Monday, February 28, 2011

Amos Lee - Flower

a good weekend

Austin vs. The Leaning Towels of Pisa (yuck yuck)

Austin helping me "clean up" after he helped me make my mom's birthday cake. I somehow failed to get any pictures at our little party. What the hell, Steph?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Alexander - A Million Years

Don't ask me about the picture, I didn't pick it (though it is cute), but I just love this crazy SOB. Another by his band here.

Please make it quick

A heart-breaking story from New Zealand.

Hold your little ones to you while you can.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

To be or not to be watching Spongebob

I've been thinking some about the subject of suicide lately. IN THEORY ONLY, mind you. Partly because I found this blog ( by a woman who's husband just killed himself this January, partly because I watched The Sunset Limited (trailer below), and partly just because. I will admit to having spells in my life when I've fantasized about slitting my wrists, taking a bottle of pills, or driving my car into an oncoming truck. But why do people do it? AND why do people who only think about it, decide not to do it?

Well, I certainly can't answer either of those questions across the board, but I think it must come down to hopelessness.

I know there are people who only don't do it because of religious reasons -- they believe they will go to hell. I personally don't have that particular barrier. I just think about the pain that would be left behind... children crying for their mother, and not knowing why she is gone forever.

But even aside from that, I've personally never gotten to the point when I couldn't find any small pleasures in life. Even in hard times, I like to eat, I listen to music. I watch Spongebob. (Just the other day I told Dan that when I'm in a really bitchy mood, watching Spongebob snaps me out of it. I was trying to give him a subtle hint about how to handle me. I don't know if he picked up on it.)

I don't know where I'm going with any of this. Maybe I'm just really shallow if TV and music give me something to live for (I'm oversimplifying and being a tad sarcastic here) or maybe I'm just super-duper fortunate to have never felt that I am without support. I have never in my life felt truly alone. My mother and grandparents have been such a solid foundation for my whole life, and I can only hope to be the same for my children.

In The Sunset Limited, the suicidal character had lost faith in his "religion" of choice, culture. He basically thought culture (and civilization) had gone to hell in a hand basket. I thought that was kind of a bullshit reason to want to kill yourself, but obviously I'm a bit of a twit if I like Spongebob at 33 years old.

I thought too about Love. Isn't love something to live for? Not just romantic love, of course, but love for siblings or friends or pets or WHOEVER. And there it comes back to connections, support. Not being alone.

Yesterday in therapy, we talked some about Lori's statement that she had set Garrison free. Free from what I asked, even though I knew the answer. Some say there is no hell. Some say the only hell there is is the one we make right here on earth. I can see that. But there is also a hell of a lot beauty and good and love here on earth. Why would I want to miss it?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Harlem River Blues

A cheery little ditty for you on this fine Wednesday.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

still unable to understand two years later

Tomorrow (Wednesday) it will be two years since my friend Lori killed her own 17-month old son.

When I first heard the news on February 24, 2009, I went into the mode of trying to understand. This started (for me) with a process of elimination. Was there any chance someone else had done it? No. Was it an accident? No. What was the weapon used? They couldn't say. Her husband didn't know (at first) and the police and lawyers had to be careful about the investigation. All the newspaper said was that there was blunt force trauma to his head and (a) puncture wound(s) in his abdomen.

I thought that the weapon would say a lot about whether something happened in the heat of the moment (which I assumed was the case). Like a hairdryer in the bathroom, or a knife in the kitchen... whatever was at hand. Or if it had been planned, like when Julie Schenecker had bought a gun just days before killing her two teenaged children in Florida.

I had asked her husband what he thought the weapon was, and at one point he told me it might have been her bare hands. How is that even possible? I wondered. He described the scene he found as "ritualistic."

As it turns out, the head trauma was caused by a goblet or chalice type item.

It wasn't until just a few weeks ago, during the trial, that I learned that an arrowhead was retrieved from the autopsy. It was left in him?

For some reason, this fact left me reeling. It just seemed so... disrespectful, I guess.

When I visited Lori in March of 2009, the subject of food came up (something we used to talk about quite a bit) and she said to me, there in jail, that your body is your temple. I thought to myself, "what about Garrison's temple?"

I wrote a few days back that I had to decide whether to go see Lori before she is sentenced, because she may end up too far away to visit after that. I thought briefly about going tomorrow, it being the anniversary and all. But when I thought about what I wanted to say to her, all I could come up with was hurtful things. But that wouldn't help anything. It wouldn't make me feel better. That's not the kind of person I want to be. So instead, I guess I will go see the therapist I saw for about a year after Lori's arrest. I can still go visit her in the next few weeks if talking it through with my therapist brings any more light to why I (sort of) want to go see her.


My therapist doesn't know yet that my mother-in-law died, or my step-dad's mother, so I suppose we will talk about that some too.

