Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Heart of my Home

Mrs. G at Derfwad Manor recently shared with readers the favorite spots in her home. She also asked readers to ponder their favorite spots, their home's hearts. It was hard for me to come up with, because I love my old house. It was difficult to love at first, because of the lack of closet space, and the ginormous closets that we had moved from, but slowly, slowly our house is becoming a home. Because of the people in it, and the people who pass through.

I have never, ever been a tidy person. My role in life is to make other people feel better about their cleaning habits. The cat food on the floor? The grungy hair at the base of the bathroom sink? The dishes that are more of a sink sculpture? Yeah, so what. I cook balanced meals, I pay attention to my family, I read books and listen to music. I do laundry, I mow the lawn and water the roses, and I decorate with things that I love.

Here is a tour of my favorite places in my house:

This is what you see when you walk in to casa McQ. There is no formal entryway, just slambamthankyoumaam, where would you like to go? The living room to the left? The dining room to the right? The kitchen through that little cubby there? How bout the basement? (Trust me - unless you like cat poo, you probably don't want to go there right now)

The mirror at the end of the hallway was once hanging over an old radio console from the forties in my parent's house. If I stand in front of it long enough, I can see my mom getting ready to go out somehwere.

If you happen to love knickknacks, and a good mystery, then you'll love our bookcases. They are stuffed with all kinds of books, and little bits of evidence that we live here and love each other.

Joe-Henry made this little pinch pot in art class. It has all the picks in it from the five million guitars that share our space. The yellow one with the handprint? Got those made for his Daddio. That's JH's actual handprint of his hand with two big fingers. Love it. So much.

In our living room is this gigantic chair. It's got stains all over it. And cat hair. But I got it for a song on Craigslist, it matches our sofa, and it's the comfiest, coziest chair on the planet. Ask anyone who has had the pleasure of draping over it.

Our bedroom. It has little feng and absolutely no shui, but it's comfy as all get out. This bed is where bad dreams go to die, and visions of sugarplums take flight. And stuff.

But the real heart of our home? It's summed up by this saying that hangs over the cutaway to our kitchen in our dining room.

Without my guys and the people who pass through our humble abode, this would just be a house. They make it home.

That's the tour. Thanks for stopping by. You've made the place a little sweeter for your presence.

Friday, June 27, 2008

HeadSong Friday: Sweet Caroline

When I was nine years old, my sister took me with her to San Francisco. My mother had died the previous winter, and my darlin' sister, in her early twenties looking for fun and adventure, had to take me on her trip to the big city. She was going to visit friends, then we'd travel to San Bernardino to see mom's brother and our cousins. It was a HUGE trip for me: my first airplane trip, my first visit to a large city, and I got to take twenty whole dollars with me to spend any way I wanted. I tried to buy my sister a suede fringed purse that was all the hippy rage, but she made me take it back. So I think I spent it wisely on bubblegum, and a Leo mug, which I still have, and is still so very far out. The bubble gum came in handy when we were catching a trolley car and this fat woman pushed me out of the way so she could get on and sit down before I could get on, and I managed to sneak a huge wad out of my mouth and under her corpulent behind. My sister was so proud of me.

Anyway, two songs have always reminded me of that trip - "Do You Know The Way To San Jose" by Dionne Warwick, and "Cracklin' Rosie" by Neil Diamond. We'd hear them in the backseat of the car that someone else was driving while we were on our way to the zoo, or Fisherman's Wharf, or Sausolito. God, even typing this brings a lump to my throat. That was the trip that made me thirsty for culture, for diversity and the buzz of life that you can only get in the city.

So why not put one of those on my HeadSong list? Well, just because I didn't do it today, doesn't mean that I never will. But today it had to be Sweet Caroline. For Father's Day, we got Charley two new Neil Diamond cd's (12 Songs and Home Before Dark, both of which are fantastic), but it left me itching to hear the old stuff, the stuff I came of age to. The first concert I ever attended was Neil Diamond in 1977 (or was it '78?) with my friend Deonne Poe and her parents. He wore a puffy sleeved shirt, much like the one in this video, and he looked on the big screen like my high school crush, Steve Leatham. Oh, Steve. Where are you now? He had that black hair and those sparkly eyes, and mmmmmm dreaminess.

