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A poem in Honor of National Mutt Day...

In His Eyes


In his eyes, I am a rock star.
A goddess rock star who can strum the strings of the universe,
With one ­­­­­­­­­­wink.


For him it is not the sun,
That deems the day begun,
It is when I shine and rise,
That the world awakens in his eyes.

As far as I can tell,
He’d rather walk through hell…
With me,
Than through paradise with any other.

In his eyes,
There are only shadows and sighs,
Whenever I’m away.
My absence is a slow, cruel burn,
Only extinguished by my return,
Which is cause for utter elation and celebration.

I never fear he’ll be unfaithful,
It is not in his nature, nor his upbringing.
He was bred to stay with me until the day he dies,

There is only loyalty, in his eyes.
He begs for my affection without shame,
So I stroke his broad chest to tame,
The savage beast.
But one touch is never enough…
He longs for my hands on him always.

Sheer adoration lies,
In his deep, brown eyes.


Above all, one fact stands clear,
Disappointing me is his greatest fear.
He lives to please,
And would die to protect.
He won’t eat, or sleep, or piss without my permission.

For, in his eyes, I am a rock star.
A goddess rock star who can strum the strings of the universe,
With one ­­­­­­­­­­wink.

Now, if I could just find a man that loves me as much as my dog does,
I’d be in business. 


 
 
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Alright, I must admit that this blog is completely mistitled. I was never really a princess. I have always been snarky, drank too much, been slightly promiscuous, dressed a little eccentric, yelled at strangers, and been prone to random acts of violence. Someone did once call me the “Queen of the Metro.” But then, everybody was a queen at the Metro. It was a gay alternative dance club that used to exist on Main Street. I was there, at least, four nights a week back in the early nineties in black spandex and combat boots. By day, I was doing Shakespeare in the Park or going to grad school. Then, for the next decade, I was the stiletto-wearing, perpetual party girl and fixture in the downtown bar scene.  Then, I was a provocateur…a Sister Provocateur, to be exact. Next, though I fought being pigeon-holed, I was essentially skirt! Magazine. Now, who am I? I have no fucking clue and therein lies the problem.

Who am I? What am I? Why am I?

Why the sudden existential crisis? Because tonight I will be joining Frank at the Kentucky Theatre to see the documentary, “Slips Away,” that celebrates the punk scene in Lexington in the 80’s and 90’s, and then heading on to the After Party at The Green Lantern. Frank was part of this scene. I was on the fringe, but was always intimidated as hell. I wanted to get close enough to touch the tattoos but not get stabbed by the spiked collars. I was fascinated by those who could truly not give a damn about what others thought, society's standards, breaking rules, breaking norms, breaking furniture, getting injured, getting arrested…as long they had a good time and each other. I yearned to be them, but my overwhelming need to please and achieve kept me from embracing anarchy. I regret it.

Besides, punk just doesn’t stick on me. I’ve tried to emulate Siouxsie Sioux and Joan Jett, but I just end up looking like Snow White costumed as a vampire. Exhibit A is the picture at the top of the page. On top of that…I’ve gotten fat. Most of the chicks from his circle in that era have held up well…really well and have sexy, dangerous edges where I have curves. So, I’m feeling completely insecure. I don’t want to be the lame, frumpy wife, but I totally want to support my man and share this awesome experience with him.

So, what am I going to do? I mean, besides just bourbon through it, which is a given. I am going to rely on the fact that even though I may not look like it on the outside, I am radical as hell in my head. My mind has a Mohawk. I create utter havoc on the page and sometimes on the stage. I am an extreme athlete catching big air. I just use a laptop, instead of a BMX bike. I say what others won’t. I take risks. And, I don’t take “no” for an answer. I’m not afraid to stand up to bullies. I give great head. I live on a lake. And I can drink most any mother fucker under the table. I’m feeling better already. I can do this. I am the Bourbonista. I’m just going to accept that Frank is punky and I am funky. I am just going to be myself. And I’m going to show a shit ton of cleavage, cause that transcends all sociocultural groups.
 

PicturePhoto Courtesy of Tash Suter.
Don't miss SLIPS AWAY.

A documentary covering the Lexington scene from the mid 80's to the mid 90's about Stevie Mahane's life in the Lexington underground scene in which he was integral. 
Bands, parties, groups, The Maxwell House, girls, booze, cigarettes, shows, Thrash Can, the Kentucky Theater, tattoos...

