Wednesday, April 30, 2014


lights (1) When we were little girls, we rode in the car with Daddy a lot.  He took us most places we needed to go, especially to Grandma and Grandpa’s house.  Even when Mommy was going somewhere with us, too, Daddy drove.

Daddy had magical powers when he drove.  He used to show them off at the intersections on Howard Ave, particularly Whitnall and Howell.  Daddy could make the lights change.

We’d be sitting in the car at the intersection, stopped at a red light.  Daddy’d ask if we were ready to go.  He’d pause, he’d smile with this twinkle in his eye, and then he’d command “Green!”  And the light would change from red to green!  “Daddy! How’d you do that?” we’d exclaim.  Daddy had very magical powers indeed.

Eventually we realized that Daddy was just watching the lights for the cross traffic and knew how long the delay was between when the cross lights turned red and our lights would turn green.  Still, it was quite neat when Daddy would appear to make the lights change.  And it hardly hurt Daddy in our esteem when we stopped thinking of him as magical and thought of him instead as very clever.

When I sit at traffic lights with one eye on the cross-lights, waiting for the lights to change, I hear Daddy’s voice in my head, “Green!” Occasionally I say it out loud, too.  Green!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Sometimes You Wake Up Going, wtv?

I often have crazy dreams, but this was one was so bizarre and hilarious, I have to share.  I’d love to write it out as a story, but it would wind up being a novel (and not a very good one).

I was woken by a phone call. @JackGibson had gotten himself into trouble and I was needed to investigate the situation and represent him in any legal issue if necessary.  Begrudgingly, I rolled out of bed and showed up at some hotel banquet room where Mommy, Munchkinhead, some people from church who had just been to wedding with us in real life, and a host of other people were getting brunch from a long buffet.

I was annoyed because I was still wearing my leopard print satin pajamas and didn’t have my hair done or any makeup on, and I was out in public!  I found Munchkinehad, who was at the scrambled eggs in the buffet line behind Mommy and explained the call I’d received. 

I guess Munchkinhead was like my super hero sidekick or something because the next thing I new, we were cruising down the highway in an SUV with @JackGibson either on the phone or in the backseat.  We were discussing what had happened.  Apparently, we were all at this big ski resort and there’d been some giant concert and during the concert Jack somehow managed to cause a massive accident that involved equipment falling all over the place, on the scale of a Fraggle knocking down a Doozer construction site.

Munkinhead and I went to a small house that was a special research building.  It had internet, computer stations and some sort of other materials.  Munchkinhead and I were the only ones in it.  She was in the computer room looking up some things for our research.  I was sitting on the old carpet floor in the dimly lit main room typing into my laptop.  It was dusk.  Something moved out of the corner of my eye. There was an item lying on the floor.  It seemed to keep changing shape.  I was like, “that looks like it could be a snake.”  And then it turned into a garden snake. 

I yelled for Munchkinhead, “We have to get out of here!”  I was convinced the thing was a polymorph, like in Red Dwarf.  Munchkinhead and I gathered up our stuff and ran for the SUV parked in the lot outside, yelling to each other about the polymorph the whole way.

We drove off.  I called @JackGibson, thinking we’d escaped, and told him what we’d learned while I drove.  The ski lodge had settled with everyone for $50,000 but we didn’t know if the lodge would now try to recover that from him.  While I was talking, creatures started appearing in the car. Creepy crawlies and things.  “Oh no! Those aren’t polymorphs!” 

Munchkinhead and I rolled the windows down part-way and started grabbing the crazy things and throwing them out the window.  A black velcro-stick on light appeared stuck to the side of the car ceiling right by my head.  It was on and very bright. I  yanked it off, while driving, and threw it out the window.  Another appeared just behind where that one’d been; I yanked it off and threw it out the window.  And another, and another, until I could no longer reach far enough back to grab them.  All this time, Munchkinhead was throwing tarantulas and giant centipedes out her window.

