Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Oh yes we can

Over at Vox Popoli, Digital Cowboy maintains that even a really good actress can't effectively fake an orgasm:

A classic crock perpetuated by "When Harry Met Sally" and "Sex in the City" (among many others). When you can fake rapid muscle spasms in both inner thighs simultaneously, get back to me. Maybe some guys are dumb enough to fall for your faking and perhaps some need to. It takes more than heavy breathing and a little moaning to satisfy me that the job is done, Ms. Ryan.

I'm not sure what Digital Cowboy has against Meg Ryan, since she was directing her fake orgasm at Billy Crystal and not at him. But the fact remains that men don't realize that women can fake muscle spasms in not just their thighs, but in other areas when feigning la petit mort.

Vaginal muscles are pretty amazing, considering that women can pop out babies and still be able to stand upright right afterwards without everything falling out. I personally have popped out five; the last one fired like an RPG. Why not six? Because my babies keep getting bigger (my youngest weighed in at nearly nine pounds) and my midwife isn't getting any younger. In case of a failed catch, a ten-pound infant would put a sizeable hole in the the birthing room wall.

But I digress.

Vaginal muscles are resilient, and with enough kegel exercies, can become surprisingly strong. Do enough kegels, ladies, and you can lift weights with that thing if you want to.

And even if you aren't interested in doing puss-ups or whatever such weight-lifting exercises would be called, you can still put some rythmic squeezes on your man that - when combined with a few cries of "Oh God!" "some head thrashing and - if you so choose - thigh spasms will fool him into thinking you've reached the Pinnacle of Pleasure.

Now, if you're with a guy like The Digital Cowboy who - being on the lookout for fakes - obviously aims to please, then you have no need to pretend. But if you find yourself in the randy attentions of a man who only means to pound you like a ten-penny nail, putting the squeeze on him can get him off and - mercifully - off of you.


When I saw her walking along the interstate and clutching a paper bag, I thought she was a teenager. She had long black hair and was dressed in black, so it was easy to mistake her for some goth-inspired runaway.

I pulled over and rolled down my window.

"Hey," I called. "You know, what you're doing isn't safe."

She turned to look at me and the hopeful face I saw wasn't that of a kid, but of an older woman who - when I asked her name - identified herself only as Cynthia.

She'd just gotten out of the local jail, she said, where she'd spent the last six nights. The way she told it, she'd landed there after the judge at her traffic hearing had ordered a drug test that showed positive for cocaine. The boyfriend who'd promised to pick her up on the day of her release had been a no-show. Cynthia really needed a ride. Could I help her?

I was hesitant.I knew that judges didn't order drug tests in routine traffic cases. But I also knew that when I got to work I'd read enough wire copy of rapes and murders to regret it if I didn't give her a ride.

I made her take off her coat and turn all her pockets inside out to show me she wasn't carrying drugs or weapons. My sympathy is tempered with reason. She obliged and even dumped the bag out on the side of the road. Court records, medical records, a half-pack of Marlboro cigarettes - that's all she had.

I told her to get in.

As she buckled her seatbelt, I stole a glance at her. She had high cheekbones and green eyes. At one time, Cynthia was probably a beautiful woman. Now she looked hard, tired and used.

I didn't ask for her story, but got it anyway . She spewed a tale in the manner of someone who thinks if they talk fast enough they'll be believed. She stumbled over her words, backtracking several times in an attempt to redress and correct glaring contradictions. She had a boyfriend but the night she was arrested she'd been drinking with someone else. She didn't do drugs but couldn't remember what happened after the third shot of tequila. She had five kids who were with their dad. They really wanted to be with her and they would be, if she and her boyfriend didn't lose the trailer they shared, which is exactly what would happen if he couldn't get his child support reduced.

I finally stopped her and told her it was OK. She didn't have to say any more. I'd done plenty of things in my past I wasn't proud of myself. She could chill out. I wasn't her parole officer. I was just someone giving her a ride.

I did ask her , though, why her boyfriend didn't show. She said he must have gotten delayed at work. He was driving a burgundy Mazda and was probably on the way. With anxious eyes she scanned oncoming traffic, looking for his car. We never saw it.

I called my boss and told him I was giving someone a ride home and that I'd be late. He said that was cool, but I never got the chance. Cynthia began fretting that her boyfriend - who didn't have a cell phone - would end up riding the roads looking for her all night. She asked me to pull over and drop her off. I refused to pull over on the busy interstate but took the next exit, hoping I could convince her to let me take her to a convenience store where there would be lights and a phone. It would be dark soon. I was worried about her.