Sitting in the church on Saturday for E's memorial, I had the thought that these things are getting entirely too close together. And, in all likelihood, we are not done yet. I don't know any better than anyone else how long my grandpa will be alive, it may be months or years, but he is getting more tired and more weak all the time. I can feel it looming.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

some pictures to remember it by

We got home from Disneyland on Thursday, but I was only somewhat coherent by that time. Today we have a memorial service to go to, and most of yesterday this computer was being used by Dan to make a video with photos from E's life to show at the service, hence my delay in posting the following.

We had to take care of lots of business first. Since I had bought our tickets to the park when I booked the hotel, we had to go check into the hotel to get our tickets to go into the park... this is where we started testing Austin's patience.

They no longer officially refer to Disneyland as "The Happiest Place on Earth," (they did for many years) but apparently they've let go of that particular piece of false advertising. Austin spent and unreasonable amount of time crying. Mostly because he didn't want to leave whatever he was enjoying at the time (ToonTown) or because he wanted very much to leave whatever someone else was trying to enjoy at the time (everything but ToonTown).

Ready to go. Finally.

We have a long standing tradition of riding Pirates of the Caribbean first, but I didn't get any pictures there because Austin was crying that he "wanted to get out of here" from the time the line goes inside (it's fairly dark inside) until the boat lurched forward to start the ride. I was just at that moment ready to get off the boat and give up on that ride, but it took off before the words were out of my mouth and Austin went completely silent for the duration of the ride, clinging to me like a baby. Upon disembarking he immediately and proudly proclaimed himself a real pirate!

From there we bought some pirate paraphernalia at Pieces of Eight, Dan and Maya went to the Haunted Mansion (Austin and I sat that one out, didn't want to push my luck) before we took the train to Fantasy Land.

There's a knowing cynicism in these "smiles" we were on our way into It's a Small World.

This one's kind of dark, but can you see his face? He loved Small World.

After Small World, we went around the corner into ToonTown. Had I to do it again, I may have kept ToonTown a secret until Austin was about 30.

The main reason for going to ToonTown is to meet Mickey and take a picture with him.

Each of the main, classic Disney characters has a house in ToonTown. Austin had to get is Pirate on in Donald Duck's house (boat).

Goofy's house is really cool for little kids, there's some stuff to climb on and over in a small space (as opposed to pirate island where they can easily get lost). But then it was time to leave ToonTown and the rest of day one was a blur of tears and pleas to go back to see Mickey.

Eventually we did successfully ride another ride (Toy Story Midway Mania over in Disney's California Adventure) and we tried to watch World of Color (a light show with "performing fountains" of water) in our "reserved" spot that we got with the hotel package, but that was a joke... couldn't really see a damn thing.

Day two started with the most expensive breakfast buffet in the history of the world where the kids ate cereal and fruit. And then the rain started.

Day two had it's rough spots. One of which was smoothed over by a very large lollipop for Austin while Dan and Maya went on Space Mountain.

We went to Captain EO and I was surprised that the song made me tear up... I don't really consider myself a big Michael Jackson fan, but it was very moving.

The Buzz Lightyear ride was having some issues (it kept stopping midway) and apparently so was I. Maya beat my ass 27,500 to 5,700.

Thankfully, Dan redeemed the Parents team by kicking Austin's ass, 172,500 to 4,500.

From there it was back to Fantasy Land for some classic rides... Peter Pan was a big hit with Austin... over all, Fantasy Land was where we had the most peace (as a family) all three days.

Anyone know what these flowers are? The petals were tissue paper thin.

Each restroom is decorated to match the theme of the area it's in... this one by Alice in Wonderland caught my attention with the heart shaped tiles and playing card stall doors.

Dan and Maya went on Matterhorn and I took Austin back to ToonTown... here he's on Minnie's couch with a mouth full of popcorn.

And back to Mickey's house... followed by Donald's and Goofy's and a bit of a meltdown on the way out of ToonTown (again) before we decided to go back to the hotel for a rest. We picked up smoothies and pizza slices to eat in the room. By this time it was about 3:30. At 5 we were just about ready to give it another go, when Austin passed out.

I hung out in the room while Austin snoozed and Dan and Maya went to DCA. Have I mentioned how much I love this hotel? I really do.

Austin slept on the trundle bed under the bunk beds for 13 hours that night.

Meanwhile, Dan got Maya onto a roller coaster twice.

The next morning we hit the pavement without breaking the bank at the buffet and indulged Austin his desire to stop and admire every fountain along the way. There are a lot of fountains in Downtown Disney.

Maya wasn't as enamored with the fountains.

Back to Fantasy Land... and I think the best hour or so we had as a family the whole trip.

After having a painful experience the day before on the rocket ships in Tomorrow Land, I sat out Dumbo... Maya and I are no longer small enough to sit together on the rocket ships... I didn't know if I would be able to walk after spending a very long 60 seconds with all of her weight on my bad knee.

