this email a while ago when I announced this. The email was much longer, and some parts a lot less nice. This troubled person, if I had to guess, has some unresolved issues with their own creative ambition and the paradox of doing it. Maybe they have a failed craft business, or have secret ambitions of finally sitting down and writing that children's book they've always dreamed of. But for some reason, they don't feel free to own it. They feel like they don't have permission to say"I'm a postal clerk, and a writer" or "I'm a stay-home-mom, and a writer." But in the words of my wise sister, "Stop projecting on me."

So that's my two-cents on handling troll comments/emails. Try to take a deep breath, don't scream, and think about what that stranger is bringing to the table. Because a lot of the time, it's them... not you.
Also, I'd say 98% of the time I've recieved NOTHING but love and encouragement in blog land. So thank you, 98% ladies, you make the random troll comment/email totally worth it.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Dear Monday Morning

Dear Monday Morning,

I was quite happy snoozing to the sound of fake crickets on our alarm-clock-noise-maker, before you made an appearance. But since you didn't leave me alone, since I wasn't allowed to sleep in or have time to make my favorite vanilla/cinnamon coffee... I guess there's nothing else to do but welcome you. You're here whether I like it or not. You are the first day of the week, a fresh start, another 24 hours in which I get the privilege of drawing breath on this earth.

But just so we're clear, you could be a bit nicer next time. You could give me more than 30 minutes to brush my teeth and get ready. Next time you could wake me up well-rested at dawn with enough time to get ready, eat a bowl of oatmeal with blueberries and watch the first 30 minutes of Dan In Real Life before the day begins. I would have really liked that. But it's just a suggestion.


Friday, July 16, 2010

Guest Post

Check out my guest post over at Tobi Fairley's lovely blog (and while you're there be sure to look around, she has fantastic design inspiration). Happy Friday folks!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Dreaming of Astoria

PS... Are you linked to me? Leave me a comment with your link and I'll add you to my sidebar. You guys know I'm not the best when it comes to returning comments these days, but I still love keeping up with all of you!

I nabbed this tiny print at an antique store this week. $5
I don't know where this place is.
I dont know how old the print is.
But it's beautiful to me.

It reminds me of Astoria (flashback to this post, or this one).

It also helps me mentally escape the heat wave outside. Highs into the 100's soon. Boo. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to close my eyes and pretend I hear seagulls and crashing waves.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

When Lightning Strikes

As I headed toward home yesterday, I couldn't help but stand in awe of the swirling storm ahead of me. Lightning flashed repeatedly, over and over, and I noticed other drivers cautiously inspecting the situation.
It was at this point Matt called me.
"Hey, what are you doing?"
"Taking pictures of the storm."
There was a prolonged silence before he responded, "Don't you think you should put both hands on the wheel?"
"Point taken, see you at home."

But the point wasn't entirely driven home, because I kept snapping. I do strange things when I'm nervous.

The clouds dipped and swirled, and I tried very hard to avoid all thoughts of tornadoes.

So what happened? I made it home safe. The circuit board on our air conditioner? Not so much. I got home just in time to watch the rush of water pour from the sky. There was a flash, a sizzle, and then we put a call in to the repairman.

The storm eventually cleared and I sat on the patio, fanning myself. The upside? No tornadoes.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Queen Esther & Fresh Fruit

Whenever people ask me to help with children. I'm amazed.

I want to ask, "Don't you know I don't know what the heck I'm doing?"

But I don't, because I hate admitting defeat.

And so I helped Laura teach Sunday school for the toddlers. We reenacted the story of Queen Esther, complete with costumes. Here's what I learned.

1. Sometimes, nobody wants to be the girl and wear a crown.

Including me. So Laura had to do it.

2. When you put a crown on a little boy's head and tell him he's king... he lights up like a Christmas tree.

I wonder if this would work for Matt the next time he has a bad day?

3. When kids can't pronounce a name (for example: Mordecai), they get a little downhearted.

This little guy nearly ripped my heart out with that face. I proceeded to make it worse by scooping him into a gigantic hug. Apparently that wasn't very cool.

4. And finally, when you ask a room full of toddlers, "What is your favorite Bible school song?" don't be surprised when one jumps up, shakes his booty and starts singing loudly, "I like to move it move it..."

And we just let him lead his song. He was far too happy. No way was I going to shut him down and make him sing about Noah's arky.

In the end, no one got hurt, scraped or cried. At least not a lot. I celebrated by eating a gigantic plate of fresh fruit. Disaster averted.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Declaring Time Out

I can't count the times people have said to us, "You are so lucky to have so much time together. Just wait until you have kids. You'll miss it." But the thing is, it doesn't really work that way.

