Aug 7, 2009

Guess What??

You know what’s hard about blogging? “No, Jo, what’s hard about blogging-(because to us it seems so easy),” you say. Well, you can’t complain about people. Or tell fun stuff. Or gossip. Or dredge up the past. Because sure as you do, you just KNOW for certain that the person will find out. Some mean spirited snoop or some nosybody would probably tell them there is a blog reference to them (“hey guess what Jo wrote about you on her blog, ha ha” said in a sing-song-y type voice)... and then there you go. You are in T-R-O-U-B-L-E!

And even if no one says a word.. you live in fear from now on (in your head) that some sneaky two-faced blabbermouth will eventually get mad at you (at some point in the distant future – heck, they can’t love you forever) read it and spill their guts about it and then there you are…

Or worse yet, you die and then the bereaved relatives in an attempt to keep you alive in their grief stricken hearts, go out and read every note, term paper, (and unfortunately for you, blog) you ever wrote, to assuage their monstrous loss and guess what? They find out that not only did you spill your guts about every secret they ever told you, but that you thought them all the stupidest most ridiculous, high-maintenance people on the face of the earth. So, even though you are gone, you are now in T-R-O-U-B-L-E. Actually, this is (dare I say will be?) kind of a fun way to be in trouble, although you do run the risk of them not scattering your ashes where you want or suffer some other indignity (depending upon WHEN they read the stuff – before or after the service).

Next subject you can't blog about is your lousy rotten job. You can't elaborate on all the jerks and losers you have to put up with day after day, especially your egotistical, dictatorial boss, because, again… blah, blah, blah and then they all know. (Then it’s “guess who lost her job?” whispered in a guess-what-lurid-detail-I-know type of voice).

And duh… you can’t complain about religion OR politics OR the economy because as you know, opinions are like a commonly referenced orifice… and I hear that everyone has one. (“Do you know what Joann said on her blog about _____?” shouted in a highly indignant, outraged, the-nerve-of-her-how-could-she voice.) So that’s off limits too.

Which is probably why people talk about what wonderful weather we are having, OR their amazingly intelligent and wonderfully charming kids and sweet beloved pets, OR their beautiful artistic patios, OR their brand new beautifully green lawns OR their fantastic, exciting vacations in exotic locales. The really interesting stuff (not that all this isn’t interesting because it is, truly "white-knuckle-on-the-edge-of-your-seat-stuff…" very, very interesting... really). But I want to know what they DON’T say, what they CAN’T say, what they dare not reveal on threat of death by bludgeoning.

Thus is the irony: The drivel we commit forever to our blogs isn’t nearly as interesting as what we really know, but dare not reveal. As my dear departed mother always said, “Don’t put anything in writing that you wouldn’t want to read on the front page of the New York Times.” I know I don’t often read the NYT but I am deathly afraid that some do-gooder out there who knows me would stumble on it while searching for the movie ads and then it would be, “Hey, how in the $#@% did a loser like her get published in the Times, and did you hear what she said about ____?.” (said in a totally-astonished-knock-me-over-with-a-feather voice).

Jul 31, 2009

the %$#@*&} patio

Ok, so if I blog again today, then I am caught up through next week. Or is that cheating, Angelee? Whatev… take me out and shoot me. (please?)

Big news: We finished our patio. We had a pretty patio summer. And it's a collective "WE," WE, as in the entire family finished our patio(s).

First Angleee (of course) started it all with HER beautiful artfully shaped, stained and stamped concrete work of art.
Here's the concrete inspector taking an unannounced look at the finished product

Then my sister jumped in with her beautiful natural stone with decomposed granite patio walkway (installed single handedly by her un-sung and underappreciated yet generous and magnanimous little boy, Sammy – with the help of his wing-man, the very patient and long-suffering “D”.)

MaRee's stone cold patio

My baby nephew threw in his creation which was perhaps the most creative. He built a cabana-type structure on the deck of his second floor condo (shhhh….). Yours truly helped him with that, handing him tools and sweating in the hot July heat.

(no photo yet of the undisclosed location... )

And ours is finished now too. And may I say that ours too was graced by the loving, hard-working, and generous hands of Sammy (and wing-man “D”). It would not have been possible to do it this summer without his help, encouragement and hard work during the hottest week (so far) we have had in July.

