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WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE: CALVIN AND HOBBES

OK, who didn’t just love the combined wit, perspective, adventure and love of the most adorable  boy and his ever faithful tiger?  I loved Calvin and Hobbes, my son now loves them, and soon – if I can pry my comic books from his hands – my daughter will love them.

Well in this town, when you have a passion for something, you make a film to pay tribute.  A friend’s husband is directing a film called dear mr. watterson and I can’t wait to see it because of the topic and because of the sentiment behind it.  I tend to prefer movies where I know the “back story.”  For me it makes it a 4-D film experience to know what went in to making it.

Check out their page, learn about the creators of the film!

Thankfully the comic strip has many adoring fans so the film is funded and under way. Heeding Calvin’s words: “As far as I’m concerned, if something is so complicated that you can’t explain it in 10 seconds, then it’s probably not worth knowing anyway;” I’ll simply ask you to wander along with me, check out the film website and eagerly await the film!

In the website’s words:
“This film is not a quest to find Bill Watterson, or to invade his privacy. It is an exploration to discover why his ‘simple’ comic strip made such an impact on so many readers in the 80s and 90s, and why it still means so much to us today.”

 

 

 

 

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INTELLIGENCE DOUBLE AGENT

You may have noticed, I’ve been on the lam in recent months, not regularly reporting my wanderings.  A clandestine operation, simply referred to as trojaN horsE, occupies my time with my first assignment requiring 100% secrecy and dedication.  Now, I find myself living the life of an intelligence double agent. The success of this operation finds me balancing demands of both worlds.

Alter egos – WTF: I Watched The Fightscenes!
My favorite show ever Alias (C) Disney

This remains a delicate operation as I continue to cement my position in my known career, while offering myself as a walk-in with the competing underground agency.  No one, not even those working side-by-side with me are aware of my covert mission. I’m not sure how they’d feel knowing I am engaged in a complex dance of seduction with the other agency.

The initial message came to me one night, an innocuous yet intriguing pop-up cipher delivering no more instruction than “Click here…” On the receiving end of that hotline was an eager case officer eager to recruit me to the path of higher knowledge, exposure to intellectual missions, and, ultimately, more responsibility for my own path.

Computer Lab or Spy War Room?

We infiltrated the system quickly for a successful outcome. The case officer, my handler, managed my paperwork and requested special clearance from the Chief of Station to avoid additional testing.  My legend required some authentication while my bona fides hoped to present me as the ideal candidate.

I, too, have so many questions…
(Where was this blog when I used to watch it… letstalkalias.blogspot.com)

Opportunity and preparation crossed paths and I gained admission to the program. My daytime cover puts me face-to-face with the high-caliber professionals grooming intelligence and intellectual paths of others but at night, I glean information from the same sorts of people on master-level missions exclusive to me.

Even now, only those readers closest to me know my true identity for I don’t want a dangle reputation to jeopardize my current assignment.  For the next 18 grueling months, my attention will be focused on gathering intelligence and deciphering communications.  I will do my best to report back to you my wanderings, although I hate to admit that it will be fewer and farther between as my operations become more demanding.   I will not cut communications completely unless it becomes unsafe to have above ground dealings.

Until next time…

fighT oN!

Best spy couple: Sydney and Vaughn!
Yay fanpop.com for keeping our shows alive!

RIGHT BACK TO THAT MORNING…

Beautiful Pepperdine University memorial in Malibu, CA
Photo by We-Will-Never-Forget

The morning began its usual routine. My baby slept while I showered, my wasband drove to work. When I got out of the shower, my phone was ringing. It was my friend Sharon and I chuckled that 6am was even early for her. I barely said “Hello” when she in her excitement asked “Did you see a plane hit the World Trade Center? Turn on the TV!” I was curious and planned to keep it on while getting ready. On the TV, the cameras were fixed on the towers, the north tower in flames, and were treating it as an unfortunate, yet ordinary, plane crash.

As I turned to get dressed, out of the corner of my eye the fireball erupted from the south tower. I turned back believing my eyes must be mistaken. I didn’t even yet know the full extent of what happened, but knew it was neither normal nor good. My mind raced searching for any explanations and immediately took sides. Logic and fear battled it out in my head while my eyes remained glued to the TV and its stream of horrific images. In a valiant effort to regain control, my head became overloaded, all of the energy left my body and I fell into the chair. On the opposite side of my being, I knew I was not dreaming because I felt the rock in my stomach and felt strange comfort from the ratty rough texture of the chair holding me. Immediately people said it, too, was a plane. I remember some group discussing the odds of 2 plane crashes originating from the same airport in the same day. They, nor I, “got” what was playing out in front of us.