Somehow, we made it to the house where we were staying.  Once again, we thought we were safe.  We were in the living room, working on our laptops, trying to figure out what would happen to Jack.  Another tarantula showed up, and another.  Tarantulas and other black creepy crawlies started coming in a line from the kitchen.  I got up to investigate.

Standing in the kitchen was a Nigerian witch. A female witch, all decked out in strange voodoo charms.  She was making more creepy crawlies and sending them over the walls of the house.    Apparently, our dad – who was not our real dad, but for some reason was a big black man – had hired her to do black magic on mom because she was leaving him.  She was taking the anger out on us, too.

Through the course of yelling back and forth at the witch, I realized the witch wanted my father and that was part of why she was trying to hurt us.  I yelled at the witch that she could never have my dad, “he’d never like you!  You have no boobs!” I yelled at her. – Yeah, I have no idea what that was about.

Then our dad – this big black man who was our dad in the dream, not our real dad – showed up at the door.  He told the witch he didn’t want her doing magic on us; he was only mad at mom, not us.  She became hysterical and there was all this smoke and … I have no idea what happened next.

The only other thing I remember after that was sitting at a conference table with Munchkinhead and Jack going over the big accident he caused.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Phone Cozie

Some time ago, Mr. Trizzle bought me a present for my office – a smart phone.  Now, I was not just about to throw this shiny new object into my purse with my keys and knitting needles so it could get all scratched up right away.  I needed something to protect it.

I didn’t want one of those rubber cases that practically doubles the size of the phone, and besides that, I needed to protect the screen, not just the body.  So, I made my own case!

Using the toe-up sock technique I’d learned when making my knee-high socks and modifying a pattern for finger-less gloves that came on the yarn I bought, I made a little sweater for my cozy (4)

I used the phone as a guide as I went.  I did a toe-up cast on with enough stitches to reach across the bottom of the phone.  The “toe of the sock” became the bottom of the phone cozie.  I knit a row or two around and then moved into the cable pattern from the yarn wrapper, which I thought was pretty neat.  I checked the length of the cozie as I went, tucking the phone into it and then going back to knitting. 

phone cozy (3)

Once it was long enough to fully cover the phone, I began casting off at a point about 2/3 of the way across the backside of the cozie.  I continued casting off around the front of the cozie and about 1/3 of the way around the back.  Then I began knitting in the cable pattern again, making a long narrow flap to go over the top and hold the phone in the case.  When the flap was nearly long enough, I did a yarn-over and ssk in the middle to make a button hole and then did some final rows and cast-off.

phone cozy (5) I had made a yarn button by crocheting a spherical-ish mess. – I didn’t want to put a hard button on the case because it might get pressed against the phone and crack the screen. -  I tacked the yarn button on by working the yarn ends into the cozie.  But, I hadn’t left the yarn ends long enough to really work them in, and the “button” soon fell off.  However, it turns out the case doesn’t really need a button to stay closed.  The friction of yarn against yarn does enough to keep the phone covered in my purse or pocket.

My little knit phone cozie works fabulously and I get lots of compliments on it. Yay!

phone cozy (2)

Yarn: Bernat Satin in Ebony

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Theater Review: Lend Me a Tenor

Lend me a Tenor This weekend, Munchkinhead and I went downtown to the Milwaukee Chamber Theater to check out Lend Me a Tenor by Ken Ludwig.  It was fantastic.

Lend Me a Tenor is a fantastic comedy set in an Ohio hotel room in 1934.  A visiting Italian opera star is going to perform with the Ohio opera.  Then everything goes crazy and the opera’s lackey winds up stepping into the role instead.  Confusion and hilarity ensue.