After Sam’s excruciating diligence on the excavating, compacting and leveling of the undercarriage, Darryl went to work on the visual piece; the actual stone laying (and individual leveling). He also worked in one of the hottest weeks in July – but was able to do so by taking advantage of the very generous Furlough Fridays, graciously donated by our Dear Governator.

Heres the nit-picky job foreman inspecting the first part of the stone laying

And here's the finished product

So there you have it... 3 fine examples of Americans capturing and destroying open natural space and turning it into cold hard evidence of our continuing encroachment and domination of the wild lands of planet earth. (And one guy who built a cabana.)

Jul 29, 2009

Throwing down the gauntlet

Well, here I am again, after my 4 month hiatus. My niece has "challenged" me to blog once per week. I know I should blog more. I actually enjoy it, really I do. The problem is that I don't have anything interesting to say (consistantly, that is). I have no actual experiences. Just stuff other people tell me or I hear about somehow. No interests; I go nowhere, see no one. (sigh)

So SHE says, "Why don't you blog about the camping trip we took to Lake Almanor? If you blogged about it, then I wouldn't have to." Don't try to kid me Miss Angelee. You'd blog it all whether or not every single person in the country blogged it (by your own admission, blogging is your "crack").

So anyway, I told HER, "I just don't want to look pathetic. Look at poor pathetic Jo; she doesn't have her own family so she has to blog about other peoples." To which SHE promptly replied, "WE ARE YOUR FAMILY. IT WOULD BE OK TO BLOG ABOUT US! NO ONE WOULD THINK IT WAS PATHETIC" Whatever, Angelee... However you want to twist it.

And that's when the challenge came in. SHE said, "You should try to blog once per week." To which I replied, "I wish I would. I would like to. I love it so much." (Oh and get this: Not only does SHE want me to blog once per week, SHE also wants me to use pictures too... Next SHE'LL tell me she expects it to be interesting. How difficult can SHE make it? Once per week? And pictures? I have no pictures... (SHE has everything; I have nothing).

So here's a picture in which I look good (I'm on the left). Of course it was years and years ago... But that 's not the point.

Mar 8, 2009

The Famous Birthday Song

By special request here are the four verses of “The birthday Song” as performed by the Roses, Acebos, Petersens, Chambers, and in Room 1 at Bird Street School on each (and every) birthday.

This pagan rite usually takes place in the presence of some sort of specially prepared dessert-type confection usually cleansed by a ritual fire incorporating any number of lighted wax candles (but not in Room 1 – stinkin’ public education). Make no mistake – this happens on each and every formal birthday get-together, like it or not, come hell or high water, it is essential to the success of the year to come.

(I know simple math will tell you that there are really five verses counting the rousing chant at the end, but if we thought there were more than 4 and still insisted on singing it at each and every birthday, that would be truly crazy.)

Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday dear JoJo,
Happy Birthday to you.

May your wishes come true,
May your wishes come true,
Happy Birthday dear JoJo,
Happy Birthday to you.

For she’s a jolly good fellow,
For she’s a jolly good fellow,
For she’s a jolly good fellow,
That nobody can deny

That nobody can deny
That nobody can deny
For she’s a jolly good fellow,
For she’s a jolly good fellow,
For she’s a jolly good fellow,
That nobody can deny!

Three cheers for JoJo!
Hip Hip Horrayy!
Hip Hip Horrayy!
Hip Hip Horrayy!

And a sock to grow a block (with a sock in the arm of the birthday victim)
And a pinch to grow an inch (pinch the birthday victim)
And a Smile to grow a mile! (must say with a high pitched voice)

(Crazy, Huh? That's how we roll)

Mar 7, 2009

Just a short note

Each time I sit down to write a post... it seems they go on forever. Apparently the phrase "to sum it all up" has never been a part of my vocabulary. However, I just wanted to demonstrate that I do have the ability to write a short post. In conclusion... that's about it.

Mar 1, 2009

JoJo Has a Birthday...ugh...

Ok... Although I would like to ignore it, yesterday was my birthday. Need I say, I HATE BIRTHDAYS, (however I hate the alternative even more).

