Archive for June, 2013

June 29, 2013

Gratuitous Fashionista Foot Shot

by Janie Jones

Back in the day of cameras with film, a friend of mine always would finish off a roll of film with a picture of her feet.  It became a big silly tradition and eventually was dubbed “The Gratuitous Foot Shot.”  We all tried to out do each other, which is why I have a photo of me standing barefoot in the snow which occasionally makes an appearance on my blog header.

Anyway, there is a new generation of fancy footed fashionistas to take gratuitous foot shots of:

fashionista 002

This is a hallmark photo of the spud not only as a new generation gratuitous foot shot model, but also as it’s the her first pedicure and her first pair of “grown-up lady” high heeled sandals.

It’s also her first “high fashion” coiffure:

fashionista 007

This is the “dress rehearsal” mani-pedi-hair-styling session prior to her daddy’s wedding next week. She was all excited to have her nails done, but not so much about the hair. We tried to convince her it was beautiful, but she insists she doesn’t like it and cried. Then once she was excused, she announced she was going to “wash off” the nail polish. When I explained you don’t wash off nail polish, you need special nail polish remover and I wasn’t about to get it out and scrub off glitter nail polish less than an hour after I put it on, she got all weepy again.

I suggested she wear the shoes a bit around the house to get used to walking in them, so she wouldn’t look like a pirate on his first day with a peg leg, but she took them off and said she didn’t want to wear them anymore.

I guess she’s got daughter-of-the-groom wedding jitters.  Or I guess her calling is not going to be as a fashion model after all (much to my relief).

June 28, 2013

Random local color and heartache

by Janie Jones

Spud poses

Leif-Mom brought the spud home late on Monday.  She stayed on until yesterday afternoon before heading back for Kansas.  The week went by in a strange bubble of psychic misery and stress.

Without meaning to sound all flaky, I am rather empathic when it comes to emotional energy.  Good, bad, indifferent.  It all wears on me.  And some people are better at “broadcasting” it than others.  When I’m already stressed out from other factors, other people’s emotions affect me even more.  The amount of it I was living in the last 3 days totally wiped me out.  I now feel like I’m recovering from the plague.  Weepy, sore, listless, exhausted physically, mentally, emotionally.  The spud, I don’t think, is really very happy to be home.  On the farm I’m sure she was spoiled to all extremes.  Which is evident from her turning her nose up at the three good squares I’ve been serving, and the hideous new pile of skank-wear Leif-Mom bought on deep discount at various ‘marts and garage sales down south.  She also doesn’t want me to put her hair up in pony tails now that she has a fancy pants new headband from Leif-Mom.

Leif-Mom very proudly talks about all the things they did and how she managed my child.  I, however, just hear, in her mild western drawl, “Well, I have no idea why you have trouble with her, she’s a perfect angel.  You must be a bad mom.  Look at all the wonderful things I bought your child that you can’t.  Look at all the wonderful opportunities I can give your child that you can’t.  Next summer I’ll take her to *insert name of some huge theme park* because you can’t.  Oh, and I don’t need to ask permission either, I’ll just start planning now, and you’ll agree because you live with my son so by default I have rights to spend time with your kid.”

Of course, that’s not at all what she says, and probably I’m just being an idiot and freaking out, but I seriously have always had this frustrating feeling that because I’m poor and my spud is the only baby most people I’m in contact with have been around in ages that they feel they can dive in and steal my mom-thunder.  They send clothes, toys, advice and everything else, mostly unsolicited and unwanted.  All it does is highlight all the things I can’t do and my insecurities because I’m broke, and/or too busy trying to work or go to school.  Being broke and practical I can’t go buy double the amount of clothes and toys just so I can have my input.  So in the end, family, friends and even virtual strangers dress and shower my child with belongings while I am left feeling helpless and impotent and the small things I do seem trivial and are often ignored by the spud in light of the showier more expensive things provided by other people.

