Monday Meandering

I have about a zillion post ideas:
1. The death of “children’s cereal” caused by protective parents and a look back at the retro classics that ADULTS still eat
2. Skeeter the Tattle Dog
3. Why TB is more likely to kill you than Ebola
4. How it is 15 minutes until normal dinner time and I have no idea what I am going to serve
5. Women as environmentalists
6. Rachel Carson and Her Sisters (Seriously read this book)
7. How to go about determining the source of bad dog smell in your bedroom. Dogs? Bedding? Who knows. I actually have to determine this still, but the smell is driving me nuts.
8. BlogHer 14–reflections on the demographic. *Not young mamas and geeky 30s women as much anymore. We are older, more interesting, wiser, and often heavier. I suspect we have more income we don’t have to ask our husbands about too.
9. Dolce Gusto– I won one. I thought I would love it. I have issues
10. BlogHer 14 Sponsor Recap. (Yay Twisted Shots! I learned to do a Shot at BlogHer and other revelations)

So there is 10. I could likely go on. But as I mentioned: dinner. 9 minutes now. No idea

Pack Life

Today at the dog park, a woman remarked on how well our pack interacts. From the way the dogs ran about, checked on each other, checked with us, and we all behaved, she was impressed with our relaxed, easy way with each other.  It is true. We do have a good pack.

Yes, Buster is a “butt” and Lola acts the crazy, face-licker, Skeeter Bess does her best to keep the other two in line. But, at the park most of that vanishes. Sort of. Skeeter still is apt to correct the other two. Lola will lick a face in reach. Buster is just afraid of most people. (since getting back from camp–he did MUCH better.)

Her effusiveness made me think though more about our pack and how it has changed us in a way. For most of our relationship, we relied on a lot of love and respect for each other as the solitary glue. Yes, we love the children and brought them up together. (at least the five younger children have all spent about half if not more of their lives with us.) There exists a serious and mad, deep love. Yes. A smidge of what the kids seem to think is joined at the brain and at the hip. We both work at home. We run errands together. We read and relax together. If one of us has a project the other isn’t working on, (art journal, quilt, knitting) we still are interested. Denise went to Stitch and Bitch with me and probably liked it better than I did. I go and look at all the cool art stuff with her. I read over her shoulder as she house hunts for our forever home.

At times, we tended to get a bit lost without the other. Come home–the dog misses you. Where are you? What is taking that errand I couldn’t run with you because of work so long? The hospital. The month of Pippin. The dog sitting in Charlotte. A business trip. There are those who’d claim some sort of codependency or illness beyond love-sickness. In the beginning, our lives were not a seamless mesh. The passion blurred that outside our house and inside quite a bit. There was still wrangling the kids priority, who did the dishes, how things were run in the home.

We’ve gotten older and settled. Less kid stuff each year in a way. Less new chore types of things to wrangle. We know how we share a kitchen. We don’t. It is mine to cook and hers to clean. Don’t trespass. Or “Get out of my damn kitchen” as Denise would say. No air freshener. No bleach. Yes, the bed is made. We were comfortable and together and nothing else mattered.

Then, we got the dogs. Skeeter wasn’t a big change except we had more cool things to do with her and with each other. (DOG PARK!) Then Lola. (her dog. Shrug.) Then came Buster. Her dog, but, then, suddenly, our pack. What? How did we end up with a pack of dogs? Me a solo dog person. Love them to death until they die. A daily walk. Time in the yard with her? That’s it. Seriously, before Skeeter, I wondered why people took their dogs to pet stores. Weird.

Then we gelled as a pack, like a retro Jell-o salad. A mixture of good, odd, bad, wonderful. We ended up with dogs as reliant on our dynamic as they have settled into theirs. It eased something within us too. Something I don’t think we knew existed. Something I might have not ever noticed existed–except that yeah, those paragraphs show I knew it though was not going to fix it. These dogs, the ones that have a fit if one of us leaves but not both. The ones who are just fine if we BOTH leave. The ones who freak out if just one of them heads to the vet or doesn’t head to the kennel. They actually have eased a certain focus. That one that clutches at the children. The one that walks in step with the other all day, every day. The one that is just as ordinary as our very ordinary lives. Somehow, bringing more pups into our lives–having a pack behind us has eased the singularity, yet has made me appreciate Denise more. She’s part of the pack. She’s important. We don’t run as well without her and we don’t run as well without me. The pups make sure we know that. But, they also make sure we know that we are each important on our own. So, yes, we do move well as a pack.

What does it all mean besides the fact that maybe instead of being an insulated couple with a bunch of kids we are a couple with a bunch of kids plus dogs? It means pack thought and movement, the ease of it and us with each other means that our sight lines have expanded. I play better with others. Like at BlogHer, I knew Denise had a solid “call back” and I didn’t need to keep checking. I could look, and see her or I could just trust she was with me and enjoy the other people I was there to see. She’d herd me from time to time like Skeeter. I would herd her a bit. Mostly though, we would spend time with others. Perfect.


NaBloPoMo and Me….  I have mostly avoided the NaBloPoMo urge. Ok, I think about it. I may even post at the beginning of the month. But, straight up join? Not so much. But, fresh off the thrill of BlogHer14, I get the itchy finger urge to write. At least now that I have survived reentry–mostly.

