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January 20th, 2012

what a difference two years makes.

Baby sez, I’ll bite ya! (photo by Steve Rawley)

Hello, Kitty

from Zoot and Sarah and others…

December 30th, 2011

King Woogie takes a nap
(photo by Steve Rawley)

thanks for the writing prompt, y’all.

1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before? Started working out every day.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I always pledge to get more writing done, and this year I did.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? My girlfriend C! She had a little girl. Happy mama of four now. And K’s mommy had a little boy. Sweet babies.

4. Did anyone close to you die? Yes.

5. What countries did you visit? USA and that’s it. Would like to travel to Canada next year and check out Butchart Gardens.

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011? World peace. Again.

7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? Hmmm — the kids’ birthdays, probably. And Steve’s and mine, too.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Getting my first novel published. Also I quit drinking. Christmas Eve made eight months for me. It feels really good, and we’re saving a load of money, too.

9. What was your biggest failure? Not going there.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? No, knock wood.

11. What was the best thing you bought? Food.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? My kids’. They make me proud every day.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? People who are in charge who should not be.

14. Where did most of your money go? House and food and utility bills. And gas.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Planting our first garden at the new house.

16. What song will always remind you of 2011? Probably “Forget You,” by Cee Lo Green.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? Happier, for sure.
b) thinner or fatter? Thinner.
c) richer or poorer? More content, that’s all I care about.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Played.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Cleaned house.

20. How did you spend Christmas? At home. It was peaceful and good, and we had good food to eat (in spite of a broken stove). For New Year’s Eve, we told the kids to invite their friends over for a kids-only party. Should be lively.

21. Did you fall in love in 2011? Man, I fall in love with Steve all over again every day. Thank God, cuz otherwise we’d throttle each other.

22. What were your favorite TV programs? Revenge, New Girl, Raising Hope, Glee

23. What was the best book you read? Whatever one I’m reading right now. Today, it’s Ruth Reichl’s memoir, “Garlic and Sapphires.” Funny and wicked.

24. What was your greatest musical discovery? Pop music! The kids have established full and complete musical domination over us.

25. What did you want and get? Love and time with Steve and the kids.

26. What did you want and not get? For all of my friends (and for me, too) to get (and keep) jobs. Also for everyone to stay healthy and for no one to die.

27. What was your favorite film of this year? The final Harry Potter.

28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 47. My family made me homemade ravioli and cake poppers, it was awesome. We celebrated at home, and we celebrated after the fact, but for some reason, this just made it more special. Awww…

29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? If it had worked out at my last job. But it didn’t. Next!

30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011? Work-out attire, 101.

31. What kept you sane? Walking on my treadmill daily, doing yoga, meditating.

32. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Occupy protesters.

33. What political issue stirred you the most? Occupy and everything they’re doing to give our country a shove in the right direction.

34. Who did you miss? (Same answer as Zoot’s) As always: My Dad. My friend Frank. And, for our entire community cuz we’re all missing him, Rob. Frank and Rob’s families are in my thoughts daily.

35. Who was the best new person you met? My friend A, who I hope to spend more time with in 2012.

36. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011. Drinking makes you depressed. Who knew? hahaha.

37. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year you can’t get out of your head.

“All the other kids with the pumped up kicks you’d better run, better run, outrun my gun.
All the other kids with the pumped up kicks you’d better run, better run, faster than my bullet.”

Cheerful, no? Music is a sign of the times, that’s all.

Happy Year of the Dragon, everyone.

– wm

Thursday Thirteen, Ed.#69: A Christmas Celebration, In Thirteen Parts

December 24th, 2011

Our Sorrowful Mother

(Photo by Steve Rawley)

(this originally ran Nov. 30, 2006. happy reading :) wm)

And now, for the Thursday Thirteen you’ve been waiting for: A CHRISTMAS CELEBRATION, IN THIRTEEN PARTS:

1. Mom and I decide to take the kids to the Grotto, the National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother, for the 18th annual Festival of Lights. Petting zoo! Puppet show! Strolling carolers and people dressed like olden times, who ask you, “Do you know the way to Bethlehem?” (No, I don’t. But if you figure it out will you take me?)