The camera had a hard time capturing the speed of Dumbo... Dan's head isn't usually that trapezoidal.

That's probably why they have a stationary Dumbo off to the side for photo opps.

Death by Teacups.

After Fantasy Land we headed back to Adventure Land for the only thing besides Pirates that I had to do... the Jungle Cruise.

Maya wasn't really feeling it.

I think Austin wasn't too sure whether the animals were real or not...

We knew it was almost time to hit the road back home, so Dan did some shopping while the kids and I sat for a minute and had a snack. I had never noticed this Tattooing window before.

We told Austin we were going back to the hotel, and we were going to break it to him gently that it was time to go home once we were in the car... but Maya let the cat out of the bag while we were waiting for our bags at Bell Services. Remind me to kick her ass for that one.

The sky was a perfect blue with cotton ball clouds all the way home. We made amazing time on what can be a horrible freeway drive at the wrong time. Then we got in the house and were greeted with the smell of an entirely different kind of mouse shit.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's

Sunday, February 13, 2011

06 to 09

I was looking for some photos to use for E's memorial and made the obvious mistake of opening the folder of pics from my baby shower in the spring of 2006. There were a few with Lori in there and I knew there were, that's why I say it was a mistake to look at them to begin with.

It's pretty small. I apologize for that but I had to crop it for privacy reasons. She looked so pretty there (on the right), I think.

This is either morbid or self indulgent (or both) but I thought I'd compare it to her mug shot.

Somewhere along the line, something changed in her. She had mental health issues for her whole life, but so many people do... including me. What made it worse for her? I imagine it's just a matter of brain chemicals, but know it's not quite that simple.

I have a decision to make in the next few weeks. I don't know where she will be kept long term. She may end up in a prison several hours away from here or just down the road. If she does go up north (or anywhere very far away) I know I won't ever make the trip to go see her. If I want to see her or talk to her in person again, I may need to do it before sentencing in April.

Obviously, I have mixed feelings about it.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


The kids had to show me some coloring pages they had done... Spider-man of course.

Maya looks pretty, no? Austin, can't you stand still for one second?

He markered his face. I don't even know what to say about their expressions here. Other than ah HAhahahaha. Freaks.

Pinky sunset

Friday, February 11, 2011

every freaking day

I mean, who wouldn't want to come home to this? I try. I really try not to go all chauvinistic-male-1950s-husband on Dan. I don't want to be all, I work all day and you damn well better clean this place up...

But damn it, I do work all day. And I get that he has health issues and is in pain much of the time. I do. But he can't even get his Pepsi cans into the recycle for fuck's sake.

I am grateful to him, I am. He gets the kids to school and back home everyday and makes sure Maya does her homework. I am grateful to not have to worry about that. But I would give my left testicle (if I had one) to be home with my kids. And I would wager a guess that on my worst day I would get more done around the house than he does on his best day.

Maya had practice last night for a performance they're doing at church, and by the time we got home at 8:30, there was not one clean spoon in the house with which to eat ice cream. We have 24 place settings. Twenty-four. AND THEY WERE ALL DIRTY. HOW THE HELL DOES THAT HAPPEN IN JUST A COUPLE DAYS? So I loaded the dishwasher and ate my ice cream with a serving spoon.

NOTE: I'm venting here. No slamming Dan for being a lazy bum in the comments.


While Maya was at practice I was reading this book. I really really like it. It's reminding me of all the things that I like and appreciate about Buddhism (and surfers). I think it's going to be good for me.

I'm actually reading the Kindle Edition on my phone. The clouds parted and a choir of angels sang as the light shone down. I always have my phone (so I don't have to remember to take the book with me) and it saves my place for me (no bookmark-receipts falling out)... awesome.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Big D

I lifted this black and white aerial image of the 1955 Disneyland from our buddy DTG over at I've had dreams like that. (He lifted it from The Orange County Archives.)

I immediately had the reaction that all aging Californians do when looking upon an area that has changed over the years... See that area over there? It used to be all orange groves. And that over there? Used to be all strawberry fields.

And just for the hell of it, I went to my good friend Google Maps and got the modern day shot...

Two parks where there used to be one (Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure), three hotels, and parking as far as the eye can see. (The somewhat triangular shape in the b/w has become the somewhat round greenish shape in the upper center here.)

It's sort of remarkable how closely you can zoom in on the satellite shots. I will be right there in just a matter of days.

I suppose I should feel bad for contributing to such a thing, but I'm really just looking forward to it.

What's the opposite of irony?

I should know better than to read the comments on the news stories about Lori, but this one was too good to ignore.