My family is funny about birthdays. (We are funny about a lot of things, but today we are talking birthdays). We have a thing where "we don't let the day go by" without acknowledging someone's birthday with more than just the obligatory "Happy Birthday" greeting. This came about because when the birthday falls mid-week it's easy to celebrate it on the weekend when we all have time. But we found we were losing track of the "real" day, so we (I am not sure if it was a combined effort of Angelee and Sam, but somebody) instituted the practice of doing something, however small and insignificant to acknowledge "the day" of birth. (editor's note: after this post my sister informed me that in fact she was the one to begin this revered tradition. Of course... Once you get a good idea, everyone wants to claim ownership. Ok, MaRee, it was you)

Although my birthday fell on a Saturday, my sister called me on Friday and had her whole class sing "Happy Birthday" to me over the phone (all four verses). It was great, and very sweet... Then my brother Pete called me and said, that since it was the day before he wanted to be the very first to wish me a happy birthday. I told him that MaRee beat him to it with the class... Gahhhh, he said... (not his exact words, we run a clean show here, but you get the idea)... In his unique way, he is always there for me when I need him. Even though he lives 700 miles away, when we talk it's like no time has passed or distance separates us. (but I digress...)

Like I said, this year my birthday fell on a Saturday... So we did the direct celebration, which we love (not having to drag it out into a week long celebration). The birthday person gets to choose whether they want to go out or eat at home... Duh, let me see, which do I want? This year we went to Sierra Nevada Brewery for dinner. Joshie crapped out on us and didn't show (and we missed him), but everyone else did: Sammy, Angelee, Charlee, Knick, "Huh-MaRee" and Darryl. We had a nice dinner. MaRee has decided that she doesn't like it there, but I think everyone else enjoyed the food; I certainly did (of course). Those of you who know me, know that I have not missed many meals. In fact, anyone who sees me can tell as well.... (sigh... fat wins.)

After dinner, we went to my house for excellent home-made "cocoa can" chocolate cake which my sister lovingly prepared, complete with singing (all 4 verses) and candles. Joshie decided to make an appearance at the house party; he probably just came to torment Meesha, who is always up for a little tormenting from him. They have a "love/tolerate" relationship. The "fam" even got me gifts (awww, gee, you shouldn't have) in the form of gift cards (mostly Itunes cards - which I usually spend immediately on audio books).

I have the best family. I honestly don't know what I'd do without these people. I know it's sort of self evident but family grows on you (in many varied and exciting ways). Literally. Grows. On. You. If you are lucky, that is. When I started out as a kid, our family was small and isolated (because of our crazy parents). Then my sister got married and had kids. I got married and although I didn't have kids, we had dogs. Then my sister's kids grew up, and some started having kids themselves, and things really started to get exciting.

See, since I don't have kids (we couldn't have them), I always thought we'd have sort of a solitary life (because of the solitary life example I was raised in). I have a wonderful husband who tries in every way to show me that he loves me, the most important of which is that he sticks with me, "for better or for worse (usually worse)" and usually tries to make me happy (an impossible undertaking). When people ask me what makes a good marriage, I immediately say, "find the right person."

So once we found we couldn't have kids, I thought we would be relegated to the obiligatory Christmas and Easter visits and then be forgotten the rest of the year. I kept waiting for it to happen. Sort of dreading when it would happen. Wondering when it would happen. Thinking at every get-together, "well, this is probably the last time we'll do this." Or, "enjoy it now, next year they won't think to ask us." Or the ever popular, "I will miss this...sigh..."

But (knock on wood...) it doesn't seem to be happening (so far... anyway). I still get to see and even interact with everyone. We still get invited... When Angelee had her baby, we got to be there and got to hold him on the very FIRST day - first hour even - of his little life.

Without lapsing into maudlin rememberences, let me just say that one of the most precious things in my life is that I was (and continue to be, it seems) included in Angelee's whole baby experience. That is something that I thought I would never ever be a part of, by virtue of never having kids, and it has been and continues to be an incredible life-altering experience.

Then, imagine my surprise when on Mother's day last year, Sammy gave me a very sweet card and inside was a very valuable gift which enabled me to buy an Ipod. It wasn't the gift, it was that he wanted to give me something and wanted to acknowledge me on that day. I have to say, it choked me up then and remembering it now, chokes me up still, whenever I think about it.

My sister, MaRee, has been nothing but generous with her liberal sharing of her kids with me. She never gives me the old, and ever popular "If you've never been a mother, you'll never truly understand." She subscribes to the belief that "it takes a village" with everyone's contribution, however miniscule, being a valuable addition to the whole. She helps me in so many ways and on so many levels that it would be impossible to enumerate them all, and would trivialize them to try. Simply put, she's one of the few people who truly understands the craziness that is uniquely JoJo and yet she loves me anyway, or appears to.

