Friday, October 30, 2009

a true halloween story by chip

October 27th 2008 at 7pm, I had just finished up working with a client in Forks, WA and started on my way down to Ocean Shores for the night. It was obviously dark out, and too many deer were crossing the roads. Being too tired to continue driving down to Ocean Shores, I decide to shack up at the Lake Quinault Lodge. I mean Teddy Roosevelt stayed there, so it’s kind of an honor thing that I stay there too. It’s a famous lodge that nobody really knows about... unless you are there.

I call my wife to let her know what’s going on and she says, “No way! It was on the news the other day that the Lake Quinault Lodge is haunted.” I laugh it off, because what is the likelihood that this would be the same hotel some TV network decided to shoot.

I arrive at approx 9pm. It’s dark, it’s cold, and a thick wet mist has soaked everything…. I walk in and see cob webs in every nook and cranny. The place smelled like the original rustic wood paneling. The silence from no civilization within 110 miles was deafening. I thought WOW they go all out for Halloween,… until I saw the spiders,… and they were real,… it all was real. And because I have about 2 hours of reports to complete, the receptionist put me in room #211. It is where the wifi is the strongest, as well as it is the very same room President Roosevelt stayed in! I’m no TR fanatic, but now the honor is all mine,… at no extra charge! $$

I get to my room and promptly start my reports. There is no TV, the wifi is spotty, and my phone has less than 1 bar. About every 30 minutes I hear someone working on the gutters outside for about 5 minutes. Didn’t think much of it, except that I thought it sucked for them to have to work outside at night. Some time around 11pm I start hearing my next door neighbors who are making short work of their bed. About every 20 minutes they would go at it, but it was peculiarly slow and semi inconsistent. (Sorry I stay in enough hotels these days that I tend to hear couples a lot.) For as thin as the walls were, there was no passion, and in fact they were the most silent people… they were bouncing the bed too slow and dangerously too hard, and they would do it for about 5 minutes at a time. This went on all night, every 20 minutes. Finally around 1am, some heavy breathing came on, but it was passionless. It was heavy, like a bad dream snore, and it sounded close enough for it to be coming from the wall in my room. I finally fell asleep around 2am.

4:00am I get woken up by some major bed spring popping from my neighbors, as they continue their weird escapades….. At this point I do not fall asleep again.

6:00am I am packed and ready to go, so I go get breakfast. Amazing blueberry pancakes! And at 7am I went to check out. The receptionist asks if I had an OK night. I say yeah, cuz I never make a big deal out of a bad night. Then I say, “These walls are pretty thin huh?”He says, “Not really, why do you ask?” I say, “Oh I could hear the neighbors all night long.” He looks at his computer and says “That’s strange, you were the only patron in the whole lodge last night.”

I stop in at the internet cafĂ© out on Highway 101. I talk business with the owners for the next 20 minutes. They say yes, so as I’m filling out the paperwork, I ask them about the Lake Quinault Lodge.

They say, “Hey Ghost Hunters were just there last month.” I ask why. They give me the run down.

I ask, “Do you believe them?”

They look at one lady and point at her saying, “She worked there for 25 years.” So I ask her if she ever experienced anything weird.

She says, “In the 25 years that I was there, the staff had to leave the premises four times because things got a little too weird, like things were moving for no reason. One night I checked a guy in who came back downstairs in 5 minutes saying he couldn’t stay with us. When I asked him why not, he simply said there was a guy in his room standing inside the bed.”

I ask, “He said the guy was inside the bed?”

She said, “He said he couldn’t see the legs of the guy because he was standing in the middle of the bed as if his feet were touching the floor, but he apologized to the entity for the intrusion, but the entity never acknowledged him. The entity just kept staring motionless at the mirror across the room.”

She relayed a few more stories.

When I asked her where the disturbances were, she said they always came from one room, and one room only… room #211…

Thanks Mr. Receptionist for shacking me up in the one freakin room out of all the other vacant rooms. That mirror was my only friend that night… and I haven’t been back.

Happy Halloween,

the things you guys want to hear about

I am a very cooperative sort. When people ask me if I'm having a good day, I like to answer the question, and I do so as honestly as possible. Which can lead to a lengthy answer (I'm sorry if you've ever asked this question and I've proceeded to then TELL YOU exactly how I'm feeling about my day).

You guys have asked some stuff of me recently, and I'm taking this opportunity to offer my best answers.

Without further delay...
Here it is...
More than you ever wanted to know about the nuts and bolts of Whimsy's Life, Updated...

(Also: dude, I had plans for a really great true spooky story that happened to Chip but I don't have the energy to write it. You'll just have to wait until next year.)

Let's commence.

. . .There's Still a Sliver in My Hand

I haven't picked at it. And it's not infected. No redness except for that little bump and it hurts only if I press on it really hard. But I think my lack of action has caused serious concern on some of your parts. Before you guys show up at my doorstep and demand that I cut off my hand, I am promising right now that I'm going to dig around in there (EWWW!) today. I promise. Before the end of the day I will have a nice gaping open wound and I'll throw a whole mess of Hydrogen Peroxide on it. I do this for the love of my Minions. FOR MAH MINIONS, I tell you.

. . .We Had Our Cake and We Ate it Too

Cake was a hot topic yesterday, with you guys wanting to know what flavor I made for Chip's birthday. The winning combination was butter yellow cupcakes with vanilla custard filling and milk chocolate frosting. I tied them with brown ribbon and sprinkled white sugar crystals on top. They were yummy. But I hated the frosting tip I used to pipe the frosting and now I'm lusting after a better frosting tip. Like, if I stopped writing right now and just stared into space to daydream, my mind would wander wander wander only to worry helplessly over a Better Frosting Tip. Because I AM CRAZY PERSON.