2. I tell Mom I’ll buy her dinner first, c’mon, it’ll be fun. She is game. She tells me she’s never been to the upper level of the Grotto. I am floored by this. “IT IS SO COOL UP THERE!” I tell her. The kids: “CAN WE SEE IT? NOW, CAN WE? CAN WE TAKE THE ELEVATOR?” Me: “No, it’s dark. And there are cliffs. But next summer!” Also, I forget to bring donations for the food drive. Mom brought some stuff from her cupboard. And she insisted on buying us dinner. Wouldn’t let me pay for tickets to the festival, either. Moms are like this.

3. Both kids, shouting: “LOOK AT ALL THOSE LIGHTS! AND THE ANGELS, LIT UP! THERE ARE PEOPLE SINGING!” Followed by, “What are all those candles for?”

4. We go to the petting zoo, at Wacky Boy’s request. The volunteer gives us warnings: Don’t let the goats grab the whole ice cream cone full of feed out of our hands. Spin around if they try to. And around and around and around. Don’t give any to the alpaca. Or the horse. Or the rabbits. I lose track of all the instructions. We spin and spin. We are mauled by goats, anyway.

5. Wacky Girl: “HEY! I do remember this place!” (Good, since it’s the seventh time she’s been.) She and mom head off for the puppet show. She is the only one to call out the answer when the puppeteer asks the audience: “What does Feliz Navidad mean?” She is proud of this. She and Mom like the puppet show. Mom is wearing a cute hat, and her warm jacket. It’s not raining. Or snowing.

(more…)

Rest In Peace, Rob Ingram

November 28th, 2011

those are words i never in a million years thought i would have to write. Rob Ingram passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack yesterday, Nov. 27th, 2011. Peace and prayers to Rob’s beautiful wife and five amazing kids. He got more done in less than four decades than most people accomplish in a lifetime. This is a huge loss to all of us, but to his family most of all. Rob, thank you for all the work you did.

this is an interview Steve recorded with Rob, September of 2009. i love the picture — was so psyched when Steve showed me the photos he’d taken. Hard to get a bad pic of the man, but I thought this one was really nice.

not finding much to be thankful about today, so i guess i will have to say, thankful he was with us for the short while we had him. Here is what OPB had to say.

– wm

“I do what I do because I’m accustomed to accomplishment CONSISTENTLY!” — Rob Ingram, from Twitter 10/12/11

Friday BlogHer Book Review: Amy Kalafa’s Lunch Wars

September 30th, 2011

Oh, yeah, I’m tagging this one six ways ’til Sunday. Because when it comes to food? There’s a war on in this world. (This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own, by the by.)

I just finished reading Amy Kalafa’s book, “Lunch Wars” (Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin, 2011, 370 pages, $17.95). Kalafa is producer/director of “Two Angry Moms,” a documentary about kids and school lunches. Kalafa is also a holistic health and nutrition counselor and a Lyme disease consultant.

I like the way she set up the book. It’s a handbook and how-to guide, thus the book’s subtitle: “How to Start a School Food Revolution and Win the Battle for Our Children’s Health.” She wrote the book in response to the questions she was asked as follow-up to the documentary, which was a joint effort with Susan P. Rubin, mom and activist, as well as director of A Better Way Holistic Health, a private health counseling practice in New York. Kalafa lays out the numbers, the descriptions, the basic facts, the stats and everything else you need to know to be convinced that our kids are having health problems in this nation, and that some of that stems to their diet. (If you weren’t convinced of that already.)

She also addresses food and poverty, health problems and lack of exercise, PTA wars, school gardens, and pretty much everything under the sun. She’s good, and I found this book to be useful and well-written. She casts a wide net, but she also gets really specific about the issues. She brings up pretty much everyone involved in food politics — from Jamie Oliver to Martha Stewart to Eric Schlosser to Michael Pollan. (Yes, Martha is a political person. She might not be out lobbying, but every time she discusses gardening and talks about organic food, yes, that’s political.) Kalafa sprinkles profiles with other food activists and notables throughout the book — it was a nice touch and makes the book even more credible than it already was.

