Tuesday, January 27, 2009


I promise I won't say anything about Steve Perry in this post. This isn't about classic 80's rock at it's finest.

This is about suddenly feeling like I'm wading ankle deep in unfamiliar waters just off foreign shores. How did I get here? I don't remember being on a boat or falling out of a plane, yet here I am nonetheless.

Almost everything about the familiar terra-firma of parenting Joe-Henry has suddenly changed. The texture, the sound, everything. Except for the food. Chicken nuggets are served and eaten here too, it appears. It's like the first time Charley and I went to Paris, and we had planned it and for the first couple days I had relished and celebrated: you know, vive la différence, and all that. But I remember how grateful I felt, after two long days of trying to communicate in a language not my own - where asking something as simple as "where is the bathroom" made me feel deep fatigue - spotting the Golden Arches on the Champs Elysee. I don't go to McDonald's here as a rule, but seeing it there? Felt like someone had thrown me a life vest to keep me afloat long enough to catch my breath.

So, yeah. Thank goodness there is still something I know about my son. Chicken nuggets.

It's not just the football either, although that does have a language all it's own. A language, I might add, that flows trippingly off his tongue. It's as though someone has implanted a chip during the night and suddenly he knows football stats and people and plays and stadiums and particular games, and.... Part of it is the Madden '09 game he got for the Wii, but some of it I swear he just absorbs out of the ether. And it's not as easily understood as Star Wars, either. At least with Star Wars there's some kind of mythical narrative that I respond to. With football, he might as well be speaking Farsi.

I just. don't. get it.

But it's like they say: a smile is the same in any language. The thing that does translate for me is this. He's enthusiastic. He's excited. I recognize those qualities. I don't recognize the testosterone-fueled screaming that seems to be part of this time. The sudden onslaught of spitting and using words like "freakin'": as in "that was freakin' AWESOME" (screamed, natch; and by the way, forbidden in our house - not just because it's a barely concealed substitute for a grown-up cussword, but because it's lazy)? These things leave me scratching my head and looking for my map.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

My Life Is Good

Got this off iRodius today, and it seemed like a really fun way to avoid doing the dishes for about twenty minutes! It WAS! And I heard a few songs I hadn't heard in a while. Enjoy and play along if you wanna.

1. Put your MP3/Ipod player on shuffle.
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer (questions below)
3. YOU MUST WRITE THAT SONG NAME DOWN NO MATTER HOW SILLY IT SOUNDS (option to put the name of artist in brackets next to it)
4. Tag at least 10 friends who might enjoy doing the game as well as the person you got the note from.

WHAT’S THE BEST THING THAT’S EVER HAPPENED TO YOU? "Johnny Feelgood" by Liz Phair. Actually, it's CHARLEY Feelgood.

WHAT’S THE WORST THING THAT’S EVER HAPPENED TO YOU? "Broken Butterflies" by Lucinda Williams. It was actually worse for the butterflies.

WHAT WILL OPRAH’S NEXT SHOW BE CALLED? "Two Little Feet" by Greg Brown

WHAT WILL OBAMA’S FIRST EXECUTIVE ORDER BE? "Strawberry Fields Forever" by Baby Beatles, which will make the nation stop crying and put us all to sleep for a nice nap.

IF SOMEONE SAYS “FUCK YOU!” YOU SAY: "It's Cold Outside" Brian Setzer Orchestra. Yeah, that oughta throw 'em.

IF YOU COULD SAY ONE THING TO THE PERSON YOU LOVE, IT WOULD BE? "Reach For Love" by Ollabelle. Yeah, baby, reach for it, there it is, uh huh, right there.....

IF YOU COULD SAY ONE THING TO THE PERSON YOU HATE IT WOULD BE? "Go Tell It On The Mountain" by Tim O'Brien. And while you're at it, don't come back down.

WHAT WOULD YOUR AUTOBIOGRAPHY BE CALLED? "That's Amore" by Dean Martin. This made me laugh out loud.

WHAT IS LOVE? "The Hokey Pokey" by Dan Zanes. Pretty much nails it, right there.

WHAT IS HATE? "Clouds" by Joni Mitchell

WHAT IS YOUR BEST TRAIT? "When In Rome" by Nickel Creek

WHAT IS YOUR WORST TRAIT? "The Son of a Gambolier" by Dan Zanes, a drinking song. So I guess my worst trait would be singing to loudly while drunk.