Between our main jobs, freelance jobs, side projects and family and friends... Matt and I go days at time not seeing each other. So sometimes we just have to bring everything to a screeching halt, turn off the phones and have dinner together. And sometimes we even shut Mabel in the guest room so we can concentrate on our conversation without her pushy cold nose ramming into our ankles under the table.

Because if I've learned anything in the past nine years, 'togetherness' doesn't happen accidentally. Whether its kids or jobs or travel... life gets in the way if you let it.

So Matt and I had a date night. No guests. No restaurants. No Mabel.

Because sometimes you have light a few candles, set the table...

and declare time out.

Friday, July 9, 2010

She's Leaving

My sister Rebecca is leaving us. I chose to post this old picture of her because this is what I feel like. I feel just like her, back then, when she stumbled into a cold creek and her diaper filled up with water and she cried big fat crocodile tears. This is pretty much how I'm feeling right now, minus the diaper.

It hit me today as I cleared out our bill and letter wall folder. I realized that soon, very soon, I'll be waiting for letters from her, from far away, from across the globe. And then I started crying.

She'll be in China for a year. A whole year. Not sure how I'll make it. But letters will help. And Skype. And maybe a trip to visit her. She and I and my whole family prayed that God would show her his path, show her his will for her life. Of course, I had no idea it would involve something this huge.

Why couldn't her path have involved somewhere drivable? Like New Mexico? I guess that's God's business. And until she gets back I'll be here, checking my letter bin. All I know is I'm so very proud, very cry-babyish, and looking forward to lots of mail.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

A Morning of Eye Boogers and Changes

My mornings are not always sweetness and light.

Sometimes they are a disaster.

Today was one such morning

I went outside to let Mabel potty. The 6am light was hazy and the trees were bright green. The doves cooed in the bushes beside the house and my gladiolas swayed in the breeze. It's my favorite time of day, a time when anything is possible and a whole beautiful day lies ahead. But not this morning.

This morning I was tired. I was sleepy. I was in a bad mood that I have to work and can't just sit at home and watch daytime tv for a while. And as I slumped there in one of our red patio chairs, I realized I hadn't watered the garden last night. So I got the hose and began watering all over the yard. The elephant ears. The cucumbers and gladiolas. The herbs and caladiums and succulents.

The whole time I complained internally, "I'm going to be late. I hate traffic. I'm going to be late. I'll have to wear a pony tail, there's no time to fix my hair now..."

It was at this point, as I stood in the middle of the yard and picked a crusty booger out of my right eye, I realized that I was doing it all sans bra, in a tank top and Matt's boxer shorts AND my neighbor was sitting silently on his patio, having breakfast, gaping at me.

See? Even though I love mornings, sometimes there are bad ones. Confusing ones. Grumpy ones. As I streaked back into the house, horrified before the masses (ok, not masses, just one dude), I started laughing hysterically. Partly from embarrassment, but partly because dangit, it was funny. It was also a reminder that we never know what lies around the corner. Just when life seems gloomy and predictable and same-old-same-old... you find yourself indecently clad in the middle of your yard with crusty green crud in your eye. It's a reason to rejoice actually.

Just when I think I have it all figured out, life shakes its finger and says, "Uh uh, not so fast." Just when I think my mornings are always perfectly organized, lunches planned, toilets cleaned, groceries bought, life throws me a curve ball. And I'm learning to love it. I'm learning to love change. There seems to be a lot of it floating around me lately, like a hazy blue mist just over the horizon. It whispers, "Things will be different soon. Just wait and see."

I don't know what that means. All I know is I'm still embarrassed and will forevermore put pants on when going into the yard. I also know I'm thankful for it. All of it. Even the grumpy, embarrassing, eye booger mornings.

Meme's Awesome Vinegary Cucumbers

It's just not summer without Meme's vinegary cucumbers. It's just not. So here you go. Enjoy.

2 large cucumbers, sliced
1 onion, sliced
1/2 cup dark vinegar
1/2 cup water
Sugar, salt, and crushed pepper as desired
(I use a lot, fyi)
Soak overnight

Word to the wise? Don't eat these before a date or any other event that involves kissing. Cause your breath will be ripe. The key is talking your special someone into eating them with you... that way it cancels out the stink. In other news, Meme would not appreciate my discussing stinky onion breath & making out in relation to her recipe. Not ladylike. Just forget I said anything.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Slow Mornings, Sometimes

I generally like to take my mornings slow. I like to put blueberries on top of Eggos and smother them in syrup. I like to watch a little TV as the light outside grows brighter.

I like to listen to the morning crickets outside. I take a deep breath and remember life is good before driving in rush hour traffic where people tend to make hateful gestures at one another.

But Mabel thinks my morning 'slow' time is stupid. She flings toys and bucks across the carpet like a bronco. In her opinion, mornings are made for jogging and chasing sticks or killing the occasional bunny.

And as much as I like a slower pace in the mornings... some days it just doesn't happen. Like today.