What I can’t get around is this: You can slap down an Uncrustables sandwich on the counter, wet, soggy, stale and grim, in its crinkly plastic wrapping. Next to it, how about a fresh loaf of whole wheat bread, a jar of peanut butter and the jam jar? You can make a sandwich — a lovely, fresh sandwich, perhaps even one that includes organic peanut butter, jam and bread — and you can ask your guest, “Which looks better?”

The just-made one, of course.

“This is crap” (pointing to the Uncrustables); “This is not crap” (pointing to the fresh sandwich). “Do we really want the kids eating crap?” No, of course not. But you know who’s in bed with the school districts and their money? Smucker’s (Uncrustables), Tyson (crappy chicken pieces). the dairy industry. Then everyone shrugs.

Those of us who have been fighting this battle for years are feeling, right now, empowered and helpless at the same time.

School food = big money for companies. Oh, the dairy industry? Why am I going after them? Because of the chocolate and strawberry milk, that’s why. Rot those teeth, kids, we’re not paying the bills. Whoops! Your parents lost their job(s) and dental insurance? No dentist for you, baby. Maybe if you work rilly rilly hard, and are smart like Tyson and Smucker’s, you can afford insurance! Maybe you should start saving for dentures, though, just in case.

My posts are always too long, my apologies, but here are some fast thoughts:

1) Why can’t kids get water during lunch? (I mean pitchers and cups on the table, not a shared drinking fountain across the room, that, by the way, is broken)
2) Is it that much trouble to offer more vegetarian food? It’s cheaper, and healthier…
3) Why not let the kids get seconds instead of tossing the leftovers in the dumpster?
4) When I see someone using a dirty rag to wipe down a table, then wiping the floor with it, then wiping another table, it makes me want to hurt that person. Gah.
5) We have enough food in this world to go around. So why are so many people going hungry?
6) I still hate war. Food, not bombs. Books, not bombs. Love, not killing…
7) When my daughter was a newborn, the first thing another mom said to me was, Once she’s in school, you won’t want her to eat school lunch. (My thought, “What am I getting into here?”)
8) Growing up, the schools I attended were considered middle-range for poverty, probably. Lots of families with no money, lots of kids eating free or reduced lunch. We had the best cafeteria ladies ever, and everything was homemade and delicious. The parents used to eat with us all the time cuz the food was so good. So when I would read in books about the “horrible” school lunches, Tuna Surprise or Mystery Meat or whatever, it always baffled me.

Why aren’t more people making calls about this? Sending e-mails? Having lunch with their kids, if possible? (Brown bagging, obviously.) Telling the school districts and the USDA that the food lunch program, as it exists now, is unacceptable, especially for kids who are in poverty? For many kids, school breakfasts and lunches comprise most of what they subside on. If you are what you eat, then they are a sausage biscuit, chased with chicken nuggets, tater tots, and as much ketchup, ranch dressing and chocolate milk as they can wolf down and guzzle. There are also a whole lot of kids in the world who can’t digest milk, are allergic to peanuts and/or tree nuts, who are vegetarian, or celiac, who just plain don’t like milk and would prefer water, who don’t need the sugar from juice… on and on.

They are not being served.

It doesn’t take much to offer beans and brown rice instead of a peanut butter sandwich (I’m thinking of kids with allergies). And beans and rice instead of chicken nuggets? Always a good idea. The costs are lower, too. In the cafeterias, they’re giving our kids meat that is not even acceptable animal feed, the grade and quality are that abysmal. I could just throw something right now. How about a box of stale, nasty, frozen pizzas?

I’m remembering an evening many years ago. A friend had dropped by, and brought a friend with her. I didn’t know this person. She started interrogating me about my baby’s diet, Well, we’re vegetarians. If she wants to eat meat when she’s older, she can, but this is how we cook (beans and rice, whole grains, greens, vegetables and fruit. She didn’t like cow’s milk, once we were done nursing — at age 2 — so she drank soy milk, fortified with calcium and iron).