Coming June 2015 Thursday the 25th!!!!
The Kentucky Theater

This isn't just about Stevie, but everyone that was there at the time. We're having a big ol' Lexington Reunion and want you to be a part of it. The night of the documentary there will be party, show and fundraiser!


 
 
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It was homemade spaghetti sauce that opened my eyes to the dysfunction that was my childhood—Molly Woodward’s mother’s marinara to be exact.

Molly Woodward was in my Brownie troop. Her cocoa-colored uniform was always whistle clean and smelled of fabric softener. Mine was usually wrinkled and stained and smelled like whatever barnyard pet I’d last wallowed. Molly was a den leader’s dream—quiet, cooperative, sweet-natured and patient. Me—not so much.

Our mothers were opposite, too. Molly’s mom—let’s call her Anne, because that was her name—wore corduroys and monogrammed sweaters and deck shoes. The wholesome aroma of Dove soap and meadow wildflowers hung about her like a halo. My mother wore polyester pantsuits and high-heeled leather boots with big gold buckles in the shape of an A, for Etienne Aigner. She reeked of gaudy gardenia perfume, Aquanet, and cigarette smoke.

But the most enviable difference between our mothers was that Anne Woodward cooked--rreally cooked. Most of the time, my parent’s took me to Jerry’s Restaurant, through the drive-in window at KFC, or to Winfred's Steak House and Lounge. On the nights that we didn’t eat out, my mom prepared a rotation of three meals, each including red meat grilled medium well, a canned vegetable, and Thousand Island dressing.

Neither of my grandmothers could cook worth a fancy damn either. Both had their own perverse way of defiling a hot dog. Granny Ison would boil the poor wieners until the skin popped open and the flesh spilled out. When she was feeling frugal, she would boil the same batch for three consecutive days until the pan was filled with just an inch of stagnant water and pink particles of disintegrated dog.  My Granny Howard, on the other hand, would boil them just until they were warm to the touch on the outside, which meant they were clammy cold on the inside. Then, she’d serve them with a pool of watery ketchup and stale saltine crackers.

 Anne Woodward would never force feed her family a frigid frankfurter. She cooked—really cooked—using wooden spoons, and shiny silver strainers, and real vegetables that she washed under a steaming stream of water while she hummed. There’s just something more maternal about fresh produce.

The memory of the day that she made the life-altering spaghetti sauce will forever simmer in my soul. My eight-year-old eyes watched in rapt adoration as she covered the counter top with big, juicy tomatoes so eager to contribute that they were bursting at the seams. Alongside them, she lined up onions, and glossy green peppers, and odd little white bulbs that I later found out were garlic.

From a hook on the wall, she removed a massive wooden cutting board with rivulets of dark grain running through it, and then unsheathed a gleaming knife from an oak block. She slaughtered the rambunctious tomatoes with a series of swift blade strokes until they were reduced to big slobbery chunks, and then dropped them into the giant copper pot that was already sizzling with oil. When she added a sparkling gold broth, thick chicken-scented clouds rose from the pot and permeated my nostrils. Next, she diced the onions and peppers into perfectly uniform pieces. I jumped up and shook my butt to the steady rhythm of the knife hitting the board. Molly’s mom giggled. Her laugh sounded like a unicorn’s whinny—or, at least, how I imagined a unicorn’s whinny would sound. Finally, she focused on the mysterious garlic. After separating out the cloves, she took the edge of the blade and smashed them so the skin fell away. Then, she sliced them papyrus-thin so that they looked like fingernails without the fingers.

But, it was when she threw open the cabinet door that my admiration turned to genuine awe. Anne Woodward was a wizard. There was no other explanation for the rows of apothecary bottles with their gold-embossed labels spelling out magic words in scrolling script.

“What's that?” I asked, pointing at the wooden shelf with the butterfly carved into the top.

“It’s a spice rack.”

“Did you have it built?”

I wanted to add, “by elves,” but thought better of it.

“No, I bought it.”

I crept in until I was close enough to read the loopy letters. Ooo—rrreee—gaaa—no, paars-leey, maaa—jooo-raaam—I sounded out the words in my head.

“Do all these bottles come with the rack?”

