Tuesday, January 31, 2012

AND He is Humble Too

Oh, I forgot to add this tidbit.
The other day, when ordering coffee at a local favorite shop, Joseph was asked how he was today. His response? "Gorgeous!" The barista smiled and nodded, started to talk, stopped and said, "Did you say gorgeous?" He smiled and said, "Yeah . . . sorry . . Usually I reserve that comment for the mirror."
*Rolling eyes*
Oh. That. Man. I. Love.Him So.

Oh That Man . . . I Love Him So

Lyrics from a great song and sometimes my personal mantra.
Joseph is an amazing, gorgeous, kind, funny husband . . . he loves me completely and never lets me forget it. I am lucky to have him. Really. I am.
That said . . . .
A couple of months ago our automatic garage door stopped working. Since it was older than our children, fixing it was more expensive than getting a new one. Joseph diligently shopped around and found a used one that would fit our garage. We went over and got it for a good price and felt proud of ourselves.
Then it sat in the garage in pieces while Joseph researched online exactly how to put it together. Just as he was getting ready to start, however, he was inspired to additional creativity. "I think we should paint it first," he said. "I will go look at colors at Home Depot." (Tami shudders at the thought but tries to still her quailing heart.) He brings home those lovely cardboard swatches of color and amid the dark forest greens I had suggested were some very pink/purple hues I hadn't anticipated. I gave him my thoughts on the best choice, but really, I have run over almost everything in this house--what is on the walls, the furniture, etc., and the garage is HIS domain, so I let him choose.
Last nite at midnite he was out there painting the first of three panels and he called me out to take a look.
QUITE the shade. I had hoped perhaps eggplant but this is more like . . . not eggplant. This morning he took the panels outside and put them next to the house to see how they blended with the stone and shingle siding.
Perhaps blended is too strong a word.
No, it's just the wrong word.
Clash? There, that's the right word.
IT clashes. Brilliantly. It looks like the swollen thumb on an otherwise handsome hand.
But . .. I love that man and if this is the color he likes, then I will grow to like (read: ignore) it as well.
Of course, he is rather dubious also, but I bet it stays. He says it stretches his boundaries.
Yea, right. Stretch. That's the right word, honey.

Sunday, January 29, 2012


I imagine there has been some form of discrimination and prejudice since time began. Perhaps even the earliest humans looked at the strange one with curly hair or the one whose skin was a different shade or who was taller, shorter, smaller, bigger, funnier, meaner than the rest and made assumptions about that person based on their observations and biases.
Discrimination or prejudice is one tradition/habit/trait/instinct that has apparently followed humans throughout their development from cave dwellers to city dwellers, from stone clubs to night clubs, from the thrill of the hunt to the exhaustion of the race. Anyone different or strange or just not LIKE us is still viewed with suspicion, often fueled by misconceptions, stereotypes, personal issues and yes, perhaps a nugget of truth. We try, as EVOLVED human beings, to get past it and judge each person based on merit, not on issues like skin color, gender, age, ethnicity, social class--or religious belief.
Unless, of course, that person stands up and says, "I'm an atheist."
Then, unlike with other biases, it is okay to kick that person out of your house, refuse to speak to them, ostracize them in public, terrify your children, spread false rumors about you and your family, end decades long friendships, and even threaten their safety.
I am sure that is what your God wants you to do to us evil non-believers, right?
My family moved out to Oregon ten years ago for a number of reasons and one of the most important was the freedom to choose our beliefs--or non-beliefs--in privacy and respect. Everything listed above isn't an exaggeration--they are things that happened to us in the name of "Christian" kindness.
To this day, my kids are hesitant to use the "A" word simply because of the cruelty they have been shown by many religious people. Out here, that fear is slowly dissipating, but I don't know that it will ever disappear completely, because of the assumptions and discrimination that go hand in hand with the atheist title. Suddenly, this nice, fun, pleasant, loving family that we were 60 seconds ago, transformed into immoral, deluded, hurry-away-because-they-might-invoke-evil, don't-get-too-close-because-they-might-be-contagious-and-threaten-our-personal-beliefs people. POOF. Must be magic. A minute ago we were friends--now we're not. You don't follow the same God I do, so I don't wanna play with you anymore . . . .
I do NOT get it. The Christian God is supposed to be a loving one. Did I miss somewhere in the Bible where it encourages all followers to be critical, condemning and even vicious to those who follow a different path? If you want people to share your beliefs, don't you think a role model of tolerance, kindness, and love is the better approach?
Shocking as it may be to hear, atheists can be moral, kind, compassionate, beautiful people--or not. So can Christians--or not. That's because we are all human beings with choices to make. I don't give you any flack about yours even if I think it is utterly incomprehensible to me. Please--can I have the same respect?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Travel Plans

