Saturday, May 31, 2008

Welcome Home Weekend

School is done, I've gotten my first grade/evaluation (Honors in Blue Collar Theology) and my beloved is thrilled to have me home for the summer. Up in the air is the question of whether I should get a summer job. The extra money would be nice in the face of alarming gas prices and ridiculously large child support payments. What is certain is that I will now have some time to unpack the house and read for frivolity's sake. We got the house-fixing-up underway with the deck...more on that later, though.

Friday night, J made me spaghetti with Italian sausage from the farmer's market. I puttered around unpacking some boxes in the kitchen while she cooked. We rounded out the night watching an Eddie Izzard special we just stumbled across on t.v. I am so glad Brendan & Laura introduced us to his work. He is screamingly funny and so smart. When J dozed off, I sneaked over to Larry King's interview with David Cook (and the other Idol contestants). When she awoke, she just rolled her eyes, unable to believe the monster my auntie has created. LOL!

Saturday morning, we lazed in bed, then hit the farmer's market and grocery store. We ran into an acquaintance from church and had a nice visit with her over the produce. It was time to start getting ready for the big night out when we returned, so we quick put away food and started showers. I got all gussied up in a grey skirt and grey velvet blazer while J wore a button-down with black velvet-trimmed jeans. She's gorgeous. We drove into Cleveland, through the crazy construction on Euclid, and pulled our little Hyundai up to the valet parking at Playhouse Square.

We were right on time for our reservation at Star at Playhouse Square, probably our last big restaurant splurge for awhile and well worth it. It was our first time dining there. Spurred on by Paula Deen-induced brie lust, we chose the baked brie with chutney and cinnamon toasts for our appetizer. I'm not a mixing-the-fruit-in-with-the-cheese guy and much prefer my brie melty & glorious in unadorned stinkiness. My wife, on the other hand, melts herself when the fruit mars the cheese perfection, so she was in heaven. I found it quite tolerable considering and the delicately crunchy little toasts were a delight. The Riesling was quite nice and I've forgotten what kind it was! Too long since I've done any real reviews, clearly. That would be a nice gig to follow my recent piece on Miami for Everywhere magazine. Anyway, we each chose the Maytag-crusted beef tenderloin for our entrée. It was a perfect medium-rare, hard to come by these days. The crust was thick and tangy, a perfect complement to the beef. The accompanying mashed potatoes weren't as good as mine, but with steak like that, who needs sides? The mint chip ice cream and the lovely sorbets were incredibly tempting, but I didn't feel like sitting through a show with an overly full belly, so I will be making us some espresso ice cream with chocolate-covered espresso beans this week instead. Thank you, Ina Garten.

From Star, we made our way into the theater for the Eddie Izzard show. It was wonderful to see so many people turning out to see him. Gives me some hope that there are still lots of intelligent people in the world, after all. Sometimes I worry. He was fabulous, as expected. Our son had pointedly warned us that "he's not a transvestite anymore, you know." On stage, at least. I guess he got tired of people thinking the women's clothing was part of the act, rather than just who he is. He looked splendid in the "bloke" get-up that he'd chosen, worn jeans and black tails with a scarlet lining. I want that outfit for myself! Just like I want David Cook's pointy-toed cowboy boots. Maybe in my next lifetime I want to be a bartender in Tulsa rather than a bull rider. Anyway, Eddie was brilliant and hilarious and I had to be very careful how I laughed to avoid going into a coughing fit. Lots of great theological points and insight on human nature, as well as a great riff on a giraffe seeing a tiger and not being able to warn the other giraffe properly.

After the show, we headed to The Nickel for a show of another stripe. There was a disappointingly small crowd out to see an "aggressive folk" band from Michigan called Nervous and Excited and a local grrl rock band called Early Girl. I really enjoyed the "aggressive folk" duo. Early Girl was not really to my taste, a little too hard-rocking for me. The Butchies was one of the bands they covered. However, it was excellent to see three women rocking out like that. One of these years, we'll get to Michigan Women's Music Fest. One of the women from the first band reminded me of a Charles de Lint character, someone who would play with Geordie and hang out with Jilly and her tribe of "small, fierce women." I could almost imagine folks from the spirit world settling in on bar stools to listen as she fiddled and played her mandolin with a restless twitchiness. Made me want to go back to Newford, my current favorite fictional place to hang out. Twas a good show, even the Wyclef Jean hip-hop song they covered. Seemed a strange choice, but turned out to be a really good commentary.