The cast was excellent.  Both tenors, the Italian opera star, Tito Merelli played by Steven M. Koehler, and the Ohio opera lackey, Max played by Rick Pendzich, have beautiful voices.  The Italian opera star and his wife, Maria played by RĂ¡na Roman, were superb.  They’re accents were very believable and Ms. Roman had the attitude and veracity down to a T, allowing her small statured character to fill the stage.  The cast played well of each other, there were no forgotten lines or stumbles.  Mr. Koehler handled it very well when one of the props had blown away from where he was supposed to find it.

Of course, I did have one issue – I always have at least one.  The actress playing Maggie – huge fan of the Italian opera singer and desired girl of the opera lackey – was played by Hannah Klapperich-Mueller.  Ms. Klapperich-Mueller is a student at Marquette.  She played the part really well and I find no fault with her general acting abilities.  However, her Wisconsin accent is so strong, I couldn’t get past it.  She sounded too low class for the surroundings on stage and made me feel like I was talking to your average sales girl at a mall clothing store.  It drove me nuts the whole show – just ask Munchkinhead.  Despite this, I still loved the show.

I adored the set.  The colors and styles made me feel like I was back in the 1930s.  The entire play takes place in two rooms, both of which are visible the entire time.  There is a door and an imaginary wall separating them.  At the end of the show, the cast re-enacts the entire play in super fast-forward and the actors hesitate at the invisible wall and then step through it.  That was quite cute.

The costumes made me jealous.  I want Maggie’s dresses and shoes, especially the grey shoes from the opening scene.

My favorite part of the whole show was near the end when the various characters begin to figure out – or think they’re figuring out – what has happened.  You can see the wheels turning and their faces lighting up as they solve the riddle.  That is magical.

Lend Me a Tenor at the Milwaukee Chamber Theater is an excellent production of a funny and well-written play.  It runs through April 27th.  Tickets are available here.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Book Review: A Layman Looks at the Lord’s Prayer

I got this book out of a pile.  When my church in Cali merged with the church whose building we were using, the new combined church leadership cleaned out the building.  There were stacks of books along the wall in the sanctuary; books for people to take.  This particular book looked intriguing.  I mean, come on, how can someone walk away from a cover so fabulously 70s?

Lord's prayer book

A Layman Looks at the Lord’s Prayer was published in 1976.

I was also interested to see what the layman’s take on the Lord’s Prayer might be.  The book breaks the prayer down into 12 chapters.  Each chapter looks at one phrase of the Lord’s Prayer.  - Although the last chapter seems more of a mouthful than that, “For Thine Is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory, for Ever. Amen.”  I sort of expected “Amen.”  to have its own chapter.

I was super excited to see that the book used the debts/debtors version of the prayer as that has always resonated more strongly with me.  I have lots of debts and fairly often have debtors.  I rarely have trespassers to worry about forgiving.

The structure of the book was pretty neat, and I imagine some of the content probably is, too.  I couldn’t really tell.  The text is so repetitive my mind kept wandering off and before I knew it I’d have read 3 pages without a full sentence registering in my head.  Then I’d scan the pages for about 5 seconds and get the gist.

I was paying enough attention to realize that some of the book was quite critical of “other” Christians.  I don’t really know who these others are, only that they misinterpret the Lord’s prayer and do their relationship with God wrong, according to the author. 

The author showed good knowledge of scripture and often worked hymns into the text, too.  That was neat, but not neat enough for me to sing this book’s praises.  I’ll reserve those for Our Father.  It seems there’s a series of A Layman Looks at books.  I don’t think I’ll be looking at any others.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Big, Round 6 - 0

In case you haven’t had enough birthday posts this week, here’s one more.


My daddy is 60!

Happy Birthday, Daddy!

daddy as a baby

Believe it or not, his eyes still look the same.  That’s about it.  He has much more hair now, a reconstructed nose, and he doesn’t smile with his mouth open.

I get to see Daddy nearly every day because we work in the same place.  It’s very fun, in spite of all Mommy’s worries it would be quite the opposite.  Daddy’s always very busy this time of year because he does taxes for work, but I’m sure he’ll take a little bit of time out of his day to celebrate his best present ever – Mommy.