ANYWAY. Sorry. How many tangents can I fit into this HeadSong post? Don't get me started, people. Where was I? Oh, yes, Sweet Caroline. The reason I went with this one is simple. Joe-Henry got to pick today. He's been on a Neil Diamond kick with us, and this one is his favorite. And he just got back yesterday, and he's yummy, and he makes me smile. And he watched this video with such rapt attention, I just know it's going to be the first song on his first cover album.

Good times never seemed so good.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Room To Grow

When we moved to our wonderful house two years ago, we gained some space in terms of more rooms, but actually downsized quite a bit on the size of bedrooms and closet space. I spent the first year doing my best to make space, getting rid of so much, and trying, trying, trying to get the right fit in those rooms. The hardest room was Joe-Henry's. He'd gone from a gigantic bedroom with TWO closets and a large open floor plan, to a sweet little room, with a sweet little closet, and some extra little nooks and crannies. Notice the copious use of the word "little" in that last sentence.

Last year when he was gone, I painted his room. It was the first room that I'd painted here - the interior was all one creamy color, and I loved it, but I wanted to make his room a bit more personal. So I went with yellow, his favorite color. But even though we had added some fun updates through the year (his battery operated light up solar system and moon, glow in the dark stars, etc.), the room didn't work. And it had gotten really bad lately, with stuff dumped on the floor and no path to the closet. But what motivated me to rearrange it was this: I want him to clean his room. I want it to be EASY for him to clean his room. I want him to not be scared to try to find something in his room. Because all his toys were in his closet, there were so many that he didn't play with. And because we hadn't gone through those toys in over a year, there were lots that were broken, or that he just didn't have any interest in any more. And you never noticed the cool little touches that were made in there last year. I love these planes made out of soda cans that Grandma got him. But you were always so busy trying not to break your ankle navigating the mess that you never even saw them.

So the last two days have been spent in full on cleaning and decorating mode. Yesterday, I felt so overwhelmed, at one point I realized that I had been standing in the center of the room not moving for probably five minutes. There was CRAP everywhere. So I pulled out some big trash bags and went to work.

Then I moved his bed to another wall, got rid of his dresser all together,

and moved his clothes into baskets on the shelves in there.

pulled all his toys out of the closet, and into the room where he can get at them (and put them away easily).

Now I feel like it's workable. Also, with the dresser gone, there's actually room to PLAY! He can access everything, AND put everything away easily. Did I already mention that part? About him putting his toys away easily? Just in case I didn't - I tackled this project to help him be more independent and self-reliant and put his stuff away when he's done. Not that he will, but at least I know it's humanly possible.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The purple penis flower

The purple penis flower
Originally uploaded by anniemcq
The first time I saw these blooms in our garden (for I didn't plant them, you see), I pictured the former homeowners leeringly guiding unsuspecting young couples to their "flower collection" at their backyard barbecue. Hard to imagine a good lapsed Lutheran girl like myself letting these exhibitionists propagate, but damn. It would be a shame to let them go. It's also a shame they don't vibrate.

Days of Heaven

One of the joys of being alone with my husband, aside from the obvious, is that we get to act like the free-wheeling couple we once were. Talk, and listen without interruption. Or sit together in silence, reading, people watching, savoring each other's company.

We used to go to movies all the time before JH, and I was looking forward to seeing a film that wasn't animated, but our only choice was between Zohan, The Love Guru and Get Smart, none of which appealed to me. I wanted a grown up film, with a story and pretty scenery. Plus, as taken as I am with Steve Carrell, I couldn't bare the thought of betraying the memory of Don Adams. Plus the reviews sucked.

So last night we ate out at the only restaurant in town that was open. We took books, and ate and laughed and read and then came home and watched Days of Heaven on our big tv. It's been years since I'd last seen it. I think we had gone to some theater in Hollywood years ago, and it was a terrible print that didn't do it justice. At all. So nothing stuck with me about this film, other than the fact that it was on a farm, and it was supposed to be pretty.