. . .You Didn't Ask, But You Need to Know

Dudes. I wanted to DIE last night from all the crazy work I did putting Chip's birthday dinner together. The guy requested a TURKEY DINNER. Like, imagine Thanksgiving but on October 29 and with only four hours to do the whole thing including caring for a 19-month-old toddler. I ate exactly one piece of turkey and then I was DONE. A 2-inch piece. Because once you've spent that much time around the turkey, you just don't want to eat it. You're happy to have it OUT OF YOUR OVEN and filling other peoples' bellies. Which, don't get me wrong, Chip is totally worth Death-By-Turkey-Dinner, but I was still really tired.

I am still really tired, and it's several hours later.

. . .Because Yes, I Am Again Writing This Blog Entry the Night Before and Passing It Off As Something I Happened to Write at the Unearthly Hour of 5am.

That sort of said it all, right there.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

this guy

It's his birthday today.

There are stories I could tell you about him. Stories about his kindness. Stories about his generosity. Stories about his sense of humor (strange... and AWESOME). Stories about his humanity. Stories about his strength. Stories about his sense of justice. Stories about his integrity. Stories about his smarts.

Lots and lots of stories.

But you'll have to forgive me, today I want to keep them all for myself. Because I'm so happy that he's mine, this wonderful, amazing guy.

And I'm so happy that he was born.

Happy birthday, love.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

the beginnings of a creepy story

It started with mushrooms. Or, to be more accurate, a single mushroom. Amy had decided to enjoy the brief break in the rain to take a walk with her nearly-two-year-old daughter Brooke. Normally when they took their walks they followed a small circle through a nearby housing development. It was simple and safe and full of the noise of fellow suburbanites. This afternoon, however, with the chill of October setting into her bones, Amy decided to take a chance and turn down the small dark street before her usual route. Tree limbs stretched over the road until their branches met high above her head. Amy walked deeper into the gloomy shade, listening to the steady drip of leftover rain falling from huge leaves and onto the asphalt.

Amy stopped a minute to peer over the edge of Brooke's stroller. "We're taking a different walk today, Brooke. Isn't that exciting?"

Brooke didn't seem very excited about the detour. She mashed her lips together and pointed back to the entrance to the street, hopeful that Amy would turn back.

Instead, she kept going, pulled forward into the eerie quiet. She could hear the stroller wheels squeak and whine, mingling with the soft pat of her shoes on the mossy sidewalk. In the seconds that passed, as the street grew darker and darker, Amy began to think that Brooke had the right idea all along.

"Stupid adventuring! We should have gone our usual way, right honey?" she said, hoping the sound of her voice would help to cut through the creeping tingle. The houses on the street were very different than those in the surrounding neighborhoods. Wary. Apprehensive. Distinctly unfriendly. Moss grew on most of the rooftops, white siding dirty and muddy gray. No one in sight.

Amy quickened her pace, heading for the bend in the road, knowing it would lead her back to a busy intersection.

Squeak, squeak, squeak. The stroller wheels seemed awfully loud. As did her foot steps: thunk, thunk, thunk.

As Amy passed what seemed to be an open space between two of the shabby houses, a small bit of movement caught her eye, just in time for her foot to catch on a broken piece of the sidewalk and send her sprawling flat.

"Oh! That was... stupid." she grumbled, pushing herself onto her knees. She stood and rubbed her hands on her jeans, wiping off the bits of moldy leaves and dirt.

"Are you alright, my dear?" an ancient voice croaked. Amy looked up into the face of a very old woman. She wore deep black galoshes on her feet and held a pair of very sharp pruning sheers. When she smiled, she showed a mouthful of misshapen teeth, brown with decay.

"I'm fine, ma'am, thank you." Amy answered, stepping forward and stumbling again.

The woman placed a surprisingly firm hand on Amy's arm, "Looks like you're a little unsteady, young lady."

"Looks like it, doesn't it?" Amy laughed, trying to shake the woman's grip on her arm.

The woman held firm and said, "I have something for you." She dipped behind a spongy wooden fence and plucked something from a basket. "This is for your family. Take it home and eat it. It will give you good luck." She was holding a fat white mushroom the size her her hand.

"Oh thank you, but no. I couldn't take that from you..." Amy stammered. She certainly wasn't about to go taking mushrooms from strangers.

"But you can! I have plenty! I grow them in my garden, you see." smiled the woman, her brown teeth gaping. Amy peered around the fence. What she had thought was a break in between the houses was actually a small garden, surrounded by a mossy fence. The garden was a beautiful tangle of flowers and herbs. The sweet aroma of lavender mixed with a deeper, earthier smell.

"You have a beautiful garden, ma'am, but we really should be getting home." Amy smiled down at Brooke, who was patiently kicking her feet at the stroller footrest.

"Take this mushroom. It is delicious. You won't regret it, nor will your beautiful little daughter!" the woman pushed the mushroom into Amy's hand as she looked, nodding, at Brooke.

Amy found herself nodding back, and accepting the mushroom. Wondering what could possible possess her to take strange food from an even stranger woman. "Well thank you, ma'am. Very much."

"Of course! Of course! I'm sure I'll be seeing you and your little girl very soon. Enjoy the mushroom! Put it in a soup--- it will be delicious, I promise." She waved a bony finger at Amy as she pushed past.

And Amy was gone. Walking quickly down the rest of the street, holding a strange mushroom and promising herself that she would throw the nasty thing away at her earliest opportunity. But when she got home, she found herself still holding the mushroom. As Brooke played with a stack of bowls in the kitchen, Amy quickly put herself to work making a soup.

"It's not like I'm going to use the mushroom. Soup just sounds good." she reasoned with herself, knowing that her husband would be home from his business trip soon. She decided that treating him to a bowl of homemade soup would be just the thing.

She threw in several ingredients, each one sounding more delicious than the last--- the smell of the soup starting to rise from the pot. But something was missing... Amy looked in the refrigerator, hoping to find the right ingredient, but walked back to the soup pot empty handed.

