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Thursday, March 30, 2006

The Story of Us - V

If you are just now tuning in, you have landed smack-dab into the fifth part of the story from mine and my husband's early years. You can read parts one through four below or you can just scoot right in now. I'm trying to make each part its own so if you have just landed here, you won't feel too terribly lost. Sorry in advance if some of the details are a repeat for you regular readers.

After spending a long day at the mall together, as friends, buying Christmas presents for family members, I let on to knowing the perfume he took so long to purchase was not actually for his sister as he claimed.

One night, soon after, I was working at the store. Mr. LaMe dropped by for a visit with his girlfriend in tow. She was an odd one, wearing what looked like her mother's clothes, complete with an over-sized sequence bag draped across her chest like a crossing guard's sash. Her green eyeliner shaped her eyes like a cat's. Her bangs were curled under, like Vicki the robot in Small Wonder. And that oh-so-familiar fragrance, seeped off of her.

A tiny part of my inner-bitch wanted to tell her I shopped with her boyfriend and helped to pick out the fragrance she was wearing. I refrained.

He looked typical 80s with his hair helmet-hard, geometrically shaped like Max Headroom's and held together with the magic powers of Aquanet.

He claimed to be there just to check the schedule to find out when he needed to work again. I knew he was full of crap because his schedule, like mine, was always the same. I tried making small talk with the girl but I saw him in my peripheral vision trying to flag me down from the backroom.

I offered up some lame excuse and headed to the backroom to see what he wanted. "Can you like sell me some beer?"

"You're 19, right?"

"Yeah. Hey, I can't believe I never asked, but like... how old are you?"

"Irrelevant. You are too young and I'm not losing my job for you."

"It's not for me. My sister asked me to get her some... and like, I thought since you know me... you would like, ya know... be cool with that."

"Funny, but last time I saw your sister, she looked pregnant. New girl driving you to drink already?"

"Why are you like always giving me a hard time and stuff?"

"Because I can."

Mad at me he gave his girlfriend a tour of the White Hen Pantry. I know he wasn't proud of where he worked and I was pretty sure he was just trying to annoy me. He succeeded.

He didn't stay mad long and finally admitted that he was trying to bring his girlfriend out of her odd little shell. I invited him to another party in an effort to coax the girl.

(Dear Mom, please ignore the next few lines of text. Love, Lois)

"My friend's band is playing and they are expecting at least 150 people. It's a kegger party, well, there will probably be a few kegs. If that doesn't loosen her up a bit, nothing will."

I told him when and where and he offered to pick me up.

"Yeah, only, I don't do third wheel so good, plus it's right down the street and I can walk there and crawl home if need be. Besides, Andy offered to give me a ride if I need one."


"Yeah, Andy. My friend. The guy having the party." He had a perplexed look on his face, so I continued. "The lead guitarist of the band. The one who is the spitting image of Lars Ulrich. The drummer for Metallica."

"Sounds like a poser. Is he like a good friend of yours, Lois?"

"He is a good friend of mine, and if you were less of a dweeb, he'd probably be a friend of yours too. See you at 8?"

"Will there be slamdancing and stuff?"

"You really are, like totally a neo-maxi-zoom-dweebie."

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The Story Of Us IV

Some of you fine readers asked for another chapter about mine and the old man's early days together, so today, I bring you another installment. The first night was a doozie. I asked Mr. Lane to go on a fake date with me in an effort to impress my cousin. See part one and part two and a few pictures in part three if you are just now tuning in.

He hammed it up as much as any 19-year-old boy possibly could. Just coming from Southern California, that night was the first time he ever drove in the snow. On our way back to my house, it was really coming down. Back then, seatbelts were not mandatory but I felt compelled to put mine on. Not having worn it earlier on our way to the party, I felt it was important to tell him I was putting it on only because I am a nervous passenger in bad weather. I didn't want him to think I was worried about his driving skills. The teenage male ego is a fragile thing.

When I finally mustered the courage to put my seatbelt on, I began explaining, "It's nothing you are doing..."

"It's funny that you are doing that now," he said while reaching for his own seatbelt. "'Cuz, I was like... I was just, ya know, feeling uneasy about this snow stuff and I was totally going to put mine on. We even think alike."

Less than three minutes after we buckled up, the car spun out and into a utility pole. We looked at each other in disbelief, mouths gapping wide open to match our eyes.

"Holy shit, are you okay?" I asked.

"That was totally like a sign and stuff. I am just like freakin' out. Damn that was like... so weird."

"So, you're good?"

"Totally. You?"

"I'm fine."

We got out of the car to see the damage. The front bumper was resting on the pole in the median. Slight dent, tiny scratch, no big deal. We got back in the car, fastened our seatbelts and slowly crept back to my house. Without further incident, we made it safe and sound. We talked in the parked car for a little while, saying goodbye was awkward.

I'm not entirely sure why, but I felt the need to avoid him after that. Maybe I was liking him but I just told myself, he is work people. No fraternizing with work people.

He was relentless in his quest to become friends or more. He stopped by the store during my shift. When I told him I also worked at the mall, he was very excited.

"I like totally need to get some Christmas presents for my sister. You want to take me to the mall someday?"

I told him I was too busy in the upcoming week and said I would try to plan for it soon.

During that week of avoiding him, he met another girl, a girl I knew from school. They started dating. He came into the store to tell me he really messed things up.

"Lo, I know you don't want to go out with me and stuff, but I like really am in trouble, 'cuz like... this girl asked me out and I totally said yes without even knowing anything about her and stuff."

Even though I already knew who she was, I pretended I didn't. I let him tell me everything he knew about her, which wasn't very much. He didn't even know her last name and for some reason that amused me.

I told him, "She goes to my school. She's really not one of my friends, so I can't tell you much more than you already know. She's quiet ya know? Kinda eccentric but I guess she's okay."

"She is really quiet and I don't think she gets my jokes, or like maybe she doesn't think I'm even funny. I don't know Lois, maybe it'll be okay when I know her more and stuff. I like... already know you, and I like..."

"Enough about that. I guess you don't still need help finding the mall, right?"

"It'd be fun to hangout and stuff. I mean, if you want."

"No more fake dates or weird shit, okay?"

"Saturday good?"

"Pick me up at 10."

As soon as we arrived at the mall, he wanted me to show him the store where I worked. I laughed at that boy, "You don't think I would really take you to the mall I work at, did you?"

He took the news pretty well. We shopped for hours, closed the mall. We talked nearly nonstop. When we got in the car to head back home, he started acting really weird. I asked him what he was thinking about and he laughed at me for noticing something was amiss.

"You like know me pretty well. Hey, I wanted to tell you sorry and like let you know I lied and now I like feel kinda bad and stuff."

"No guy buying perfume for his sister would take as much time sniffing different ones as you did. I knew who it was really for. Ya know, real friends don't have to lie to each other. Besides, you suck at lying."

He looked at me, shook his head and smiled. "You're cute."

Treating him like a chauffeur, I said, while pointing, "Home James."

The Home Fires Haiku Hullabaloo contest is shaping up quite nicely. Lots of entries already found their way to my inbox. If you would like a chance at winning some fabulous prize yet to be decided upon, send your original haiku to me at The deadline for entering the contest is April 3.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Who's Your Daddy?

Yesterday, Mr. Lane and Lane 1 were wrestling. Father and son, goofing off, showing off and enjoying roughhousing together.

After about twenty minutes, I told my husband, "Honey, you're getting kind of winded. You might want to stop before you get hurt." He tried ignoring me and continued to wrestle with the boy.