WHERE WILL YOU BE IN FIVE YEARS TIME? "The E-RI-E" by Dan Zanes. God, I hope not.

HOW DO YOUR FRIENDS DESCRIBE YOU? "Big Black Mariah" by Tom Waits. Now I'm REALLY laughing!

WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR YOU? "jilted" by The Puppini Sisters. Ohhhhh, I hope not!

WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR YOUR BEST FRIEND? "The Promise of Spring" by Heritage. Well, at least one of us will have a lovely time.


WHAT WILL SAVE THE WORLD? "Han Solo and the Princess" City of Prague Philharmonic play Music from Starwars.

WHAT IS SEXY? "What Goes On" Girl "What goes on in your heart, what goes on in your mind..."

WHAT IS FUNNY? Playing with Pink Noise by Kaki King. Actually it's not really so much funny as it is whimsical. And amazing.



WHAT DO YOU DREAM ABOUT? "Skating" George Winston "Linus & Lucy"

WHAT GIVES YOU NIGHTMARES? Song for Sonny Liston by Mark Knopfler Damn, I love that song.

WILL YOU EVER FIND ‘THE ONE’? "Walk Beside Me" Tim OBrien and Darrell Scott

WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY? "Fiddlers Green" by Tim Obrien

WHAT MAKES YOU SAD? "Buzz Fledderjohn" by John Hammond

WHAT’S THE STUPIDEST THING IN THE WORLD? "Momsong" by The Be Good Tanyas Nuh uh.....

WHAT DO PEOPLE LOVE ABOUT YOU? "Taking Off My Training Wheels" by Justin Roberts

WHAT WILL YOU POST THIS AS? My Life Is Good" by Randy Newman

I'm not going to tag you, but if you wanna play, let me know!

File Under "What Did You Just Say?"

Got a phone call from JH's new flag football coach with the schedule for practices.

Three afternoons a week at 4:30 for an hour and a half.

Okay, well, on one of those afternoons I have a mandatory meeting until 5:00, so can I bring him late?

This is what he says: "Well, after you meet me, of course, I'd be willing to pick him up. I hate to see kids neglected."

Lissenup, Coach, the kid isn't "neglected". He might be mildly inconvenienced, but he's definitely, NOT neglected.

Someone needs a Thesaurus or something.

While I appreciate the offer of that guilt trip, I'd rather not.

Theeeeenx. Okay. Buh-bye now.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Annie's Army

If you've been following my updates of my dear friend with LeioMyosarcoma, you can now link to their blog. They are keeping it mostly in friends and family, but I'm sure if you could offer words of support there it would be greatly appreciated!

Read about this incredible family here.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Are You Ready For Some Football?

Signed Joe-Henry up for some Pop Warner Flag football. He and I have been working on his spiral, and catching the football. Yes, you may picture that in your mind. JH in his helmet, and his chubby old mom out there doing drills with him. Charley does too, but I thought that visualization might be more entertaining for you. Sort of "America's Funniest Home Videos of the Mind".

With his kt, I am nervous about letting him play, but was assured by the gentleman at the sign-up that they aren't allowed to push, much less tackle. Still, the second item on the form we had to sign gave me pause:

I acknowledge that I am fully aware of the potential dangers of participation in any sport and I fully understand that participation in
football, cheerleading and/or dance may result in SERIOUS INJURIES, PARALYSIS, PERMANANET DISABILITY AND/OR
*. Furthermore, I fully acknowledge and understand that protective equipment does not prevent all participant injuries, and
therefore I do hereby waive, release, absolve, indemnify, and agree to hold harmless the local, league and regional Pop Warner
organization(s), Pop Warner Little Scholars, Inc., and any and all organizers, sponsors, supervisors, participants, and persons transporting
the above named participant to and from activities, from any claim arising out of any injury to my/our child whether the result of
negligence or for any other cause.