Seeing it last night though, oh my. It took my breath away. Terence Malick's vision is so clear, and he uses the landscape and the times to tell most of the story. That haunting narrative by Linda Manz, the perfect score by Ennio Morricone, and that lush, elegiac cinematography by Nestor Almendros & Haskell Wexler.... so stunning, and I mean that in the literal sense. The shot of the flaggers waving in the field at dawn's early light, the train on that mile high trestle against the backdrop of nothing but sky, the wagon loads of workers arriving at the farm in that incredible sweeping shot, I swear I stopped breathing at times. Breath. Taking.

Richard Gere was such a pretty boy, too, but what struck me was watching Sam Sheperd. Such an amazing performance. But it was Linda Manz through whom the story is told, and her voice and her look are so unique, so unaffected, so utterly perfect to tell this particular story.

I wonder what treats today will bring in this lovely, child-free vacation of ours? I know a bike ride is in our future, and my camera is coming with me everywhere today....

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Grown Up Stuff

I worked my butt off today cleaning the house, working in the yard, grocery shopping... Uninterrupted because my boys are gone. It felt amazing to be in my own head, feeling very self-propelled, and then I got to have people over for a barbecue. So nice, so fun to have grown up conversation, laugh, drink, listen to music, discuss the state of things.

But now I'm missing some cuddle time. I have a feeling I'll be seriously jonesing by Thursday when Grandma brings him home. He's called me several times - to tell me about the bus with the flat front that Grandma bought him, to ask me how old I think his teacher is, to just chat. I miss his voice and his noises that he makes, and tonight I miss the sound of him sleeping.

Tomorrow my man comes home, and I very much look forward to having alone time with him - to talk, to go to movies or dinner, to, you know, ahem..... Yes. Well. I am very much looking forward to that.


Friday, June 20, 2008

HeadSong Friday: Vacation

I was never big on the girl groups in the 80's, even though those songs should, like, TOtally take me back to a time when I was young and carefree and didn't have a muffin top above my jeans.

But since my boys are leaving today for SoCal, and I will have the house to myself for 48 hours, when my husband comes home to me (alone) and we will spend the next five days doing what comes naturally (you know, bitching at each other about getting the chores done with occasional bursts of hot monkey love), I woke up this morning with the song playing... no... BLARING in my head.

I'll miss my guys - I know I will. But alone time? Working in my garden without having to find something or cook something or watch something...once a year I think I can handle it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

What I Ate

I know that there is some rule written somewhere about blogging about what you've eaten, but I don't really care about rules (I'm just exactly that devil-may-care!). Also, I have been studiously and seriously trying to watch what I eat, opting for healthy and fresh and low calorie. But I made up for it this weekend, and my belly has taken over for my brain and is writing this post, apparently.

You need to know that I love to go out to eat. I used to love to dine out because I enjoyed tasting new things and trying to figure out what was in a dish in order to recreate it at home. I savored the ambiance just as much as the food, and swirled my wine in my glass like a true connoisseur (which would be an excellent spelling bee word, since my spell check made me try five times to get it right, and I had to actually go look it up). Now I like to eat out because someone else cooks it and someone else cleans up. If it tastes good, well, that's just a bonus. If there's alcohol, watch out.

You'd think, judging by looking at the size of my butt, that I might really enjoy a trip or eight through buffet lines, but truth be told, I don't generally enjoy buffets. The food seems dried out, or overcooked, or it just looks sad, if it's nearing the bottom of the dish. Lighting at buffets don't seem to help, either. Those warming lamps make the food look like it hurts. No, I'd rather have my food prepared for me and me alone, with all the love and care and attention that a temperamental chef can muster.

All this is compounded if it's brunch, because you know what brunch means: they've combined two meals so they get to charge you for both, all the while making you feel silly and happy because it's such a goofy word to say. So not only is your food tepid, it's expensive.

But yesterday, we decided to take Charley to brunch at Multnomah Falls Lodge. I figured we'd be paying for the scenery anyway, and it wouldn't matter if we just got some pancakes and went for hike, because it was his day and being somewhere new would be fun. We weren't disappointed by the scenery - the gorgeous falls, and the lush green trees were breathtaking. The lodge itself is very, well, lodge-y, with big stone walls and a large fireplace, and rustic dark wood. But they seated us off the patio in a very sunny, bright room. The day was overcast, so the lighting was perfection. And then came the coffee. Dark, rich and caffeinated to perfection.