Just the other day I was talking about how I rarely got the chance to travel anymore and I sorta, kinda, sometimes missed it.
Apparently the universe was listening. (It seems to do that when I am not trying to get it to . . . . )
So, tomorrow Nicole and I head out for two days in Seattle. She has a job interview to go to that she is very excited about and I am tagging along just to relax and have fun. I love the hostel there. The rooms are pretty barren if you are used to hotels (simple beds, bathroom down the hall, no TV, etc.), but there is this great common room where you can hang out, watch TV, make food and meet people. Last time we were there I picked out a corner table, pulled out piles of stationery and pens and wrote letters. I plan to do the same this time, although will keep a few books close by for reading breaks. If my eyes hold up, we will be all set.
Then, as if that trip wasn't enough, I have been asked to travel for my job for the first time in years. I have been hired for a new job and am being flown to Texas for a three day training session. The pay is decent and I get to stay in a fancy-schmancy hotel for four nights. I will miss my family, of course, but I am excited to go where the sun shines and to hang out with other writers for a while.
So universe, if you are listening, I might have a few other requests like . . . help my daughter get the job, make the new doctor's visit go well for someone, make someone else have a clean bill of health biopsy results, and oh, unexpected chocolate works well too.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

EEEK! Winter!

For days, they have been predicting a mix of rain and snow. It spit a little here and there and then disappeared. Meh. After growing up in Indiana, this was nuthin'.
Then, tonight, while no one was even looking outside, it snowed. The ground was covered! One kid was heading to bed, one was in the middle of cleaning her room and the third was online and I yelled, "It snowed!" Suddenly, all were outside, throwing snowballs and laughing. Nicole was taking pics and Coryn was rushing over to hand me his iPod so I could keep it safe inside. I hear laughter outside and a snowman is in the works. By tomorrow night, it will most likely have already melted, but the memory of my kids playing and laughing--that one will hang around in my heart for a long time.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Hair or Nails?

Okay, going out on a non-PC limb here . . . .one of my pet peeves in life (besides people spitting on sidewalks .....what is UP with that?!) is people who work in the public arena in this country but don't know the language. I am sure that it is a very, very difficult language to learn--heck, even those of us born here struggle with some of the funky grammar rules--and I know that moving here from another country must have enormous changes and demands and requirements--really, I do. But please, please, please, for the love of all that is clear . . . can you start by learning just a few basics? I promise you, I SWEAR to you, that if I move to your country, I will learn the language. I won't expect you to cater to me--I will listen to CDs and read books and talk to people until I have a handle on your language. Really. So . . . please do the same.

Why this rant? I recently took a friend to a salon to get a perm. I dropped her off and then came back 90 minutes later to pick her up. I walked in and didn't see her so I explained I was here to pick her up--was she ready?
The response?
"You want your hair done?"
No . . . . . I am here to pick up a friend.
"You want your nails done?"
Grrrrr. No . . . . I.Am.Here.To.Pick.Up.A.Friend.
"Hair or nails?"
At this point, the usually patient Tami shook her head and said a very exasperated OHFERGETIT! and walked out . . . and yes, I slammed the door a bit.
Went next door to see my friend just finishing up.
Any guesses what the women asked me when I walked in the door?
"You want your hair done?"

Friday, January 13, 2012

Introducing . . . .Great Lines

Okay, when I read a really GREAT line in a book, I always want everyone to stop what they are doing (including total strangers in the near vicinity) and LISTEN to it. Then Oooooh and Ahhhhhh over its intricacy, its clever turn of phrase, its amazing tone or ability to engage the reader . . . . usually everyone tolerates me, except fellow writer Nicole, who truly does appreciate those lines as much as I do.

So, since I am sitting in front of the computer and just read one of those lines, I have decided to post them whenever I can under the heading of "Great Lines". Then you can read and ignore me too! :)

Today's great line comes from page 6 in a library book I picked up today (as if the 10,000 books i have in my bedroom aren't enough, I need to check out books . . . . ) called STARTING FROM HAPPY. It's quite amusing thus far and I loved this description line . . "Tall and thin, with jutting cheeks and fiery red hair, she looked like a kitchen match that stubbornly would not light." Oooh, now isn't that a GOOD description?

Oooh. Aahhhhh. Great line.
I return you to your regularly scheduled life.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Good News, Bad News

Good news? Sure!
Coryn went to the dentist today, so the good news is that (1) the dentist is a lovely, gentle man who does not hurt my children; (2) after a 4 year absence, Coryn only had two very shallow cavities; (3) the two teeth that had to be pulled came out so easily and quickly that neither Coryn nor I even noticed until it was done and (4) the entire experience was over quickly and was not stressful.
Bad news? Well . . . yeah.
The cost for all of this? I was thinking $400.
I. Was. Wrong.
I could get $90 off if I paid in full today, but heck that was still $810. So . . . no . . . .. instead, it will be three payments of $300 over three months, because man, I don't have an extra grand sitting around without purpose.
I'm trying really, really, really hard to focus on the good news part of the day.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

New Year, New Plans

So, do you set New Year's resolutions in your house? Even if I momentarily forgot, Nicole would remind me because stating those goals, one person at a time around the dinner table is very important to her and she goads us until we cooperate. :)

So far, the changes in this house have evidenced themselves in a variety of ways. Coryn is suddenly determined to learn lots of new stuff and is picking up the guitar again and asking me to teach him French. (I took 7 years of it in school but haven't done anything with it since!) Caspian, that unbelievably stubborn young man, started the P90X exercise program at the beginning of the year. Of course this meant replacing the trim around his doorway so he could put a chin up bar there and buying resistance bands and cleaning up the living room so he had room to work in front of the TV . . but you know, he has lost 7 plus pounds in a week and is up every morning filling our living room with the smell of determination and hard work. :) Nicole has been rearranging her room and her life priorities, including travel plans for the year. Joseph has been working on changing the garage and not screaming about the clutter all over the house.