Or not. Quite suddenly Amy had the mushroom in her hand, and saw herself washing it and cutting the firm white flesh into thick slices. It seemed to look okay. Like one of the mushrooms she'd normally buy at the grocery store, except bigger. And better. It seemed better. The best mushroom she'd ever seen, in fact.

And the smell! When she added the slices to the pot of soup an aroma seemed to erupt from the pot: every good autumn memory and childhood and being wrapped in the warmest quilt while eating the most wholesome and buttery soup she'd ever eaten - all from the smell. Maybe it wouldn't hurt anything. No, it wouldn't hurt anything, reasoned Amy.

And it didn't hurt anything. It was, in fact, the best soup she'd ever eaten in her life when she took a small spoonful to test it several minutes later. So good that she realized her "small spoonfuls" had become "entire cupfuls" as she took bite after bite of the soup. So good that she ate the entire pot of soup herself. Before her husband had even come home!

They ordered pizza and Amy didn't mention the soup. Or the mushroom.

The next day, she found herself making excuses to go on a walk with Brooke, even though the rain was coming down in drenching sheets. She dressed Brooke in her lavender raincoat and placed her in the stroller. "We'll just be gone a few minutes, baby. I promise!"

Amy approached the darkened street with a quick pace, her heart thumping in her chest. "I'll just ask for another mushroom. Just one. She seemed so excited yesterday, I'm sure she'd give us another mushroom!" The street was even darker than the previous day, the rain tumbling down from the overhanging trees and pulling Amy's hair into her eyes.

When she came upon the old lady's garden, the gate was closed. Amy pushed at the gate, watching it swing inward with a loud CREAK. She had a hard time pushing Brooke's stroller over the brambled pathway, roots and twigs sticking in the wheels. As she approached the dirty porch, the old woman came out of the front door, pulling a ratty shawl around her bony shoulders. "I didn't expect you back quite so soon, young lady." the old woman laughed.

"Well.... I just have to have another one of those mushrooms! It was delicious! Please let me have another one!" Amy gasped. She suddenly felt immensely desperate, almost thirsty for the taste of the delicious mushroom.

"I'll give you another. But if you come back for a third you must know there will be a price. My mushrooms are very precious to me and I don't give them away for nothing." The woman's gaunt face was pulled long by her bleak expression. She stared intently at Brooke's sneakers peeking out from the stroller.

Amy stuttered but held out her hand, "Oh - yes! No problem! Just one more, I'm sure. I'm sure it will be enough."

She took the mushroom and rushed home, pulled the gate quickly closed behind her.

But despite her best efforts to let the soup keep in the refrigerator, to have it last for a few days at least, she gobbled up the entire pot that afternoon.

As full darkness fell that evening, Amy went back for another mushroom.

.... to be continued! By someone else!

If you want to continue this story, post a comment and please include your email address so that I can contact you. I'll pick someone by 2pm PST today - so it's a quick turn around. The winner should first post a link back here for the beginning of the story, and then continue it (on Thursday)--- also ending their story with a cliffhanger and following a similar set-up (commenters, picking someone to finish the story on Friday, etc.). I'll also be linking to parts 2 and 3 here on Thursday and Friday so everyone can follow along.

If this thing is an utter and total bomb then we just won't talk about it tomorrow. AT ALL.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

the beginnings of a scary story

It started when we came home from our trip to Eastern Washington last month. While I was unpacking things in the kitchen, Chip was making the rounds outside of the house to check the garbage can and barbeque grill and other manly outdoorsy duties. After some time, he walked into the kitchen and sighed, "There are mushrooms in the backyard."

"A lot of mushrooms?" I asked.

He nodded, "Yes. A lot of mushrooms. And I don't know what we're going to do about them."

I suggested that we just pick them, one by one. Which is exactly what we did. They seemed to disintigrate as I pulled them from the lawn: clammy white things with dark brown tops, bits of them sticking to my fingers and the backs of my hands. One mushroom, two mushrooms, three mushrooms, four, five, counting higher and higher as I tried to rid the yard. After a long session of mushroom irradication I went inside, happy to know the job was done.

But just a few weeks later, they were back: bigger and more plentiful--- spreading in a wide arc through the backyard. Skinny white stalks with ragged tops in dark brownish black and bright orange tiny round buttons and mishapen tan nasty things the size of my fist. Again I bent low to the grass, pulling them into my hands and dropping them singly into the bucket I carried. I tried to grab each one low at the base, as close to the grass as I could reach--- hoping that I could avoid repeating the chore.

And that's when I came up with an idea.

Two ideas, actually.

Idea #1: Ask The Great and Powerful Facebook how one might go about ridding her lawn of Mushroom Infestation 2009. Results: not so great. My commenters were... less than helpful, though funny (I seriously did love the comments... I did). Ranging from suggestions of less rain (yeah, I'll try that) to DON'T EAT THEM - THEY ARE POISONOUS (which, yes, thank you). In the end, I checked the internet. Suggestions there were also a bit varied, but I'm going to try baking soda sprinkled on the areas and then soaked in with water (which the constant rain will certainly help).

which brings us to

Idea #2: (totally unrelated, and you'll see why) LET'S WRITE A HALLOWEEN STORY! I'm going to post the beginning of the story here tomorrow. It starts with (naturally) MUSHROOMS. But I'll not finish the whole story here. I'll leave it with a cliffhanger and then pick a random commenter to pick up the story on Thursday - who will also leave it with a cliffhanger and do the same thing: pick a random commenter to finish the story on Friday. Like when you used to sit around at a sleepover or around a campfire and you'd start a story, but then the person sitting next to you would pick it up after a few sentences and the story would continue around the circle until it ended. Fun, yes? (or no - but I'm not sure if I care that you don't think it will be fun... IT WILL BE FUN BECAUSE I SAY SO).

Now go pick those mushrooms. Or tell me how to get rid of mine.