Two minutes later, my old man's breathing was obviously more strained. Breathing completely normal and effortlessly, Lane 1 said, "Okay Darth, simmer down. I know you are my father."

I think I may have scared some of you with the definition posted for haiku. You ought to know by now, I am not one to follow rules. Besides, the only haiku I could do is the fifth grade version Bud Buckley mentioned.

So all you need are five syllables in line one, followed by seven syllables in line two and then five more in the third line of text. You can have as many lines as you wish as long as they follow the 5 - 7 - 5 rule and submit via e-mail at . There is no theme. You can be as lovely, crass or brown-noserish as you want. Simple, right?

Now, I will openly break the law. Do any of you have any photo editing software you can send my way via e-mail?

You know what really blows camels? When a magazine picks up your story and spells your fucking name wrong. Really people, how difficult is copy and paste? That's what I thought. At least their check cleared.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Wise Beyond Her Years

Lane 2 was playing Harvest Moon on her Game Cube, which is like a farming kid's version of Sims, and she yelled, "Mom! I'm getting married!"

Mr. Lane gave me a concerned look. I yelled back, "That's great honey!"

Not having any idea what was going on, Mr. Lane went with the don't ask don't tell policy, and stared blankly into his coffee cup.

A few minutes later, I went into her room and asked how it was being married.

She said, "Just like in real life Mom, they treat it like it's just any other day. "

After a weekend of catching up on blogs, I'm pretty sure my eyeballs are going to fall out. Did you know there are more than a hundred and fifty bloggers in my favorites? I think I am caught up with most of you. Did I miss yours? Drop me a line to let me know. I am having trouble keeping track of everyone. What? Use my Blogroll or Bloglines? Hahaha, that is just silly.

Haiku Hullabaloo took 34% of the contest vote. I received three entries over the weekend. The contest deadline is April 3. That gives you one week to e-mail your entry to me at please do not leave your entry in the comments. All haikus will be posted on the blog and you readers will get to vote for your favorite. I will also accept prize suggestions by e-mail or in the comments.

Wikipedia defines haiku: is a mode of Japanese poetry, a late 19th century revision by Masaoka Shiki of the older hokku, the opening verse of a linked verse form, haikai no renga . A traditional hokku consists of a pattern of approximately 5, 7, and 5 morae, phonetic units which only partially correspond to the syllables of languages such as English. It also contains a special season word (the kigo) descriptive of the season in which the renga is set. Hokku often combine two (or rarely, three) different elements into a unified sensory impression, with a major grammatical break (kire) usually at the end of either the first five or second seven morae. These elements of the older hokku are considered by many to be essential to haiku as well, although not always included by modern writers of Japanese "free-form haiku" and of non-Japanese haiku. Senryu is a similar poetry form that emphasizes humor instead of seasons.

Simple, right?

Friday, March 24, 2006

Have A Groovy Weekend!

Crazy busy again - still. What started out to be a freelance story for a media wire, has turned into this off-the-hook monster that could likely turn into a book. I can't go into any details here or now, but it is one of those stories that just boggles the mind.

Over the last few days I have been on the phone more than I have been in my new car. Not exactly what I'd like to be doing. I want to cruise with the sunroof open and the radio blasting, but that all has to be set aside for what is important. Blogging.

Okay, so I don't really choose cruising over blogging all of the time but it's a new-to-me car and my first car to ever have a bra. Yes, I am easily amused. Not so much as my old man who was hanging out of the sunroof lifting his shirt when we took our first cruise. I wish I was capable of driving and taking photos at the same time. Holy shit it was a funny sight. Freaked the kids out a little. They were certain we were driving Dad to the nuthouse after that stunt.

Busy and slightly sidetracked, I wanted to post a quickie to let you to know I have not forgotten any of you. And for those of you who emailed, I miss you too. For those of you who didn't email, you're also missed. I feel like I am missing out on the news in your part of the world when I can't tune into your blogs on a daily basis. It's like being out of the loop in a way. Hopefully I can catch up this weekend.

I really want to get back to the story of us, if you guys want to read more. I'd like to write the (hopeful) conclusion to Catman (the guy who told my mom he hated her dog.) I'd love to tell you about my sister Mary's quack ass doctor. It'd also be fun to tell you about how the visit with the in-laws is going. Did I mention they will be here until Easter? Pimp My Bike continues but I have no time to tell you what is new about the LO Racer 2006. Hell, I've barely had time to ride the damn thing.

The blog is supposed to be getting a makeover but I've been slow getting back to Seven, who is an amazingly patient person. Anyone want to help me make up my mind and tell me what changes you would like to see here?

Today is the official start to Spring Break, which means more time with the kids, which likely will result in more stories to share, providing there is time to write.

The contest poll will be removed tonight, so if you didn't get your vote in, now's the time to do so. Haiku Hullabaloo remains in the lead. If you would like to send in your Haiku early, feel free to send it to All entries will be posted on the blog and readers will get to vote for their favorite. I will remove the names before posting so this doesn't turn into a popularity contest. Please do not put your entry in the comments.

I will leave you with a weekend poem:
The weekend is here
Time to unwind
Turn up the music
Pour me some wine

I've had a shitty week
Just busy, no time to speak
I wrote a lot of news and junk
I'd rather have been stuffing the old man in my trunk

Not in my ass you silly pervs
In my new car that has sweet little curves
If you could have seen how excited he was
Whipping his tits out showing all that self-love
You would have laughed as hard as I did
To know in that man, is just a big kid

Back to work I must go
Because of the car, I totally owe
Self-employed sounds good and all
But my boss in my head makes my skin crawl
She tells me to stop blogging and stuff
And, "Get back to work you lazy cuss"
As much as I want to continue to play
I better get going right away

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Jude, Nic & Patricia Want To Know

A small handful of questions remain in the ask Lois segment. First and foremost, I have to ask any family members reading to just skip to the next paragraph. I'd hate for any of you to get sick reading the rest of this one. For Jude, I asked Mr. Lane for confirmation because frankly, I am so into the moment, I never pay much attention to what I do during the deed. He said to let you know that I start off seemingly holding my breath, then I curl my toes, twist my ankles, tremble, finally exhaling as I arch my back, and, "the older you get, the more your parts creak and crack." Not that I asked but he continued, "Frankly, I'm afraid one of these days you are going to break a hip or arthritis will set in and you'll get stuck that way."

Nic wants to know what was my biggest disappointment and my greatest joy. Amazing how hard it is to choose just one memory for each of those questions. Greatest joy would no doubt be my children. Just having them was an amazing experience, but the older they get, the more I love who they are becoming, and the less I remember life before them.

For every disappointment in my life, there has been a lesson learned, and in hindsight always worked out to have a damn good reason. During those difficult times, it's hard to see the forest through the trees, but everything really does have a way of working out better than expected.

When it comes to hard-hitting questions, no one can top my buddy Patricia. She wants to know what my favorite ice cream is. I don't think I have met an ice cream that I didn't like. When I do have the tasty treat, it's all about the mood and location. If I am home and in a humdrum mood, Dean's Moose Tracks tops my list. I set the container on the counter to get a little mushy so I don't bend a spoon scooping it into my bowl. (Yes, I am aware of the invention they call an ice cream scooper but I have never owned one.) And as suspected by Patricia, I moosh up my ice cream in my bowl a bit before eating.

My cousin Gloria (Benny's sister) taught me the ice cream mooshing trick when I was little. Who knew it would be a lifelong habit? The one really gross and weird thing she did that I never picked up on was spitting in the bowl. I don't know if she was going for added mush or if she was keeping us littler kids from stealing a spoonful. Whatever the case, eating ice cream with cousin Gloria was always an adventure. I wonder if she still eats it that way.