But she wouldn't listen. She got out, but before she did gave me a hug and told me how much she appreciated the ride. Did I know how many people she'd asked who'd refused before I came along? About five, she said.

I pulled away, watching her in the rear view mirror as I did. I never saw the burgundy car. But I'll never forget the vision of Cynthia standing there, waiting for it to come.

When I got to work, I was pretty bummed out. On a break, I shared this story with my friend John, who has a lot of insight into people.

"My life has been far from perfect," I told him. "Lord knows I've had my share of missteps. So what's the difference between me and Cynthia?"

John took a drag off his cigarette and gave me a smile.

"You stopped waiting for guys in Mazdas," he said.

They went looking for rabbits...

...and came home with guinea pigs.

This happened on Sunday. Lucas has been begging for a pet rabbit so Larry took him and Alex out to find one. There were no rabbits to be had, but our neighbor did talk him into taking a group of six guinea pigs that someone had dumped on her the day before.

Alex has been busy researching their care on the Internet. Lucas is enamored. Not so enamoured that he's forgetten that we promised him a rabbit but enamoured nonetheless.

I hope she wins...


Stop whining, Pierce Marshall.

Anna Nicole Smith gave your daddy an opportunity to experience something that escapes most mere mortals: a chance to see heaven before they die. But for J. Howard Marhall, that heavenly vision wasn't wasn't angels on clouds, but two bonafide Playboy centerfold boobs which she graciously bared for the old man even as he lay on his deathbed.

Who knows, maybe Anna Nicole was trying to hasten his death. If it had worked, her tactic could have changed the entire euthanasia debate. Jack Kervorkian could put aside his cocktail of lethal medicine in favor of implants.

But really, Pierce Marshall. Shut up about your damn inheritence, already. You're guaranteed half of it as it is. Besides, you know as well as I do that the sight of your waiting there at the bedside like some vulture wasn't nearly as gratifying to your 90-year-old dad as getting flashed by his wife.

So let the girl get paid. Half a billion dollars is a enough for anyone to live on. You won't even miss it.

On Crows and Creation

Isn't this the coolest picture? I have some animal art cards and this raven card sort of jumped out at me as I was going through them yesterday.

I think I'll make a wall-hanging based on the design. I spent part of last night sketching it out. The only thing I changed was the branch the bird was sitting on. In my design it curves up and over to frame the bird, which is overlooking a distant river and mountain.

This one will take a while, but I think it will be worth it when it's finished. I'll have to go through all my fabrics and see what will work best. I've got an idea in my mind of what I want to use.

Black cord for the raven. A brown cord or cotton for the tree. Green or tan for the distant mountain. But the fabrics won't be plain. They'll have some sort of texture reminenscent what they're becoming. The field in the foreground in front of the river - I have a piece of fabric to lay on the bias so it looks like rows.

We don't have ravens here, just lots American crows and jays, which are in the same Corvidae family. I've taken in a few injured crows over the years - but not many. They're too crafty to get hurt. They don't look like much from a distance, but close up their black feathers irridescent whenever light hits them just so. And they're quite intelligent. I had one who used to bang his food dish against the bars of his cage when it was empty, like an inmate in a prison cell.

But even though they are smart, ravens and crows but they have their dark side, too. They mercilessly harrass birds of prey and years ago killed a nearby falconer's hawk that got its jesses hung in a tree. There was really nothing anyone could do.

I've worked with birds of prey for years and years, and experience has taught me never to release one - like this little red-shouldered hawk I took in last year - where there are a lot of crows about. If you do they'll mob it to death before it can get its bearings. This is especially the case for smaller, more skittish hawks. Larger hawks are equally harrassed, but from a safe distance.

Owls fare even better. Rather than fly away and ecourage the crows to chase them, they'll just hunker down and wait the crows out unless it gets unbearable. Little screech owls, like this pretty little gray-phased one who spent three weeks here recovering from getting dinged by a car, usually escape crows' attention, although songbirds worry them a bit.

One can't really be angry at the crows for being crows. They're only trying to rid the world as what they perceive as a threat to their offspring. But they do seem to take a certain glee in chasing raptors that I've always found disconcerting.

But still I can't help but to like the black-cloaked fiends. Despite their malicous mob mentality, there's something in the stark simplicity and wildness of ravens and crows that I find poingnant and even beautiful.

They remind me that pain and discord are natural threads in the tapestry of life - and are as worthy of existence as things peaceful and pretty.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

A little something for Shrub

**Disclaimer: Uptight types may proceed into this link at their own risk. If you insist on ignoring the disclaimer and feel hurt, violated, folded, spindled or mutilated please be aware that you were warned.**


Friday, February 24, 2006

Pondering the Death Wish

Earlier this month I caught the tail end of a documentary called Grizzly Man and was so riveted by what I saw that I purchased it the next day.