Pentagon Memorial photographed by mla.march.penn
Click photo for info…

When the Pentagon was wounded, in the heart of our country, my world and security unraveled. Nothing was impossible now as I witnessed America under surprise attack. I believed this could spread like a virus and dreaded the possibilities. I grieved for the world that I’d been so eager to experience through my son’s eyes as it seemed to be sucked into something sinister. I contacted my wasband who expressed concern for a co-worker returning from D.C. that morning and they didn’t know if not hearing from him was good or bad. Sharing other’s concerns, for what we hoped was an unrelated issue, allowed me to take a step back and hold onto a string of hope. My body slowly unclenched each muscle and I thankfully channeled my thoughts towards prayers for Yen.

I called my mom desperate for her to “fix things” as only moms can. She tuned in right as the south tower billowed new, grayer smoke that we assumed was another explosion. When the smoke parted revealing that the tower was gone, my eyes and emotions could not agree that it disappeared before our eyes. Shocked, my mother and I clung to each other through the line praying that everyone was evacuated safely but knowing they weren’t. The chirping of the many downed firemen’s jackets still chokes me up to this day. I hung up the phone, desperate to check on my still sleeping son, to catch a glimpse of the beauty still in this world. I feared that by opening his bedroom door, I’d unleash the wrath of this monstrous morning onto him that, thus far, I’d been able to contain to the living room. As reports of the next plane crash began, my mind instantly mapped it as related.

Through the TV screen, my eyes braced the north tower to keep it upright. My heart, saturated by pain, embraced those people who chose their best option of leaping from the floors 100 stories up. As the north tower fell, chaos and emotion blew through me as this tragic, ironic, heartfelt, twisted, yet strangely elegant, moving death closed a chapter of history. There was no turning back now, no helping, no fixing. It was done, they were gone.

Foolishly attempting to follow the logic of a terrorist, I knew they were coming to L.A. next and I did not feel right going to work, separated from my child. I never wanted to entertain the thought, but considered that if we would die today, I’d want us to be together. I was also extremely anxious at the idea of going to work in the high-rise building – the only building in the world to have Mickey Mouse on it, with his hands up inviting LAX or Burbank flights to “Come and Get Me!” Reports speculated that the enemies were targeting defining American icons such as Wall Street, the entertainment industry, Disney, baseball and apple pie. I decided that my home wasn’t even far enough away. No place offered security. I felt guilty thinking my emotions caused me to be a chicken shit but relaxed some when my boss called and said that the company announced we should stay home with family.

Many people say that west coasters didn’t feel it as much, but I know so many people who worked with, were related to, or knew people that were lost – we were not untouched. As the details spilled out, the nation-wide moments of silence and the local memorial for my ex’s co-worker Yen came and went, my mind and body constantly battled over how much I should be to feel or how much more I could possibly ache over. My mind controlled my emotions as tightly as it could, but my heart felt that it owed it to every last person that was lost, especially the heroes, and the victims’ families, to know their stories and feel the loss. Eventually I was able to survey the emotional grounds trusting my body would dictate what I could handle at one time. Each year the heartache comes rushing back. 

My “best friend that I’ve met once in person” said it the best. We need to remember the unity we all felt. “We need to pull together & remember we are one. America. Not a country divided, or they have “succeeded”. Never, never, never give up. My heart will be with all that lost their lives that day & to the families still suffering their losses. Bless our country – however you choose to do so.”

Share your stories (or links) about that day or ways you’re honoring the fallen.

Pay tribute to those lost in 9-11 by living for moment and the beauty of each day and give your family an extra hug!
Photo by https://www.facebook.com/freepeoplemb

I try to hold onto the beauty that came as a result of this tragedy – the heroes, the humanity, the dreams that will be continued by family and friends. While this may not have been Yen’s exact plan for how to provide improved medical technology to his home country of Ethiopia, the people who were loved and touched by him will carry out his dream.

WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE: GROWTH

The Heart of the House, the ultimate dispute settler, our history, Growth! They grow up WTF: Way too fast!

The writing is on the wall, who’s the tallest?
What do you do if you move?

WEEKLY WRITING CHALLENGE: COFFEE MUGS – From Mundane to Meaningful

My reputation precedes me. Around these parts I’m known as the Most Caffeinated Gal in the West.  Triple lattes in the morning then a Grande booster around 3pm would get me through the day.  Although I’ve lowered my octane, settling for drip coffee, my simple goal remains… to stay awake longer than my kids!

So today, a child-free weekend morning, rather than settle for whatever jet fuel comes in a paper cup, I allowed myself the luxury of a slower start. I foggily shuffled my feet towards the coffee machine, aiming to boost myself enough to swim this afternoon after tackling school financial aid, creating a writing desk, and sifting through the house preparing for a garage sale.  Besides the pool, the rest wasn’t very inspiring but when I’m fully caffeinated, I just jet around til it’s done!

