Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Fasten Your Seatbelt

Fasten your seatbelt . . . you are about to be transported to my new blog. Just wait. A bit more. Really, keep waiting.

Or just go to Actual Unretouched Photo yourself. Or wait and we'll automatically take you there . . .

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


I mean it. No new stuff here. Go here.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Blog Closed: Detour to My New Blog

Now would be a great time to update your link to me on your blogroll! Head on over to the new Actual Unretouched Photo for new posts and let me know what you think of my almost-finished template.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Alert, alert!

A new post is waiting for you over here on my new blog. See you there!

Monday, May 08, 2006

Update Your Link, Please?

Not very many of you have updated your links to my new blog address: http://unretouchedphoto.com.

Will you, pretty please, with sugar on top?


Undressing in High School

The Tacoma News Tribune ran a story in the paper recently chronicling the poor hygiene of student athletes. Apparently, kids these days prefer not to shower in the locker room where God and everybody can stare and point at their private bits while they lather, rinse and repeat.


I still cannot shake the horror of sixth grade and the required showers we had to take after physical education (P.E.) class. I was already mortified by the changes hormones had wrought. I disguised my womanly curves in a large blue down coat during classes. But in P.E., after stripping off our required uniforms of white shorts, white t-shirts and white tube socks, we were all expected to disrobe, scurry into the showers, make sure that the teacher saw us unclothed, dab ourselves dry with skimpy towels, pull on our clothing and run off to class.

(This was very problematic for my hairstyle--the feathered bangs went awry after contact with my sweaty forehead. How is a girl supposed to look cute when her hair is wonky? Thus is the root of my social inadequacies in sixth grade.)

I might have died of embarrassment, if embarrassment could kill. A perceptive girl quoted in the article points out that the lack of showering by student athletes "might be self-consciousness."

"I've never seen girls shower in the locker room," said Kylie Marshall, a volleyball standout at Emerald Ridge High. "It might be self-consciousness. If I were to even think about it, I'd wear a bathing suit. In society, we're not taught to be comfortable being naked in the public showers."

Marshall, who also plays on a select volleyball team, said that she and her teammates come to those practices in their gear. Sweats come off before practice and go back on after practice before heading home to shower.

"I think guys are more open and don't really care," Marshall said. "With girls, it goes back to the olden days where were brought up to be more conservative."

Um, the "olden days"? Were the "olden days" back in 1992? Where are these modest conservative girls of which she speaks? Everywhere I go, I see girls' bellybuttons, cleavage, tight t-shirts and jeans (or mini-skirts) outlining their bodies.

We see mostly naked people on network television these days and pixilated naked people on basic cable channels. Not a whole lot is left to the imagination . . . and yet, kids these days are too modest to shower?

We're told that more than half of American teenagers engage in oral s*x, and they are shy about their bodies? They aren't comfortable "being naked in the public showers"?

We hear all about MySpace, where teenagers post suggestive photographs of themselves. And yet--they refuse to shower at school?

What an odd collision of facts. Fashions have become less and less modest, leaving nothing to the imagination, really, and yet, kids refuse to shower because someone might see them? I wonder if teenagers are just more self-conscious, aware that their bodies don't measure up to the image of perfection bombarding us in the media. I suspect that's closer to the truth--it's not about modesty, it's about their own perceived imperfections.

Whatever the reason they abstain from school showers, who can blame them?

I only wish I'd been able to do the same.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Helping Out a Friend

A few days ago, I received an email plea from a friend of mine. She says this:

"We've been invited to a luncheon that will have a round robin reading of poems and short stories. The problem is that years ago Derek and I read several books of short stories by an author and now we can't remember his (her?) name. The stories were something along the lines of dark comedy or macabre...not horror..just some sick twist at the end....like the main character realizes in his rage he has run his wife off the road instead of his neighbor....

I think the author was british. I think the author was male."

Anybody have any ideas? I am stumped, so it's your turn to be brilliant and helpful.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

A Mish-Mashy Hodge-Podge With No Conclusion

My daughter insisted that she would sleep outside tonight, in the backyard, in her underpants, thank you very much. "Night-night, Mommy!" she waved as I opened the sliding glass door and stepped inside.

I called her bluff and when I heard the theme music for SpongeBob Squarepants, I opened the kitchen window and informed her, "Hey, SpongeBob is on!" and she scurried inside. Then, curled on the couch, she let me know that she planned to sleep downstairs, on the couch.