It doesn’t seem to matter either how many times I tell Leif-Mom or other people the spud doesn’t need any more toys or clothes.  It doesn’t seem to matter how many times I say she’s probably got too many other things to do to come and visit.  In fact, I put off the visit to Leif-Mom for two years.  Now I finally was circumvented and she has buried her flag and laid claim to the spud.  Summers now, apparently, are assumed to unquestionably include a vacation to the farm of Leif-Mom.

When I said, “Well, let’s not discuss that so soon.  Next summer is a whole year away and I don’t know yet what we’ll be doing or whether she’ll be available.  I may not even have money to go get her from her dad’s, so I may not even see her next summer unless he brings her up.  I don’t even know where I’ll be living or whether I’ll be in school or working or what.”

Leif-Mom replies, “Oh, it’s okay.  If you can’t go I’ll go pick her up from her dad’s.”

To which the politeness in me replies through gritted teeth, ” I don’t think we can ask you to do that.”

L-M:  “Oh, but I don’t mind at all.  We really enjoyed having her.”

Me, plastering the fake smile on my face:  “Well, I think that’s too much an imposition.  Let’s just wait and see what next summer brings.”

L-M:  “Well, and I think you’ll have her back before too long.  I don’t think this arrangement (spud going to live with her dad and step-mom) will last the whole year.”

Which more than kinda pissed me off.  I don’t really want to cause a scene in front of the spud, so I’m trying to be all subtle like, and she’s just digging a bigger hole as if daring me to give her the smack down she deserves.  But I don’t want to insult Leif or his mom while she’s a guest in our house, so I’m left repeating myself, “Well, I really think this is something we should wait to discuss closer to next summer.”

So what does she do?  She gives the spud a big hug and as she’s saying goodbye tells her all about next summer when the spud comes to visit her on the farm again that they will do this and that and go to *insert name of some huge theme park.*  And they will get aunt so and so and cousin so and so who’s about the spud’s age to come along so the spud will have a playmate for the excursion.

Great.  Get the kid’s hopes up and then make me look like the bad guy when I have to ki-bosh the plan I never authorized her to make.  You know, the spud still cries sometimes because some neighbors with little girls promised the spud she could come for sleep overs when they moved to their new house and then never made good on the offer.  The spud may choose not to remember that she’s supposed to brush her teeth after breakfast or empty the trash, or how to multiply by 3s, but she sure as Hell-fire remembers when a promise like that is made and broken.  And, who is always the one who has to deliver the bad news?  I’m sure she’ll remember that too.

And people wonder why I feel like a bad mom.

Because well-meaning idiots don’t listen to me and then set me up to fail.

June 24, 2013

Good grief, was I giving away something for free and no one told me?!?

by Janie Jones

I have a rather humble blog in terms of followers.

I like having followers, and those I have I consider more like modern pen-pals, like friends.  But, I only have a handful, and I’m okay with that.

Still, it is kind of flattering and exciting to see my hit counter make a big jump.  Who has been reading me?  Have I got any new fans?  Did any new people find my mixture of snark, bitching and whining and general weirdness interesting enough to come back?

Mostly the answer is no.  And the huge jumps are probably spambots or something.  But, one does have to wonder why last Thursday, June 20th I got 47 hits.  Which is about 37 more than my average.  Considering I’m able to really only boast a regular readership of 6-8 blog friends, and even my spam queue can go weeks without anything in it, that’s a pretty huge jump.

Maybe I was being snooped.  Maybe the NSA is on to me.  Maybe a brooding, sunflower munching, Mulder-esque G-Man is cruising my blog in search of possible anti-establishment sentiments, dissent, corruption, zombie preparedness and bad grammar.  Once upon a time that might have seemed paranoid.  Nowadays, no so much.

June 23, 2013

A Strange Tale from a Strange Yester-Land

by Janie Jones

I’ve been trying to come up with a decent review of “A Stranger in a Strange Land,” but I’m struggling.

I feel disappointed and cheated.  I had been going along feeling like this was some great cornerstone work of Science Fiction Literature and had built up in my mind that this would be some amazing read which would leave me breathless.