This woman, who was in my space, in my kitchen, started screaming at me that I had to give my daughter meat (we tried, actually, on a number of occasions — neither of my kids has ever cared for meat. But the woman never heard this, because she just kept screaming at me). “You could give her a hot dog! You could give her a hamburger!”

Oh, my Lord. It was awful. I had to stop her, so she would leave. My friend? She just stood there, silent.

I was a new mom — I used to second-guess myself constantly. So I finally came up with, “Why is it OK to take a kid to Jack in the Box, expose them to e coli and they can die from it, but there’s something wrong with what I’m doing?”

She left.

All these years later, it still pisses me off.

Ah, the Lunch Wars and the Food Wars. I’ll keep fighting until you lose.

– wm

note from my good friend…

September 17th, 2011

…when I told her I did not get the full-time job I interviewed for (adding that I have not been offered full-time work since 1998):

“I think you forgot that you have been working more than full time since 1999. Yes it’s unpaid and undervalued but you have been doing the essential and invisible work of mothering since you got pregnant. After the revolution, mothers and elders will be revered properly, but until then we have each other to remind us that making breakfast, feeling warm foreheads, remembering the asthma meds, folding laundry, etc. is THE MOST IMPORTANT WORK ON EARTH.”

So those of you who need to hear this today? Yes, it is the most important work on Earth.

Thanks, my friend. I needed to hear that.

hey, you. get offa that cloud that is facebook and read my blog.

September 13th, 2011

It’s Tuesday, and about time for an update from the Wacky House:

* School has started. The kids are doing great (4th grade and 7th grade this year #wheretheheckdoesthetimego???.

* Steve took some vacation days here and there this summer, and is back to work. He can bike to work now! Rock on, Hockey God. And he’s still bloggin’ away, as you can see, and occasionally arguing with assclowns. (Currie, you really do work my nerves. And don’t think I’ve forgotten how you like to defend pedophiles like “homeless activist” Michael Stoops.) (Hell hath no fury, and memory, like me.)

* Do I have a job yet? No, I do not. I am planning to start working the phrase “as a former sex worker” into conversations, though. For example: “As a former sex worker, I can recommend the non-fat skinny vanilla latte.” That should lively things up.

* Will I be placed in a school this year? Will I remain unpaid and still-gainfully retired, writing away? We’ll see…

* Book is almost ready for publication, I’ll keep you posted. Still working on my Dear Late Granny’s cookbook/memoir. Bogged down a little, what else is new? Seriously. I spent about 400 500 617 hours pinning laundry to the line this summer and watering the garden and yard. Seriously. It rained today and I almost ran out and kissed the muddy ground I was so happy.

* am Oregon girl.

* Mt. Hood fires need to go out. The air quality has been crummy, the sunsets and sunrises look a lot like L.A. and… I like trees. That mountain terrifies me, but I love it. Maybe the rain will help?

* in other family news, the youngest cat, Baby, has let the following be known (via his messenger, the youngest child, Wacky Boy): “He does not want his Chicken Coop to be called that anymore; he wants us to call it his ‘Man Cave.’” (Referring to Baby’s corner retreat in the library, where he keeps his scratching post, blankie, toys and catnip.)

* When my husband woke up our daughter this morning “it’s after 7! wake up!” she responded with this: “Fu…..” Her father’s response: “What was that?” Wacky Girl, fast on her feet, even when she’s sacked out: “I said ‘Ugh.’” Yeah, sure you did.

* This is the same girl who yelled, “Goddammit!” at her father when he got shampoo in her eyes, when she was not-quite-two. Steve: “Nancy, do you have any idea where she got that?” Me: “Nope.” (inside, heart swelling with pride, My girl.) (and really, aren’t you a little surprised that she didn’t yell, Goddammit, Steve!)

* what’s up with you??

– wm

great interview with Grace Paley

September 1st, 2011

love this. (interview with the late writer Grace Paley, from the Paris Review.)

INTERVIEWER: What were you doing before you became a published writer?