I do love her polite defiance. When I tell her, "Hey, go pick up those toys," she'll say, "No, thank you." After her bath (right before she went to bed in her room, as usual), she said, "I spit water right there, on the floor." I furrowed my brows in the classic Mom Disapproval Glare and she said, "I'm sorry, Mama." But the spark in her eyes and the impish grin said otherwise.

* * *

Today was a most glorious day. I had an eye appointment at Costco at 10:40 a.m., which I managed to stretch into a solitary daylong excursion. More on that in a minute, but first I must tell you about the eye doctor, or as I like to think of him, The Pocket Doctor.

From his tiny white shirt to his little shiny shoes, he was just like a real doctor, only miniaturized. His nose was tiny and perfect sculpted, like Barbie's. I had complete confidence in The Pocket Doctor and couldn't stop thinking about how handy it would be to have a replica of a doctor to just tuck into your pocket or purse.

Oh, and weirdly, my eyes are better, not worse, and so I have a lesser prescription. When we finished, I ordered the contacts, then faced the wall of glasses to pick out a new pair. (My old pair is 9 years old.)

The Costco clerk came out from behind the counter to stand next to me as I contemplated the choices. Too many choices! They were sorted into three areas: Men, Women, Contemporary. I stood in front of the Contemporary section, trying to imagine myself in these little rectangular black frames or those small oval pink ones and the clerk said, "Well, these are cute," just as I started saying, "I don't think I'm cool enough to wear any of these." She said, "Sure you are!" but that was just mercy speaking.

I scooted over and picked out a pair from the Women's section, but not before picking up, putting on, taking off, putting down the same ten pairs of glasses over and over again. I just couldn't decide. But finally, I just picked one. Good enough for the next ten years.

* * *

Last night, my husband and I went to a movie. (Can you guess what we saw?) For the first time, I bought tickets online, which was pretty terrific. No standing in line to purchase tickets . . . and a very small crowd in the concession area. We stood behind three people in a line and I immediately wanted to switch lines. I had a hunch, but my husband, Mr. I-Don't-Like-Change, said, "No, this is fine." So we waited another ten minutes, finally realizing we really should have moved to another line.

As we finally headed toward the theater, I said to my husband, "You know, this one time I saw a movie on the opening weekend and when I first got to the theater, I thought, hey, it's not even full, and then I walked into the movie and it was packed . . . kind of like this!" And we saw that the seats were full. . . and then we found two spots right on the floor, front and center. Perfect.

If I were a different sort of person, a person with a big mouth, a person unafraid of being bashed in the mouth by a stranger, I might have uttered these words:




But, I'm not that sort of person, so I just said to myself, Now I have something to blog about.

Aren't you lucky?

* * *

Oh, and finally. When I returned from my daylong adventure (Costco, Wendy's for salad, Joann Fabrics, Value Village, Trader Joe's), I returned to my driveway in time to see my neighbor holding something at arm's length with her index finger and thumb, hurrying across her yard.

She was walking back when I disembarked and I said, "What happened? Did something die?"

Then I heard the squawking. Two frantic Steller's Jays were swooping from tree to fence and back again. Apparently, the neighbor's cat had killed their baby bird and both birds had turned into John Walsh, desperate to find their missing offspring. The neighbor kept saying, "I feel terrible! I feel terrible! I feel terrible!" and scolded the cat who did not feel terrible and who was still lurking under a bush, a serial killer longing to kill again.

Did you know that Steller's Jays form monogamous long-term pairs? They were still screeching and hopping from roof to tree to fence and back again when I finished carrying in the groceries.

* * *

Tonight, while I clipped back a wicked bush (with spiky two-inch needle-like thorns) near our gate, the boys played a game in which they threw a ball over the house to one another. If they'd broken a window, I'd really have a tale to tell, but they didn't, so I don't.

The End.

Thursday, May 04, 2006


I have a big head. No, really. I mean the circumference of my head is unusually large, twenty-five inches--I just measured twice--which by anyone's standards indicates that my noggin is gigantic.

I also have all this Cocker-Spaniel hair ("yes, the curl is natural, do you think I'd pay money to DO THIS TO MY HEAD?"), so all things considered, if I were a snowman, I'd fall over, head first, into a snowbank.