Sunday morning, we went to church for our pastor's last Sunday before he goes on sabbatical over the summer. Then, we had some cake and lots of conversation at a coffee hour to celebrate our friend Amber's graduation. Now, she just has to get a teaching job. She actually wants to teach middle school! Can you imagine? After church, we headed home and got the hammock stand put back together, the hammock hung, the table wiped down and cushions tied to the chairs. We made a quick trip to Marshall's for a hanging lantern after J made mac & cheese and baked beans. When we got back, J arranged a bunch of her special rocks along the deck railings and then got the grill going. We had hamburgers and hot dogs to break in the new deck, along with frozen cherry margaritas (remind me next time that Emeril likes his a lot stronger than I like mine!). I immersed myself in a mystery novel while J gently rocked in the hammock, dozing to the tune of the kennel dogs singing their loneliness for their humans over the holiday weekend. We ended the night by finally watching "Dan in Real Life" which I found appealing and J thought was somewhat trite. I'd no idea that Dane Cook was in it and it was fun to see him act. He was actually pretty good. I like his stand-up immensely, but had no idea he does straight roles as well.

Monday, we continued our holidays-without-the boys tradition of going to the zoo. The first 4th of July we lived in Cleveland, the boys went to hang with their father and we went to hang with the animals since neither boy wanted to go to the zoo with us. Who wouldn't want to go see animals? It was every bit as much fun this time, maybe even more so. I was thrilled by the chance to be mere feet from a cheetah. Had I been foolish, I could have stepped over the little guard rail, taken one or two steps and stuck my hand through the chain-link fence to feel its fur. I would probably also be minus a finger or three right now. We also saw a leopard very close-up. It kept doing this awful coughing thing that sounded like wood being cut with a two-person saw and made its stomach heave. I wondered if it was trying to get a hairball up. Do big cats get hairballs? It also kept doing this weird tic thing that I have now seen 3 animals do. We'd just spent quite a bit of time watching a bear walk over to a wall, put a paw up on the wall, fling its head back in an elaborate roll, walk away, then do it all over again and again and again. We said, "It's doing a llama!" after the llama we saw at Disney doing a similar thing with its neck and head. Now, the leopard did the same thing as the bear, albeit in its own feline way. Are they being driven crazy by captivity??? Or what??? Had a great time with the monkey-watching, as always, but have been spoiled by Monkey Jungle. I was astounded to see sloths on the move, though. I have never, ever seen one move and they looked so cool. There was even a mama sloth carrying a baby on her stomach. Wow, how cool! One of the tigers was sleeping with belly exposed and huge paws spread-eagle, just like our Fred-Fur. The polar bears were quite active, one utterly snowy and the other mud-dappled. The seals reminded us of good times in Monterey. Saw some amazing action over at the lion habitat. The female was reclining in the shade and a foolhardy bird kept landing near her. I thought, "My cats would definitely eat that bird." Sure enough, she got tired of watching it and lightning-speeded after it, just missing batting it out of the air with one enormous paw. We saw the hippo surface a couple times and enjoyed an Asian man's description, to his son, of the capybara: "It's a humongous rat!" We got to touch sharks, with their ancient-rock textured skin, and sting rays, with their velvet wings. I love the way they glide up over our hands as though they were soliciting touch. I can't imagine that they are, but perhaps. We both had soaked t-shirts after that experience.