Sorry, I get sidetracked easily. When I am out celebrating a volleyball win from my daughter's team, I get nostalgic and order a mint chocolate chip cone because it takes me back to when I was in school. I guess you could say that has been one of my longtime favorite flavors. I also am a big fan of chocolate peanut butter ice cream but only if it's from Baskin Robins. And as you know, I totally dig the Georgia Mud Fudge Blizzard from Dairy Queen, which is already mooshed up, and my treat of choice for celebrating one of the kid's scoring big on a test.

The Home Fires contest deadline is Friday. If you haven't voted yet, look on the side bar for the voter's poll and get with the program. Currently, Haiku Hullabaloo is in the lead. If this turns into a writing competition, all entries will be e-mailed to me and posted on the blog. Once everyone has been read, a new poll will go up allowing you to choose the winner.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Meet George Jetson

By popular demand, the story of us will continue, someday. Besides working on a huge story this week, my in-laws are in town, which means, this is about all I have time for today. I am going to leave you with a couple of visuals that hopefully will make you smile as much as they make me.

In addition to reformatting my hard drive (icky bad computer problems on Sunday) and reinstalling my camera, scanner and photo editing software, I searched through an entire cedar chest full of unorganized photos to bring to you the best hair shots of Mr. Lane from back in the day.

If you are a new visitor, thanks for stopping by. To really grasp why these photos are so special to me, please read the two posts below.

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Sadly, I couldn't find one of him in shorts and a sweatshirt, or that Def Leppard painter's hat. In fact, these are pretty tame versions of his hair back then. Maybe refusing to photograph him with that ridiculous hairdo broke him of wearing it too often.

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I think he was going for a GQ look here. I'm sure you can see his overflowing self love in this and the one above.

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I chose to share this one so you could see how skinny and goofy he looked. He is still very animated but not nearly as full of himself.

And finally, this photo was taken yesterday morning, before I cut my father in-law's hair. Mr. Lane was washing his dad's hair in the kitchen sink for him because he didn't want him to burn himself with our screwy water.

This tender sweet side is what ultimately captured my attention back then. I'm just really glad some things never change... and stuff.

Part 2... And Stuff

Friday I wrote about how Mr. Lane and I met. One might say it was a rocky start. I wasn’t his biggest fan. He was cuter than shit. Unfortunately, he knew it. He was the kind of kid (19 yrs. old) who you see checking himself out in every window reflection, mirror, soup spoon, you name it. He was a little skinny, dorky, self-absorbed, but was cute and hysterically funny.

I intentionally gave him the cold shoulder because, even at the age of 16, I knew I didn’t want to date anyone I worked with. As the months went by, he began to grow on me, sort of like a hemorrhoid. Only, I didn’t tell him. He certainly loved himself enough for both of us.

Outside of his visits to the store while I was working, we didn't spend any time together. That is until that one night.

On the weekends I rarely had to work at night. I didn't have any plans until my cousin, Tammy called. She is a year younger than me but was one of my best buddies and jokingly, my nemesis. We would argue about who had the loudest stereo, the best clothes and earrings. We fought over whose parents were cooler and which one of us had the best looking boyfriend.

When she called that night, she was inviting me to go to a party she just found out about. Very last minute stuff. She knew I didn't have a car but didn't know I didn't have a boyfriend. She rambled on about how cute her boyfriend was and how I was finally going to get to meet him. Then she asked that question that likely was the end of my demise. "Who are you dating these days?"

"Oh... well... you wouldn't know him."

"Who is he? You going to bring him with tonight?"

"Actually, he's probably working or busy."

"Awww, come on Lo. He has to come. My boyfriend is going to need someone who doesn't know anyone there to hang out with otherwise he isn't going to want to go. Please!"

"Let me go call him and I'll call you back."

I hung up and thought about Mr. LaMe. I thought he was new enough in town that he wouldn't have any plans on a Saturday night. I wanted to ask him to go but I didn't want him to get the wrong idea. I also knew he had a car and that was a bonus. As was the fact that I was sure he had to be cuter than my cousin's boyfriend.

I called the store and asked for his phone number. I was so nervous calling him that I could barely breathe. "Hey. It's Lois... Lane from work."

"Hey Lois! What's up? Are you like working... and stuff?"

"No. Hey, I was wondering if you are doing anything tonight. I have some friends who are having a party and thought maybe you could meet some locals or something. You know, if you aren't busy."

"We... I mean, me and my sister and like her husband were like... gonna go checkout this movie. Hang on okay?"

Muffled with his hand trying to cover the mouthpiece, I heard him say, "Are you guys cool with me not going 'cuz like that chick, Lois from work wants to take me to a party and stuff. Is that cool?"

"I'm back. Yeah, I'll go with you. What time? Or are you picking me up? I can totally drive and I'm not a drinker so it's... like, cool... and stuff. But if you..."

"Cool. You can pick me up at 7."

I gave him my address. I was sick to my stomach because I had no idea how I was going to tell him why I really asked him to go with me.

He showed up at 6. Thankfully, I was ready and he didn't have to endure too much of an inquisition from my parents. My mom pulled me aside to say "Break him of that 'like' habit. He's cute, Lo."

He finally bought some jeans and was wearing a shirt that wasn't hot pink. He looked kind of nice, but I didn't tell him. His hair was tamed down a bit from his Flock of Seagulls flippity-do and was parted to the side and gelled up in a George Jetson or Vanilla Ice kind of a way. (Vanilla Ice hadn't been heard of at the time. In fact, Mr. Lane swears that guy copied his hairdo.)

He opened the car door for me. I smiled at that boy. I reached over and opened his door. He smiled at me. My hands were sweating even though it was winter in Chicago. I sat wringing my hands trying to think of a way to tell him.

Breaking the awkward silence, he said, "So is this like... ya know... like a date... and stuff?"

On the brink of hyperventilating, I tried to keep my cool and said, "I'm glad you asked that question. My cousin, Tammy, who you'll meet tonight, asked me to bring a guy. Well, really... like... um... my boyfriend. But, I don't have one. So, I was like... thinking about... maybe, since you are new in town and stuff, that you would... just like... ya know... pretend to be my boyfriend just so, ya know... she doesn't like think I don't have one. A boyfriend, I mean."

When I finally stopped looking at my hands, I noticed he was smiling. It may have been because I was finally speaking his language.

"I know it's stupid. But my cousin and I are kind of competitive. She is always trying to outdo me and like... when she was going on and on about her boyfriend, saying he is so cool and so cute and all that, I was like, okay, who can I find. Ya know?"

"So you think I'm cute? Or like... at least... like cuter than her boyfriend... and stuff?"

"Well, you aren't ugly," I smugly said while turning on his car stereo. I noticed it was a Blaupunkt, and I was liking that guy more by the minute.

When we finally arrived at the party, it began to snow. Watching his face light up while looking at the snow made me smile. Coming from California, snow was something he rarely experienced. As we walked up to the house, he slipped and I caught him.

"I better... like... keep my arm around you. Ya know..." with an exaggerated wink, he said, "since I'm like... your boyfriend."

After about ten minutes, Tammy gave me a sly thumbs up when he wasn't looking. I smiled in agreement. Fred, her boyfriend was no match compared to Mr. NotsoLaMe. Fred was boring, didn't say much and didn't seem to have much of a personality.