Our waitress pointed us to the buffet line, and we were greeted by a long line of scrumptiousness: first there was salmon - tender and pink, and delicately whispering "eat me". It was followed by baked french toast, thick and gooey and meltinyourmouth delicious, fairy-light cheese blintzes covered with berry sauce, thick slabs of bacon, stout little hand-rolled sausages that looked so fat, so juicy, so perfectly seasoned there had to be room on the plate for more than just one. Now, take a left please and turn up the other side of the line for the gigantic bowls of shrimp, icy and pink; the asian noodle salad with chunks of raw tuna with some kind of crazy ginger sesame glaze, a penne slathered in some kind of decadent sauce so rich that I forbade my taste buds to recognize it lest I feel one frisson of guilt for how much I was enjoying it. There were pastries, all of them adorable and flaky and I managed, somehow to pass them by (I am, as I type this, plotting my next trip with my first and only stops being the pastry and dessert tables), and at the end of the line was the table with the crab legs - fresh and dangly, next to a bowl of shiny silver implements with which to tear them apart (in my case, I give you my solemn promise that I was VERY ladylike while decimating all my shellfish); and the prime rib, sliced by the handsome twentysomething in a chef's' toque. There was also a dessert table, laden with something for every taste bud: steamy apple cobbler, thick chocolate cake, and lemon bars dusted with powdered sugar. I couldn't partake of these, because after my THIRD trip through the line, I decided that if I was going to make it to the top of the falls (a somewhat steep one mile), or even out of my chair and through the dining room, well I needed to stop.

But the best part of this whole affair was that when we were finished, when we had consumed every last morsel on our plates and paid our bill, we walked out into the fresh air and hiked up, up, up until we saw where the water spilled over the edge. We stopped many times along the trail: to explore huge trees whose exposed roots provided a perfect play house climbing structure; to rest and breathe and be swept away by the gorgeous vistas of the mighty Columbia River on a sparkling Northwest day; to play along the banks of streams and feel a part of the land, but mostly to kiss Daddy, because it was Father's Day after all.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day

To all you dad's - new dad's, old dad's dad's to be, dad's who are no longer with us; dad's who work and worry and laugh and play; dad's who know just how the bedtime routine goes; dad's who snuggle and dad's who give a pat on the back; dad's who love us and who we love - so much - in return.

Happy Father's Day!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Head Song Friday - Here Comes The Sun

I had planned another song for today's HeadSong Friday, but I'm going to save it for awhile. Because when I woke up this morning and looked out the window, this is what I saw.

Blue Sky. Sunshine.

And the birds were singing along.

We've been experiencing something that some have dubbed "Juneuary" up here in the Northwest. It's been gray, and rainy and setting all kinds of records for cold.

So this morning it was time to rise and celebrate, and this song was playing in my head already, so I went searching for a version that would get across the absolute peppiness I felt looking out my window.

Some might think it's a travesty that I didn't use The Beatles version, but I have my reasons. I'll tell you about it sometime. I love that version so much, but well, it takes me down another road, and that's not the road I'm on today.

There's also Nina Simone's version, and while I love her madly, again: not quite peppy enough.

So even though, there isn't an official "video" and it's just the words to the song, I think Sheryl Crow gives this song the zing that I'm feeling this morning. That this could be it: we might get to see some summer, or at least some sunshine after all....
That crazy woman you see skipping down the street in her bare feet and her bathrobe spilling splashing coffee as she goes? That would be me.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Reasons to be proud...

The boy had his first piano recital yesterday, and he was great. He had memorized his piece, and his teacher had asked him to play a duet with her for the last song - BINGO (everybody Sing ALOOOONNNNGGG!), and what impressed me most was when I asked if he was a little nervous, he said "Nope. Not even a little. I'm just going to do my best and have fun." Alright, Mr. Well-Balanced, could you loan me some of that?