After we tired ourselves out watching animals and people inside the zoo, we rode the tram to our parking lot (after a worrisome false start on another tram), dragged ourselves to the car, reparked closer to the picnic tables (making ourselves giggle enormously at our laziness) and carried our basket of goodies over for dinner. J had packed ham salad sandwiches, hummus, garlic pita chips, sundried tomato feta dip, veggie crackers (the sort that used to be shaped like peppers and onions and tomatoes when I was a kid, kin to chicken in a biskit crackers), all kinds of cut-up veggies, fuzzy water for her & cola for me and homemade brownies. We had fun watching people leaving the zoo and getting out for evening walks. We also saw deer leaping across the road. We assume they were wild deer and not from the zoo!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Hangin' with the Pizza Boys and the Pastor Boys

Friday, I got back from Dayton about 2 and had a little bit of time to clean house before we went to get the boys. We stopped on the way back home for dinner at Yours Truly in Mentor. J and I had stopped there a couple of times before and enjoyed it. It was again good. Once home, everyone retired in front of various screens to relax for the evening. I watched a couple DVRed episodes of "Barefoot Contessa" while J watched t.v. with Boot and Pie played X-Box.

Saturday morning, Pie slept in while J, Boot and I went to the Farmer's Market, had pizza at an outdoor stand at Crocker Park and checked out the bookstores. It's remarkable to me that Boot wants anything to do with bookstores now. For awhile, he disdained going in even for the CD and DVD section. Now, he even looks at books sometimes! We got groceries after that. I love how helpful Boot always is in the grocery. I think he is even starting to like Trader Joe's a little.

We roused Pie from his video-induced stupor when we got home and made him get dressed. I made a cherry lemon cheesecake pie and stuck it in the fridge to chill and J made a pizza for hungry boys. After they noshed, we went to see "Iron Man." Iron Man is Pie's very favorite Marvel guy and he's been waiting anxiously for the movie for almost 2 years. It did not disappoint. I think Robert Downey Jr. was a perfect choice for the lead. During the movie, Pie leaned on my shoulder and said, "This is awesome!!!" He is so cute. Boot liked it, too. Next, I want to see "Prince Caspian" or the Indiana Jones movie. I am so excited about those.

We went home and I made chicken marsala for the grown folks. The boys were all full of pizza and not interested in eating again (at least not until Boot made himself a shake with chocolate peanut butter ice cream and vanilla soy milk). The marsala was very good and J and I had pie for dessert, too. Boot went to bed early and Pie had already gotten back into his video games. J fell asleep on the loveseat while I was cleaning up the kitchen, so I joined her and watched the David Cook bits of the last two weeks of "American Idol." I can't believe I am so hooked on that show and on him. I wonder if the show will hold any interest for me next season or if it's all about David Cook. He's a great performer and seems like a genuinely nice guy, too. My auntie is so happy to have someone to watch it with her and my wife is disgusted that I've become corrupted. LOL!

Sunday morning, I went to church and the Mission Trip fundraiser breakfast. Our pastor is going on sabbatical over the summer to care for his wife, who is fighting a brain tumor. I am so glad he's going to have some time off. He has just been utterly frazzled. They are getting an acting pastor for the summer and our interim AP has agreed to keep doing his 10 hours per week. I quite like him. He is a retired UCC pastor and always has an interesting story to tell. I sat with him and his wife, along with another retired pastor and his wife, at the breakfast. It was fun to hear their stories and they wanted to hear all about my seminary experience. Neither of them has read much Calvin & they don't seem to think much of him. Our interim said Calvin fell off the pedestal for him when he found out Calvin watched Servetus burned at the stake and thought it was the right thing to do. No kidding! That turned me off, too, when I first read about it. There is some good to his theology, though. I think I like Bucer better, but he also wanted Servetus killed. I need to get a "Heretic in Good Company" t-shirt. Anyway, I found out at the breakfast that my name has been mentioned as a possibility for helping out over the summer. It would be a wonderful opportunity and I'd love to do it, but I don't know if they're looking for someone who is already ordained. If it's right, it will happen.

After church, I hung around the house waiting for everyone else to get themselves roused and ready to go have some fun. We didn't get out of the house until about 2, though, so we only had time to run some errands and eat lunch at Cleats. I love their fries. I was a little irritated with the boys' loud and inappropriate joking, but after I talked to J and J talked to them about the possible implications of their public behavior for my career, they toned it down somewhat. They were nappish in the car, but woke up in time to give us big hugs before we reached their father's house. They'd given us a really sweet Mother's Day card they made and the hugs were really nice, too. I think they are seeing more and more that life with their father is not a bed of roses. Last time they visited, they both said they'd rather live with us and told us about their dad chasing Boot with a golf club. That man is nuts. This weekend, they again said they'd rather live with us and Pie told us that their dad spends all the money on beer. Man, how that judge could have thought he was even remotely fit to parent them full-time is beyond me. Boot says he is going to drive them over to our place himself once he gets a truck. That's if his dad allows him to use it for that purpose. I bet he won't. What a piece of work!