Mr. NotsoLaMe was trying to sneak a kiss in every few minutes. When my cousin went to the bathroom, he told me quietly that I was a terrible actress. "If I'm like your boyfriend and stuff... you kinda like have to be nice to me and like... sit by me... or like hold my hand. You could just kiss me... 'cuz... like... ummm, that would be good and stuff."

When she returned, Tammy actually yelled at me for turning down a kiss from my "boyfriend" which finally made me pucker up. I certainly didn't want to look like a bitch. Once that little shit got that first little pucker out of the way, there wasn't much stopping him.

Our relationship, as it were, blossomed that night. We became friends. It took a lot longer, and many more "like"s, "and stuff"s and a few, "ya know"s before he quit his job so I would date him.

I realized three pages into this document that I could write about him for another 10 pages, easily. Guess that means I still kinda like him... and stuff.

Tomorrow, I'll try to dig up some photos of that silly looking boy.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Didn't We Meet

More questions remain unanswered in the ask Lois segment. Today I will tackle Michelle and Miss Pickle's question, "How did you meet Mr. Lane?"

This isn't your run-of-the-mill, grab the tissues love story, so if that is what you are looking for today, click next blog, fast. Mr. Lane, who I referred to as Mr. LaMe back in the day, just moved from California and was staying with his sister. She lived two blocks away from where I was living with my parents.

I was 16, going to school, working three jobs and saving for my first apartment. No time for boys in my life. I went into the White Hen Pantry, where I worked nights and he, unbeknownst to me, worked days. His sister knew the owner of the store and got him a job soon after his move to Illinois. I never worked with anyone from the day crew because I had the 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. shift.

I stopped in the store to buy a cup of coffee while on my way to school. I stood in line for what seemed like forever while the dopey kid behind the counter tried to find the right buttons. When my turn came, he nervously asked, "20 oz or 10?"


He looked up at me, looked at the register helplessly, looked at me again and I said, "3 PLU," which was a pre-entered code for a 20 oz cup of coffee.

"If I can find PLU."

"The big button on your right..."

(long pause, confused look, blank stare at register)

I finally reached over the top of the register and keyed it in myself. I handed him money as he tried to make small talk. "Hey, thanks. How did you know about PLU? I mean, what does that like mean?"

"I work here."

"Oh cool. Maybe we'll like... get to work together... and stuff."

"Doubt it," I took my change and left. Riding my bike seven miles to school gave me a lot of time to think about the idiot behind the counter. "He was slow at best. Could barely count change back, and what the fuck was he wearing anyhow?"

As lame as I thought he was, I did think about him much more than I wanted to. He was wearing a hot pink Ocean Pacific sweatshirt and sky blue surfer shorts. It was late fall and much too cold outside for shorts. Besides, who wears sweatshirts with shorts? He had a Def Leppard painter's hat on and his hair, the bang area, was sticking straight up and hair sprayed to the bill, which was flipped and pointing straight up. "What a loser!"

That night when I went into work, he was my first customer. He was hoping to get free cigarettes because he worked there. He was hoping to get me to sell him beer without checking his ID because he worked there. He tried getting my number.

"You know, all of the employees phone numbers are on a list in the break room. Mine is not to be used."

Trying to make small talk and ignore my last statement, he said, "So... ummm... like... what do you do for fun... and stuff?"

His dopiness was oozing all over the store. "Cleanup on aisle one!" I was thankfully saved by a real customer, whom I made small talk with in hopes of Mr. LaMe getting the hint and going away. Again, let me remind you, he was quite slow. He sat at one of the tables and started reading a magazine. I knew I was in for a long night.

For quite a while, I avoided the store during his shift. He, however, always seemed to run out of cigarettes, soda, magazines or snacks, shortly after my shift began each night, and he always faked surprised to see me there. "Horrible actor. Good thing he left California."

One morning, very early, the phone rang. "Ummm... like... hey are you like, Lois's mom? 'Cuz... I like need to talk to her... like, pretty quick."

My mother handed me the phone and told me there was a "retarded boy" asking to speak to me. Half asleep, I took the phone. I looked at the clock. It was 4:45 a.m. "Who is this?!"

"Hey... I... ummm... totally need the store keys... 'cuz like Kelly or whatever her name is didn't come yet... and like it's really cold out... and like, I ummm... can't get in the store... and stuff."

I knew who it was and I hated him extra. My mom was sure he was retarded and I began wondering myself. I got dressed and went to the store to open the door for him. He stood shivering in his shorts with two customers who, incidentally were cussing him out. I quickly counted the register to get him started faster. I made coffee and apologized to the now 10 or more customers. I was headed for the door and he begged me to stay. "Sorry, I have to get ready for school. But I do have one question for you. How did you know my phone number if you were locked out of the store?"

"Oh... I... I... well... like, I thought... you know... maybe if there was... like an emergency or like... ummm..."

"Never mind. Good luck today. Bye."

I felt bad for leaving him in a lurch but not badly enough to stick around to help him anymore. When I got home I called our boss to let him know Mr. LaMe was by himself. I figured he knew the guy couldn't do a sufficient job alone and would figure something out.

That night, he came back during my shift. He bought a rose off of the counter for a buck 99, and gave it to me. "Thanks for like helping me this morning. You totally saved me and like that was cool and stuff."

"You really should be saving your money to buy some pants. It's going to get a lot colder here pretty soon." I looked at that dopey boy in his sweatshirt and shorts, with his hair done up in a Flock of Seagulls sort of way, and hesitantly said, "Thanks for the flower."

Monday, even though no one really asked, I'll tell you about how he melted my icy teenage heart. Until then, have a great and safe weekend. Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Money Talks

A couple of weeks ago, I asked you readers if you had any questions for me. Since this is a busy work time for me, I thought I would tackle the writing and freelance questions from Stationary Queen, Stacie and Lucy.

Stationary Queen wants to know how long I've been freelancing. I started a little over two years ago, because there aren't very many outlets for news in my area to maintain a full time job. I already worked as a reporter, columnist, photographer, designer and editor. I went on to another area newspaper and was brought in as a partner. That meant much less writing and much more management and training. Realizing I was teamed up with two brain dead partners, I began planning my exit and freelance career.

Stationary Queen and Lucy want to know if I have any tips or secrets about this freelancing stuff. I guess the main thing is not giving up. There is a ridiculous waiting game involved in this business. Some places take months upon months to accept work or to pay for a completed job. Some don't even bother to tell you, "Thanks, but no thanks." I guess the hardest part for me is waiting because I tend to be impatient.

Just looking back, if I could have a do-over, I would syndicate my column first. Next I would search all publications that accept e-queries, because they tend to be quickest in response time. I would then tackle the mailing, which is extremely costly during this waiting game.

Where do I find this work? I use so many outlets but The Writer's Market was like striking gold. It was a $50 book that came with a one year subscription to the online edition. It has more than paid for itself.

My second "It takes money to make money" investment was joining IWOC. If there is a group like this in your area, I would highly recommend joining. Membership dues can be costly but you can make that money back rather quickly. It is also a great way to find publications that will later come to you after giving them something top-notch.

Nothing beats seeing an unexpected, "We need you" e-mail sitting in your inbox. So much of the freelance stuff is writing queries, waiting, searching for work, researching publications, selling your skills and thinking. The interviewing and writing are my favorite parts, however, they seem to take the least amount of time in the big picture. It's a very hurry up and wait business.

I also use Craig's List and Freelance Writing dot com. Both, however, have few high paying jobs and both take an exuberant amount of time to sort through. Typically, those are my last options.

Tapping into local media is easier than any other form of freelance. You can just show up to their office, hand them a resume, a few clips and casually let them know you are there should they ever need you. I've done this successfully with TV, radio and newspapers.

