Nocturnal Animals

Wanda noticed the moon was up and the sun was going to sleep. She commented that she, quite similarly, goes to sleep at night. This fact is debatable. She goes upstairs at night. What happens there is mysterious, frequently loud, and in no way resembles slumber.

I told her that animals who stay up at night are called nocturnal.

“Like owls,” Laylee chimed in.

“Yeah,” I said, “And vampires… um… and bats.”

“Oh, yeah,” Wanda joined in. Because when my four-year-old hears “vampires,” she’s gonna be part of that jelly. “And skeletons. And zombies definitely. And wizards… mmmmaybe.”

Harry did spend an awful lot of time roaming the halls at night in that invisibility cloak. But… he was also awake enough to play quidditch. I’m on the fence about wizards too. We’ll have to ask Carl Linnaeus about that one.

Posted in kid stuff | Leave a comment

Hello, Calgary!

I was listening to NPR while I ran errands this weekend, when Ira Glass suddenly started talking about my hometown, the best hometown I know, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

The opening segment of This American Life was about different cities’ failed attempts to build town pride through catchy jingles and slogans. Examples he gave were, “Say Nice Things about Detroit,” and “Baltimore – Charm City, USA.” He said that one city where a PR drive to boost city image and morale had actually worked was Calgary, Canada.

He went on to describe a song that was played repeatedly on Calgary TV stations in the 80s, a song that everyone knew and loved, a song that caught on and was a huge success at building hometown pride. I thought, “I grew up in Calgary in the 80s. I know of no such song.”

He interviewed a man who also grew up in Calgary at that time who said that he and all his friends loved the song and could still sing every single word. They would sing it together for fun. Weird. I had no recollection.

Then they played the song. About halfway through, I was overcome with childhood memories. HELLO, CALGARY! I started singing along at the top of my lungs. I could picture the video that went along with it. I knew every nuance of every run the singer belted out. “Makes no difference where I go. You’re the best hometown I know. Hello, Calgary. Hello Cal-ga-a-ry-y! Channels 2 & 7 lo-ove you-ou!”

At this point I was parked at the grocery store, too overcome with unexpected nostalgia to exit the vehicle.

Calgary was a darn stinkin’ great hometown. I was proud to be a Calgarian. The hay bales, the Calgary tower, the missed football catch. All of it came rushing back.

But, wait. There was more. Ira Glass told the man he was going to play him a song he’d probably never heard before. The music started. It was “Hello, Calgary.” But no. It was “Hello Milwaukee”! It was the exact same song but with the name Milwaukee in place of my beloved Calgary.

Apparently Milwaukee was the city it was originally written for. The Calgary version was just a knockoff. And it wasn’t the only one. I screamed, “NO!” out loud.

The guy being interviewed was audibly shocked. He said it was like finding out that the teddy bear you’d grown up loving was owned by 2 other people on the weekends.

Then the montage began. “There’s a feeling in the air that you can’t get anywhere except Pittsburg, Phoenix, Knoxville…” It went on and on. Ira said there were over 100 other cities with “Hello” as their theme song but Calgary was one place it really took off. I think it was this point in the show that I clamped both my hands over my mouth in disbelief. I noticed I was sitting like this when the segment ended, pried them off my face and went in to buy groceries. I’m sort of in shock and the song has not left my head for the last 36 hours.

The story went from shocking to hilarious when Ira Glass interviewed the composer who talked about how for each version of the song he would travel to the city, spend time there, meet the people and tailor it to their specific community. Ira said he could hear no more changes than the name of the city and one or two geographical details in the lyrics.

It’s like that scene from Pillow Talk where Doris Day discovers that Rock Hudson has “written” the same song for her that he’s “written” for every other girl he’s dated.

“There’s a feeling in the air that you can’t get anywhere except Calgary” and everywhere else. Ah, to turn on the radio on a Saturday afternoon and have your favorite talk show host smash a tiny piece of your childhood with a mallet, a strangely hilarious mallet.