We got home and poked around the yard to see what's growing. We have all kinds of wildlife coming through our yard all the time. J has seen a fox and deer, I've seen groundhogs and possums and a baby skunk. We see squirrels and stray cats all the time. We have a madly-blooming pink azalea bush amongst the scraggly pine out the kitchen window. I'm looking forward to planting some hanging baskets for the front porch & herbs and tomatoes for the deck. This is the last week of school and I am thrilled to be able to stay home for the summer. This being away from home 3-4 days a week is too much!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Anne Sexton Rocked!


It is in the small things we see it.The child's first step,as awesome as an earthquake.The first time you rode a bike,wallowing up the sidewalk.The first spanking when your heartwent on a journey all alone.When they called you crybabyor poor or fatty or crazyand made you into an alien,you drank their acidand concealed it.

Later,if you faced the death of bombs and bulletsyou did not do it with a banner,you did it with only a hat tocover your heart.You did not fondle the weakness inside youthough it was there.Your courage was a small coalthat you kept swallowing.If your buddy saved youand died himself in so doing,then his courage was not courage,it was love; love as simple as shaving soap.

Later,if you have endured a great despair,then you did it alone,getting a transfusion from the fire,picking the scabs off your heart,then wringing it out like a sock.Next, my kinsman, you powdered your sorrow,you gave it a back ruband then you covered it with a blanketand after it had slept a whileit woke to the wings of the rosesand was transformed.

Later,when you face old age and its natural conclusionyour courage will still be shown in the little ways,each spring will be a sword you'll sharpen,those you love will live in a fever of love,and you'll bargain with the calendarand at the last momentwhen death opens the back dooryou'll put on your carpet slippersand stride out.

~ Anne Sexton ~

(The Awful Rowing Toward God)

Bras and Barbecue

I got up this morning with the clear intention to get myself a new white bra, with no holes in the fabric and no underwire snaking its way out. When I told Jeanie, she said she'd love to go along, if I didn't mind. Mind??? She's got to be kidding! I love having an auntie who likes to go shopping and do girly stuff with me. I adore my friends, but we mostly do things like play with art or have serious discussions. Jeanie is my partner in frivolity. She's got me hooked on "American Idol" even!!! I held my breath with trepidiation tonight until I found out my guy, David Cook, is going to be in the running next week. How ridiculous is that??? Only Jeanie could get me hooked on such inanity. I rarely even watch t.v. and certainly don't have "can't-miss" shows. And she's got me DVRing Idol.

So, we headed out to Kohl's to see about decent bras in our size. It turned out that they were having a special bra fitting event...who knew? So, we had an undiepalooza, then moved on to T.J. Maxx, where I found a Sam McBratney teacup for J ("I love you to the moon and back again"), a little fairy tale dress to hang jewelry on that I have been eyeing & not letting myself buy for a few years now and a journal to use for my renewed weight loss effort. We hit Avenue, too. Jeanie had never been in and was very excited by all the bright colors and with-it styles. I picked up some chocolate brown capris, a vintage-style periwinkle blouse with raised dots and a butter yellow T. Oh, and a slinky nightie for summer. Love sales!

After our shopping spree, it was well past lunch-time. I suggested either Logan's Roadhouse, Chili's or City Barbecue. I'd been in the mood for lady food, but there's not really anything like that in that area. I had also been wanting to try City Barbecue for a long time. It was very, very good and I even got free banana pudding when I decided Jeanie's looked good and went to get some for myself. How cool is that? The pulled pork was excellent. For a fuller review, see Had it been earlier in the day, I would have dragged her to The Winds, but I'm glad I tried City Barbecue. I will definitely go back.