Daddy’s not getting a big long speechy post because I’ve already done that and he doesn’t really like being on the blog. 
Instead, here’s more about Daddy:

 1 2 3 4 


6 7(warning, PG-13) 8 9

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Happy Birthday Uncle Johnnie!

Today is my Godfather’s birthday.  He doesn’t sound like the Godfather, but he would sound funny to some of you.  Somehow, he’s gotten the heaviest Southside accent.  Much more so than any of his siblings.  It baffles my mother.  In fact, he’s pretty much the epitome of the Southside guy and that’s one of the reasons I love him.  He’s awesome.

mommy and uncle johnWhen I think of my Godfather, three things come to mind: Beer, Bowling and Sheepshead. 

He’s quite good at all three.  Sadly, I don’t think I got any of those genes.  He and my Godmother may be coming camping with us next month.  Guess he’ll be taking all my nickels in the sheepshead competition!  Uncle Johnnie’s got a great sense of humor, so at least I’ll be smiling and laughing while losing those nickels.

For his birthday this year, we’re giving him a little surprise.  It’s quite small, but I think he’ll like it.  I suspect though, he’s already got the best present ever; his oldest son is visiting home from the Navy over his birthday.  That’s a fabulous present, and no one deserves it more.

Saturday, April 5, 2014


Happy Birthday to me,
I’m oft-en in a tree-ee,
I’m no-ot a monkey,
But my sister wants to be.

They grow up so fast, don’t they ;)

Friday, April 4, 2014

A Moment for a Birthday

Does everyone have those relatives they wish they’d gotten to know better?  I suspect that’s a yes, but maybe there are some people out there who are lucky enough to be able to say “no.”

Tom relaxing Today was my Uncle Tom’s birthday.  I don’t know how old he would have been, but I know he would have been having a great time.  He was always in a good mood, at least always in a good mood whenever I saw him.  That could have something to do with the fact that I always saw him at fun family gatherings, holidays, birthday parties, swimming parties at Grandma and Grandpa’s. 

As a child, I think I was afraid of him.  He seemed like a huge giant to me and his big bushy beard and tattoos made him look like he’d walked right out of one of my fairy tale books.  But he was super nice beneath all the fuzz and his hearty laugh would fill the room.

When I was young, he would let me sit near him at the Sheepshead table and kibitz to me about what everyone was doing and how to play the game.  When I was older, we would toast with our glasses of Jack Daniels.  One of my strongest memories of Uncle Tom is from my going away party before I went to Zambia.  We had a very well-stocked bar that night and my book from bartending.  Among the bottles in that well-stocked bar was a tall bottle of Galliano.  “What are we supposed to do with this?”  “Make Harvey Wallbangers!”  Uncle Tom was thrilled; it’d been ages since he’d had a Harvey Wallbanger and it reminded him of when he was in the Navy.

I think about that a lot these days.  Several of my younger cousins are in the Navy now.  I wish Uncle Tom were still around so they could all share stories together, connect.

For me, I feel like we lost him just as I was getting old enough to actually know him as a person instead of just my aunt’s husband or my cousins’ dad.  Now he’s watching down on them and his granddaughters, and I bet sometimes, he’s out there on the lawn, too, laughing as the girls roll down the hill.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Happy Birthday Tromboneforhire

Thanks to the internet, we have this new phenomenon of having friends we’ve never met in person.  That’s what some people would have us believe.  But really, people have had friends they never met in person for ages.  They used to be called pen pals.  There are even plenty of stories of pen pals having known each other only through written words and pictures deciding to get married, such is the bond people can form without meeting in person.Marques

Today, I’d like to celebrate one of my special never-met-in-person friends.  Today is Marques’s birthday.