*capitalization not mine

Even without this little tidbit, the decision to let him play has been an agonizing one. Even if he didn't have the syndrome he does, I would be an extra cautious mom, and if I could, I'd wrap him in bubble wrap every time he leaves the house. But that isn't going to do much for his confidence or his social life, both of which are very strong. As his parents, we always walk a fine line between choosing what's best for him physically and emotionally. I would never let him play tackle football (and I know that argument is coming, I'm gearing up for it), but I think a team sport would be great for this social kid who has no siblings. He also knows that there's a big responsibility on his end. He has to keep doing well in school, keep up with piano practice and his chores at home in order to continue.

The first thing he said after we signed up was "I wonder if I'll be on the cover of a magazine?" Hmmmmmm....

I think playing on a team will give him a better idea of the rigors and responsibility that are involved, and help him to realize it's about playing a game, and not being a "playah".

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A Call To Arms : Updated 1/19/09

I want to tell you about a dear friend of mine. We met doing a play at Seattle Repertory Theater in Seattle, and discovered that we were neighbors. She lived down the hall from us in our fabulous old building. I'm lucky to tell you that, because of that building, a few very dear friendships were formed. The amazing Suttonhoo posted a picture about this magical building not too long ago.

Anyway, this friend... She and her love were married in a park overlooking Elliott Bay in Seattle. They were surrounded by friends and family. It was a gorgeous clear day in Seattle. They had their guests bring potluck and blankets, and it was the most elegant love-fest ever. Charley and I were married several months later, in his parents backyard in Carpinteria, CA, and they attended. Our wedding was intimate. It wasn't just financial constraints that kept it that way, it was us. We wanted it cozy, and it was.

Six years later, they welcomed their first child, a sweet baby girl. Two months after that, Joe-Henry was born. In the intervening years, my friend had become a Naturopath, and we had moved to Hollywood, but we had stayed very close. We have video of our two first born, laying side by side on a blanket on the floor, unable to do much more than look at each other, they were still so tiny. It's hard to believe that was eight years ago.

We moved back to the Northwest in 2006, and since then we've been lucky enough to see them with more regularity, although we are still separated by a three hour car ride. In 2007, they welcomed another child, a boy, who is so lucky to have those three women guide him through his life. We've been so fortunate to know the blessing of their friendship, and to see that friendship blossom in our children. When they are together, they are the three musketeers, and we've joked that JH and their daughter Hazel will be drinking coffee in some campus coffeeshop, confiding in each other about their impossible parents, rolling their eyes and laughing. (although I assume Hazel will be doing more listening here).

I tell you about this friendship because I want you to know my friend. I want you to know what she has at stake if you choose to take on this task. My friend has a very rare cancer that was diagnosed last summer, stage 4 leiomyosarcoma. After a great response to her first round of chemo (tumors shrank and some disappeared altogether), her third ct scan showed some growth, and last week she had another scan which showed enough growth to spur doctors to alter course. She is currently in the hospital for a five day course of chemotherapy. She called to tell me herself yesterday. She sounded calm and upbeat, but asked me to put out a call for prayers and positive thoughts. She has been using creative visualization and meditating a great deal, and has asked us in the past to be specific in our thoughts of her. This time, when I asked her if she wanted us to visualize anything specific, she said with a laugh "a complete cure would be great".

She is a warrior, she is fighting so hard to stay with the family she has made and loves with all her heart and soul. Dear Ones, I am asking you to hold this woman and her family in your thoughts and prayers, because sometimes even Warriors get weary. Please send love and light and strength their way.

I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

Update: I spoke with my friend's partner last night, and she sounded so good. Dear Annie is being well taken care of, she feels safe, and the effects of the chemo haven't been too hard on her - they are monitoring her very closely. And a special note to Sharon in SF: thank you so much for commenting. Annie has been on the listserve and it's been incredibly helpful, I know. It's one more arrow in her Warrior quiver.

I promise to keep you posted as I learn more. In the meantime, I like Suttonhoo's word verification, and think we will use it as our mantra: "Sante".

Sunday, January 11, 2009

computer cat

computer cat
Originally uploaded by anniemcq
stepped away from the computer for a second, and when I came back, Bosco was checking out my flickr set of animals and birds.
I had been organizing a set, and she was very interested. I thought it might have been the bird pics, but she was trying to get the cursor. She's such a funny little love.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

To See His Mom Smile

I loved this local news story I saw a couple nights ago. If you live in the Portland, OR area (or even if you don't) and love books, you may have heard of Broadway Books, but if you haven't you need to go here It's a story about a family and a neighborhood and a community, and how easy it is to do something good.