Reason number two that I'm bursting my buttons is this: There is a reading program at his school, and if you've read 300 books by the end of the year, you get to attend an ice-cream party. He was sooo close, and thought that he had until Monday to finish his books, but they collected the reading envelopes today. When he told me, I said "Ohhh - I'm so sorry! You've worked so hard - are you disappointed?" He said - "No, Matthew read 300 books! I'm really happy for him!" (And this is where I said "just a minute" and ran to my closet to cry tears of happiness).

And the third reason I'm so proud is last night, when I was prodding him along to get in the tub, and he flipped his legs behind his head while laying on his bed and threatened to fart on me with his bare butt in the air, and I told him not to because while that would be a funny joke to a seven year old boy it would not be funny for his forty six year old mom, he actually listened to me.

That popping sound you hear is my buttons.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Another School Year Draws To A Close...

I clearly remember Joe-Henry's first day of kindergarten. Charley and I both walked him down the hill to the bus. I was all butterflies as I worried about whether or not he'd even get on the bus. I'd had visions of him bursting into tears and needing to be dragged, kicking and screaming onto that big yellow hell on wheels. My palms were sweating as I helped him pull the shirt over his head, brushing his hair with my hands, sneaking glances at Charley that said "can you believe he's going to KINDERGARTEN?", all the while adding just as wordlessly to myself "with any luck at all".

Even though he had done really well at Jumpstart Kindertgarten, falling in love as he had with his now first grade teacher who greeted him his first day with a warm and lovely "Hello! Joe-Henry I've heard so much about you!", I still had reason to be nervous. Pre-school in North Hollywood had been Sophies Choice every morning for a solid four months, with at least one teacher extricating me (and my hair and my shirt and my pants) from his vice-like grip, saying a cheerful "Bye-bye Mommy" over his ear piercing screams. He'd eventually calmed down, and even came to enjoy it, but we had moved the spring before kindergarten, and I had put him in a summer preschool program for two days a week, and the crying had returned, even though this particular program was the kind of place you want to stay yourself, with cheerful messes and cozy reading corners and funky art projects, not to mention an incredible staff. So yes, I was nervous as we headed down the hill to the bus stop that first day.

But as the bus drew nearer, he watched excitedly, turned and hugged us both, saying just as though he had been saying it all his life "Bye Mom and Dad! I love you!", and after we crossed the street, he pulled his hand from mine (was I holding on too tight?), and climbed those huge stairs with his little legs and marched right back to the seat he was told to sit in. We all smiled and waved as it pulled away, but I'm the only one who burst into tears after it turned the corner.

The first day of first grade was a little more nerve wracking for him. The picture of him waiting for the bus that day says it all

(but just in case it doesn't, there's a post to go along with it). He was filled with trepidation about going to school ALL DAY, and worried that he'd do something wrong. Heaven forbid. But since his first grade teacher was she of the long flowing tresses and melifluous voice and sparkling eyes, he got over it in about four and a half seconds. To be honest, I was a bit worried at first because she seemed almost too nice. But she has proven her mettle time and again, and when I saw the class recently for the "freeze your ass off at the farm in June" field trip, I was amazed at the changes in some of the kids - some who had real behavior issues at the beginning of the year were so well behaved, and you could tell they all would jump through hoops to please her. He's so sad that the year is coming to an end, but what he doesn't know yet, and I do, is that she is moving up to second grade, and will be taking the whole class with her. I was so thrilled when I heard the news. And so excited to have this little secret. I'm hoping she tells them before the end of the year. I don't know if I can do a whole summer of subterfuge. I am not noted for my spectacular lying abilities. I am handicapped with a) my crazy Lutheran background that makes me feel the sizzle of hell before the little white lie has passed my lips, and b) this wide open face that reads like a very large print book. Three months of keeping a secret that good will give me gas of horrific proportions.

This summer will also mark a first for me - my first "summer vacation" after working in the school system. I have learned so much this year: about autism, about myself, and about the joke of trying to balance everything well. I was so nervous about what I would do when I was thinking about entering the work force again. What could I possibly do that would give me the time I wanted to be able to be home for Joe-Henry? To be around for the summers and holidays with him? And what could I do that would give me a sense of purpose, keep my mind and heart engaged, and as an added bonus provide daily gut busting laughs? I was guided by a shooting star or something, because when I walked into the school where I work, it felt like putting on an old shoe. A perfect, comfortable fit, and although the learning curve has been steep, it feels as though I've been doing this for a long time. These kids - they kick my ass, they break my heart with their sweetness, and the space they take up in my heart swells it to near bursting. Just like my boy, the one who gets off that big yellow bus everyday and makes funny faces at the driver as he heads to the next stop.