For those of you who haven't seen it, Grizzly Man recounts the story of Timothy Treadwell, an erstwhile California actor who travels to the Alaskan wilderness, where he has an epiphany of sorts upon seeing the giant brown/grizzly bears. Timothy the druggie surfer-dude becomes Timothy the bear activist and spends the next 13 summers in the remote Alaskan bush, where he gets incredible footage of bears endowed with silly names like Downy, Rowdy and Mr. Chocolate.

He gets as much footage of himself, making baby talk with the giant bruins, imploring God to send rain to them so the salmon can run, and - when he finds a dead cub - railing against the cruel reality of a nature that falls short of his anthropomorphic ideal.

Despite his childlike view of the animals, Treadwell did some good as a bear ambassador. He was as charismatic as he was manic, and when he wasn't in the field, he was giving free classroom presentations on bears and even founded an organization called Grizzly People. And while he was detested by most true bear experts for what they saw as risky-self promotion, when Treadwell's antics were picked up by the media he became something of an overnight celebrity.

Yes, things were going pretty well for Timothy Treadwell until October of 2003, when he got eaten by a bear. For dessert, it ate his companion, a woman named Amie Huggenard.

The details in the documentary were both fascinating and lurid enough that I wanted to learn more, so on Tuesday I picked up a copy of The Grizzly Maze, by Nick Jans. The book, named for the bear-intensive area where Treadwell foolishly pitched camp and eventually died, describes in detail the chilling six-minute audio capturing sounds of the attack. It also includes biologists' speculation on what probably happened based on the audio, photos and autopsies of what was left of the Treadwell and Huggenard, which wasn't much.

My mother watched the documentary and we read the book at the same time. This morning, in our version of the mother-daughter book club, she kept commenting on Treadwell's and Huggenard's grizzly end. (pun intended)

"What a horrible way to die!" she lamented.

Well, yeah it was horrible, especially for Huggenard who got to watch her boyfriend getting killed before the bear turned on her.

But in the scope of things is it really any worse than what people suffer through everyday? I mean, think about it: Would you rather see death charging at you - a primal wall of muscle, tooth and claw that kills and devours you in the space of a few, excruciating minutes? Or would you rather see death crawling slowly towards you over a period of six months as you lie immobilized by a disease like cancer that devours you from the inside out?

It's a no-brainer to me. If I'm ever diagnosed with terminal cancer I'm going to fly to the Alaskan outback, walk up to the meanest looking grizzly I can find and poke him right in the eye.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

My Tuesday Best...

So here's a picture of me in my celtic cross skirt and shawl, both handmade by me.

The shawl I knit a couple of weeks ago out of yarn my sister Carla gave me for Christmas. The skirt I finished last night, except for the hem.

You'd think after all this I'd have gotten this crazy domestic streak out of my system.

But no. Making this skirt was a great bit of fun. I think I'll make another one. And then paint some flowers I photographed last spring. And teach myself calligraphy.

But for now off to town for a girl's afternoon out with little Alex. Our itenerary has us visiting the fabric store, the art supply store, stopping in to see Wesley and Jessica at work and then going to the bookstore for coffee and more stuff to read.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Some husbands bring home flowers..

I thought only little boys were supposed tote home snakes and other creatures. At our house, it's the big boys.

So Larry comes home today with a bucket. In the bucket is a PVC tube with a piece of screen molded to one end. In the tube is a rat.

"Look at this," he said. "What do you think?"

"I think you have a rat in a bucket," I said.

"Call the kids," he replied. "I want them to see this."

So I called the kids outside. "Look," I said. "Daddy brought home dinner."

Larry gave me his "don't-be-a-smartass" look - the one he gives me about four times a day - and explained to the kids that the Catch of the Day was a Hispid Cotton Rat. It looked more like a vole to me, or a vole crossed to a field mouse. Larry said it's mate had been crushed inside a piece of machinery at my dad's place.

He sent me for the camera, so we could capture this special moment forever. But why be greedy? Why should I enjoy such a golden moment without sharing it with the rest of you?

Behold, the rat.

After a few more moments of watching the rat bash itself agains the sides of the bucket, Larry and Alex walked to the shed back in the woods behind our house and set it free. Hopefully it will get over its dead mate and find a new love amid the brambles. Or get eaten by an owl.

Larry means well, I know. And I have to say when he does things like this it must makes me realize what a unique man I'm married to, the freak.