“Yes. And the spices that are in them,” she said, removing several of the jars and placing them on the marble countertop. I peered at the contents. One contained tiny, intact leaves that look like they’d been plucked from a fairy bush. Another had an orange powder the color of Doritos dust. Several held glistening green flakes. I marveled as she took a pinch of this, and a scoop of that, and a smidgen of something else, and tossed them into her tomatoey potion. I knew I was witnessing some kind of sorcery.

“What month is it, please?” I asked.

“October.”

October, November, December...I counted the months on my fingers. Three months until Christmas.

“Can you please take me home now? I need to write a letter to Santa.”

My letters to Santa were elaborate construction paper productions with glittery pictures, promises, and haikus.

Big Christmas Wishes
Of pretty, prancing ponies
Come true for good girls.

“Right, now? It’s not even Halloween,” Anne Woodward exclaimed.

“I know, but I want to make this letter really special. I’m going to ask Santa for a spice rack. We don’t have one at my house.”

Molly’s mom gave the sauce a stir, swiped up a drop of spilled broth with a red and white checked dish cloth, and then came to sit by me.

“Sweetie, don’t waste that wish on Santa Claus. I’m sure your mother has spices. Haven’t you ever seen her use them when she cooks?”

“Mom doesn’t allow me to watch her cook. She says it makes her nervous.”

“Oh, well that explains it. Trust me, every household has spices.”

The next day, back at my own tidy, hollow house, I was determined to find the treasure trove. I waited until my mother was twenty minutes into practicing piano—the only two times when either my father and I could get by with anything were when my mother was in the midst of her two-hour ritual of applying make-up or when she was lost in the black and white keys of her beloved Steinway. She was playing some song with lots of pedal and minor chords that reminded of me of the theme music from a Dracula film and underscored my daring mission perfectly.   

I crept into our mausoleum of a kitchen, and looked around. Like the fridge, all horizontal surfaces were also bare. There was no whimsical jars in the shape of a bear guarding homemade oatmeal raisin cookies, no KitchenAid mixer, and no coffeepot with decaf still left in the carafe—just a gigantic role of Bounty paper towels and the overpowering smell of Clorox bleach. Only the sunflowers on the wallpaper offered any levity.

Filled with a mixture of hope and fear, I inched open the menacing mahogany door to the nearest cabinet and peeked inside—nothing but plates and bowls. Disappointed, but not discouraged, I forged ahead. I ventured into a second dark wood vault. This one housed a Lazy Susan stacked with neat rows of cans. When I reached the third cabinet, I felt tingling sensation in my fingertips. Magic was close by.

I swung open the door. Sure enough, hanging inside, just as it had been at Molly’s house, was a spice rack. But, in the place of the quaint glass bottles were plastic, cylindrical containers with serious-looking labels covered in black block lettering and numbers with periods in the middle and abbreviations at the end. And in the place of mystical plants and powders were a plethora of pills as varied as my mother’s wigs—small blue tablets, peachy ovals, and two-toned capsules. I read down the row of alphabetized bottles sounding out the words just as I had done with the spices: Diiil—lau—ded, Dex—aaa—drine, Klo—nooo—pin. There was also Librium, Percodan, Valium, and Vicadin, and others I couldn’t begin to pronounce.

No wonder my mother couldn’t cook.


 
 

Written for Scott and Denise Gerken's Hippitastic Vow Renewal

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Real love, strong love, lasting love is like a traditional Bluegrass duo.
Two voices singing in perfect harmony,
Each making the other more pure, more sure. 
Then, in turn, stepping out of the spotlight and playing background,
So the other can shine center stage.  
At the end of the night, all applause belongs to both, equally.  

Real love, strong love, lasting love is like a weekend at the lake.
A beautiful balance of motion and stillness,
Of blazing full-throttle toward destiny, hair whipping wild, leaving a wake.
Of floating with friends, happiness is meant to be shared, along with shots of bourbon whiskey. 

Of quiet moments drifting into minutes melting into hours of sun-soaked silence,
No words needed, just each other’s smiles. 


Real love, strong love, lasting love is like a well-built cabin.
Constructed with care on a firm foundation.
Sturdy enough to shelter those within from the storms that rage outside.
Yet, open enough to ensure its inhabitants have plenty of room to breathe…deep.
With wide windows where two can easily view the future.