I expect I'll get used to this rhythm - the ebb and flow of years marked by school - new clothes, the seasons, activities and lessons and playdates that turn into sleepovers that turn into hanging out at the mall with friends. Probably just in time for it to come to an end. Move the tassle to the other side, cue the "Pomp and Circumstance", and step into the future...

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Headsong Sunday: Shed A Little Light

JT is always on my iPod for housecleaning music. This is one of my all time favorites, and I heard it again today and thought of the current democratic political race. I just couldn't wait until next Friday to share it.

"And recognize that there are ties between us - all men and women...
We are bound together in our desire to see the world become a place in which our children can grow free and strong.
We are bound together by the test that stands before us and the road that lies ahead.
We are bound and we are bound."

Amen. Listen up! Peace out!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Headsong Friday: Willy Was A Whale

Today's headsong is inspired by one of our favorites, Justin Roberts. From the time Joe-Henry was an infant, whenever we ran errands, I'd put in a cd. Someone had suggested "Wee Sing", and I purchased it, then quickly realized that I wanted to tape cinnamon rolls to my ears so I wouldn't have to listen. When Joe-Henry was not even a year old, I picked up Justin's cd Great Big Sun, followed quickly by Yellow Bus. I'd put Joe-Henry in his highchair while I got dinner ready, and he'd rock out. One of his first words, after listening to "In The Car" was "AGAIN!", until he learned how to say "REPEAT!"
To add some icing to the whole deal is Justin and his band genuinely love meeting their little fans. We've been to several concerts and he always remembers Joe-Henry, even though it might have been a few years and many concerts for him. The thing that I love the most about his music is how rich it is. It's not simple little tunes - the orchestration is full and peppy, thanks in part to his collaborator Liam Davis and the amazing Not Ready For Naptime Players, and he doesn't "sing down" because his target audience is smaller than he is. His music is full of imagery, and it makes you want to hear it over and over. And it doesn't hurt that his voice sounds just a little bit like James Taylor.

I love this song in particular because I'm a huge fan of puns, and the visual pun of the Weno sign just makes me giggle. Give it a listen, then head over to his website to check out more of his music.


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Go Man, Go

"In the end, the Clintons' usual tactics — big-scale fundraising, high-powered political connections, old-fashioned grit and determination — were no match for Obama and a candidacy uniquely suited to the moment." Beth Fouhey, AP

That about sums it up.

I honestly loved her speech last night. I thought it was classy.

But Barack, when he said this:

"All of you chose to support a candidate you believe in deeply. But at the end of the day, we aren’t the reason you came out and waited in lines that stretched block after block to make your voice heard. You didn’t do that because of me or Senator Clinton or anyone else. You did it because you know in your hearts that at this moment – a moment that will define a generation – we cannot afford to keep doing what we’ve been doing. We owe our children a better future. We owe our country a better future. And for all those who dream of that future tonight, I say – let us begin the work together. Let us unite in common effort to chart a new course for America."

And this:

"The other side will come here in September and offer a very different set of policies and positions, and that is a debate I look forward to. It is a debate the American people deserve. But what you don’t deserve is another election that’s governed by fear, and innuendo, and division. What you won’t hear from this campaign or this party is the kind of politics that uses religion as a wedge, and patriotism as a bludgeon – that sees our opponents not as competitors to challenge, but enemies to demonize. Because we may call ourselves Democrats and Republicans, but we are Americans first. We are always Americans first. "

And this:

"The journey will be difficult. The road will be long. I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations. But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people. Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth. This was the moment – this was the time – when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves, and our highest ideals."

Well, it made me stand up and cheer. First it made me cry a little bit, the kind of crying you do when you get too excited and don't know that you're crying, and people look at you like you might be a bit crazy. And it feels so good to feel that way that you just don't care.