The huge-headedness of mine has only bothered me on the rare occasion, like when I was visiting Tahiti as a sixteen-year old and our new found Tahitian friends gifted me with a lovely straw hat to commemorate my visit. It perched awkwardly on my head until we boarded the plane and it's never touched my hair again. I hang it in my closet, a reminder of balmy breezes and Tahitian brown eyes, but I can't wear it. That hat is made for a girl with a normal head size.

Sure, perhaps I need an extra-large head to encase my super-sized brain, but that didn't offer any comfort the time I went snowmobiling in northern Michigan and the helmet crushed my eyeballs into the front of the helmet and smashed my nostrils into my upper lip, causing my breath to steam up the helmet windshield (what is that thing called?). Inside that helmet I felt like one of my kids as a toddler who snuggled his head into a flowerpot. Nice and cozy. Also, I had to undo my French-braid to lessen the bulk and when we arrived at a restaurant for a little break (thank God, my head could expand to its normal shape again), my hair looked like the "before" picture in a shampoo commercial. Oh, so pretty!

Even if I could shove my head into a hat, I wouldn't because I have eight tons of the aforementioned Cocker Spaniel hair firmly affixed to my skull. (I would look like Bozo the clown.

My hair makes me hot, causes me to swoon on a slightly warm day and is the reason that I bought a hundred hair bands last time which came on a handy key-chain-like ring. My supply on the ring has dwindled down to three, so now I dig my hands deep into whatever pockets I might be wearing in hopes that I'll fish out a hair band. Right now, as a matter of fact, I am about to push aside the 307 broken pencils in my drawer to see if a hair band is handy. (It was. Oh, sweet relief!)

One time, I remember Oprah mentioning that she has a big head, though do you think I can find any proof right now through the magic of Google? (No.) And Rosie says her head is big, too, though she is fuzzy on the details. Perhaps I'm destined for television talk-show fame, if my head is any indication. Then again, well, maybe not. I suspect there are additional qualifications, like the ability to make small talk with random strangers and the willingness to wear super-high pointy high-heels and smile at a camera.

If I ever lose my hair, I'm doomed to a life of shiny baldness because even Bartholomew Cubbins's five hundred hats doesn't include one in size Too-Too-Too-How-Can-She-Even-Balance-Herself-With-That-Bowling-Ball-Head-Large.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

A Word of Advice to Katharine McPhee and Newscasters Everywhere

So last night Katharine McPhee sang an entire song on American Idol while writhing on her knees. While I appreciated her blue toenail polish, I found her performance disconcerting. Why the knees? Why the floor? Why?

I wanted Katharine to stand up. Just stand.

On the other hand, the local newscasters, as well as national newscasters, have begun to stand through the entire newscast. I wish they would just sit down. Their casual standing delivery of the news forces me to change the channel because I cannot stand to watch them stand.

So, to sum up:

1) Singers should not kneel. They should stand.
2) Newscasters should not stand. They should sit.

Pass along the word. Thank you.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

I Am No Mother Duck

A few days ago, while driving down the road with my youngest two in the back of the 1987 Chevy Astro, I noticed a car slowing in front of me. Two women standing at a bus stop were pointing and laughing and so, I slowed, too. The car in front of me sped up and so I could clearly see the spectacle slowing traffic. A mother duck and her four ducklings waddled from the middle of the busy residential street to the edge, as I waited with my foot pressed to the brake while frantically digging in my purse for my camera.

I pulled out the camera just as the little procession reached safety.

The image of that mama duck and her babies has remained in my mind, though. Her ducklings followed, hovered close to her feathered sides, didn't run off, didn't fight with their brothers, didn't refuse to do grammar because it is so boring.

I'm nothing like that duck mom. Today, as a matter of fact, I would have thrown my letter of resignation at my boss, only, uh, I don't have a boss and I can't resign. Instead, I slammed the door and strode outside, first to the driveway where I stood by the lilacs, and then up the street a few houses where I noticed a gentle spring breeze and wondered if the neighbors were looking at the wild-haired lady in her moccasin slippers wandering the neighborhood. All the windows really did seem like eyeballs behind sunglasses, staring at me.

I didn't go far, of course, because I was keenly aware of the littler ones in my house and also cognizant of the fact that my teenagers would keep an eye on the little kids even though those very same teenagers, well, one of those teenagers, had caused me to flee into the street, question my very status of a competent mother and resolve to turn in my Homeschooling Mother Card once and for all.