Monday, October 26, 2009


It is simply not possible
to make fun of The Sick. You can write about it, sure, but don't expect to entertain, enlighten, or cajole. Because it's not possible to have fun with The Sick. You can try to tell an interesting story surrounding The Sick, but ultimately it becomes lost in the tertiary things related to The Sick. In other words, you can't see meaning beyond the mucus.

This is what you do:
You hunker down. You assume crash positions. You cover your head and other vital organs and hold bottles of Ibuprofen and boxes of Kleenex close to your chest. You make several trips to the hateful schmalmart to buy eucalyptus stuff to add to the humidifier. And Baby Vaporub. And juice. You drive home only to pull out of the garage again when you realize you forgot the Kleenex. You hold her as she cries. You sit on the sofa and wipe her nose as she drifts past. You try to get her to eat. You pull out the hateful blue bogey nose sucker and weigh the benefits of a screaming but momentarily snot-free toddler versus a snot-filled but momentarily tear-free toddler. You hate the night time. You know it is going to be painful for everyone: her, your husband, you. She wakes every hour through the darkness, allowing you to soothe her back into restless fever dreams. Four a.m. seems like a blessing and a curse when she is awake and wanting to start her day. Anything better than trying to sleep as though she's under water. You and your husband sit comatose on her bedroom floor, hoping that this is the worst day.

And so it goes.

You can't make The Sick funny. You can't make it interesting. It is painful. It is horrible. It is tedious.

It appears to be behind us. Almost.

Both Bean and G-Man were down with it last week and through the weekend (his mom and I compared notes and that was Heaven-sent because DUDE at least I could desperately demand TELL ME THAT THIS WILL GET BETTER).

In some sick part of my mind, I have now dubbed this Winter Cold Number 1. I don't even want to think how many we're going to suffer through.

In other news, you guys are a WEALTH of medical knowledge, All Things Sliver Related. I, um, ...still haven't done anything about it. BUT WAIT. Before you get all RED ALERT RED ALERT BLOOD POISONING YOUR HAND IS GOING TO FALL OFF--- it seems fine. Still ouchy, but fine. There's a little bit of a red bump under the skin but nothing else. On the day when I should have been dealing with it, The Sick came knocking at our door. I probably still need to dig around in there... but let's not talk about it right now.

Let's talk about HAPPY THINGS. FUN THINGS. DISTRACTING THINGS. Alice dressed in her flower costume on Saturday, but refused to wear the hat I made. So. I will need to figure out a work-around for Halloween itself. I'm thinking of a flower-petal skirt get-up.

Back to the sewing, duders. What about you? Fun weekend news? Humorous story about The Sick (please prove me wrong, that The Sick can be funny). Go!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

work its way out

Two weeks ago I was reaching underneath the bed in the studio to grab an errant spool of ribbon. Running my hand quickly under the bed, I wound up impaling myself with a sliver (it felt like I had shoved a serrated chopstick deep inside my hand). I staggered over to Chip, moaning and generally making myself look like a fool. Especially when Chip pulled out a teeny tiny itty bitty minute bit-- something that can't even be called a sliver. It was a sli.

Afterward, my hand still hurt. I wondered if there was still something in there. Like up inside, deep. There was a little lump where the sli had been. I figured that the tissues had been, uh, moved around. Or something.

Being the Neosporin junkie that I am, I doused my sucking hand wound liberally and then slapped on a bandaid.

Fast forward to Sunday. The Neosporin did a fine job of healing the outside: the skin fresh and pink. But underneath it, the little lump had become more prominent and there was a little nasty pocket of goo. All week I'd been thinking that maybe we didn't get the sliver completely out, or there was something bigger in there. It seemed like I was right. I asked Chip to operate.

He sort of found something. But it was small. Even smaller than the first sli. This one was a sl.

Again I did my routine: cleaned the sucking hand wound, applied Neosporin, added bandaid.

I'm afriad that it's still not right. The outside is healing up nice and pretty, but I can feel my pulse inside the owie. And it's still all lumpy with the white goo underneath the skin. It's not good.

The point of this TMI? I need to know what to do. Chip refuses to dig into my hand (I don't blame him, he's not one who can easily stomach blood). All my Neosporin applications are working against me, so it's like it's healed on the outside but not on the inside. I'm not sure if I'm very capable of cutting into my own hand.

What would you guys do? Do I wait for it to get even more infected? Hope that the thing that's buried in there will eventually work its way out? Go to the doctor and feel totally ridiculous as I point to a SLIVER and tell the doctor that it hurts? Have my hand gnawed off by a wolverine (or a teething toddler)?

Please advise.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

you be the judge

Paranoid or just observant:

Sometimes I think they're plotting against me.

(which would be so much funnier if I hadn't already shared this exact thought with several of the mothers at our playgroup on Thursday... when I brought BOTH children... and nearly survived... except for that last part where Child the Second was having a mini meltdown during The Placing of Himself in the Carseat whilst Child the First frolicked winsomely --i.e. rolled around on her belly and face-- in the knee-deep sopping wet grass of a neighbor's lawn)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

wherein whimsy gets a little excited about something she made

Posted by Picasa
...and does everything except TELL you what Bean is going to be for Halloween.
(now just picture that lamp as Bean's head)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

my answer for today

Today I'm inspired...

By light in many forms. The light I see coming through my bedroom window in the early afternoon when both of the kids are asleep, the light in the late afternoon when the three of us go outside to chase each other on the grass, the light shed by my favorite bedroom lamp when I'm writing, the light cast by all of you as you unselfishly share your stories, your thoughts, your insights, your wisdom, and your humor. These bits of light remind me that nothing can compare to light's ability to show us the truth. Whether it is in the truth of a computer screen, the truth of a good story, the truth of Phoebe's fur glinting in the afternoon sun, the truth of Alice's sweet face as she's telling me about her naptime dreams.

By wonder. If it's something that instills that filmy ethereal wisp of a feeling that makes me want to create. A beautiful image, a lovingly crafted piece of clothing, something made, something painted, something done by hands that know.