As if that weren't affirming enough, just recently, over the holidays, I went through a very scary health issue and there they all were, with me and for me, every step of the way, each in their own inimitable (and sweet) style. They walked through the scary time right along with me, laughing, joking, just being in the moment with me. I will not forget their support and their love (until and unless I forget everything...perish the thought), and I will always appreciate it and appreciate them. Thanks seems trivial, but until better words emerge, it's all I have. (I love you guys...)

Jan 20, 2009

Bad News

You know what I hate? (those of you who know me are saying, “Yes, Jo, we know, but tell us anyway”). Well, I WILL tell you anyway, because recent events have brought it to the forefront once again.

I hate news people who are only too happy to gleefully report some gruesome and/or tragic story, over and over, reshuffling and regurgitating it, to the exclusion of all else till every last detail is finally wrung out and they can eagerly wait for the next tragedy. And if it doesn’t look bad enough at the beginning, they happily tell us to stay tuned, it could always get worse.

They warn, “We don’t have a final body count yet, but we’ll let you know when we do” or “We don’t know the extent of the injuries yet” or “We don’t have a damage estimate yet but tune in at 11:00 for a follow-up.”

Ok, I know that good news is boring. Isn’t that the origin of the favorite old saw, “no news is good news”? No one cares who lived, who didn’t get hit by a bus and which kids made it to school safely. It’s all about who died or disappeared, who was maimed and how it happened, in gruesome detail hopefully all caught on tape for the 6:00 news…

So when we had a critical situation last week, as usual the news people eagerly leaped to the story, reporting that a plane crashed on the Hudson River and God-knows-how-many people are probably dead. But much to the chagrin of the zealous media, the plane was handled so expertly that tragedy was averted; in fact not one life was lost; not one building burned to the ground; and the pilot was the last to leave the downed plane after the efficient and orderly rescue efforts to evacuate the passengers by both public and private servants. (“Aw, geez,” they seem to say, “I hate when that happens…”)

It’s so fun (for me at least) to see news people compelled by the facts (against their will and their training, I am sure) constrained to report good stuff. I laugh right out loud when they are forced by circumstances beyond their control to recognize the heroes, to praise the Good Samaritans, and report on the orderly procession of survivors to safety. They twist their faces into a gritty (and almost apologetic) smile as they reluctantly acknowledge the ever present public servants: police, fire and medical workers who, professionally and efficiently go about doing their jobs to get people, infrastructure and processes back to the business of everyday living. I know it must just gall them when nothing bad resulted… no one died, and the public could all bear witness to seeing the best in people (darn it).

In fact, even when the story is really, really bad (like 9-11), when the news people are reveling in their element; when there are plenty of casualties to report and plenty of gory and lurid details to recount over and over (when there is no fresh news) there are still the seemingly grudging reports from the media of the ever-present actions of millions of everyday people responding with generosity, compassion and understanding both on the scene helping with their hands, and from far away, helping with their wallets.

Fortunately, (or unfortunately) bad stuff brings out the best in us. We can’t help it. It’s hard wired in our bones; and it’s how we have made it as far as we have. Let’s face it, the only people living in this world today, are the progeny of generations upon generations of people who helped each other survive again and again. The ones who struck out on their own with nary a thought for the "family of man", usually got gobbled up by the saber tooth tigers, stomped on by wooly mammoths or fell off cliffs in the dark (with no one to pull them back) never to be seen again, (and whose passing was only noted by, probably even then, the ever cheery predecessors of today’s news media in gruesome and graphic detail).

We see it at every critical event. Once that first guy drags himself out of the ashes, smoke and muck, and gets a firm foothold, he looks around and then reaches back to grab the hand of that next struggling guy and pulls him to safety. The two of them then begin working to clear the way for the next few souls who come stumbling and gasping along, holding each other up. Inevitably, passers-by stop, first to gawk and then to help, and before you know it, the kids are back in school, streets are cleared of debris and we are driving home from work wondering what to fix for dinner and what happened today in the news (“Probably all bad”, we say. Whoever said "We are never at our best till things are at their worst" had it right on the money. (It probably wasn't a news guy...)

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