Tonight, it's back to the study grind now that I know my man, David Cook, is safe for another week. And more study tomorrow, along with a batch of Mommy Bars (AKA 7-layer cookies or magic bars, but my mom loves them so much that they've earned a new name in our family) for class. I was going to do bite-sized spice cookies with icing and sprinkles, but that's just too fiddly for this point in the semester. I will take the time before I go to sleep to read more of Diablo Cody's memoir, Candy Girl. Her screenplay for Juno was utterly brilliant, so I knew I had to read this. And it's like candy, can't put it down.

Mother's Day and Maybration

After nearly a year between visits, we finally made it to Hickory Hill this past weekend. Since J didn't have the kids for Mother's Day (it just didn't happen to be our weekend and, of course, her ex couldn't be gracious enough to make an exception), I thought it would be good to be out of town. So, we made plans to visit my mom and Graham for the weekend. My directed study prof was gracious enough to allow for a postponement of our meeting, so I was able to leave Dayton fairly early for Cleveland. When I got home, J was in the midst of wrapping madness. We never made it down there to celebrate Christmas, so we planned to do it over the weekend. J had gotten word from the North Pole that they were creating a special holiday just for our family. Since last year and this year we celebrated Christmas in May, it is called Maybration. They dropped off a letter, gifts, special North Polar tags and a collection of pastel bags and tissue paper. We got everything prepped to go and loaded the car. The back seat was a festive wash of spring colors as we drove south.

We arrived at my mom's about 9 or 9:30 in the evening, in the rain. My mom met us with the ATV and we loaded it. J walked back, dry under her poncho, while I rode on the back of the ATV. I haven't been able to convince J to ride it yet, so she had a lot of walking to do. My mom fed us Morningstar Farms garden burgers (which was delicious) and we chatted for awhile, then settled down in the addition to sleep. In the morning, my mom made omelets and Graham showed us scads of books...vintage cheesecake for her and medieval mysticism (and women) for me. We had such fun visiting. Lunch was spent in the garden with my mom & Bobo, the darling cat, eating hummus and watching caterpillars. Then, we played a game called Time with my mom on the screened porch. It has cards with different words and images on them. You lay down 2 and each player gets 7. Then, you all lay down cards next to one or the other card and explain how the cards are connected. It was really interesting to see how differently we all told stories.

We headed down to Lenore's around 5:30 for dinner and Maybration festivities. My mom and J made white lasagna, with Lenore supervising, while Graham showed me things on the computer. I think I may be trying to add some links and photos to my blog in the next few weeks, now that he's showed me how. Hilarity reigned in the kitchen and the lasagna tasted all the better for the laughter all around while it was being made. We watched some Irving Klaw shorts then got down to the gifts. We had so much fun watching them open their gifts! J had also gotten a bunch of plastic pails and filled them with all kinds of foods, from flax seed and whole wheat flour to Cap'n Crunch and Hostess cupcakes, as useful gifts. We also gave Lenore a box of Malley's Chocolates, made in Cleveland, and my mom a box of Godiva chocolate-covered pretzels for Mother's Day. I gave J a picnic basket with a bunch of monkey dishes inside, along with a windchime for our new front porch. She found a signed first edition of Charles de Lint's "Moonlight and Vines" for me-very exciting! We finished the visit with Lenore's brownies, then headed back up the hill, exhausted. We got back about 1:30 Sunday morning, ready to sleep in!

We did sleep in and spent the morning visiting, then I made asparagus sandwiches and mojitos for brunch. We spent the afternoon visiting, getting loaded up on fabulous books and playing Pictionary with great roars of laughter, especially when I was trying to convey "hot dog" and couldn't draw one to save my life. I drew a hot dog cart, hot dog links, ketchup and mustard bottles (very badly), a baseball player and a hot dog on a bun. Looking back, I should have drawn a dog, then panting or a fan blowing on it or something. A dachshund on a bun? I am certainly not the artist my cousins Leah and Aaron are. The time finally came to ride and hike out. I always hate leaving. We drove home, stopping by Shoney's for dinner and hot fudge cake, then got home late and fed the outdoor cat. J got home last night to find another cat outside. She brought it food, but it ignored the food and walked a few steps, meowing at her. She followed as it led her to the outdoor cat, JJ, whose paw was mangled as though it had been chewed. She left him food & water nearby & planned to take him to the vet this morning, but he was better and wouldn't let her catch him. I hope he'll be okay. There was a fox in the yard tonight, so J thinks JJ may have tangled with the fox last night. I am so glad our cats are strictly indoor cats!