Well, I’m breathless but not from having my breath taken away, it’s more like breathless from ranting.

I have been trying to figure out what the point of this tale was, and I’m just really coming up with nothing.  I find this book leaves me as frustrated as some of the students whose work I read.  It has potential, but dies a slow, painful and lingering death without being fully explored.  I feel it’s like Heinlein wanted to say something deeply significant, but couldn’t clearly distill his thoughts, ends up trying to do to much, does a little acid, and just gives up in the end.

Is this book about prejudice?

Is this book about a sexual revolution?

Is this book about a religious revolution?  I can’t even begin to guess what this book might be saying about Heaven, Saints and Angels.

Is this book about communism?

Is this book about homogenizing the individual into simply a mass of male and a mass of female where privacy, personal space and uniqueness is no longer a part of our experience, were even love knows no preference between one person and the next?  And where every emotion must be shared by all so one has no physical nor emotional belongings solely their own?

Is this book saying true happiness can only come from never having an iota of privacy ever again?

Is this book about the heavy handed corruptness of the government?

Is it about the depravity of the media?

Is this book about how society is become a spoiled, materialistic, hedonistic morass of irresponsible idiots?

Is this book about social redemption?

Is this book saying we are worth fighting for as a species?

Is it about all these things?  I obviously don’t know what was going on in Heinlein’s mind as he wrote this book, but he does seem to be putting a pretty heavy emphasis on free love and the preference of a communal life where jealousy, monogamy, money and social status is virtually eradicated.  If it makes me seem like a Puritanical prude, I still must admit, I’m not comfortable with this as a new social norm.

He also makes no bones about his believe that a corrupt government which stands in the way of achieving these imperatives should simply be “discorporated.”  And, that one individual alone, apparently, is righteous enough to decide whether a person’s beliefs, morals, politics, whatever, is a “goodness” or a “wrongness,” and in failing to measure up, can be eliminated with little more than a thought.  While I must admit there’s been a lot of moves made by various governments, my own included, and other social systems that seem a massive “wrongness” in need of removal, but my mind can’t help but ask, who really should have the right or the authority to make that decision on their own, uniformly and irrevocably?  An outsider?  A man with “superior” mental abilities?  Should this or should this not make me uncomfortable?  On one hand I’m all like, “Yeah, Mike!” the other hand is like, “Woah, let’s hope Mike doesn’t decide my social and political views aren’t a ‘wrongness.'”

I “grok” that this book was written in a very different time, and at that time it was probably a very heavy hitter indeed.  Now it just seems to lack a clear direction, tries to do to much and doesn’t really satisfy any of the questions raised.  I can accept that a good book doesn’t have to have a neat, tidy ending, but I do think more highly of a writer that finishes their tale with a strong, clear ending.  I believe the writer owes the reader a full culmination of their thought process with no loose ends, even if they don’t have all the right answers.  I wonder, as at times he seems to contradict many of these potential themes you might on the surface think he idealizes, if he doesn’t even know what he means or believes himself.  Perhaps however, this is exactly his point.  He wanted his readers to be a bit confused and frustrated and unsure.  Perhaps this is a feeling he struggled with himself and wanted to share, to make sure he wasn’t alone in his confusion; to open people to new ideas and argue over where our society is headed.  Like Micheal Valentine, we’re all still waiting for fullness.

Or maybe it’s none of these things and I’m just going way overboard.  Maybe it was just supposed to be light and fluffy and appeal to superhero worshipers, to the burgeoning sexual drives of the 14-21 male set of the 60’s.  It does also have something of a graphic novel quality and the narratives would not seem out of place at all in a dialogue bubble written in a comic font.  I can almost visualize that campy 60’s “Lost In Space” look spread out in glossy color full page art: blonde bobbed women with cone-shaped breasts and men with triangular torsos in immaculately lined navy suits and Brill Cremed swooped hair.  Yeah, it fits perfectly.