About 12 years into my 13 year marriage, we bought ourselves some beautiful dishes. I’ll admit I pushed the agenda with these. It was a beautiful parting gift.

I opened my cabinet to grab for a mug and lowered my reach from my top-shelf matching jewel-toned mugs, to the more colorful selection of mugs on the well-used every-day shelf.  As the coffee brewed, I glanced through the shelf to see if any could retire to the garage sale box.

Just Grab One, they all hold coffee just as well…

First, I saved my favorites, chosen initially because they hold the most coffee. Today, as I searched the darker parts of my cabinet, my vision grew clearer and I realized the treasures it held.  I picked up each mug, wrapped my hand around the cup, weaved my fingers through the handle, and felt the weight of the memories that each one held.

First couple – elegant but don’t take themselves too seriously while perfectly complementing each other!

Some came from friends and family providing the warmth of snuggling up with them for great conversation – even when they aren’t there.

Best gift from a warm friend, two mugs and hot chocolate! Although the partner shattered long ago, this one connects me to her in between long stretches of actually seeing her!

Others sent a shot of inspiration – far more effective than espresso shots.

This gift from my sister has grown more valuable with every relaxing and reflective read!

A few mugs represented life highlights and unique experiences.

Recalling on my fondest memories playing in Imagineering and my character experience while reading the new Pixar book! For a Diznoid, it doesn’t get any better.

Some reminded me of the joy from favorite adventures.

What a sisterly bonding day was spent at ellen! Visiting Graceland on my first “business trip”! No work trip has matched that fun level yet…

Even my children agree that ice-cold milk, insulated with a heart-warming shot of nostalgia, tastes better out of the glossy mug than out of their child-proof plastic cups.

Lovely reminders of my son’s childhood sporting adventures and my daughter’s sense of fun and adventure – Arrrgh!

I am so grateful this morning for the side of sentiment served with my morning coffee.  I vow to relish more than just the rich blend of coffee, but the rich memories!

Blogging is…

I’ve wandered for 144 days now, and am still amused – regularly coming across refreshing new blogs.  I wanted to share my observations as to everything that I’ve discovered blogging is to me. Please, wander with me for a bit, I’d love to learn about the gems you’ve found along the way too!

Blogging is…

History – Blogs offer the news I’d rather read of personal or national news peppered with emotions or truthful observations, not stories tweaked solely for increased shock value.

Photo Albums – My first blog ever easily shared my kids’ photos with their extended family. I don’t know if my children will ever have photo albums – despite me owning supplies to make 5 each – but they’ll know that I enjoyed each adventure with them because I shared my memories.

Two in tree!

Education and Awareness – Many topics exist that I may not have read a whole book or long article on, but because someone cared enough to blog their experience or expertise about it, I read it.

Inspiration – Sharing stories of overcoming struggle or steps one’s taken to achieve a dream that someone else may share could inspire people to act upon their dreams.

Never say never – if you can dream it, you can be it…

Community – Whether joining summer reading book clubs, shared recipes with blogosphere neighbors, or wearing fellow bloggers’ fashions while copying their awesome party ideas, knowing real people are behind many ideas, not just pros, makes ideas more attainable and increase their tried-and-true value.

Therapy – Sometimes all you need is a healthy rant, getting it all out and down in the blog, to be able to sort through events, see more than one angle, and find the lesson in what you just experienced. Did I mention that while therapy is expensive, blogging is free?! Many times, readers share their experiences and offer advice.

Rant, scream, get it all out!

Comic Relief – Having grown really tired of the same old emailed funnies, I enjoy the creativity of captioned animal photos, or smart sarcasm of real life observations.

Tour Guide – Many adventures that have been reviewed, whether it’s the Gilroy Garlic Festival or a bike trek in Italy, are now on my “Things to see before I die” list while other adventures help me relive trips of a lifetime

Visiting the beautiful horses and horsemen
in the Hungarian Plains!

To you blogging is…

I CAN BLOW BUBBLES THROUGH YOUR ALIBI

[NOTE: To really understand this story, you have to start at the beginning…]

When one fish dies, one can say many things… 

But when two fish die, suddenly it goes from unfortunate circumstance to serial fish killer.

Darla – was she misunderstood or a true fish killer?
(C) Disney/Pixar

Though not a word has been said, I still stink of the crime committed. While going through the irrational emotional roller coaster that these two little fishies set me on, my family laughed at me and empathized, laughed with me and ridiculed, laughed and told me to suck it up. Now that both fish are history – silence.

Did she or didn’t she?!