Monday, May 05, 2008

A Rainy Weekend with the Boys

Friday afternoon, we drove over to PA to pick up the kiddos. I'd made Bolognese sauce, so I heated it, boiled some bucati, set out some salad, fruit & bread when we got home. I like having sit-down dinners together. Sometimes it seems like it would be more convenient just to pick up something to eat on the way home, but I think dinners around the table are important. Boot is to the point now, at 15, where he sits with us even after he's finished, just to talk. He is a good conversationalist. Although he still sometimes (okay, often) makes utterly absurd comments, he also has a lot to say of import. I was just really impressed with him over the weekend. Pie, at 13, is still pretty much in his own little world. He socializes with us, but entirely on his terms. He'd rather be absorbed in a movie or video game, stopping by the room we're in every so often to swoop in for hugs & "I love you"s or, better yet, having us watch with him. It's fun to watch their development. They both have some serious physical development going on, too. Neither looks like a little boy at all anymore & Boot's got huge biceps! Pie's legs are getting quite long-I think he's going to be taller than his brother. After Friday dinner, Boot helped me clean up the kitchen (without being asked or even hinted to), then retreated to his room to watch t.v. He is so incredibly helpful anymore.

Saturday, J had to work early, so I went back to sleep for a little while after she left, then did some schoolwork. The boys awoke around 11 and immediately got deeply immersed in a video game. I was headed to Crocker Park's farmer's market and to teen-watch for a class at the Borders café. I invited the boys along. Boot was interested in going but had promised Pie he'd hang out with him. Of course Pie loves staying home with the screens. They flipped a coin and Boot apologetically said he'd stay home with Pie. We ordered them some pizza, then I headed out. After doing some observation and getting some groceries, I got a call from J telling me that she was done at work. We took Pie to the rec center to swim while Boot had a nap. We had a grand old time in the water. My new favorite exercise is doing walking-and-swimming laps in the lazy river. What a blast! J and Pie had fun in the lazy river, raced each other doing laps in the big pool and went down the water slide. After our swim, J and I hit the sauna for a few minutes (I wish they had a hot tub), then we went home and I made dinner. Boot remained asleep. Pie, J and I had "cowboy" burgers (with chili and cheese), fries, salad and tangerines.

Pie and J fell asleep on the couch watching Constantine while I chatted with my aunt Jeannie on the phone. She told me about joining WW & that she likes the leader I recommended (and wish I still lived near), about her plans for the house, about the odd things she's found while cleaning the basement. The job she is doing is Herculean. I wish I were able to help her more with it. I wish we lived closer, too. I'm going to have some serious Jeannie withdrawal over the summer. We are planning a birthday party for me, her, my 18 y.o. cousin and my 1 y.o. cousin, all July babies. Jeannie wants to make celebratory shrimp in beer and I plan to make a fancy white cake. I worked on schoolwork after I got off the phone. Boot woke up finally and consented to be interviewed for my class. He was very serious and thoughtful about his answers. I'm pretty proud of who he is. We ate some cherry pie together and talked for awhile after the interview was done. Then, I cleaned up the kitchen and roused J so we could go to bed. Fitful sleep, then in the very wee hours, punctuated by Pie's loud voice coming through the bedroom wall every 15 minutes for an hour or so and me having to go ask him to pipe down. I finally took him paper and a pen, telling him either to refrain from talking or to write notes. That worked and I was able to sleep again.

In the morning, J got up early and made sausage gravy, biscuits and scrambled eggs with green peppers and Monterey jack cheese. I slept as late as I could before the wild ameroogins began shrieking with laughter and running through the downstairs like a herd of elephants in full stampede, then heated up some breakfast & got ready for church. We had Christian Ed recognition and also senior recognition. I spoke to one of the seniors and she is planning to major in forensic accounting, which I think is a fascinating choice. This young lady really seems to have her head on straight. Her folks have done a great job with her. I spoke to our pastor and discovered that not only is his wife (who is undergoing chemo for a brain tumor, which is scary enough alone) being treated for a blood clot, but her blood sugar also spiked this week. They are really going through it. He looks run-down and I wish there were more I could do for him. I also talked to one of the mission trip organizers. The trip this year is down to Pipestem in West Virginia. I would like to go. The boys are too young, although Boot might be able to go if he wants to. J will not be able to go since she'll have Pie. Another year. I hate being away from her, but I really think I need to go.