Me? I've been searching for better, smarter jobs rather than MORE jobs . . . trying to arrange a little more time for relaxing . . . and yesterday I managed to wrangle my inner bitch into silence--I was pleased with me. We have been helping someone who needs it, but it has turned into more time and more complexity than I had planned on and when I wanted to just complain, I didn't. Swallowed, smiled, kept going. Although I must admit . . . . I was trying to talk to an Asian woman in a salon, asking her where my friend was and the ONLY English this woman knew was, "You want your hair done? You want your nails done? Hair or nails?" No matter what I said to her, that is how she responded. I finally went, "JUST FERGITIT!" and walked out. Yes, the inner bitch ALMOST got out, but I clamped her mouth shut just in time.

So changes are in the wind . . . . let's see where they get carried, shall we? Happy new year friends.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Best Books of 2012, Tami Style

I love reading other people's book reviews, so decided to include a few of my personal recommendations from what I read in 2012. My taste is not your taste, obviously (although I am tasty!), so take what you want from this and discard the rest.

Draculas (Kilborn, Crouch, Wilson and Strand). DEFINITELY not for the squeamish or sensitive reader . . . but if you like perverse, dark humor, don't mind gory and want an all new take on vamps, read this one. It whipped through my family like wildfire. We all ended up reading it and we always knew when someone got to a certain page from the "ewwwww" sounds they were making. This book also introduced me to Blake Crouch as a writer and since then, I have been reading more by him. I just finished Run. If you're an "impatient reader" like my daughter Nicole (i.e. you want them to stop talking and describing and get TO THE ACTION in the story and stay there), this is the one to read. It takes off on the FIRST page and never, ever slows down.

Sing You Home (Picoult). Well, in my eyes, this woman can write no wrong. She absolutely fascinates me and when a friend recently asked me which writer I would be if I could only choose one, I chose Jodi without a moment's hesitation. I have never, ever read an author who could make me think and reconsider issues and viewpoints as much as she does. I respect her immensely.

Heads, You Lose ( Lutzman and Hayward) Admittedly, I read this for the name Lisa Lutzman on the cover. Since she created the Spellman Files series--unquestionably one of my lifetime of reading favorites--I had to read this. I wasn't disappointed . . . although I have no doubt I was annoying to the people around me when I read it on the train. I kept laughing and giggling and reading parts out loud to Nicole. The authors are ex-boyfriend and girlfriend in real life and included bickering debates in between chapters. Perfect for those who like a lot of snarky humor added in to their mystery.

I am Not a Serial Killer/Mr. Monster/I Don't Want to Kill You trilogy (Wells). Really fun books . . . . think Dexter only a teenager. Smart young man doing what he can to make the world a safer, better place.

Unexpectedly fascinating reads? Left Neglected (Genova) was an intriguing exploration of what happens when the brain doesn't function correctly, followed by Before I Go to Sleep (Watson) about a major case of daily amnesia. I was less fascinated by the hyped You Don't Look Like Anyone I Know (Sellers) because I couldn't connect to the main character. I wanted to shake her instead of sympathize.

I read a number of autobiographies which were interesting, including Transformation (Bono), Seriously, Just Kidding (DeGeneres), Happy Accidents (Lynch), If You Asked Me (White) and Stolen Life (Dugard). I like learning about other people's lives and perspectives.

Any I DON'T recommend . .. i.e. started reading and either gave up mid-book or got to the end and said, "What a waste of time!" . . . . I try to limit those because life is short and I have a LOT of books, but the ones I did encounter were Illumination by Brocknauer, As Husbands Go by Issacs, One Bloody Thing after Another by Comeau and Inside the Mind of Casey Anthony by Keith Ablow. Definitely didn't impress me.

How many books did you read in 2011? I managed 28 . . . . which seems pretty puny to my younger days but work just eats up most of my time. Maybe I will read more in 2012! I hope so. What did you read that you loved or hated? Post and tell me!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy 2012

Happy New Year to . . . . my handsome husband who reminds me daily why I fell in love with him 30 years ago . . . my four children, one whom I carry in my heart until I can touch her in person, and the three who fill my life with laughter and joy and confusion and expense and happiness on an hourly basis . . . to my lifetime friends--Ami, Bev, Delaine, to my correspondents who fill my mailbox with kindness and friendship, to the people who have touched my life in one way or another, to the world that it be a gentler place. Not sure it's possible? Just go to an airport and watch people say hello and goodbye. It renews my faith in the planet. Happy 2012, readers.