An amazing tale of what social networking media can do. THIS is how to grow the economy right.

And This Is Your Brain On Facebook.

My name is Anne and I'm addicted to Facebook.

"Hi, Anne."

In the last month or so since I joined, I've found friends that have been lost for years. Friends I'd wondered about. A few, I'm ashamed to admit, I'd forgotten about. Not because they were bad friends, but because my brain just couldn't hold it all in.

It's not that I want to relive the past - I don't. It's that I want to bring those dear friends from the past into my present. Somehow. Though it's not physically possible, (in most cases, the exception being one of my best friends from high school that I found on Facebook and lives UP THE STREET), I'm glad to be able to "poke" them and say hi. And to share the present of the present with them.

Which leaves me to ponder: How will social networking media affect our brains? In terms of things like senile dementia and alzheimers? I remember my father, who had senile dementia for probably the last two years of his life (although he managed to hide it pretty well by using notes, etc.) having a hard time remember the near past, but no problem at all remembering the far past. He would get on the phone with a friend from his childhood and it would bring him into the present in ways that calendars and visits with his grown children couldn't.

I wonder if all these new ways to keep track of our lives and the way we have spent our time here on earth will help us stay focused on the present while remembering old times with long lost pals? Or will it just make us more sedentary and prone to the plaque build-up that leads to brain wasting?

In any case, I've really enjoyed getting back in touch with old friends and catching up. And now I really need to stretch my legs and get some exercise!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Tough Old Broad

It's true what they say about our pets: that we learn more from them than they do from us. It's certainly the case with our old cat Lulu. She has not been beautiful for a long time, she wheezes, she sneezes, she has pooped on the carpet for about eight years (I need to write a really glowing review of my Spotbot on Amazon - it's the hardest working machine out there), and she has the most unpleasant "meow" you've ever heard.

But she has taught me so much. About asking for what you need, about telling people what you need and about TAKING what you need if people aren't listening to you. She started the pooping business when Joe-Henry was about four months old. Right in front of his changing table. I stepped in it. We've taken her to the vet at least once a year for the last eight, with the vet saying, "well, I don't know what to tell you. there's nothing physically wrong with her". And you'd think that we'd maybe give up on her, or try to give her away, or find her a home where she could just sit on someone's lap and be petted non-stop until she got tired of it and moved. I'd be lying if I said we'd never even think of such a thing. Truth is, we did try once to find her a new home. It was right before we moved. We thought she wouldn't be able to handle the changes of a long trek. I put up an ad on Craigslist, but got nothing but grief, so after an hour I took it down. She was, for better and worse, our cat. I couldn't let those nasty people have her. Yes, she was a crabby mess, but she was our crabby mess. She drove in the car with my husband who headed up a month before Joe-Henry and I. She crapped in the car twenty minutes into a two-day drive. The car still smells nasty. Not like poop, but not like anything good, either.

Joe-Henry has been her savior on more than one occasion. We've all been driven to moments of madness by her messes. Especially dear Charley, who shares a bathroom with her. He has had the lion's share of cleaning to do. But even he loves her. He has given her his heart, and she has given hers to all of us, as well. If it doesn't come wrapped in a satiny bow, well so be it. It is what it is, and she is who she is, and that's just been our life with her. She still gets on our bed every night, she still snuggles up at story time with Joe-Henry, we all stroke her mangy head and love her and tell her she's beautiful. Then she usually wheezes and sneezes and yells at us to pet her better and more. And we comply.

But the last few weeks, there has been something different about her. She seems confused. She's gotten much skinnier. Even though she has missed the litter box for eight years, she has always managed to keep things in the vicinity of it. But not lately. She's bringing her business upstairs, and this morning I found a big mess in Joe-Henry's room. And the bathroom. And the hallway.

I didn't feel angry at her, I just felt like she was telling me it was time. She's unhappy and in pain and done.

So this afternoon we are taking her in to the vet. We're saying goodbye as I type this. Joe-Henry is petting her, and I will have a good amount of time with her too. As frustrating as our relationship has been, I love her so much. And I will miss her wheezy old self.