Real love, strong love, lasting love is like your favorite tie-dye.
The colors of courtship, hues of the heart, and shades of two souls,
Swirling and whirling together to create a psychedelic pattern of…
You and me. Me and you. You and Me. Us.
Newlywed neon at first, then mellowing into the magical motif that is marriage.
And becoming more and more comfortable to wear with each passing year.

Real love, strong love, lasting love is like good moonshine.
First, the fire. Intense. Immense. Intoxicating.
Then the burn, the comfortable glow that starts out slow,
And seeps into the body, a wellspring of warmth and comfort.  
Then, the grin…that comes from knowing your commitment is 160 proof.

Real love, strong love, lasting love…
What everybody is searching for,
All anybody needs,
And what you have.


 
 
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March 31. 2015 will go down as the most challenging day of my entire adult life. I awoke at 5am completely disoriented. I was in the same bed with the same man looking out the same window, but had a completely different view. The day before we had unhitched our floating house from the marina where we’ve lived for three years and moved it to a cove adjacent to our own property. It was a dream come true, that quickly became a nightmare.

So, back to 5am Tuesday. I couldn’t sleep. Neither could Frank. So we got up and made a big country breakfast replete with biscuits, eggs, gravy, sliced tomato--the works. It was lovely…then one of our worst fears came true. We heard a crash. Rufus, our lab-hellhound mix collapsed onto the floor. He was digging his front claws into the wood and his entire rear, including back legs, seemed paralyzed. He couldn’t stand. He couldn’t even sit. My first thought—spinal injury. He’d been running up and down the treacherous the rocks on the shoreline the evening before. Frank had already lost his beloved dog Mabel to the same sort of injury. He could not lose another. We had to get Rufus to the vet.

There was only one problem…well, actually several problems. The steps are not finished on our property, and even if they were we couldn’t carry a 115 pound dog up the steep hillside. And even if we could, our cars were still at the marina miles away. We’d thought of this. That is why we bought a pontoon for emergencies. However, we hadn’t yet launched it. The only transportation we had was a small jon boat, which is essentially a glorified canoe with a motor. Frank set out in it to Royalty’s Fishing Camp to get help while I tried to keep Rufus calm. Along the way, he called a friend with a pontoon. He met him at the shore. They zoomed back and the three of us carried Rufus on board. We hauled ass to our cars and loaded Rufus into my Scion. 

By the time we got to the animal hospital he was able to stand and stagger. After $440 worth of tests, it was determined that he had perhaps just over done it the day before or had a cramp. He walked out of the office was still far too weak and wobbly to make it down the hill. We needed our own pontoon in the water. So, we set out to find the most mellow launch. After settling on a place called Pandora, like the chick who released the box full of demons and with whom I was totally beginning to relate, we got our boat in Herrington. Once again, we carried Rufus across a swaying walkway and loaded him up. Frank would ferry him home. I would drive and meet them there.

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I arrived at the property and realized that the only way for me to get to the house, where my much needed bourbon waited, was to descend Satan’s Stairway and then repel. So, in the caftan and cowboys boots that I’d thrown on in a panic earlier, I made my way down the mountain clinging to a rope and tree roots. Frank and Rufus returned shortly. By this time, the damn dog was trotting around like nothing had ever happened.

The day was far from over. We still had to pick up and move a 12 x 12 dock, two kayaks, and the jon boat we’d abandoned before our lease ran out at midnight. Two boats required two captains which meant I was going to have to learn to drive one. I took a crash course in piloting a pontoon and off we went. When we got to the marina, I got off to go gather the kayak’s while Frank went to pick up the dock. He didn’t return. I just thought he was off gabbing to some passing stranger as he is prone to do, then I heard the screaming echo off the water.

Mother fuckery, he’d just gotten the stitched out from his sawzall accident. I realized the screams were not of pain, but anger. The engine had died right when the wind kicked up. It pushed him to the far side of the shore where he was now stranded. He needed someone to pull him back, which meant I needed to man the jon boat and go retrieve him. Only one problem. I had no idea how to even start the damn motor. With a series of hand signals and yelling, Frank attempted to guide me through it. I climbed in and fired it up, but instead progressing in a straight line, it just started going in circles. The wind now made me her bitch and spun me like a top. I finally got back to the slip and fell out onto the concrete in a crying heap. A random fisherman seeing my distress offered to perform the rescue. I gladly allowed him to do so.