GRACE PALEY: I was working part time. I was hanging out a lot. I was kind of lazy. I had my kids when I was about twenty-six, twenty-seven. I took them to the park in the afternoons. Thank God I was lazy enough to spend all that time in Washington Square Park. I say lazy but of course it was kind of exhausting running after two babies. Still, looking back I see the pleasure of it. That’s when I began to know women very well—as co-workers, really. I had a part-time job as a typist up at Columbia. In fact, when I began to write stories, I typed some up there, and some in the PTA office of P.S. 41 on Eleventh Street. If I hadn’t spent that time in the playground, I wouldn’t have written a lot of those stories. That’s pretty much how I lived. And then we had our normal family life—struggles and hard times. That takes up a lot of time, hard times. Uses up whole days.

INTERVIEWER: Could you tell the story of the publication of your first book?

PALEY: I’d written three stories, and I liked them. I showed them to my former husband, Jess Paley, and he liked them, and he showed them to a couple of friends, and they liked them, so I was feeling pretty good about them. The kids were still young at the time, and they played a lot with the neighborhood kids, so I got to know the other mothers in the neighborhood. One of them was Tibby McCormick, who had just gotten unmarried from Ken McCormick, an editor at Doubleday. She knew about these stories, and poor Ken was more or less forced into reading them—you know, The kids are over at her house all the time, you might read her stories. So he took them home and read them and he came over to see me and said, Write seven more of them and we’ll publish a book. So that’s what happened. Luck happened. He also told me that no magazine around would touch them, and he was pretty much right about that too, although two of the stories in that collection were finally taken by Accent.

on the nightstand: the Lovely Suzanne’s “Muffins & Mayhem”

July 11th, 2011

Dear You,

Sometimes, I get so personally attached to a writer, and/or the person’s book, that I just want to hug ‘em and not let go and not share them with anyone. Mine, mine, mine. Do you ever get like that? Is it just me?

Anyway, that’s how I feel about Suzanne Beecher and her delightful new memoir/cookbook, “Muffins & Mayhem: Recipes for a Happy (if Disorderly) Life.” Mine, mine, mine. I bought a copy for my Kindle, read it on the iPad just now, and have a hard copy arriving in the mail in a few days.

Mine, mine, mine. But how can I hog her all to myself? I cannot. And so I will share this much with you:

Her book is funny, rich, inspired. Suzanne has been through a lot, and every time she ends up with lemons she just makes a pitcher of lemonade, then sells it by the glass. Her recipes are so yummy… I knew some of them from her blog, and have made several of them over the years (Crockpot Stuffing, Dolly Madison Muffins, Skunk Beans). I appreciate a girl who can cook and write, probably more than your average fan. Who knows why? Oh, wait…

I have written about her so many times here on The Blog (go search for “Suzanne” or “DearReader”), I’m like her one-woman fan club. But not. I have to share her with the nearly half a million readers who follow her book clubs. Also one time she sent me chocolate chip cookies, when I was working at Jefferson High School in beautiful Portland, Ore. I shared them with the students and some of the other teachers and staff. We took pictures of our Cooky Feast and mailed them to Suzanne. She is crazy for pictures. And her grandkids. And her bubble machine. And her pink flamingos. Also she is nuts about her husband. I’m just sayin’ — what a gal.

She is such a good writer, my Internet friend Suzanne. Inspirational and funny, poignant and assertive, business-savvy and artistic, compassionate and not-at-all-perfect. But she’s perfect to me. And if she wasn’t all the way in Florida, and I wasn’t all the way out here in Oregon, I’d go give her a big hug right now.

Only she would probably say, Honey, it’s 11:17 p.m. on a Monday night, shouldn’t you be in bed? Heehee.

Go buy her book, and buy a couple of extra copies to give as gifts. Knowing Suzanne, she will send you a free autographed bookplate and a bookmark.

Bon appetit!

Wacky Mommy

ps — private note to my son, who is very much a 9-year-old: Darling. When I tell you, Go to bed, please go to bed. Do not go stick Silly Putty in your sister’s hair, instead. That is just naughty. We had no choice but to cut it out, and now her hair is all… hunky in that spot. It’s in hunks now. Hunks of hair. Love you so much, Mommy

this one is for all the little kids

June 29th, 2011

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