I shrieked to myself, as loudly as one can shriek inside one's head on the street in the middle of the morning while worrying about neighbors calling the police to report a raving lunatic strolling the streets.

My son, The Reluctant Student, has some issues, some undiagnosed issues having to do with paying attention and retaining information and organization. I don't need a label to know that he struggles with what comes naturally and easily to me and his twin brother. He sometimes stays focused and tries, but this week he's been derailed. The picture of him as a railroad car literally off the rails, unable to move forward or backward, blocking the rest of the train from moving fills me with pity and understanding, but also frustration because we need to keep moving. Moving forward, heading toward the finish line, hurry, hurry, hurry!

When I hurry him, he resists.

I used to think that raising children was all about nurturing them properly and creating the right environment. I see now how much genetic predisposition influences and even controls behavior. I feel like I'm fighting a losing battle, like a salmon swimming upstream who finally encounters an impassable dam.

So, between a difficult morning of grammar (adverbial phrases, anyone?) and my daughter who spends every waking moment either changing her clothes or interrupting me or demanding Cheetos, I really did decide I am not cut out for this mothering gig. Really. I quit. DO YOU HEAR ME? I'M NOT COMING IN TOMORROW! I QUIT!

Blink. Blink-blink. Okay, fine. In two weeks, I'm outta here, for sure. I'm going to get a job cleaning chimneys or muck-raking cow stalls or deep-sea fishing on an Alaskan fishing boat . . . something easy like that.

If I were a mother duck and my kids were those ducklings, today they totally would have been squished by a car. Tomorrow, maybe they will be all fluffy and yellow and quiet and cute. One can hope.

(My son just sent me this instant-message: "GOING TO TRUN OFF NOW MOM GOOD NIGHT I HEART U =) AND ALSO SORRY FOR TODAY." Okay. Fine. Whatever. I'm in for one more day.)

Monday, May 01, 2006

Life is Too Short

A couple of weeks ago, my mother brought my grandmother to my house for Easter lunch. When they left, Grandma paced inch-by-inch down the sidewalk, clutching her walker, while my mom leaned on her cane and limped to the car. I walked them out and as Grandma was attempting to fold herself into the front seat while my mother stood with one hand attempting to quell the pain in her back, I quipped, "Hey! I see my future right here," and I swept my hand at the scene and said, "and I'm scared!"

They both laughed at my feeble joke, but the truth is, I wasn't joking. I bent down and lifted my grandmother's swollen foot up into the car and she winced and groaned at the pain. The hip joint has deteriorated and even that tiny movement shot searing pain up her leg and to her hip. She even said, "Oh, that hurts," which is as dramatic as she gets.

I never liked being young. I was eager to get through my teen years as quickly as possible. I didn't savor my high school years or wish that time would slow down. I could hardly stand the excruciatingly slow pace of adolescence and the walled off borders of teenage-dom. I wanted out and I wanted out yesterday.

My college years raced by, though, in a blur of longing and confusion and fretfulness. And before I knew it, I was married. My twenty-sixth birthday depressed me, but only because we had been trying to start a family and ended up caught in a maze of infertility and adoption attempts and all I wanted was to be a mother. I wanted to be a mother more than I wanted to sleep in, more than I wanted to have a career, more than I wanted chocolate chip cookies. So, when I turned twenty-six, I moped around.

But before I knew it, I was a mother (to twins!) and then, in a flash, I turned thirty. And the thirtysomething years marched on and then, what? My fortieth birthday arrived. By then, I had four children and I was trying to remember just exactly why I had been so desperate to be a mother. Okay, not really. Okay, well, not most days, only occasionally because, hello? I never get to sleep in anymore.

My dad died when he was forty-seven. So, on one hand, I am so thankful for every day of living and so aware of the alternative to aging. On the other hand, I see my mother's eyelids sagging lower and lower as if are too tired to stand up any longer. And I look at my grandmother, lingering a century on this earth, and I dread the day when my eyesight fails and darkness falls, even on a sunshiny day.

How is it fair that just as you become comfortable in your own skin, your skin gets speckled with age spots and bunches in wrinkles around your knuckles? Just when you figure out what to do with your hair, a new stripe of gray appears with a wiry texture. And even your knees betray your age with tiny purple spider veins appearing over the winter under cover of your pant legs. Aging is like receiving a package in the mail that you did not order and you cannot return.

But, oh, the alternative is to never breathe in another lilac spring day and to never watch the tulips grow taller day by day.