Heinlein I’m afraid leaves too many open doors leading to possibilities I find untidy, undesirable and no longer relevant for my taste.  Whatever the real case of Heinlein’s intent, he seems an intelligent man who suffered the fate of being a forerunner of a genre and now is being judged harshly by at least one amateur book critic from a different time and place.  To abuse a metaphor, I think it’s time to shut the book on this one and move on.

June 23, 2013

The Doggie Soul Destroyer is parked over the Great White North

by Janie Jones

I appreciate a good rain storm now and then.  As Eddie Rabbitt has been heard to croon,

“Oh, I love a rainy night, such a beautiful sight.  I love to hear the thunder, watch the lightning as it lights up the sky…”

Rupert however, is petrified to incapacitation by the rain.

We’ve been having an amazing spate of rainfall in my neck of the Great White North lately, and while my garden is loving it, I’m getting a little tired of having to squeeze a mow in every three to four days, and that’s if I’m lucky and the rain stops long enough to get out and mow.  But it’s not just the irritating speed at which the grass grows and fighting the damp grass which clogs the mower that’s getting tiresome.  It’s the trembling of any piece of furniture poor Rupert is currently hiding under or the pools of drool left behind when he pants himself into a puddle and moves off to drier ground.  Poor guy.  I sincerely hope he doesn’t panic himself all the way to a heart attack.

What a rainy summer is good for though, is sleeping in and having no excuse but to sit and finish reading that dreaded literary nemesis of mine, A Stranger in a Strange Land.  Yes.  I finished it.  Yesterday.  Finally.

But that will be a separate post.



June 21, 2013

It’s Greek to me

by Janie Jones

The closest I’ve ever really come to Greek food is Greek Salad from Panera and Gyros sold out of a food truck at the county fair.  But, man, those sloppy things are good!  And, now living in the Great White North we have no Panera, so what’s a Janie to do?

Get to cooking of course.  Although, lamb is precious apparently in the Great White North.  But at least this time of year the salad fixings are good quality.

Lambburger 002

So this is my version of Greek food.  A salad with feta cheese and kalamata olives and a breaded lambburger patty topped with tzatziki sauce.  All it was missing was Leif’s amazing pita.

Unfortunately, my breading scorched a little, but they still tasted delicious, and the meat inside was a nice medium and so juicy.  Yummy.  Man, I wish lambburger was easier to get a hold of up here, I could eat this all the time.

June 20, 2013

I’ve been stupidly stuck on this all morning

by Janie Jones

Something that really gets my goat is people who try and blame me for their mistakes or misunderstanding.

At precisely 8:15 am (according to my cellphone) a call rang through.  I was still in bed, enjoying knowing I didn’t have to actually get up for anything particular today.  But, I get so few phone calls, that I’m generally too curious about who’d be calling to let it go to voice mail.

It was our Preferred Auto Mechanic.  You see, on Tuesday we dropped the Buick off for the first round of it’s minor major expense repairs.  PAM says to me he’s having a problem with our car.  Apparently he can’t get it to start.  At all.

I’m not concerned.  This particular model of Buick has this asinine anti-theft safety feature where you can’t start the car unless you go through this particular series of things while turning the ignition key.  I find it pretty pointless and irritating, because it seems to me that it already has an expensive specialty key with a microchip in it that you have to have to start the engine, and if there’s some serious car thieves out there, I’ll bet they’ll find a way to outsmart this feature with or without a key.

Any way, I try to explain this feature to PAM.  I also said I’m sorry, I guess he didn’t get the info because we had to tell his assistant about this procedure on Tuesday so the assistant could drive the car to their storage lot.  Assistant was seen actually starting and driving off in the Buick so said assistant did have said information.

PAM says to me in a somewhat snotty tone I didn’t much like while half awake at 8:15 am, “Well, that’s not what I was told about how to start the car.”

Like it is actually possible for us to lie to Assistant and have him still be able to start and drive the car.

Mmm hmm.

Sounds like you ought to be less snotty with me and get with your guy who has been seen to actually start and drive it.

Well now that I’ve shared, maybe I’ll be able to let it go.