By the smell of good food cooking in my kitchen. It makes me want to be more self-sufficient, to feed my family real food made with ingredients we can pronounce. It makes me feel like I'm not just baking bread and cookies and cooking dinner. I'm building our home with each baked good, I'm crafting the walls with this food.

By wonderful writing. It makes me want to be a better writer myself. It makes me think about ideas and want to share them with others. It encourages me to take the time to do it right. To write it right. To edit and craft and hone.

By the right room. I spend so much time here at our house, and I love how each room has an intended purpose - and though things can get dissheveled and messy sometimes, I love how a room's purpose shines through. I love my studio space and the things I get to do there. I love the golden glow of our bedroom. I love Bean's colorful little room and how it smells like flowers and maple syrup and baby lotion. Each of these spaces encourages me to treat them right, to beautify them and keep them clean and help these walls to feel loved.

By my friends. Oh how they inspire me in every way, just being themselves.

By good people doing good things. They remind me that I can do more and be more.

By Chip. He is beautiful and amazing, and when he has the choice to do the easy thing or the right thing, he almost always chooses the right thing. He is patient and kind and everyday strives to be a better man. His example encourages me to do the same.

By Alice. If I'm frustrated or angry or irritated, one look at her - one hand tapping my arm - one breath of her hair and I am inspired to be a better mother.

By my relationship with God. I don't talk about it much here, but it is a major part of who I am and how I view the world. My relationship with my Father in Heaven is very personal and private, but it encourages me to push beyond my own boundaries, to exceed my limits in the very best ways.

I tend to view these sparks for inspiration as things that pull me toward them, like magnets--- but in just the same way, a good source of inspiration gives you something solid to stand on, something that allows you to reach as high and as far as you can. When I'm in a What Inspires Me Right Now questioning kind of mood, I want to know that the answers I find will help me to be the more that I want to be. More helpful, more complete, more artistic, more fun, more intelligent, more joyful, more satisfied.... more Whimsy-- I hope to be more of a Whimsy than I was yesterday.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


The room was silent when I asked the question. No one had said anything for a minute or two - the quiet was reaching into my ears and making me squirm, making me feel like SOMEONE NEEDS TO SAY SOMETHING, RIGHT NOW. So I asked a question. An uncomfortable and personal question, but a question that I was curious about nonetheless.

"What inspires you?"

He'd told us that he was open for questions, that he was ready to talk to us. So I asked. I wanted to know. I really did.

It didn't matter to me that he was the CEO of a very large retail clothing company. Well, it did matter to me - but not in the way you think. It mattered because I really did want to know what inspires a person like that, what drives someone with that much vision, with that much influence, with that much power. I wanted to know something about this man whose decisions could make or break thousands of employees' futures. I wanted to see if I could learn something from this man.

My boss stood across the room and caught my eye briefly in the moment of silence after I'd asked. I think he wanted to die. Right there, he wanted to die. Because it seemed like I was being cheeky, when in fact, I was being totally sincere.

I stared at the CEO as he took in my question. I will never forget how he stopped and just ... blinked.

"What inspires you?"

He asked me then who I was. I'd actually met him a few times already, but I don't usually count on people to remember, so I told him. I knew his assistant, in that assistant-to-assistant underground network way.

"What inspires you?"

It was the first time I'd ever asked that question. But it wasn't the last. I've asked other people, people I admire, people I am curious about, people who have something to teach me. I've asked people to see if they'll give me a real answer or to see if they'll make something up (I can usually tell). I've asked the same person over and over to see how their answer will change. (It does... and then it doesn't... it's strange that way.)

It's a question I ask myself from time to time because I think it keeps me honest. If I can't answer, then I know I've temporarily misplaced my muse and I need to find it again.

"What inspires you?"

It took place ten years ago, but I remember the room - a gray blue conference room with nubby fabric on the walls. I remember the windows on the left side, how the afternoon sun was streaming through the blinds casting long yellow rectangles on the carpet. I remember that the CEO was standing out in front of the podium. I remember him looking out just over the tops of our heads for a moment, his hand cupping his chin. I remember him pursing his lips and taking a deep breath before he answered.

I do not remember his answer.

I remember everything about the moment, but nothing about what the man had to say. I'm not exactly sure what that means. I suppose he didn't have anything to say that inspired me. But I'm glad I asked. It reminds me that there's nothing wrong with surprising someone, with saying exactly what you mean. There is something so wonderfully simple about asking a question that makes someone think. A question that can make you think. A question that gives you a chance to learn something bone deep about a person. And like I said, I ask myself when I'm feeling particularly UNinspired, because the answer will help me to get back on track. Every time.

So I'm asking the question today, of myself, and of you. Tell me: What inspires you?

Monday, October 12, 2009

take a mental picture --- it'll last longer

I didn't get a chance to watch Thursday's episode of The Office until Friday night. By then it was me and Chip eating popcorn on the sofa in the living room, gladly forwarding through the commercials and laughing at all the good parts (DUDE! ANDY'S INJURY! KEVIN'S KLEENEX-BOX SHOES!) and even getting a little teary. We also had popcorn last night while we watched The Amazing Race (SO SAD). I did my best to enjoy the last few (awake) moments with Chip. He left for a week-long business trip to Arizona in the early wee hours this morning.

I am not a fan of his being gone.

Though he works so hard for our family. He does everything he can for our family.

I am feeling a little sorry for myself today. I might have to go watch The Office again.

But not before I proudly admit that I actually WANT to see this movie.

I told Chip that I would announce my intention it to the WORLD.

Or, at least the readers of my blog.

It's not that I am expecting some kind of work of cinematic genius.

I just think it will be fun to watch. A rest for the mind. A break.

Like a mental game of Go Fish.

Or something.

I don't even care that it stars John Cusack in what could possibly be the World's Most Badly Cast Role. Ever. (The dude just doesn't belong in an action-y save-your-family-from-the-end-of-the-world movie.)