Life is too short. Even when you live to be a hundred, like my grandmother, life is too short to focus on the flaws, on the missing pieces, on the crooked places you wish were straight. Life is too short to not take chances, to not speak up, to not stand tall. Life is too short.

Old age will come, ready or not. In the meantime, I will sear into my memory the vision of my daughter dancing a high-step in the back yard and the faces of my boys as they carry homemade bows and arrows made of bamboo in improvised sheaths on their backs. I will appreciate my body sweating on my exercise bike and I will be mindful of the fuel I give my body. I will smile at my face in the mirror and be grateful that I can clip my own toenails. I will snip an armful of lilacs to carry into the house, even though they'll fade and die in the vase in a week and they're such a pain to clean up.

Because today, I welcome the fleeting beauty of lilacs into my home. Life is too short and soon, the lilacs will be gone. My boys will abandon the backyard for the wider world. My daughter will find better things to do than to harass the ants on a fine spring day. The neighborhood boys won't trample mud into my carpet. I'll have an uninterrupted telephone conversation and I'll think, oh, I remember when--

Act fast. Get yours now. Life is too short. Already, the tulip petals have fallen. But you can get in on the lilacs if you hurry.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

A Few Bits of Business

Good news. You can now use Bloglines.com to subscribe to
Actual Unretouched Photo at the new site. (My personal new site, not to be confused with the other new site, which will be announced later.)

Also, I have my reciprocal blogroll up on the new website, so if you could add that URL to your blogroll (in addition to this one), I would appreciate it.

Finally, we are no longer forbidden access to the new website.

Oh, and one last thing. The lilacs are in bloom.
And we all rejoice.

Saturday, April 29, 2006


I know, I know. My new website has forbidden us all to enter. I have no idea why, but my tech guy will be back in town Monday and hopefully he'll wave his magic wand and fix all my problems. Well, at least he'll fix my website problems.

If ever there were a time to swear, this would be it, but alas, I do not swear, except for Christian cursewords like "shoot" and "darn" and "gosh."

Shoot. That darn website!

Friday, April 28, 2006

A Simple Rant

FileZilla and Wordpress make me want to scoop my brain out like a half a cantaloupe and fling it at the walls. Would it kill the writers of technical information to, oh, I don't know . . . assume we don't speak geek and USE PLAIN ENGLISH!!?!

That's all. Carry on.

Bummer For Her

I may not have a book published yet, but at least I haven't had a book published and then pulled off the shelves because I plagiarized like her.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Farewell, Dear Tulip

Oh, Tulip, I hardly knew you and now you lie trampled on the ground, broken down in the prime of your life, never to bloom again. Well, until next spring, that is.

At least I still have you, my lone back yard tulip. Be strong! I will remind the boys to watch their step while they swing their bamboo sticks magical swords, less they pop your head off, too.

* * *

Here are the things that irritated me so much today that I yelled like a lunatic:

1) One of my 13-year olds spilled a box of one thousand toothpicks into a kitchen drawer in his quest to get one toothpick. He left the box askew and the drawer open.

2) My daughter accidentally peed on the freshly shampooed carpet.

I may have overreacted because I've been the sole parent in charge for three solid days now, plus two days last weekend and last night I didn't go to bed until 1:00 a.m. because I am foolish. Saturday, when my husband returns, I'm out of here!

Lest I snap off someone's head, just like that poor tulip.

Do Me A Favor

I bought a domain name: www.unretouchedphoto.com The site is not ready quite yet for its unveiling, but will you add it to your blogroll? Or bookmark it or add it to your Favorites or consider having it tatt o o ed on your elbow so we don't lose one another? (But don't delete your link here just yet. Just add the other one, too.)

Bossy Near Seattle

[Updated: Thanks for pointing out that my RSS feed doesn't seem to work yet. I'll fix that ASAP, hopefully today.]


Hey, you may or may not realize that if you're on my blogroll, I read your blogs as often as possible. I try to read them every day, using Bloglines.com as an indicator that unread posts are waiting for me. (If you don't use Bloglines, you should. What a time-saver!)

On Monday mornings, I try to comment on every blog I come across.

But lately, oh, these past few days, I haven't had time and I'm so behind on the life and times of you blogging-friends. But I will be catching up, gradually, as things settle down around here.

And thank you, everyone, for being so incredibly kind and generous. But I'd like to suggest that you all have your eyes checked.

Ha ha.
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