I've written several stories for free also. I hate doing that but keeping my name out there and having some new clips from a variety of sources helps in the long run.

The key to tapping into any of the places you wish to be associated with is writing really clear concise letters. I suck at letter writing but unfortunately that query letter can make or break you.

Although I can't list the publications here, my work has been in a lot of places, from newspapers to trade journals, magazines to newsletters, e-zines to blogland (There are actually paid gigs out there. Who knew?). During slow times is when I cover meetings and events for local radio and TV stations. Neither pay very much, but having steady work keeps me from giving up my dream and taking some shitty job I want no part of.

I also write sketch comedy and as soon as one of my pieces is produced, I will likely share that here. (Unless my real name is used.)

Stacie wants to know what inspires me to write. I don't know really. I have been writing as long as I can remember. She also wonders where I write. I do most of my writing from the big comfy chair in my living room with my feet on my ottoman and my coffee at my side. There are no quiet places in our house but this is the most comfy and inspiring place for me.

The last question from Lucy is, do employers know about my blog? Only a few. I try to keep this place as work-free as possible. This is my fun writing outlet. A blog is in no way something that should be listed as your experience when looking for writing gigs. One may think, "I keep a blog, update daily and have a good following. That should account for something." It doesn't. In fact, a lot of editors whom I know, hate bloggers. They see us as wannabes who will never be taken seriously.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

I'm Absent Today

Too much to do and not enough time. How many of you can relate to that predicament? Paid gigs are flowing, which brings me back to the ask Lois segment. I'll return tomorrow with more questions answered, including those that were regarding freelance work.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

S'more Than A Woman

It all began simple enough. I felt bad for the lady because she was getting no cooperation whatsoever from the other parents. This isn't that evil PTA lady who drags me into heinous acts, this is just another mom who really needed a little help. My friend Sissy (whose daughter also goes to St. Peter, Paul and Mary) and I helped her set up the book fair. It didn't go as smoothly as any of us would have hoped, but we finished the job.

In the midst of setting up tables and books, this lady put on a pathetic "help me" face and said, "Would you mind helping me make s'mores for Camping Night?"

Without much thought, I said "Sure." As I was leaving I asked how many s'mores she thought we would need for Friday.

"Well, I did get one other mom to help so probably only about a hundred or so."

Because saying "Are you fucking kidding me?" while in a school environment is not such a good idea, I just gave her a nod, and again said, "Sure." I talked to myself all the way home. "100? Holy shit! What have I done? Seriously, how many kids does this lady think are going to show up on a Friday night?"

Camping Night was supposed to be a time for the kids to come to school at night with their sleeping bags and tents, and listen to stories, eat s'mores, play with their friends as if they were really on a camping trip. Camping was the book fair theme, which is how it all came about. Having a real campfire to roast marshmallows was out of the question, unfortunately.

I knew I was in big trouble when the store was sold out of graham crackers. Seriously, what store sells out of graham crackers in March? I did think about the other mom who was making s'mores. "I bet that skank bought all of the graham crackers." It was an omen of which I should have been wary of, but you know me. I hightailed it to the next town over and ended up paying $3.50 per box. Not knowing how many boxes it takes to make 100 s'mores, I grabbed four and hoped for the best.

Again, because there were 100 needed, I thought going the "easy route" would be better than the "traditional route" which means instead of marshmallows and chocolate bars, I bought Nutella and Marshmallow Fluff. I bought four Fluffs and five Nutellas, each cost about three and a half dollars also. With tax and the jumbo-sized roll of foil, I was down about 50 bucks.

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Recap: In the end, it took 3 jars of Fluff, 2 jars of Nutella, 4 boxes of graham crackers, 199 hand washes because sticky hands make me batty, 1 giant foil wall with 3 supporting foil beams, 1 Dollar Store crappy plastic plate I don't care if I ever see again, a couple of snapshots, lots of bad words, 2 kids who ditched me because it was finally nice outside and poof, ya got your 100 s'mores.

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Could I own a square freakin' bowl? No. Why? I don't know. I guess all of those years of me flaking out when my friends had Tupperware parties could be to blame. Seriously, why would I ever need a square bowl? In 33 and a half years, I never have, until this escapade. You know how some guys can fix anything with duct tape? That's how I am with foil. Checkout this foil fort.

Initially I had them stacked on paper plates, which I forgot to add into the equation, but as I continued to stack, they began to slide. All of the melty goodness made for a leaning tower of s'mores. I cussed and adjusted them back on their plates a few times before I thought about building a foil fort.

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These are the dirty bastard crackers that made me say bad words. Some of them were broken before they ever came out of the box. Others broke as I held them or took them from their packaging. The ones that really made me say bad words were the ones that appeared to be intact and broke as I spread the Fluff or Nutella on them. Bastard crackers!

Are you wondering how Camping Night went? I suppose it was okay. There were only about 80 kids who showed up, so each were happy to get an all you can eat s'mores buffet. I was hoping to drop the goodies and run but the lady had "just one more favor to ask" of me. "Would you read a story to the kids?"

I had been practicing saying the word "No" all day long, so I was ready. I stood tall, put my hands on my hips, looked that woman square in the eyes and said, "Sure."

Monday, March 13, 2006

The Grand Prize Game

Veronica suggested my next contest, rather than being based on a certain number of hits, be centered around the comments. Since installing Haloscan a year ago, there have been 7,980 comments to this here blog. And no, I didn't count every single one.

Thankfully, Haloscan has a main page where users can see all of their information. I have 399 pages of comments, each page containing 20, carry the one and minus about 100 because early on I responded to comments, meaning some of those were my own and therefore don't count, dot my i, cross my t and that brings me to 7,880.

I could wait for 10,000 comments. Or I could go back to the hits and wait for 60,000. I also could pick a random number for either. But I was thinking about making you guys really work for your prize. How about a haiku hullabaloo? How about a "Why I dig Home Fires" essay contest? How about a lyrics contest based on any story from the blog?

This is a democracy, which I will leave in your capable hands. Vote for your choice in the poll on the sidebar. Additional contest and prize ideas are welcome.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Message In A Bottle

Before I do anything today, I have to thank a certain someone from New Jersey. I don't know who you are or why you keep coming back for more, but I'm glad you are here.

Lately as I have been swamped, I haven't been able to keep track of my stat meters. The little narcissist within me is a little upset, but I'm sure she'll be fine.

The few times I have checked my stats over the last few weeks, I've noticed a certain place in New Jersey keeps popping up. This person is not just stopping in for a second or two but once, I saw them logged-on for six hours. I told myself this person must have forgotten and left my page up almost all day. When I dug into the stats a little deeper, I saw that this person had read 140 pages in that six-hour span. Amazing.

I know all sites have people who "lurk" (I hate that word) in fact only 10 percent of my visitors comment. But today, I want to take a second to thank those people who are here reading. (commenting or not) Just knowing you are there taking the time to read something I wrote thrills me beyond words. Thanks!

Back to the topic of music, I have to tell you guys about my kids roping me into watching American Idol. I genuinely despise reality TV, although I probably haven't given it a fair chance.

I'll give the TV moguls credit because they sure have been able to tap into viewers' curiosity of how other people live and function in all sorts of situations. They have also managed to put programming out there that isn't costing them a small fortune in cast compensation. In essence, they have found a way to make money and draw in viewers at a time when the economy is crap. Genius.

With that said, American Idol is something I have avoided four seasons in a row. I was really hoping for five, however, I was bulldogged by the kids when they conducted auditions in Chicago. Yes, peer pressure can work both ways.