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In the meantime, the Fairy Sisters, a pair of lesbian besties, poured me a stiff vodka cocktail, which I normally steer clear of because the white liquors make me as mean as a rabid badger. But, desperate times call for desperate drinking.

This time it was Dan the Dock Man to the rescue. He used his towboat to push me and the Bohemian Barge back to Bohemian Bay. Frank was following in the jon boat, but then an errant rope got wrapped around the prop and jacked up that motor. So, he tried the trolling motor, but the battery had died. I looked back just in time to see him take out an oar and begin to paddle. Almost immediately it snapped into two pieces once again leaving him adrift.

I couldn’t be bothered. I was too close to home and our stocked bar. I made it back and so did Frank…eventually with assistance from the same friend who'd helped us out with Rufus much earlier in what now felt like a sixty-five hour day. 


At 8pm, I downed a bourbon on the rocks and collapsed into the bed. I would like to say I downed a bourbon on the rocks, had a hot shower, and collapsed into bed, BUT we still don’t have running water. As I lay there looking through a familiar window at a still unfamiliar view, I analyzed all that had happened. What had it all taught me? That, no matter what happens, as long as Frank and I have each other and the generosity of the tight knit community of Lake Folk, we’ll be just fine. 


 
 
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There is no going back. I have wiped out my savings and retirement on property, stairs, gravel, cable, wenches, wood, concrete, and immersible mining wire that costs $14.00 a foot. I rented out our house in Lexington on a one year lease. I gave the marina written notice that we’d be gone by April 1. I moved the cats here. So, in less than one week, we will unhook our house from Royalties and float away to Bohemian Bay, which is what I’ve decided to call the fairly remote cove that will be our new home. And, I am freaking the freak out. Seriously, I have never been so nervous about anything in my life.

Why? First off, I am terrified to go up and down the steep stair that are the only way to get from the water through the heavily-wooded forest and to the top of the hill where my car will be parked. On top of that, the lake is dropping. So near the bottom, we now have no stairs at all, and are going to have to climb by rope to the precarious ones that do exist. Second, at present, we have no electricity or water on the property. However, there are coyotes. And, I won’t have my tribe nearby. There is no Third Street Stuff or Holler Poets or Morris Book Shop or Carnegie Center or Sidebar where I know I will run into a friendly face. There is only the Village Inn where old men go to talk about what bait is working best on the bass. Also, here at the marina, I’m used to having neighbors, at least from April to November. There, I’ll be pretty much alone with myself most of the time. Have you met me? That’s a frightening prospect. Even more terrifying is all of the imagined monsters that may live in the depths and all of the horror-movie-scenarios that hijack the mind when darkness descends. Bad shit happens on the water…just watch Friday the 13th or Eden Lake or Zombie Lake or Lake Placid or Cape Fear  or Lake Dead…you get the picture. But, there is something even more horrific than the thought of a disfigured and clammy Jason Voorhees dragging me into the murky abyss. Brace yourselves…this is a dry county. No bourbon to be bought.

I should have been petrified three years ago when I quit the job, that it was a miracle I got in the first place, and sold 75% of my belongings and moved onto a houseboat. But, ignorance is bliss. And I was still in the honeymoon- sexallthetime-livingonlove phase of our marriage, so I couldn’t wait to be all cuddled up in that tiny space with Frank. And, I had big dreams of writing a bestselling book about the whole experience, which just didn’t happen. And, I still had downtown digs that I could always go back to. And, I had money in the bank in case of an emergency.

And, I didn’t know what I was getting into. I had no idea how cold it could get on the water in the winter. Or how dangerous the lake can be if you don’t give it the proper respect. Or how tired you can get of dragging laundry and groceries and two giant dogs over treacherous terrain. Or how eerily quiet it can be at nine pm on a Thursday. Now, I know all of this and more, and we’re doing it anyway. Why? Because life is all about saying “Fuck you” to fear. So, the countdown begins. Wish me luck. 


 
 
PictureArt Courtesy of Marie Fox.
“So, he likes bigger girls?”
Disdain dripped from her voice.