I have no idea why I am doing it this month otherwise. Let’s take a look at what this month has in store:

  1. Most important: Johnny Mac Pippin is coming! What can be more awesome than the cutest, smartest 2-year-old grandson ever coming and visiting?
  2. Oh! Right! For the first time in over a DECADE we will have ALL SIX OF OUR CHILDREN in the same space at the same time.  INCREDIBLE ! AWESOME! And I didn’t need to hire Melissa Ferrick to make it happen this time. Though I suspect our expenses will be similar.) I foresee bum-rushing the jet-lagged to a portrait studio to re-enact our Awkward Family Photo. (which the Awkward Family Photo people wanted to use in their book but Jenn was on her honeymoon when the photo release needed to be sent in.)
  3. Swedish Sixteen! Lizzy turns sixteen this month. Yes, former people of Parent Soup–the child conceived while I worked the TTC board is turning 16. The rest of you who are scratching your head about “board” and “Parent Soup” –you missed the golden age of the Internet. On Dial-up. And yes! I did tend a flame war while in labor. Thanks for asking.
  4. Ava heads back to college.
  5. RJ heads to Oberlin College as a freshman. I just got my first “Save the Date” email from them for some event.
  6. I have a birthday. (45, I think!)
  7. Jenn has a birthday! 31. (I think.)
  8. Yes, we share a birthday–but I HAD IT FIRST
  9. Three crazy active dogs–one who has not yet met Pippin. He is also the one scared of strangers. Strangers being anyone who doesn’t sleep here EVERY NIGHT since he came home.
  10. Work. Life. Cooking. Blogging. Answering emails. The usual. Driving Mama places (2 Senior Center things, nursing home visits, and oh yeah, she still needs to go get her glasses)

So, with that sort of to-do list you’d think that I use awesome tools to keep track of everything. My main tool: Denise. She is a wonder with to-do lists and actually DOING things on her to-do lists. Also, with keeping the rest of us on track.

Ok, so I also use Google Calendar to figure out “Do we have the kids?”  and my calendar on Thunderbird to keep track of work meetings and the like.

I STRONGLY recommend Evernote for all sorts of things you forget. It is a fabulous place to keep menus, shopping lists, templates, to-do lists, recipes, everything else.


And…Hi Melisa! I said BlogHer! Now everyone, keep me accountable for the rest of the month.

BlogHer and Perfection Salad

So, I mentioned celery recently. It actually was in the discussion of Perfection Salad. (Not my recipe, but there is a picture) Yes, I have picked up another cookbook with a version of Perfection Salad. Yes, the recipe is probably the epitome of bizarre foodstuffs. I will confess something: I like the idea of Perfection Salad and a well done execution. Why? Because all sorts of different things that you don’t expect to go together, do. It may not be your thing. You may recoil reading about it. You may not even like it when you taste it. You might look and not want to start to try. It can be an acquired taste.

BlogHer conferences are the same way. Huh? I dare compare jellied vegetables and fruit to a conference? HERETIC! A beloved conference even!

But wait a minute. Here is the thing: BlogHer is perfection salad.

  • Invented by a woman
  • Improved upon by women
  • Makes use of things that others scoff
  • BlogHer elevates women–all women–in a way that is near perfection
  • BlogHer takes a mixture of women and puts them together to make a whole.

Ok, ok. It is a strange metaphor; go with it.

This year, BlogHer 2014, was back in San Jose. It was the first time back there since 2006–my first BlogHer. I am still muddled by the landscape of San Jose. It really could be some foreign habitat. I have trouble with California towns. (Though I did like San Diego a lot) There is a persistent unease I feel on the west coast. I blame my east coastal upbringing.

The hotel was ok. I was glad that we stayed in the Hilton connected to the convention center. The lights are long in San Jose.

The convention center seemed very nice and the staff was nice for the most part. I gave up dragging my laptop to the conference this year, but it seems that Team San Jose’s wifi upgrade really worked wonders. I didn’t hear any complaints about wifi in the conference center. NONE.

The Sponsors were by and large fabulous. I was not particularly pleased by the Hairfinity people who seemed to think that my young adults would not benefit from their product. I also have mixed feelings about sponsors who wanted me to spend precious conference time doing an “experience” or tweeting something in order to win/get swag/whatever. Some of it was fun. Some…gah…don’t put me on the spot.

The speakers–especially the 10×10 speakers knocked my socks off. Really. The VOTY, of course, was awesome (and the PHOTY) Morning and closing keynotes: YAY!

The women–so wonderful. I really took steps this year to talk to other women. Learn. Listen. It made my conference! I sometimes forget in the hustle to see, learn, do, that the WOMEN of BlogHer are the best. I stepped away from sitting with the same women I always end up with. I wasn’t the hanger on with the oldie BlogHers and staff. (I love them. But, it was awesome to not ponder a lot of what passes every year during conference season.) I didn’t spend the conference looking for my children, worrying about my mother (iPhone and texting for the win), or trying to locate Denise. If she was there, she was there. If not, we could find each other relatively easily. I think there were only a couple of “where are you?” texts. Oddly, I think we spent more time together and happier time together at this conference than other ones.

And the closing party? LOVED IT. Fresh McDonald’s cheeseburgers and fries? YES. A party area that wasn’t mind-numbingly loud to prevent conversation.  Rev Run! (yes that part was very loud but VERY entertaining and I danced.)

So, it was a really good BlogHer. It was the sort that reminds me why BlogHer still matters. It reminded me that nowhere else will I get the sort of “summer camp” where I meet new women, really get to know women who’ve attended in the past, and renew relationships with veterans. Yes, one can say it is an expensive party weekend. But, is it really when it makes you think about what you are doing? Where you want to focus? And just what doesn’t matter anyway?

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