The show, in my humble opinion, was like sitting in a karaoke bar, only I wasn't boozin' it up. Maybe I should have been and I wouldn't have become addicted to that damn show. Damn that show to hell and back!

The kids and I set up shop sitting side-by-side every time it's on, three times this week. Popcorn and candy, sodas and juice boxes make each show special in our little house. The kids also like that they sometimes are able to stay up late to watch. Plus, Mom giving them candy is just a bonus.

Chris and Katharine are our top picks. Amazing that we all agree. We also believe that the girl will win mostly because she has an amazing voice plus she is a beauty. The guy also has an amazing rocker voice but isn't as easy on the eyes.

Last night I didn't get to watch the show. I volunteered to help set up the book fair and it took much longer than I anticipated. I figured setting up the fair was much better than them convincing me to dress up as Clifford again.

Realizing I wasn't going to make it home in time, I called Mr. Lane and asked him to tape the show for me. He said he didn't know how to do that and put Lane 1 on the phone. I told him where to find the stash of candy, apologized for not being there to watch and wished him sweet dreams.

When I finally made it home, I was starving. I went in the kitchen and at my spot on the table was a note from the kids and my old man.

"Dear Mom, you are not going to believe what happened tonight on idol! First there was the regular waste of time stuff and then that dude from last time came on to sing I think his name is Bo Rice but he is nasty like that Meatloaf dude and is a bad singer."

"Hi Mommy! Lane doesn't know what he is talking about. I won't ruin the show and tell you what happened but WOW OH WOW OH WOW! Bo Bice was the guy singing and Chris is soooooo much better than that guy. Our little Kevin didn't get kicked off so don't worry. But that's the only part I'm telling you okay? I love you! Goodnight, sleep tight. See you in the morning light."

"Have fun watching the show Ma. Love ya. Lane"

"Honey, they are ampped up like two little meth heads. Do you really think the candy was such a good idea? I gotta head out early. Should I wake you for coffee? Night babe, love you."

As bummed as I was about missing our Idol night, I loved their note. I guess I should be thankful I missed out on them acting like meth heads.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Sing, Sing A Song

A couple of weeks ago, I asked you readers if you had any questions for me. I am amazed at how much material that provided this ol' blog. Thanks go out to my two favorite Angies. My sister and my blogging buddy Cooter Ang each sent me a getting to know you survey, which was the inspiration for these segments of ask Lois.

Rajma wants to know what music I listen to, and wonders if it has had an effect on my kids' taste in music. I believe we are all partially a product of our environment.

Growing up I had sisters who were all disco divas and brothers who were rockin' the house.

Mom and Dad always listened to their music, which also grew on me. Last year I finally came out of the closet and admitted to my love of Barry Manilow. Back in the day, Cousin Benny, my sister Ang and I called him Barely Man Enough. I guess we were trying to pretend we hated him. And we did the same with Barbra Big Nose, I mean Streisand.

I also remember when I was in grade school. I would write "Disco sucks!" on my folders. When I got home from school, I would join the dancing queens by singing Donna Summer into the broom. MacArthur Park indeed melted with that stupid cake. Who leaves a cake in the rain anyhow? No matter, I was a singin' fool.

I don't know if I was trying to fit in or if I really enjoyed everything, but as an adult, there isn't a genre of music I don't enjoy in some way. My top picks are rock, classic rock, alternative, country and pop, respectively.

I know my taste in music has effected my kids because they are versatile like me. They know all of the words to every single Journey, Boston, Zeppelin, Rush, Van Morrison, Queen, AC/DC, Dylan, Marley, ect., ect., ect. song made.

They also sing along when I get in my Manilow, Summer, Streisand and Neil Diamond moods.

When I get high-school-retro and break out the 80s tunes, from the Divinals to Dexy's Midnight Runners, to every hair-band on the planet, they also are singing right with me.

My 13-year-old son, Lane 1 always gets pissed off when he catches himself singing something "uncool" that he knows every word to, which is exactly how I used to be while listening to music with my parents. That may be the reason kids are sometimes turning away from mainstream and listening to more of the classics, Rajma. It's that crazy parental peer pressure.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Let U Go

Before and after harvest Mr. Lane drives a semi-truck. Mostly, he is delivering seed and crop. Every once in a while, during this time of year he is able to stop at home in between trips.

The other day, I had to pick him up at a rest area a few miles away. He was only going to be able to stay for dinner and a shower. He needed to take off for a delivery going to Minnesota.

When he does these drive-by visits, there is little warning. He usually calls as he is pulling his semi into the rest area. I have to gather the kids and go fetch him.

The weather here had finally broke, somewhat. The kids were outside playing. Before receiving Mr. Lane's call, I told Lane 1 to check in and not to be late incase we had to go pick up his dad.

As he was headed outside, the phone rang. I stopped my son, told him that his dad was calling to be picked up. He begged me to let him and his sister stay and play with their friends outside, reminding me how nice the weather was and how I was only going a few miles away. I refused, he begged. We went back and forth a few times. Finally he said, "I promise we'll be good. And if she dies... I'll... clean up the mess."

Although he cracked me up, I made them come with. Thanks to Vince for inspiring me to share this post.

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I said I wanted to have another contest for my 50,000th visitor? Guess I got distracted because it sailed by and I have no idea who it was. Do I wait until Home Fires hits 60,000 before the next prize giveaway? What do you think?

It's a busy, busy day here. I'll get back to the ask Lois segment tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Ask Lois Segment Continues

Dante wants to know if my home were threatened with a natural disaster, and I had time, what is the one item I would grab before evacuating. Since kids and pets are already included, there is nothing I have or need that couldn't be replaced. I know that isn't the answer you were looking for but that's truly how I really feel.

I have a cedar chest that belonged to my grandmother. It is filled with family pictures from as far back as my mom's childhood (I'm talkin' OLD). It would sadden me greatly if I no longer had it, but if I could just grab hold of that recovery disc before being swept away to the Land of Oz with Toto too, I'd have a copy of all of that stuff and more. Okay, Dante, I'd grab the disc.

He also wants to know who gets control over the radio in the car, and what they listen to when I take the kids to school. Looks like you kind of answered this one yourself buddy. The kids do get control of the music in the car. I make them take turns. The boy usually gets control in the morning and the girl in the afternoon. If they fight, it's all mine and I'll put on classical or NPR just to piss them off.

The boy listens to bands like My Chemical Romance, Ozzy, Placebo, Green Day, Kanye West, Eminem, Mike Jones, 50 Cent and some other Crunk-meisters who I can't know the names of. Basically alternative, rock and hiphop.

My girl likes Kelly Clarkson, Hilary Duff, Avril Lavigne, Pink, Black Eyed Peas, the Cheetah Girls, Evanescence and 3-Doors Down.

Their music has grown on me. My favorite part about listening to music with them is hearing them sing. Nothing funnier than my little honky gettin' jiggy wit it.

If you have a question for me, leave it in the comments and I'll get to it soon.

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Happy 20th birthday to my niece Star. I'm only giving you an old picture today because she is so gorgeous as an adult that I don't want any of the guys saying she is hot. In my mind she is still a baby and that kind of comment could totally make me ill. Here she is, age 8, with her newborn sister Dee.

I think Blogroll eats some links because there are a couple of people who I had on my sidebar and are no longer there. No, I'm not losing my mind. I didn't delete them and forget. I have only removed links that are inactive. If yours isn't on my sidebar and you want it to be there, just let me know and I'll add or re-add you. Mike and Mona, you're back on the roll.