After church, J and Pie were both crashed out on Boot's bed while Boot played a video game. I did some school work and looked at the new Gourmet magazine. When they awoke, we went to the mall, where I did some more teen observation over lunch in the food court. Boot and Pie were at their silliest, but that didn't stop Boot from clearing the table for us, unasked. Pie got a video game that was just within his budget and Boot got himself some testosterone (just what he needs!) and some kind of bulk-up crap. I wish J wouldn't allow him to get it. She reasons that it would be illegal if it were too bad, but I disagree. I also don't think they should be allowed to get energy drinks. I worry that they will both die of heart attacks before they turn 40. They have an uncle who died of a stroke before 40 and one who died of a heart attack before 55. I returned an outfit that just didn't hang right and got a couple of tops while we were there. J found a cute jacket and shirt combo to wear to work today. We had to take the kids back to their father's right from the mall. I interviewed Pie in the car. Both boys were utterly silly and I don't know how seriously to take Pie's interview. I'd wanted to get him without his brother around to influence him, but that didn't happen.

Conversation in the car got pretty interesting, though. Boot was saying he's not afraid of their father, that he can "take him" and Pie said, "Oh, yeah? How come you were running when he had the golf club, then?" Boot said, "Oh, I'm scared of anybody with a golf club!" J and I laughed and said that was a sensible stance to take, but WTF? What is going on that their father has a golf club and Boot is running from him? Pie and Boot both told us over the weekend that they'd rather live with us, they like it better here. So much for the judge's theory that we have an unhealthy relationship with them. Pie said his dad is too strict, in the interview, which is what prompted Boot's comment in the first place. At one point, too, J said she'd always known she would have kids, always wanted them. Boot said his dad had always been "trying to get married. Loser. He always tried to get married." Pie said, "Yeah, and then he married a lesbian!" Boot said, "Yeah, way to go, Dad. You got him on that one, Mom." They thought it was hysterically funny. So, the hero, it seems, has fallen. Doesn't mean I don't think the kids would betray us all over again, given the chance to make it right, because their dad offers no forgiveness for betrayal while we do. They can totally screw us and still have a relationship with us, still be loved by us. Not so with their father. It's all or nothing with that crazy guy. I'm glad he's not my dad or my ex. I wish he wasn't J's ex, either, that she'd had illegitimate kids or at least had legitimate kids with a decent guy. But it does J's heart good to know the hero worship has ended. That sounds mean, but when you've been where we've been, it's what we can manage. Of course I'd love for him to find happiness, get a life & stop being so bitter, stop trying to get revenge on J by using the boys as weapons. But in the meantime, it's nice to know they are starting to see him for who he is.

After we dropped them off, we headed home and had chicken fattoush, along with grapes, Marcona almonds and Boursin cheese while we watched crime shows. It was the season finale of Dexter, a 2-hour episode. I hadn't meant to like that show. I mean, the "hero" is a serial killer, for Pete's sake! But, it's absorbing, even as it's disturbing and I ended up hooked. I also like that they portray Miami a lot more realistically than CSI: Miami. You never get a real feel for Miami on that show. Well, I should finish my school work so I can go out with J and celebrate Cinco de Mayo tonight.