Oh, Calgary. You may not have been the first, but I’ll always know that “Hello Insert City Name Here” was actually written for you. The truth is, there can’t be 100 “best home towns I know” and you’re the winner, hands down.

[Listen to the This American Life segment here.] It’s at the beginning of the hour and definitely worth the five minute investment.

Posted in around town, documentary, driving, video | 7 Comments

Oh Deer! Oh Gnome!

Maybe it was Amelie.
Maybe it was southern summer nights.
Maybe it was me. Maybe it was you. But I sure love gno-omes.

Garden gnomes in animated films? Meh.

But real, serious, ceramic, wood or even resin garden gnomes. I love em. I’ve gotta have em in my life. But they have to be right. They have to be perfect. In short – I have only ever owned two gnomes. And not for lack of trying. I’ve tried to meet a good gnome everywhere. I’ve even considered looking for a match online. Maybe you found your gnome online and I don’t judge you. Lots of people do these days but I wanted to meet him face to face.

My first gnome came into my life my freshman year of college. My sister Meg introduced him as a birthday present and he lounged around my dorm and eventually, after Dan and I got married, he was relocated outdoors, where his sunbathing days have turned his blue towel teal and his red suit pink. He’s not the gnome he once was.


So, for three years, I’ve been looking for a replacement or at the very least, a better-looking younger friend. Gnome 1 was no longer front porch material.

So every gift shop, garden department, and outdoor statuary store I visit, I get right up close to the gnomes, look into their eyes and try to sense a connection. Nothing. Frequently I spot the problem from several feet away. They’re standing or sitting awkwardly or doing a random activity like mixed martial arts or shooting craps or something and I think, I like my gnomes meek and sans gambling addiction.

Either that or I look into their eyes and they’re either painted on lopsided, or they are dead soulless voids. I like my gnomes mischievous, but just mischievous enough, not too much. More David Tennant than Martin Short.

So three weeks ago, I found him. At Fred Meyer in Kirkland, the gnome I’d been looking for peeked up from the book he was reading and screamed, “TAKE ME HOME!”

So I did.


And I loved him. Past tense.

Because on Monday, as I was pulling into my long driveway at a probably legal, but possibly irresponsible speed, I almost hit a deer. I gave the deer a verbal fist shake. Most people hit deer on the highway. Can you imagine the sheer volume of moronity points I would earn for totaling my car in a deer collision… on my driveway? Of course I was enraged at the deer and all of his stupid friends. They poop on my lawn, nibble my fruit trees, terrorize my slugs, and eat the onions out of my ghetto swimming-pool-full-of-dirt garden, onions that were only planted because they’re supposed to be deer repellent.


I was trying to regulate my near-miss rise in blood pressure by listing Bambi’s many flaws and misdeeds when I noticed a big pile of junk scattered across my front walk. What could it be?

I got out of the car and walked closer.



Gnome shards.


My brand new, highly literate, maxed-out-my-entire-yearly-gnome-budget GNOME WAS OBLITERATED. And the delinquent deer showed no remorse, no respect.


I went off on those deer with the vengeance of a woman de-gnomed. Wanda was confused.

“Why are you mad at the deers?” She asked sweetly.

“They destroyed my dad gum ratchin’ fratchin’ gnome!”

“Nope. That was Magoo.”

“What?! No. Magoo would never do that to me. It was the deer. If Magoo had pipe-bombed my garden gnome, he would have had the decency to apologize. He would never have just left him there… like that.”

“I saw him. It was Magoo.”

“Oh, yeah? When did he do it?”

“Ummm… 8 o’clock,” she replied.

No way. No way Magoo would play me like that. Not my own flesh and blood.

So, I spent the afternoon searching the area around the porch for gnome shards and super-gluing them back together. He’s still missing chunks.

When Magoo got home, he admitted to knocking over the gnome and then walking away, like a cool guy from an explosion. What the hay?