I still want to see it.

Now. How was your weekend?

Friday, October 9, 2009

salt and pepper

Every once in a while I'm due for a heart-lightening surprise. A couple of months ago it was the comment left by designer Nancy Wolff on the post I'd written about her fabric. Yesterday it was the comment by My First Jenny as she will be henceforth called by me. Forever. I told her I would like to wrap her up and put her in my curio cabinet so that I can walk by her all the livelong day and wave sweetly - HELLO MY FIRST JENNY! Of course, such a course of action is both terribly inconvenient (the cabinet isn't so much sized to fit an actual human person) and also impossible, seeing as how she's way over there in the middle (Oklahoma). Also her family might object since they probably like having her around. (Though seriously: I think she'd enjoy my curio cabinet. It's filled with tiny antique salt and pepper shakers. And that's a story that I think I've told before so I'm not going to go into the why. Only the joy of having such strange objects around my house fills me with an unspeakable pleasure. A thrill, you could say. And I think you should.)

salt and pepper shakers beyond your wildest dreams - perhaps we need to have a Salt and Pepper Shaker of the week?

(As of this writing I have just consumed 2.5 oatmeal cookies and I'm feeling very sassy. And sugary. Can you tell?)

The curio cabinet. I love it, even in its perpetually undone state of RAW WOOD. I need to paint it. I want to paint it. Chip says I have an addiction to painting things. He's probably right. I was going to paint it RED but was diverted from that choice by my dear husband. He didn't want red. I'm thinking I might have to go with a really dark stain. Which would look nice, but I'm afraid it would make my living room look dark. Darker than it already is. I have an issue with the lack of light in my living room.

(I think I could be deleting this entire post any time now. It's that full of nonsense. Though maybe I shouldn't delete it and instead use it to tell My First Jenny and a few other bloggers that I love them and would gladly leave comments on their blogs, but there is a particular Blogger comment format that HATES me (the embedded comment form - it's the default comment set up on Blogger and I RUE THE DAY they did that). For some unknown and EVIL reason, the embedded comment form won't ever let me comment. I write NOVELS of comments on these things in the hope that this once, just this time, it will work. But when I hit Publish it goes POOF and is gone. I try. I have tried. In several different ways and it never works. I think it's just me because I've never heard anyone else talk about it. I feel a little like Blogger doesn't want me to show the love. That's just mean. And this paragrah is one long parenthetical and so I should treat it as such. ...adding parenthesis! And italics! Now!)

Perhaps I should ask my new best friend My First Jenny about the cabinet. What do you think? Dark brown stain? Black? Continue in the current raw wood state for another few years?

The doors of the thing are covered in Toddler Spit. And Toddler Spit is actually what this post is about (five paragraphs in, I'm good). Toddler Spit runs in one long connected line around my house. Like a ring around the bathtub. Except with spit. On the walls, furniture, windows. I don't notice it anymore, except when I take a step back and really look. A grimy motif of smudges, finger prints, lip marks and goodness knows what else--- decorating my abode for the first 14 inches.

It's one of those changes that I never anticipated about having a kid. Though I should have anticipated it: the subtle shift in priorities that seeps down into the most basic levels of your life, like how many finger prints and face marks you'll tolerate on your furniture. The answer for Whimsy: quite a lot, actually.

There are still a lot of things that I don't tolerate, things somewhat out of the norm, but honestly I can't remember a single one of them right now. I'm just happy about the ring around my living room. I wear it like a badge of honor.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

thursday confessions

I am completely intimidated by people named Jennifer. Jen's even more so. I have yet to meet a Jennifer or Jen that didn't send me spiraling into a whirlwind of doubt because they are so much more fabulous than I. This is not to say anything negative about the Jennifer's or Jen's, because odds are they are usually wonderful people who live totally unaware of my complete intimidation. So. Jennifer's and Jen's: you are amazing. I am not worthy.

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I have never met someone named Jenny. Though, again, I've come across a sizable group of Jen's and Jennifer's.

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As I'm writing this, Phoebe is lazing perfectly inside an Ikea metal storage bin. Which is sitting on top of a filing tray. Which is here on the kitchen table. (Don't tell Chip.) (Oops. I guess I just told Chip.)

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Some time has passed. I'm now sitting on the our bed. Fergus is giving me the Stink Eye from down at my feet. I think he is expecting attention. This point should not be considered a confession. Because it's not. In any way.

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Yesterday I brought the kids outside to play in our yard. We were having fun playing Let's Have the Toddlers Take Turns Fetching the Big Red Ball, wherein I sit on my fanny and throw the Big Red Ball as far as I can into the backyard and then spend several minutes encouraging either Bean or G-Man to retrieve the ball. This is not the confession, because I'm really not ashamed of this ingenious use of Toddler Energy (which is, clearly, AN UNTAPPED RESOURCE). The confession: I became very afraid of two bees that were behaving as if either the toddlers or I would make a nice pin cushion. They just kept following us around and then doing their little bee-hover over our arms and legs. It played like this:
Bees: hover hover hover
Whimsy: throws bag containing several toys and sippies over to the far left for relocation purposes
Bees: hover hover hover
Whimsy: grabs children under her arms and heads to other end of yard
Bees: ???
Whimsy: breathes sigh of relief, throws Big Red Ball
Bees: Oh! hover, hover, hover

We repeated this madness three times and then I decided I'd had enough and brought everyone (except the bees) back inside. The confession: I was scared out of my own yard by two honey bees.

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I encouraged M in a text conversation yesterday morning that she should be documenting all the strange people she's seeing in NYC right now. "Documenting" as in taking their picture. She didn't think it was such a good idea.

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(Another NOT confession:) Dudes. So you're telling me that you don't remember your first bra? How can that BE? I simply do not understand, internets, how you cannot remember this ICONIC moment. I told my friend yesterday (she of the original question) that at least she can take solace in the fact that, most likely, her daughter isn't going to remember it. Make it a Big Deal, don't make it a Big Deal - either way she's not going to remember anything.