Sunday, May 04, 2008


Last weekend, I stayed at school for a weekend class called "Blue Collar Theology." Friday morning, I visited with my auntie and grandmom until it was time to go to class. From 1:30-7:00, we had class, which was really interesting. The visiting prof, Tex Sample, is a wonderful storyteller and I love his take on justice issues and the fact the he mentions heterosexism right along with racism, sexism and classism. At 7, we left the seminary for a field trip to a local honky tonk. Luckily, my friend Shelly was in the class so I had someone I know pretty well to go in with. Our assignment was to go in, in groups of no more than 3, and absorb the atmosphere, getting into conversations with folks in there. No easy job for someone whose usual approach to a bar is to take a notebook in and write to cover up my shyness. When we first arrived, we were about the only people there! Shelly and I positioned ourselves at the bar, with seats strategically left open on either side of us. Other seminarians joined us. We sat at the bar, talking and sipping drinks (the woman bartender, a nicely-built blonde with a friendly air, commented on my amaretto sour as "candy in a glass!" with a big grin). We waited and waited for folks to arrive, but not many did. Tex decided to move on to a wings place. We could stay or go with him. Shelly and I opted to stay, as did a number of others. I went over to the pool game a few of my classmates were engaged in, thinking they might be able to get into a conversation with the guys at the other table.

I ended up going over to one of them and saying, "Of all the things I suck at in pool, I suck the most at breaking." He then demonstrated the best way to do it. Not much conversation, but it was something & he was really nice. I finally noticed a small blond woman sitting alone at a table. She had a pink drink, so I went over and asked her what it was. She said she didn't know what it was called, but was happy to take me over to the bar for one of my own. While we waited, she offered me a taste of hers. Funny, when most people in church squawk over sharing the communion cup to the extent that we all end up with little shotglasses of juice rather than a common cup. It was pretty good, fruity and definitely fitting my criteria of "girly-fouffy." The bartender who'd been waiting on me said, "Are you leaving, baby?" I said I was just getting another drink and the other woman bartender told me it's called "The Shit" because when she made it up, someone tasting it said, "This is the shit!" I sat with my Shit a couple stools down from the girl I'd met. I introduced myself and asked if she was there with the band. "Yeah, I'm Heather. I'm here with the drummer." We chatted and she was highly offended that a couple of the guys in the bar were grabbing the waitress' ass and the waitress wasn't doing anything about it. I liked that about her. She asked if I was going to dance when the band started & I said, "Probably. I suck at dancing, but I like to, anyway." She said, "I suck, too, but I just say, 'Fuck 'em!' We should dance together!" A little later, she asked if I play pool. I said I do, but I suck at it. She exclaimed, "Me, too! We should play!" So, we did. Neither of us was very good, but it was fun. My classmates, failing to find anyone to talk to, hung out at a table. One of us had managed to get into a pool game with one of the guys, too, but overall, we didn't have much interaction success. We heard that some guys from the American Legion were coming later, but we had to be back in class by 8:30 the next morning, so we bailed about 10:30. Frankly, it didn't seem a whole lot different from any other bar I'd go to, but then much of my bar-going experience is from Nashville. I had fun talking to Heather and laughing over my pool-challengedness.

When I got back to my grands', my auntie helped me get a couple of the bookcases I'd bought at IKEA loaded in my car, then we all went to bed. Class lasted until 4 the next day, then I drove home. It was great to be here for the first time in 2 weeks! J had a dinner of good cheeses (Manchego, brie, extra-sharp cheddar), fruits (strawberries, Pink Lady apple slices and Pixie tangerines) and bread, plus some cabernet chocolate sauce for dipping waiting for me. She opened a bottle of Chandon and gave me a really pretty negligee she'd bought for me. We had a lovely night together, then slept in Sunday. We puttered about the house for much of the day. She made us filet mignon and bucati with spicy butter for lunch. Then, we checked out a couple of bars. I guess it was just my weekend for bars. First, we went to a sad little dive of a lesbian bar called The Paradise Inn in Cleveland. They had no Sunday liquor license (I don't drink beer) and not much was going on besides "America's Funniest Pets and People" on the t.v. The people were friendly, but it was just a little too rough for me. Reminded me of a place where my most-recent ex would be really comfortable. We ended up having dinner at a local bar called Dover Gardens, excellent double cheeseburgers made in the back by the bartender. I would definitely go back there. I think it's funny that I was so much more comfortable in that het bar than in the lesbian bar. We went to The Nickel, another lesbian bar just down the street, Thursday night and I was so much happier there. We chatted with the bartenders, played trivia, put lots of music on the jukebox, ate tacos and laughed riotously. Now, I just have to find a good gay bar in Dayton to take my class to when I teach queer theology!