Here we go.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Woot! Kilt Alert, Kilt Alert!!!!

Charley sent Utilikilts pictures of his "work in progress", as well as a link to my own post about his kilt, and they've already given him a mention! He truly IS a Utilikilts Superstar!!!! Check it out here, and scroll down a bit. Oh, while you're there you really need to check out the "UKer of the month". A new dad with a brand new baby, both in a kilt! Too cute for words!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Kilt

My husband wears a kilt. Almost every day. It started when Joe-Henry was just three. Here's a picture of him in his first kilt.... Awwwwwww, doesn't he look so proud!

His ancestry is Scottish and Greek, and he'd been reading a lot about the Scots. He'd started working a full time job the year before, and had become a father two years before that, so I think he was carving out some creative space for himself in the world. I won't lie and say it didn't take some getting used to on my part. As you know, I'm a wallflower, so I don't like to call attention to myself (she said with a straight face), and hanging out with a handsome fella in a kilt is going to turn some heads. But I've more than gotten used to it, it kind of freaks me out now when he wears pants. He just looks like he was made to wear them - he has great gams and it can be a real conversation starter. He set the Paris fashion world on fire when we went back in 2005 - those normally subtle Parisiennes would give themselves whiplash watching him pass.

It's been interesting living here in a small-ish town in the Northwest, too. I think our neighbors might have been a little, um, nervous? when they first saw us, but they got over it. And it always cracks me up when he gets stares from twenty-somethings with their piercings and tattoos and blue hair. Where's that rebel solidarity, kids? But mostly, the reaction is great. Today, we were at a huge carnival in Portland, and Joe-Henry was bonking his dad on the head with a balloon hammer, when a man said "be careful! we need all the geniuses we can get!" We exchanged pleasantries, and after he walked away, Charley said "he'd never have remembered me if it weren't for the kilt." There is a lot of curiosity - from both men and women. At my nieces' wedding, a family friend, with enough alcohol in her to ask the question came over to me on the dance floor and asked "So...does he wear that thing like he should?" To which I replied "there's nothing under there but the cool breeze and my good graces!" The men who are bold enough to ask (when I'm around) are usually wanting to know if it feels as good as it should, and I think I can say honestly if it didn't feel amazing, he wouldn't wear one every day. He's a guy who likes comfort, and I don't think that there is anything more comfortable for men, with all their equipment. Honestly, the person who came up with the idea of pants for men is probably the same sadist who came up with high heels and thongs for women.

The reason I started this post though, is because last week he got a huge package in the mail. It was from Utilikilts. Utilikilts is an American kilt company that makes these amazing utilitarian kilts. He has kilts from other companies, and even a dress kilt in the family tartan.

But Utilikilts are the best. They're sturdy, and they have great pockets, they wear forever, and look very manly. I mean, look at that freedom of movement!

And they're great for dad's, too - with all those pockets to carry the flashlight and first aid kit and money and it's easy to smuggle a little Halloween candy in there for yourself, too!

When we were in Paris, I took this shot of him beneath the Eiffel Tower in his kilt and he submitted it for their monthly contest and won.

They have a very loyal following, and a trip to their website will give you a wide sample of the kind of men who wear kilts. Of course there are those you'd expect, but there are also a lot of regular Joe's, or regular Joe's with the confidence to wear a kilt. A while back he entered a contest to make a mockumercial for them, and all the contestants got these crazy-ass kilts and sweatshirts. Seriously, this kilt was the ugliest thing I'd ever seen. It had " 2008 Mockumercial Winner" screen printed on the front panel in black and white. So somehow, he managed to scrape that off, and he's been doing this Jackson Pollack thing to it with fabric paint. Whether he'll ever wear it, I don't know. If not we can frame it and hang it in his office. But the best part, was that when he took the tag off, the tag that is attached to every utilikilt sold, there was this picture of him, walking with Joe-Henry and his mom.

It's one of my favorite pictures. So if you ever make it into the Utilikilts Flagship store in Seattle, one of their many authorized retailers or happen to see them at your local Highland Games/Gay Pride/Comic Con, check out the tag on one of those kilts. That's my guy! He wears a kilt!