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So. It's been a while since we've shared some healthy confessions. Your turn - go.

Post Edit with another confession:
I wrote this entry last night.

Post Edit with yet another confession:
I completely forgot to confess that as I was putting laundry in the washer last night I got a little distracted. I bent down to pick up a few errant pieces of laundry when Bean walked by and called for me. I stood up really fast, with lots of force, and CRACK my forehead made direct contact with the laundry closet doorknob in a most painful way. It was one of those totally unnecessary reminders that I'm not a fan of head injuries. You know, if case you ever wondered. Whimsy: NOT A FAN OF THE HEAD INJURIES.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

postcard from nowhere

She says there are always two worlds running side by side, one is called the truth, or the way things should have happened, and the other's called what really happened, and most o fthe time the two don't converge, but every now and then they do and she says those are the times we call moments of Grace. She says some people only get a few of those moments and other people get a few more, but the important thing is to live toward them, to be ready for them, to act as if they are always about to happen, and in that acting, make them so.

- Pam Houston, Sight Hound

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

when in doubt, write about in on your blog

Last night I got an email from a dear friend. She has two adorable girls (one nearing teenagehood at a frightening pace, the other not far behind). We like to compare notes. I have recent enough experience with the baby and toddler set to remind her what she's missing (and also what she is most certainly NOT) and she tells me all the simultaneously awesome and horrific things I have to look forward to in the coming years.

Last night's email was a charmer, in that she asked me about my first bra. (Dudes --as in THE FELLAS--, if you're reading --- just stop now, do not pass go, do not collect $200. Just come back tomorrow and pretend that you never even considered reading about the First Bra Experience.) Now that it's just us ladies here, let's talk Bra Particulars. My friend wanted to know what my experience was like because she's contemplating the undertaking with her daughter, obviously.

This is what she wrote (she's wicked funny):
What do you remember about getting your first bra? I'm debating about whether this needs to be a big deal (special mom-daughter shopping trip; going to the teen section at Macy's; high tea for lunch, etc.) or to make it not a big deal (go to kid underwear section at Target after perusing the paper towel aisle). I don't think I had a ceremony. A near-mint hand-me-down bra from my cousin magically materialized in my underwear drawer. A couple of months later, more bras appeared. I didn't really care-- although it would have been nice to pick some out myself.

It's funny how I can talk about this now, when I'm a nice ripe thirty-five-year-old and don't feel like it's so close as to be EMBARRASSING anymore. Like I don't think I could have told you about this when I was in high school, even. Anyway. My mom took me to JC Penny, I think. And we talked to a very embarrassing saleslady who wore those little half-rimmed glasses on a chain and pursed her lips when she was thinking. The saleslady sized me up (and she did, she just sort of LOOKED at my chest and then wandered away to grab some possible bras). I wanted to die. Melt into the floor and disappear COMPLETELY. I was just so freakishly undone about the entire experience. I knew I needed a bra, I guess. And part of me wanted a bra, right? But I also wanted to just sort of wander around the department VERY FAR AWAY from both my mother and the half-rimmed spectacle saleslady COMPLETELY INDEPENDENT from anything they were sort of doing. Over there. Away from ME. I wanted them to do the work, with my mom buying the bra, and then we'd rendezvous back at the car and she'd hand me the bag. Or something. Of course, that didn't happen. I was right in the thick of it, standing there in the department as other people walked by. So there was the sizing up, and then the lady comes back with a little selection of possible bras and my mom takes me into the fitting room (OH THE HORROR). AND I HAD TO TRY THEM ON. WITH MY MOM IN THE FITTING ROOM. (This is the kind of thing that you just have to write in ALL CAPS, you know?) I ended up with a couple of bras, I think. I have no idea what we did after. I don't think there was lunch. Certainly no high tea. There might have been a Slurpy, though. When we went home I wanted to DIE ALL OVER AGAIN when mom had me bring out the bras to show my sister. DIE! DIE DIE DIE! (Now. Remember, my mom reads my blog, so I'm going to say this to her but also to all of you: my mom was wonderful to do this. I was a CRANKY pre-teen. She was really sweet about the entire thing. And quite frankly, I don't think I'd have the experience any other way. Kisses to Mama Whimsy!)

Here's my caveat to my friend: I don't think there's any ONE right way to do this whole First Bra thing. For some kids, they really revel in the experience, the rite of passage. Others are just happy to find a little surprise in their underwear drawer. So I think it is important to hone the experience to the girl's temperament.

Here's where y'all come in: share your story and the details. Was it a good experience? Horrible? What would you tell a mom who is staring into the Vast Deadly Maw of First Bra-dom?

Monday, October 5, 2009


We like to watch The Amazing Race because it makes us feel better about ourselves. Usually because we are much more functional and polite than the people on the show. Also because we aren't trying to "prove how strong we are" or "test the strength of our relationship". Lastly I'm glad that we don't run around every day telling our camera crew that "everyone underestimates us". Though I'm sure that's the case. YOU TOTALLY UNDERESTIMATE US, DON'T YOU?

Snatches from last night's TAR viewing:

Chip: Get in the water, fool.
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Whimsy: Dude, that music would give me a headache.
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Chip: That was a good first-season clue.
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Whimsy: What's wrong with that guy? Why is he trying to SNEAK UP ON THE PUPPET?
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Chip: The floating dragon things... they're actually kinda cute.
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Whimsy: What's with the bouncy dancing?
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Whimsy: Favorite Reality TV quote EVER, redux: MY ANIMAL IS BROKEN!
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Whimsy: Pink Hair is really fast.
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Chip: Ha. Those two dudes just won a romantic getaway to Aruba. They're going to have fun.
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Whimsy: Wait. It's SAM and DAN? They have rhymey names? Are you kidding me?
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Whimsy: That guy didn't do it right. The lady just wanted to get him out of there because she was AFRAID of him.
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In other news... the book discussion. What did you guys think? Good? Bad? Fun? Boring? Would you do it again? Was the format okay?