Monday, March 06, 2006

When You Say He's Just A Friend

I cleaned up my Blogroll over the weekend. I used to have close to 100 people linked here but after taking out all of the inactive blogs, there are only about 75 left.

It's funny but I felt like I was giving up on certain people to return to the Land of Blog. Stupid, I know. It's just that a couple of them are people who I have "known" for a couple of years, via the internet. One of them is the very same person who dragged me into this blogging mess in the first place.

If you see you aren't over there on the roll and you want to be, and you intend to update at least once per month, let me know and I will add you.

That brings me to Lady Wyn's question in the ask Lois segment. She wants to know how I keep track of so many blogs and so many people's lives. Funny, but it's not through my Blogroll.

When I began blogging last year, I had a few friends who were bloggers. I started reading them, then clicked their links. Soon I was leaving comments all over the place and people were returning the visit.

I love reading about people and their lives. I like to think that sometimes in comments I can offer encouragement to those who are going through a rough spot, or a laugh to someone who needs to be cheered up.

As time went on, I just remembered certain details about each and every person, like I would with my real live friends. I mean face it, us blogger folk share more with our virtual friends than we do with people we see on a daily basis.

Sure there were a couple of times I confused one person for another. For instance, at one point there were four forms of Mike hanging around. Now we are down to three and there is no confusing them. Jona, Jay Are, Jude and Justine came on scene all at the same time and again, I was a little mixed up. I got them straight now. Of course we have Bill and William who sometimes both sign Bill but now I "know" them both so well, I can tell them apart just by what their comments say.

As my own Blogroll grew, I found it difficult to keep up. Sometimes on weekends I would backtrack and read all I'd missed in certain people's lives. After a year of trying to catch up, I've gone into a new method of reading blogs.

I start with my own post from the day before. First commenter is the first person I read. I am anal retentive and go in order. If I have time throughout the day, I'll go to my comments from the day before or a couple of days before that and click on any I haven't read. When someone whom I haven't "heard" from in a while, pops into my mind, I dig for their link. On the rare occasion that there is more time, I'll click on the roll.

I try to comment on every blog I read, just so they know I am still around, but lately, even that has proven difficult. An hour out of everyday that I am reading, I'm also riding the LO Racer 2006. Two birds with one stone theory. But it's too hard to comment while pedaling. Time. Just need more time. I guess what I'm trying to say, Wyn is that I am addicted to reading and try to treat each blogger like any regular friend.

Now for the most messed up comment I have ever received. No, it didn't happen here. Over on my Frappr (map of all of your friends with a photo and all the spam your inbox can take) a fellow left the following comment.


I could let it be, have that comment speak for itself... but, holy mother of Diaper Land. What did this guy read here or on my Frappr that could have possibly given him the impression that Mr. Lane and/or I, are adults who get off on wearing diapers?! If you can find the words that caused this freak confusion, please tell me so I can DELETE them immediately if not sooner.

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This is what I imagine the freak looking like. Ewww, I just threw up a little in my mouth.

You folks have a groovy day, and may all of your diapers stay dry.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Hamster Dance

Quite a few visitors yesterday seemed pissed at me for my take on the fine dining experience my family shared Friday night. I think some of you missed the point. I wasn't bashing the guy or trying to be derogatory by any means. I think it's pretty cool that anyone can speak more than one language.

The funniest part for me was thinking, "This guy must think we are fucking nuts to want to give our daughter a bowl of sour cream to drink." Anyhow, sorry if I offended any of you in yesterday's post. I am definitely going to pass on telling the story of the night we had Chinese.

Back to the Q & As

Last week I invited readers of Home Fires to ask me questions. So here is another segment of answers.

Chris wants to know what makes me laugh no matter what kind of day it has been. Choosing just one memory when I have been blessed with so many is really hard. Since you can read a little more than a years worth of favorite memories here on the blog, I'll just share one of those that has yet to be told.

Before I begin, know that everyone in my family is an animal lover. (I feel like I have to post a disclaimer now.)

One year for Christmas, Mr. Lane bought each of the kids a hamster. I was against the gift, one: because they are rodents, two: because the kids were 1 and 3 years-old, much too young to care for them, three: they looked to be a boy and a girl and the girl looked to be knocked up.

Mr. Lane didn't talk to me about the gift. It was a surprise. Meaning, there was no way to talk him out of getting hamsters. They were there, at our house. I was less than thrilled.

The old man was right. The kids thought hamsters were the coolest little critters around. Their little fingers tapped the plexiglas repeatedly, trying to wake the nocturnal beasts. Lane 2 was just learning how to talk and called them "key cass" because she thought they were kitty cats. Lane 1 was happy to name them after characters of one of his favorite Disney movies (The Rescuers) Bernard and Bianca.

Every morning, Lane 1 would wish them a good morning, "Hi yiddle hamsirs. (little hamsters)" (tap, tap)

Bianca soon turned on everyone. She was pregnant and had a major attitude. She bit the hand that fed her, mine. She never wanted to be held or petted. She began to turn on Bernard. She bit his ear so hard one day that I could have given him a diamond stud to wear in the hole.

We bought a second cage, which we should have done initially because hamsters are solitary dwellers. Of course, we didn't know that and the fine folks at the pet store never told my husband. Live and learn I guess. We kept the cages side by side so they could still see and smell each other. Not long after providing Bianca with her own dwelling, she popped out 16 babies. Really, 16. We saw the miracle unfold before our eyes. "Dare's anuver baby," (There's another baby) Lane 1 declared each time.

Her work was done. All the babies were out and clean and trying to find a nipple. It really was amazing. That is until she began eating them. I sent the boy out of the room. Thankfully, he didn't see what exactly was happening. In the end, she ate four of them.

I later lied to my son and said we must have miscounted as she had the babies because there were only 12. "No Mommy, I sawed dem. (saw them) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 'cuz I can count. Where'd dose uver babies goed? (Where'd those other babies go?)"

It took days of convincing him that we counted wrong before he would let it go. A couple of weeks after they were born I started finding homes for them. I called everyone we knew and told them to ask everyone they knew. It took about a week but I found 12 suckers, I mean, 12 caring people who wanted a hamster baby.

The last one to get a home was a male. He had been trying to get busy with his mom so we thought it best to put him in his dad's cage before he got his mom pregnant. We still didn't know that hamsters live solo. A day after putting him in the cage with his dad, we learned the hard way. The son killed and was eating his dad. We were mortified.

By now, I imagine, Chris and the rest of you are thinking, holy shit, this is so not funny!! How exactly can this memory make you laugh every time you're down? I'm getting there. Promise.

We shielded the boy's eyes from the grizzly scene and thought of ways to tell him Bernard was no longer with us. There was just no way to tell him he was mauled by his son.

The killer hamster from hell was going to a little boy, Thomas who I was babysitting. His mom wanted us to keep the hamster a little longer because she wanted to build a giant habitrail in her son's room before she brought it home.

I took Lane 1 and Lane 2 to the park while Mr. Lane cleaned up the crime scene. When we came back home the boy hamster cage wasn't in sight. I looked at Mr. Lane as if to ask where the hamster was. He shook his head at me with a dismal look on his face. I carried Lane 2 upstairs and put her in her crib. I told Lane 1 to play in his room. I shut the bedroom doors and went back down stairs to find out what was going on.

Mr. Lane had a paper towel ducttaped around his thumb. "What happened and where's the hamster?"

"Lo, you aren't going to believe this."

"Try me. What happened?"

"Well. He's with his daddy now."

"Goddamnit. What did you do?"

"It wasn't my fault. The fucking thing bit me and it jumped out of my hands and landed on the floor and broke it's neck."