All sewn up

I did it! It turned out to be more tedious than difficult and I'm pleased with the results. I used almost a whole spool of thread on the applique, which I worked on in spurts because doing it all at once would have made me go blind.

More pictures tomorrow, outside where the lighting's better. Unless of course it rains or Larry doesn't feel up to playing photographer. If all goes well and we do take pictures, I'll make sure I include shots of the matching shawl I made.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

That Creative Urge

I haven't sewn for a few weeks, not because I haven't been wanting to, but because nothing has really inspired me. I don't use patterns; I design my own creations. That ups the ante a bit because it's more work. But I've never seen the logic in sewing something that looks like it was bought in a store. If you're going to sew, make something you can't buy at the mall - something no one else will have.

But being uninspired puts me in a bad mood, especially when I have a beautiful, recently hand-knitted shawl just screaming for a coordinating skirt. For the last couple of days I've been going through books looking at photographs and going, "nope, nope, nope..."

Then last night it hit me. I want to design a skirt with an applique of a celtic cross. So I went online and looked until I found the perfect one with knotwork that was beautiful but not so intricate that it was intimidating.

Today I sketched the cross. Tonight I traced the sketches onto fusible webbing. Later I'll affix them to the applique fabric. Tomorrow, I'll cut out the skirt pieces and applique the cross to the front panel.

It's going to be a challenge; everyone I've talked to who's appliqued knotwork says it's a lot of work. But I think I'll enjoy it. If it goes as well as I hope, I'll post pictures when I'm done.

The Happy Couple

If these two end up getting married one day, I'll be the happiest mother-in-law in the world. Wesley and Courtney are peas in a pod. I didn't believe my smart, crazy son could ever find someone so intelligent and pretty who shares his quirky sense of humor.

We had so much fun just hanging out today. We watched two movies - one of my favorites, Rob Roy, which Courtney hadn't seen and the documentary Grizzly Man, after which we debated the madness of Timothy Treadwell.

Later, Wesley spent time wrestling his little brother into fits of giggles and playing Nintendo with Alex and John. They think Wesley is the greatest. Every big brother should be so admired, or so deserving of admiration.

When Wesley was still a little tyke like Lucas, I remember wondering what kind of young man he'd grow into. I also remember fretting over how fast he was growing.

But don't let anyone tell you that having grown children isn't as wonderful as having little ones. It's just different and so rewarding to spend time together not just as family but as friends.

I have to pinch myself every day. I feel that blessed.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

It's the Little Things

It's the little things that fill me with wonder.

Yesterday, just before dusk, Larry and I took the kids on a walk through the fields behind our property. On our last time out, Alex and I found a variety of tracks and saw a herd of deer bounding along the tree line.

But the corn had just been cut then, and some of the cobs still had enough kernels on them to attract deer, racoons, rodents and the predators that feed on them. Now, all the cobs are bare. We saw some deer tracks but not much besides that, save for some dig marks where some creatures had scavenged for what may have been stashed or overlooked.

Larry pointed out this nest on a ditchbank. I have yet to look in my field guide and identify what type of bird built it. But birds nests like this never fail to fascinate me. This one was anchored in a sapling, its straw sides woven around trunk and limbs of the little tree. Grass and leaves made up the bulk of the nest, but it contained other things as well - spiderwebs, a piece of cellophane, the shed skin of a baby ratsnake and pieces of a long-abandoned hornets' nest.

Babies were hatched and raised there, in that nest. If they survived their first year, come this spring they'll build nests of their own. They won't learn it by example, songbirds don't stay with their parents. But once the urge to court hits and they find a mate, they'll just know. And as we humans struggle and fume over our self-made dilemmas, somewhere, by a ditchbank a nest will be built in a sure sign that life goes on.

Gunning for Dick

Am I the only one who thinks the media is wasting their time with the unfortunate but hilarious Cheney shooting incident?

Now the Democrats want an investigation. An investigation into what? It was a hunting accident; it's not like Cheney shot somebody while knocking over a liquor store.

Don't get me wrong. I'm all for turning armed, elderly conservatives out in a field for an afternoon of hunting. If I'm driving down I-40 and see the birdshot-riddled carcass of Jesse Helms draped over the hood of some fatcat's Hummer I'll give the driver a thumb's up.

But in this case, there's no story here. So Cheney doesn't shoot straight. Big deal. Neither does his boss.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Meanwhile, back at the farm...

..our araucana chickens have finally kicked into full production mode, and just in time, too! The farmer's market starts in April and organic eggs sell quite well.

Other vendors, though, offer only brown and white eggs. That's why I picked the auraucanas, which lay green, pink and brown eggs.