I knew it was going to be tricky - the only way it was going to work was if we had some good give and take and discussion, with enough people wanting to participate. For the most part, I'm decently satisfied with the results. I can't thank those of you who came in and commented enough - thank you for being brave, for sharing your thoughts and insights, and for being okay if we didn't all agree! The post is still up and still open for comments - so if anyone is finishing the book late or didn't get in to comment over the weekend, you can go in any time. There were some great insights and opinions shared, and I'm still thinking about some of them.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to tackle this day. I've got a new undertaking this month and today is the first day. We girls (Bean and I) are welcoming a BOY into our midst, the stupendous Mr. G-Man, as he will be called for the purposes of The Creamery. The G-Man's mom is going back to work full time just for the month of October, so the duet of Whimsy-and-Bean is becoming a temporary trio (with A BOY!). Wish us all luck. I have promised G-Man that I won't make him wear pink or anything to do with flowers, though Bean can be very insistent when she wants me to dress Elmo in a skirt. We'll see how that plays out.

* Another one of our favorite Amazing Race quotes, courtesy of red underpants-wearing Jonathan, perhaps the worst Amazing Racer of all time.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

the solace of leaving early book discussion

Welcome, welcome, my dearies to The Creamery's first book discussion! Thank you for reading the book.

Here's how we're going to make this work. I'll be posting some questions below that will hopefully give us some good seeds for discussion. You have three choices for participating.

1. Pick a question for your response. In the comment form, cut and paste the original question (or at least part of it)- and then your response to it. Do the same for each question you'd like to respond to - or group them together in one comment, but still try to include the original question or some part of it so we all know what you're talking about.


2. Respond to someone else's response. That one's pretty self explanatory.


3. Post your own thoughts and questions, if they aren't already represented here.

Ultimately, please feel free to comment as many times as you want--- the more participation we have, the better this will go. I will pop in with my thoughts as well, of course--- we'll keep this going until end of day Sunday.

Please remember that everyone has an individual point of view, and should be valued as such. You're such a polite and kind group I doubt we'll have any problems with this, but it's still good to put out there. Please play nicely, kids. What makes me so excited about this little social Internet experiment we've got going here is that each of you are very different people, with very different opinions. I'm really excited to see what we all come up with.

... ... ... ... ...

Now on to The Solace of Leaving Early by Haven Kimmel

There are a lot of secrets in the novel - those kept from the reader as well as those kept between characters themselves: Langston's reasons for leaving her PhD, Anna Lee's reasons for fearing her own mother, Alice's story, Taos, Beulah's secret of running away to circus college, the reason the girls wear the costumes. Kimmel gives these secrets time to unravel. Do you think this is a useful device or a distracting one? Why is it that secrets play such a strong role in the novel? Secret lives, the secrets we keep from the we love, the secrets that help us and harm us. Is Kimmel making a statement about secrets in a small town, or are secrets just a way that we live and communicate in our world at large?

What does it mean that Langston doesn't want to know how Alice died--do you think this helps her relationship with the girls?

Is it better to know the truth and act on it, or to live in blissful ignorance? Are there examples of people who live these ideals in the novel? Who?

Do Langston and the girls understand each other? Do they speak the same language? How?

Want does it mean to "minister" to people? Is Amos a good minister? What decides this? Do you think he considers himself to be a good minister?

How is it that Langston and Amos fall in love? DO they fall in love? When (if ever) does this take place?

Does Beulah "see" clearly? Is her insight due to the fact that, in reality, she is losing her actual vision? What does she see?

When Amos talks with Anna Lee in the hospital, he discovers that he has been underestimating her. What other examples of underestimating do we see in the novel? Does Langston underestimate anyone?

Are you satisfied that the visions the girls had of Mary weren't explained or even detailed? Do you think they continue to have these visions, even after they are living with Langston and Amos? What role did the visions play in the lives of those they touched (the girls, Langston, Amos, Beaulah, Anna Lee)?

There are a lot of mothers in the novel: Alice, Beulah, Anna Lee, Langston, Mary (of the visions), Grandma Wilkey. Do we see any father figures? What part does Walt play? Is Amos a father figure?

Have you ever left in the middle of something? A play, an educational experience, a concert? There are a lot of examples in the novel of leaving early--- Langston and Taos leaving the opera, Langston leaving her PhD program, Taos leaving town, Alice leaving the earth (so to speak). What is it about leaving something early that gives us such a feeling?

What is is about "seeing someone" truly? Amos finally sees Langston, Alice sees her future children in Jack's eyes.

What do you think about this idea of "ultimacy"? In a discussion of this book, the author Haven Kimmel is asked if she believes, like Amos, that people are living lives that are hopelessly broken and they know it. She says yes. Then goes on to say, "Let me put it this way. Many people who are living lives that are hopefully broken appear not to know it, because they confuse themselves with busyness or layers and layers of distraction. Think of women (and some men) who devote their lives to their children - to running them hither and yon, soccer and ballet and I don't know what all, and the cooking and the laundry, etc., - and their own inner lives make rare appearances. And then the children grow up and move away, and those women are left awake in the middle of the night, sleeping next to a man they now barely know (since their joint project has been taken away), heart's pounding, because it wasn't enough. Even Family fails to achieve Ultimacy. I guarantee you have either all heard, or will hear, the following statements as some times in your lives:
'I got everything I wanted, the money, the title, and it wasn't enough.'
'Weird how I thought everything depended on saving enough to buy that boat, and now that I have it, it isn't enough. I'm thinking of having my eyes done, just to get rid of some of these wrinkles.'
'I hate my husband.'
But I ask you honestly, have you ever, ever heard someone say, 'God simply wasn't enough,' or 'The Infinite has failed me again, so I might as well go back to drinking'? I never have." What do you think?