Yes, I know, I know there are the psuedo-intellectual atheists out there choking on their bong pipes as they read this post (in between their junior college classes that they've been taking for the last 15 years or so). But the reality is humanity is becoming more and more barbaric. Senseless murdering and violence are becoming more and more common. Atrocious and demented acts are a thing of daily occurrence where most now barely raise an eye brow to such acts. More and more we have or are quickly becoming desensitized to such horrific acts. The bible clearly states the signs of end times where evil will be good and good will be evil (hence the liberal atheists who support abortion and other senseless acts), and most will be unable to distinguish between the two.

Yes, this may very well sound like southern Baptist bible thumping preaching, but it's true.

First of all, this commenter uses this horrible occurrence as an example of the coming end times... considering the fact that Lori allegedly believed the world would end in 2012 and that was [part of] why she did it is just so... well it's making my brain twist around back on itself like a pretzel that's about to be crushed under some shit-kickin boots.

Second, this commenter described me to a T in that first sentence... a pseudo-intellectual atheist that's been taking junior community college courses for 15 years. I almost fell out of my chair. It's like he knows me.

Apparently, finding humor in inappropriate places is my coping mechanism of choice these days.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I guess that's that

Key points from today's minutes (emphasis added):

AS TO COUNT 2 [Asslt on Child w Injury/Death]:

I don't know why I would be surprised that the sentencing won't happen until April, but it sure seems like a long way off. I do feel relief that this is over, but I think I will feel more settled when sentencing and transport have happened and she is wherever she will be.

Siddhartha was a chickenshit

You know how much easier enlightenment would be if I just took off? Hell, let's all just leave our elderly parents and spouses lonely, in the lurch and missing us. Not knowing if we are alive or dead. Left to clean up our messes.

Siddhartha was a self-centered prick. How's that for being a good buddhist?

Sorry. I'm cranky today. It's not even PMS. Just good old fucking cranky.

probably no

Jury deliberations continue today in the sanity phase of Lori's trial. There are moments when the darker side of my sense of humor peeks through and I wonder whether it would be in bad taste to take bets on the issue. (Of course it would be in bad taste, that's part of what makes it funny.)

Anyhoo, I'll get the ball rolling. I am no legal expert, but I don't think the defense's case that she was "legally" insane went all that well. So I think they will decide she was sane. Anyone care to take that bet?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

right now

The outdoor grill is fired up. The smell of wood smoke permeates.

A girl practices her guitar.

The jury deliberates.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Kings of Leon

This song has been pulling on me for a couple days. In spite of the repeated reference to celebrating, there's a sort of sad tone to it. Like he needs to celebrate to turn things around. I just wonder one thing. Who wears pantyhose anymore?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

I picked one

A few days ago, I asked a question... how to use my tax refund. Well, today we booked a short stay at the big hotel at Disneyland.

If yer gonna do it, do it right.

I can't tell you how many times today I've had to tell Austin how many days until we go.

Friday, February 4, 2011

day trippin

I was struck this morning at how my relief at being done with testifying in Lori's trial has morphed into a new wave of sadness. I was at the drive through getting a breakfast burrito for the road and I didn't realize I was on the verge of crying until I couldn't speak to place my order. My throat caught and I had to take a second and collect myself.


I had to drive out to the desert for a work thing today. The landscape change from here to there is subtle at first. The scrub brush gets less and less dense and then all of a sudden you run across sand dunes.

This sand bar had a row of dead trees in it. They may have burned in a fire, or it may have been some kind of disease.

I had the opportunity to see the back side of a mountain I spend everyday of my life looking at the front side of. I'm sure the lovely people of Palm Springs would argue with me as to which is the front side or back side, but this is my blog.

I always enjoy passing through the wind farms. At the right distance, when the blades are slowly turning, wind farms have a certain elegance to them.

Get a little closer though and you begin to see how pointy those blades are and if you get even closer, they almost look a little violent.

Disclaimer: Kids, DO NOT attempt to take photos while operating a motor vehicle at approximately 80 MPH. Do as I say.

And just an observation... 66° in the desert is not the same as 66° in the valley. The air must be thinner or something. More of the sun gets to your skin.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

a quick update and a question

I survived. I'm not supposed to talk about what they asked me or what I said. It wasn't fun, but I'm sure it could have been worse.

So, just so we can talk about something else, I have a question for you... I'm getting a decent tax refund, and I'm trying to decide what to do with it.

Should I/we

  • get new carpet for the bedrooms and bamboo or wood floor for the rest of the house?
  • take the kids for a mini vacation to Disneyland and stay at a hotel there?
  • put it in a savings account and forget about it?

Pick one.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

nothing to report

Uggh. I went down there and waited all day, and they haven't finished up yet with the dude that's been testifying since the end of last week, so I have to report back tomorrow. I was warned that if I didn't show up, they would issue a warrant for my arrest. Awesome. People must bitch about wasting a whole day and missing work.