I talked to Dan. He had watched Magoo lay waste to my dearest garden figurine friend and also walked away.

“But you could have called. Or texted. All day long, you were at work, knowing my beloved gnome was destroyed, knowing, I would come home and with no warning find a pile of gnome shards on my front porch, like a warning from The Garden Mafia. All day long you knew and you didn’t bother to warn me?”

“We were late. I’m sorry. I forgot.”


Seeing as we have no more gnome budget for the year and seeing as I love Magoo and Daniel more than I love a resin garden creature, I have chosen to forgive, but I send this plea out into the universe – FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS DECENT IN HUMANITY, IF YOU DETONATE SOMEONE’S GNOME ON YOUR WAY OUT THE DOOR TO PIANO LESSONS, COVER THE BODY OR AT THE VERY LEAST, SEND A TEXT OF CONFESSION.

Consider this a public service announcement. May no one ever. EVER. Come home to gnome shards again. You can make a difference. Be the change.

Posted in all about me, bambi's mom | 5 Comments


Bloggable things happen but I’m out of the habit of capturing them and then quicker than a Seattle snow storm, they disappear and when I sit down TO BLOG… nothing. So here are a few tidbits from this weekend before they melt.

One – Wanda brought me a bottle of mustard during choir practice. It was at our house today and I opened the mustard, not bothering to wonder why she needed mustard during choir practice. She ran happily off, one pigtail up, one pigtail down, both pigtails adorable. We found her after choir, nursing a sparkly butterfly cup of ketchup/mustard mixture, slurping it from a spoon, “Because it tastes so GOOD!”

ketchup and mustard

Two – One of my favorite hobbies is telling my kids to clean up their crap off the floor. In fact, to a fly on our wall, it may look like telling my kids to pick up their shoes, backpacks, rainbow loom bands, books, wimples, crisping pins, etc. was my favorite thing ever. It is not number one but maybe in the top eight. Well, today I called Wanda and asked her to put her shoes away. She gave me a response I had never heard before, nor had I thought possible, especially from a four-year-old.

The most frequent response from my kids is a sigh. Second most frequent is an eye-roll, often accompanied by laser eyes of rage. What Wanda did was run into the family room, grab her shoes, smile up at me and say, “Thank you for reminding me, Mom. I forgot.” Then she ran and put them in the shoe basket. I’m not making this up. I am not that creative.

Three – Sometimes I help Wanda do things. At church today they asked the kids what their parents help them do. One of the three-year-olds I teach said his mom helps him turn on the train show. When I asked him what else she does for him, he said, “Turns on the play-doh show,” and continued listing all the shows his mom lets him “watch.” His mom is a great mom and a domestic goddess, btw, so I knew he was omitting a few key items from the list.

That’s why, when the head teacher asked Wanda to share with the entire kid congregation what her mom helps her do, I sat with bated breath, praying she wouldn’t expose me. “My mom helps me become resistant to cranky rants,” or “My mom helps me drink ketchup and mustard,” were possibilities. But no, she said, “My mom helps me clean the kitchen and set up my Thomas train tracks.” Boo-yah! Best mom ever.

Usually Wanda cleans the kitchen by herself but every once in a while I help. And today I got credit for it.

Posted in food, Honesty of Children, kid stuff | Leave a comment

A Partial List of Things It’s Harder to Do When the Sun is Out in Seattle

1. Back out of my long driveway
2. Use my tablet outdoors
3. Deny the mountains exist
4. Conceal the fact that I am 86.5% of the way through my transition to becoming a PNW vampire
5. Yell at my kids
6. Hide under the covers all day
7. Control my maniacal laughter
8. Remember to do anything productive
9. Open the blinds fast enough
10. Consider ever leaving this Garden of Eden

Posted in around town, weather | 2 Comments

Pressing Reset

I’ve got a new post up over at about pressing reset in your family relationships. It’s a sweet little trick that’s worked well for me.

Posted in Random | Leave a comment