Talking quietly through my teeth, I said, "If you weren't dicking around, it wouldn't have broken it's neck. Now how the hell am I going to tell Thomas he doesn't have a hamster?"

"I'm sorry, Lo. I was just trying to get Bernard's body out of the cage and that other hamster grabbed hold of me with his teeth. I yanked my hand out of the cage and the little fucker was clamped onto my thumb. Hard, Lo. Like I couldn't shake it off. Ya know? And when I took my hand out of the cage it was dangling there off of my thumb, and that's when it fell on the kitchen floor."

I knew hamsters were a bad idea.

Anyhow, the next day, Thomas came over. He didn't noticed the cage and hamsters were gone until lunch time. When he asked where his hamster was, Lane 1 in the most consoling way, wrapped his arm around Thomas, rubbed his shoulder and said, "Thomas, I am sorry to tell you diss (this) but your hamsir (hamster) is dead."

Thomas welled up with tears and asked what happened. Before I could get a word in edgewise, Lane 1 continued, "My daddy was dickin' around and him broke him's neck."

In my mind, I still see my 3-year-old baby boy consoling his friend. I still hear his cute little voice and his mispronounced words. It always makes me smile, no matter how hard of a day it has been. I learned a valuable lesson through that experience, kids are tuned in like they come with radar. They hear things no matter how quiet you think you are.

Have a great weekend everyone! Send your hate mail to because, after all, it was all his fault.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Culture Club

All of the answers to the remaining questions in the ask Lois segment are long enough to each be their own post. I'll pick up on those again tomorrow. Today I'd rather share with you something funny that happened before I forget the details.

We went out to dinner Friday night, which is a rarity around here. I learned that this family just isn't mature enough to experience any form of culture. We went to this little Mexican restaurant and of course my kids frantically searched the menu for burgers. I managed to talk Lane 1 into trying an enchilada.

"Is it going to be like the kind I tried at Grandpa's in California?"

"Yeah, just like that. You're getting older and your tastes are changing. You really should try new foods when you have that chance."

"Okay. I'll get one, but can I get a burger too?"

"I guess."

Lane 2 wasn't budging out of her little American food comfort zone. She wanted a burger and didn't even want to talk about trying something new.

Our waiter came by and the first thing I thought as he welcomed us was, "He doesn't speak English." But that was fine because we were just going to be talking food, and surely he knew the menu.

He looked at me and said, "You want it one drink?"

"Sure. I would like a diet."


"Yes, a diet. And she," I said, pointing to Lane 2, "would like a cream soda."

"Gream sotha?"

"Yes, cream soda. And he," pointing to Lane 1, "would like a fruit punch."

"Froo punch?"

"Yes, fruit punch."

Mr. Lane said, "I want a Pepsi."



"Okay. I bring you cheeps."

He walked away to get our drinks and chips. The kids were giggling over his accent. I decided when he took our food order that I would point to the menu for each item, just to clear up any doubts.

He came back to our table with chips and salsa. Then he handed me a diet soda and said, "Diet?" I nodded and reached.

He handed Mr. Lane a Pepsi and said, "Peksi?" he nodded and reached.

He handed Lane 1 his fruit punch and said, "Froo punch?" Lane 1 said, "Gracias." and reached.

He handed Lane 2 a lemon lime drink and said, "gream sotha?" My girl looked at me like she was going to burst with laughter. I gave her the don't be rude look and she said, "Gracias."

I leaned in and quietly told her "cream" and "green" sound the same to someone just learning the language, and then I asked her to please drink it anyhow. She offered a sweet little, "Okay Mommy."

As planned, I pointed to the menu while ordering mine and the kids' food. That worked out well for both the waiter and I. The kids got a case of the giggles when the waiter asked what kind of enchilada Lane 1 wanted. "You want it one shicken or one a biff?"

"Oh he likes to get the biff," I said while mentally biffing my son in the head for giggling.

Mr. Lane ordered for himself. He talked extra loud, over-annunciated each word, and moved his lips as if he were communicating with a deaf lip-reader. The three of us wanted to laugh so badly at that man.

After the food order was placed, the kids and I made fun of Mr. Lane for being a dork. Soon, all of our glasses were empty. Mr. Lane raised his hand to get the waiter's attention. He came to our table where Mr. Lane slowly and loudly told him "More drinks, please."

"Peksi, diet, froo punch and gream sotha?"

This was where Mr. Lane got his lips ready to explain cream soda to the waiter. Pointing to Lane 2's drink he said, "This. No." While shaking his head, "Creeeeeeam, not greeeeen soda. Okay?"

"Oh. Yes. Okay."

Again, the three of us were dying with internal laughter. Our eyes were filled with tears from holding back. When he walked away, we quietly mocked Mr. Lane again.

The waiter came back with more drinks. He handed each as he had the first time, until he got to Lane 2. Who instead of a cream soda, was given a bowl of sour cream. Not one of us could tell him he made another mistake. I think if we had tried to open our mouths to say something, nothing but laughter would have poured out. So, I just handed her a straw and smiled.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Invisible Hands

Has anyone ever told you that you give great comment? Well, you do. Yesterday's comments were therapeutic in so many ways. I love how you all came out of your shells to share your thoughts, beliefs, wisdom and hopes. Each of you gave me a new way to look at the way I have been viewing things for most of my life. New perspectives for lifelong beliefs. Amazing. Thank you for that.

The little one is holding her own, but remains in the pediatric intensive care unit. If you want to contribute to her foundation, send me an e-mail and I'll give you that information. ( )

It's another birthday trifecta!

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My niece Lilo is 6 today.

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My Niece Elmira is 9.

And my brother, Jimmy, whom I have no recent picture of is 44. Sure, I could post some really horrid picture of him when he was a kid, but even I am not that mean.

Happy birthday guys!

Last week, I opened up the comments to your questions. I'm about halfway through so if you have something to ask, now's the time.

Debbiecakes wants to know what my middle name is. Since my other two names here in Blogland are fake, I guess I'll give you the real deal this time. It's Ann and how boring is that? Sorry Mom, but you really could have used a little help naming me. I know you were sure I was going to be a boy but having a girl name handy just in case, may have been a good idea.

Nancy wants to know why I didn't sing along with Vince on the Now What? song. Well, it's like this Nanc, you ever hear a cat who was howling because someone has stepped on its head? Okay, that sound, plus a little Kim Carnes, and that is how my voice sounds. So, Nancy, thank your lucky stars that I didn't sing along.

Mona Buonanotte wants to know if I have read any Ann Rule books. She also would like to know if I wrote like Ann while working on crime scene stories. The truth is, I have read Ann Rule. Every single book. And I have hated every one of them. Don't throw rocks people. It's just that this lady has access to some of the most horrific stories, yet her writing, in my humble opinion, is not so great. So to answer the other question, I hope I wrote nothing like her. (okay, you may throw rocks at me now)

Poopie wants to know how long it took me to teach my cat Chip how to turn off the light. It was an amazingly fast trick. He isn't bright by any means. If you recall from the story of Chip, he was deprived of oxygen for a few minutes early on in his life. It was quick because I taught him with food. No cat likes to eat as much as Chip.

I took a cat treat, balanced it on the light switch, picked him up so he could smell it, set him down, tapped on the wall above the switch and he jumped up and got his treat. The first few times the light didn't go off, so I grabbed the treat before he got to it and then set it back up there. I only let him eat the treat if the light went off. In less than 10 tries, he mastered the task.

Now, unfortunately, he thinks the lights dispense treats so the little fucker goes around shutting lights off all of the time.