Lulu, I have learned so much from you. Thank you for that.

The Monkees - Daydream Believer

For my sweet JH, who is a little obsessed with the Monkees right now. Believe me when I say, nothing is better than hearing the boy sing along to these songs.

Have a great Daydream, all.


My dear friend D., a.k.a. Suttonhoo shared an amazing true tale over on her blog detritus.

You should really check it out. She's magical, that one.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Big Party On The Cheap

I love having people over to our house, though we don't do it nearly often enough. Last night we had family over and it always, always makes me feel good when people ask for seconds.

Here's what I made, and there isn't much left.

Macaroni and Cheese, Mahogany Drummies, Greens with Lemony dressing.

Mac and Cheese you can figure out yourselves. If I wanted to get fancy, I'd add a blue cheese, but I didn't want to get fancy. I just made a gigantic pan of it, and there's not much left.

The drummies are supposed to actually be wings, and it's supposed to go like this: 1 and a half cups soy sauce, 2/3 packed brown sugar, 2/3 cup white sugar, heat, pour over wings, bake at 325 for an hour and a half, turning every 30 minutes. BUT, I was low on soy sauce, so I used a bit of teriyaki sauce and orange juice in addition to the soy sauce, and I also added a bit of sesame oil. AND I used drumsticks. THey turned out fabulous.

At the last second I decided to make a salad, and I whipped up this dressing. All I had was good greens, and the ingredients for this dressing. But I promise it's the most fabulous salad ever and there wasn't a speck left. Get some good greens, some cheap asiago cheese ( a brick that you can shred yourself) make it cheap because that will assure these two crucial things: it's slightly wet, and it's really salty and grainy.

And here is the dressing that will have them begging for more, and is a fantastic brightener to dreary winter weather:

Lemony Sort of Caesar Dressing

juice of one lemon
about 3/4 teaspoon anchovy paste (I promise it won't taste fishy)
about 3/4 teaspoon prepared garlic (it will be garlicky, oh, yes it will)
slightly more olive oil than lemon juice
ground sea salt & ground pepper to taste

pour over greens and top with grated asiago. Toss to coat. Sprinkle with sea salt and ground pepper. Prepare to swoon.

For dessert, brownies with crushed peppermint (from the Ghiradelli's mix - thank you Costco).

Friday, January 2, 2009

Good Thoughts Needed

Please send good thoughts to Eli. He's around Joe-Henry's age and has kt. He is in the hospital with septic shock in LA because his leg is being attacked by a flesh eating bacteria. He's had two surgeries and is on a ventilator.

No kid should ever have to go through this.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot...

...which could happen because I'm getting older every day, and found the lens cap to my camera in my robe pocket the other day after it went missing for a week,

let me just say:

Happy, Happy New Year to you all. Someone on another blog said that 2008 was a test of endurance, and really isn't every year? Let's all shine our happy lights on 2009 and do what we can to make it the best, most meaningful year ever.

Here's my list of resolutions, that I intend to keep. Of course, I always intend to keep them. I don't always succeed, which is why I'm going to make my first resolution this:

1. Forgive myself. I am really great at forgiving others, but not so great at this one, so I'm going to give it a shot.

2. Have More Fun. I am so good at taking things very seriously, so my top resolution is to have more fun, worry less, and treat this short life as more of an adventure and less of a chore to get done.

3. Something that I am already good at is cherishing those I love. But there is always room for improvement, and if I accomplish nothing else on this list, I hope I manage to do right by number 3.

4. Step out of my comfort zone more often. I don't want to jump out of planes or anything, just be better at meeting new people and putting myself in new situations. I did it a few times in '08 and loved the results.

5. Make more art. Somehow. Whether it's theater or photography or painting or writing. Just put more out there.

6. See more art. This should be easy. I just need to leave the house.

7. Keep my desk clean. Yeah, right.

8. Write more letters. Keep the post office around I love to get letters, and I hope to be a better correspondent this year.

9. Plan menus. I am terrible at this. Thus I have gained weight and my family winds up eating chicken nugget taco salad more often than I care to say.

10. Say yes to my son more often. Instead of "in a minute".

I guess I'll start with this last one right now.

So grateful for you all - Happy, Happy New Year, Dear Ones. Dream Big in '09!

Love, love, love,