How dare he make that choice?
When there are women who monitor every bite
In their constant fight,
To live up to society’s standards.





At first, I wanted to say,
Oh, hell no,
You did not go…
There.

Instead I decided to step back, realign, and redefine what it means to be a bigger girl.  

Let’s assume you mean I’ve got… 
Bigger dreams.
Bigger schemes.
Bigger role in the community scene.
Bigger world view.
Bigger scope of what’s true.
A bigger plan that don’t require no man.
And take bigger risks which reap bigger rewards.
My motto--go big or go bigger.

But, the choice is yours.
Resign to just get older.
Or commit to bigger, badder, bolder

The life of a voluptuary can be a little scary.
Luckily, these curves can hold copious amounts of courage.

Allowing me to be larger than life,
In this world that is rife,
With tiny and timid people,
Who are terrified to…
Demand what they need,
Both fail and succeed.
Hear their own heart.
Finish what they start.
Act up, speak out.
Say “fuck you” to doubt,
And challenge those weak and worn-out adages like,
“You can never be too rich or too thin.”

Yes, over the years my body has grown bigger.
But my head is where the real expansion has happened.
My brain is guilty of gluttony.
I’ve been gulping down and gobbling up,
Radical ideas, life experience, inspiration, revelation, art,
And saying “yes” to most any adventure that dare wander my way.
Becoming with each day more immense…voluminous…capacious.
Becoming bigger.

Focus on the words from my lips.
Not the spread of my hips.
I am not the mass of my ass.
Though to be honest I think my ass looks fine…real fine.

So, in answer to your question.
Yes, he likes bigger girls…
Wait. Ain’t no girls around here.
He likes bigger women…
And what person in their right mind wouldn’t?


Art Courtesy of Marie Fox who specializes in original figurative oil and acrylic paitings of curvy, strong women. To see more of her amazing work, visit her website, HERE.
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Courtesy of Marie Fox
 
 
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It’s National Chocolate Cake Day! Let’s celebrate with this super simple, scrumptious Slow Cooker Chocolate Cake with a Walnut Bourbon Butter Sauce. 

First, open your bourbon. I suggest taking periodic shots throughout the cooking process, so both you and the pot will be crocked. Get it…crock pot…anyway.

Next, remember to spray your slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray or it will be a bitch to clean. Trust me, I learned this the hard way.

Now, whip up your Batter:

1 cup baking mix of the Bisquick variety.
½ cup sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa.
½ cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix until as smooth as slow jazz and pour in slow cooker.

Next, make the Magic Pudding Concoction:
½ cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
1 2/3 cup HOT water.

Mix it up. Pour it over batter. Avoid the urge to stir. Trust in the magic.

Turn it on HIGH, leave it for three hours. Take some time to yourself. Paint your toe nails. Write in your journal. Watch Sixteen Candles for the one hundred and sixteenth time. What can I say? I heart Jake Ryan.

Serve with Smack-Your-Mama Walnut Bourbon Butter Sauce:

1 cup toasted walnut pieces.

1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons bourbon
1/2 teaspoon freshly-grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons water
1 egg, beaten

Melt butter, stir in other ingredients, thicken. Pour over cake.

If you’re feeling especially bold, add a big dollop of vanilla ice cream. Take a bite and settle in for a cakegasm of epic proportions. Warning: Moaning may be so loud that it makes your neighbors blush. Enjoy.


 
 
PictureImage courtesy of Mother-Daughter Press and Gay Bumgardner Images.
This is the story of a raccoon, rash, and reclamation. Two nights ago, we heard scurrying and squeaking and deduced a raccoon had made our attic its winter vacation home. We decided to venture up and set a trap. So, we filled the humane cage with obstacles and marshmallows--according the the experts, these adorable, rabies-laden creatures love a challenge and spongy, sugar snacks. 

When I climbed the rickety ladder and emerged into the dark and drafty space, I discovered the entire room was blanketed in ivy. It looked like a C.S. Lewis novel come to life. I wanted to run to the center, throw myself in the plush greenery, and roll around until a unicorn galloped up and carried me into a magical kingdom where I would reign eternal as Queen. Then, I realized it wasn't ivy at all, but poison oak. I started itching immediately. I backed down the ladder and called Frank who then called Horse. Horse is Frank's "neck-down-man," which means he hires him for jobs that require no activity from the tonsils up. Horse's tale is one of pride, a pistol, and prison, but that's a whole different blog. 