The chicken tractors - moveable coops - allow us to "free range" the chickens without the fear of predation. Several times a day we move the "tractors" around our property. The chickens forage for insects, eat weeds and grass and reward us with excellent, high-quality eggs. Unfortunately, if one of the kids drops an egg on the way back in the house, the corgis are quick to claim that reward. Today, it was Sport who was the lucky recipient of our clumsiness.

Two of the hens, who are allowed to take their chances and truly free range, have become quite tame, thanks to Alex and Lucas. Above, Alex is shown holding Bedelia and Lucas is shown feeding Bedelia and Jane.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Unwelcome Visitors

The weather's been unusally warm lately. I hope it doesn't bring the snakes back out. But if it does, at least the kids have been taught not to go near them.

If they see a snake, they tell me. And I tell their dad.

Larry caught this nearly six-food canebrake rattlesnake in our back yard two summers ago. Rattlers grow big here in the southeast. This one was on the prowl for a mate. Now he's prowling around in the middle of the game preserve, where we relocated him the same day after getting some photos. I was the photographer. And no, I didn't get as close as it looks like I did. I've got a good zoom on my camera. ;-)

In Praise of Fine Art

Eight-year-old Alex announced yesterday that she wanted to turn the playroom into an art museum. Of course I gave her my blessing so for the remainder of the morning she and three-year-old Lucas worked on creating a number of masterpieces.

As I watched them painting, it occurred to me just how time flies. I wasn't much older than Lucas, my mother - an artist who spent many hours lost in her own artwork - took me in her lap and helped me create my first drawing, a nest with three little bird heads peeking out.

That started a lifelong love of art that has grown beyond drawing to include painting, photography sewing, and knitting.

Parents always hope they'll pass along some of their interests to their children. So far, so good.

When Jessica and Wesley were small, I taught them to draw using the same method. Today, 19-year-old Wesley still enjoys drawing and is very good. Jessica, 20, doesn't draw, but is learning to knit. Af 15, John is pretty good. Art isn't his first choice; he'd rather play his video games. But last year he did a nice pastel piece that I had framed for him.

I don't expect any of my children to ever become famous artists, but fame isn't the point of art. So long as they develop and retain a love of it, they'll be assured a measure of beauty and happiness in their lives. Anytime they've expressed disappointment that something they created didn't turn out quite as they had planned, I just reminded them of a quote I found inscribed by my grandmother on the back of one of her paintings: "Don't be afraid to use what talents you possess. The woods would be a very silent place if no birds sang except those who sang the best."

Monday, February 13, 2006

Jesus Loved The Way You Kicked Ass Down There

I read a very interesting take on the abortion wars today from a bright and outspoken Australian guy who recently captured my intellectual interest with his posts in another forum.

Even though JamieR is a Christian, he is of the opinion that the abortion war isn't God's war, but the war of those feverish to secure their own moral dominance in a world where morality is no longer be defined by one small set of self-professed True Believers.

It was an interesting argument, and any reasonable person could see that he won handily. I enjoyed watching him make his case against the fundamentalists whose heads spun wildly around at the mere suggestion that they aren't the Keepers of Moral Absolutes.

But it got me wondering: Why do Christians do this in the first place? Why do they insist on expending so much time and energy telling others they are going to Hell? In the end, what is achieved when everything comes down to faith anyway and none of us will really know the score until after we die?

I can't imagine what it would have been like if Jesus had acted like many of today's Christians.

Jesus: Blessed are the peacemakers, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.

Follower: When you say peacemakers, would that include pacifists?

Jesus: Shut up, you idiot! What in My Name is your problem? I said peacemakers, didn't I? That means peacemakers. Don't go second-guessing my words. Take them as they are. Literally. What I say is absolute. Don't go twisting things to meet your liberal interpretation.

Follower: Sorry. I was just wondering...

Jesus: Well stop it. My followers arent' supposed to wonder. Or think.

Ludicrous, isn't it? But if Jesus behaved like today's Christians he would have been crucified not for our sins, but for being a jerk. And that wouldn't have done anyone any good.

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe those ranting moralists will get to heaven, and when they do, maybe Jesus will say, "I am so proud of you. You never missed an opportunity to make other people feel morally inferior. Sure, you made other Christians look like complete assholes, but so what! Whenever someone expressed confusion or doubt, you mowed over them like a monster truck. None of that namby-pamby gentle witness for you, my child. No, you went for the jugular every time. Jesus loved the way you kicked ass down there. Welcome home."

Yeah, there's always a chance it could be that way. But I kind of doubt it.