Marques was one of my first friends on Twitter back in the day.  Goodness, we’ve been livening each other’s days now for 6 or 7 years.  I think I started following him because of the trombone part of his Twitter handle and because he was a Zune MVP.  I play trombone.  I had a Zune.  Nobody else knew what a Zune was.  Nobody even knew what an mp3 player was.  I’d have to describe it as a Window’s ipod.  Not only did Marques know what it was, he could help me troubleshoot it and learn new things about it.

Zune is long gone now, but our friendship is not.  We always have plenty to talk about.  Our conversations are often silly and light-hearted, but they’re important, too.  When I was going through some really difficult points, Marques was always there.  When I’d worn out all my in-person-friend’s ears, his eyes were ready.  Real friends aren’t the ones that party with you when you happen to be in the same place; real friends are the ones that are there for you in their best capacity when you need them most.  I’m very lucky to have such a good friend.

There’s a lot of us who are lucky.  There’s a group of us that’s formed around Marques on Twitter.  He sort of brought us all together, people who followed him for different aspects of his life.  It’s like a little virtual lunch table.  We can tell from his Tweet’s that Marques’s family is vey lucky to have him, too.  And his hoards of in-person friends.  And Hamachi.

So here’s a toast to a great man, a man with the most encompassing music taste, a man who builds networks and builds people up, a man with a big heart and an even bigger amount of hugs.  Happy Birthday, Marques!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Ribbed Scarf

Is there anyone who doesn’t like carrying yarn around in their purse?  Ok, probably lots of people, including the plenty who don’t carry purses, like Munchkinhead and men outside of San Francisco.  I however, enjoy having a nice little knitting project tucked into my bag for all those unexpected or short down times throughout the day.

Most recently, I stuffed a small skein of sock yarn and a size 5 circular needle into my knitting pouch.  The skein was one of two given to me by my knitting teacher; the other had been used to make a pair of knee-highs.  I wanted to do something special with the second skein but wasn’t sure what at first.  Then an idea hit me.

Scarves are excellent pocket knitting projects because they don’t require a whole lot of attention.  That’s key for something you may knit on a few minutes at a time.  My uncle in California keeps his home very, very cold for inside, and his Anne is not such a huge fan of that.  A scarf for her would be perfect.  My original thought was that it should be a Christmas present.  That failed, but Fourth-Tuesday-in-March presents are nice, too.

I decided to do a bit of a pattern in the scarf so that it wouldn’t be too plain or too boring to knit, but something simple enough to knit a few minutes at a time.  The vertical ribbing turned out gorgeous and the seed stitch on the edges helps keep it from curling.  I also love the stretch that the ribbing gives the scarf. 

The colors look great on my uncle’s Anne and I hope it keeps her just a little bit warmer in my uncle’s ice cube home.

scarf for Anne (3)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Duck that Never Flew Away

It’s funny, the things that stay with us, the things we remember throughout our lives.  When I was in elementary school, sometime between 2nd and 4th grade, we made paper mache ducks in art class.

We built the ducks’ bodies on styrofoam meat trays, added toilet paper tubes for necks and a wad of newspaper at the other end for a head.  When the paper mache was dry, we painted our ducks and glued on orange construction-paper beaks.

We were Wisconsin school children, raised in the great Midwestern woodlands.  Even though we were all city children, we had seen ducks, at park ponds, at the zoo, in general Wisconsin-y things.  Woodland ducks, mallards with their deep green heads and necks and brown bodies.  We painted our mallards.  Most of us.

There was a girl in our class whose family had immigrated to the US from Laos.  She did not paint her duck like a mallard.  Her duck was a white duck with little blue feathers on the wings.  In addition to her art skills being far superior to mine, her duck was completely beautiful.  I was vey jealous.  How come she got to paint her duck to be pretty?  Why did hers get to be different?  Why did she get to be creative?

Every time I see a picture of ducks in a Heifer or World Vision catalog, I think of the girl in my class.  Those ducks look like her duck.

Someone, maybe even me in my head, muttered, “doesn’t she even know what a duck looks like?”  We were the ones who didn’t know.


brook from all my children on tv with writing