Long story short, I decided we might as well clean out the attic while we were at it. Here is a list of the mysterious items I found lurking amidst the toxicodendron diversilobum:

Three vaccuum cleaners--we have all hard wood floors. 
A set of electric crackling logs--we don't have a wood fireplace.
A box of tarnished silver--I must have deemed it valuable enough to keep, but not enough to polish.
An entire box of casserole dishes--I only make three casseroles. Follow this link to my fave.
Three boxes of files with labels such as: Bank Statements 2002 and Hot Fall Looks 2005.
Some piece of furniture still in the original packing.
Several items that Frank snuck in and hid including a UK corn hole set, drums, and steer horns.
And, the beloved chocolate fountain that I last saw five years ago after a Christmas party. Today, I have reclaimed the ability to supply the masses with flowing chocolate goodness. It is a grand Friday, indeed. Huzzah!

 
 
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Each year I am faced with a dilemma. Do I tell Frank exactly what to get me for Christmas and surrender the fun element of surprise OR do I let him shop on his own and end up with the craziest crap you’ve ever seen, which I then have to pretend to love. This year I let him go rogue…not a good decision. I received a purple furry sweatshirt that I’m fairly certain was stolen from one of the cast of Yo Gabba Gabba; two scented-candles in pumpkin and mulled spice (I've smelled all the cinnamon and nutmeg I can stomach this season); earrings which cause me an allergic reaction; a pair of gloves two sizes too big…and so on. But because I am the queen of faking a giftgasm, I squealed and gasped and acted thrilled. Until…I didn’t. Then, I put it all in a neat pile and asked if he’d kept the receipts.

Here is where you can start to think that I’m an ungrateful bitch. But it gets worse. Later, at our family’s celebration, I opened a gorgeous monogrammed jacket…with the wrong initials. On the way home in the car, I lost it and went on the most un-Christmas like rant ever. It went something like…“Do you know how many hours I spend cooking and shopping and online researching and running my ass off to make sure everyone else’s holidays are frickin’ perfect? And, I get nothing from you people. At least, nothing good.”

Then, I remembered my commitment to the first principle of the Blisskrieg. Believe Bounty. I allowed myself another half hour of sulking…alright, it was more like a full hour…and then went about being the most grateful girl on the planet.

Of course, I could have just acknowledged how lucky I was to be alive, healthy, homed, and loved on Christmas, which I realize is more than enough to send me to my knees with "Hallelujah!" on my lips. But a
ccording to Robert Emmons in his book Gratitude Works!: A 21-Day Program for Creating Emotional Prosperity, the real key to gratitude is specificity. He states that being specific “helps us avoid gratitude fatigue. The more discrete the elements, the less we will cease to recognize them or take any one of them for granted.” You should make what you are thankful for as specific as possible. So instead of just thinking, “I’m grateful that I have food,” you should get detailed and think, “I am thankful that these beets are not only tasty, but have restorative properties that will repair my liver.”  

Using this lesson, here are a few things I am thankful for today (in no certain order):
1) Angus the Cat's 4am purring which lulls me back to sleep from a nightmare when nothing else will.
2) 
The musky odor that Frank gives off after a hard day’s work—If you bottled it, the scent would be called “Proud Provider”
3) The satisfaction that comes with writing the last sentence of a chapter.
4) How Doc Grizzly and Rufus greet me with unbridled excitement and pure love even when I've only been gone five minutes. 
5) The Village Inn’s $2.65 cheeseburger with all the fixins.
6) The primordial squawk of the heron that heralds the beginning of each day on the lake.
7) That first sip of hot coffee in the morning and cold bourbon in the evening. 

In University of Southern California study, they found that instead of naming five different things you were thankful for, it was more rewarding to name five separate details about one thing.

We’ll try this on the gloves that were two sizes too big.
1) I am lucky enough to have all ten fingers and therefore fill out a pair of gloves.
2) They were proof that Frank does listen to me sometimes--I did say I needed black gloves.
3) We live in a society with the technology to invent handwear touchscreen compatible.
4) This week, it's been too warm for gloves anyway. 
5) The store where he purchased them has a very liberal holiday return policy.