Paul Jr., the bigger, heartier fish, lasted 2 days longer than Paul. His emotionless stare seemed happier that he swam the full circumference of the tank.  He bobbed around enjoying his pirate ship. We discussed getting Paul a companion, but wanted to see how this fair fish would fare first.

I tried bribing the kids with hamsters because I prefer furry and sawdust mess to fish any day.

Fish vs. Fur

We concluded that while our cats were blissfully unaware of the fish at this point, we knew that wouldn’t be the case if we had hamsters.

Sadly, Monday morning before school, Carson said “Where’s Lauren’s fish?!”  My mind immediately thought:

  • Oh Carp! The kids are joking
  • If it jumped out of the tank, the kids better find it
  • If we can’t find it, the cats better find it because I don’t want a zombie fish apocalypse

Thank you Sparky for showing me I am not alone in my zombie goldfish terror.

Quickly without much fanfare, the fish was flushed. This was becoming too familiar a scene and we still made it to work on time.

Same routine, different day.
Swim free little fishie!

I would never intentionally hurt animals. I floundered with fish ownership but it’s just not something I do well.  My family forgets that my childhood fish were thanks to my dad’s TLC.  My family has fallen silent, no last words, no condolences. Perhaps they’re suspicious that a double fishicide took place here and afraid that if they mention it that I might send them to… sleep with the fishies.

Seriously my worst nightmare!

 

R.I.P. Pauls

A LONG FISH TALE

After returning to earth and disembarking Knott’s highest ride,

Wandering free, wish I could be
part of that world…
301 feet above sea level!

the stink of fish permeated my thoughts. I was in over my head with 2 new goldfish.

Ending this first day of Lauren’s 8th birthday celebration, my kids were exhausted! Usually I’d encourage sleeping on the way home. This time I kept conversation flowing, sang songs, “Fish heads, fish heads, roly-poly fish heads…” and warned that if they fell asleep dropping the tanks, the fish wouldn’t survive against zoobles and pokemons inhabiting our car floor.

After making it home intact, the fishies spent the night locked in the bathroom – safe from our cats, and me.

Paul Jr. (left) and Paul (right) laying low.

My son was anxious to add water, since my dad taught him the proper technique, but I reminded him it must reach room temperature first. I insisted I knew how to care for sturdy goldfish. Before bed, I found our old tank, rinsed it out (no soap – duh!) poured fresh water in to sit overnight.

Saturday morning the kids couldn’t wait to introduce the Pauls to their roomier home.  I carefully scooped each fish into the bubble tank.

Enjoying their new water front home!

They swam, ate and napped – a familiar pattern in our house. Carson thought differently, “Is my fish dead?” I denied everything, “He’s sleeping! He’ll move, just watch!”

Instant panic washed over me, as my phobia stems more from dead fish than living.  My mind flipped between pain I caused and flushing him too early. My vet tech sister said “Poke him!” Ew, I was definitely not touching him!  Besides we had a date for part 2 of Lauren’s birthday.

My gift this year was dinner and a movie in Hollywood!

After a night of sundaes, stage shows, prayers for fish miracles and beautifully restored movie theatres, we returned to the sad realization, Paul was dead.  Being the horrible ichthyophobic mother that I am, I hid in the hallway avoiding seeing the corpse as Carson fished it out and dropped it in the toilet.

A few kind sentiments before setting him afloat.
WTF: Way to flush!

Carson said a few words of prayer, Lauren boasted her fish was still alive, and Carson reflected upon the somber moment.

YOU did this, Mom! You forgot drops to neutralize the chlorine!

I tried to comfort, “We did the best we could! Please hold the handle down for 5 seconds so he makes it to the ocean.”

The End, or is it?…

 

As with any good fish tale, this one keeps getting longer…

Consider subscribing (to the right) and you’ll be notified when the conclusion is shared here.

WHEN THE KIDS ARE AWAY, MAMA’S GONNA PLAY!

When I was a kid, what was the first thing I did when I heard my parents would be out of town? Mom, if you’re reading this, the answer is Picked up my room, Asked for extra credit homework assignments, Rested, Told my friends no parties when my parents were gone, Missed You! I’ve heard of an unspoken rule that you wait 15 years until you tell your parents the truth about things you’ve done.  I personally enjoy my position as the eldest that means, for the most part, my siblings don’t have much dirt on me because they were too young to be tattle-tales when I was a teenager having fun.  I relish in my “shining example” role so in most cases, I’ll never admit to anything.  (I guess we’ll see if my parents read the blog!).

Just in case me, all alone, nobody else here, really mom!

Perhaps this next statement will be more telling as to what I truthfully did back then, because I still do it now!  My kids will be out of town next week so with evenings all to myself, I am planning ways to have fun:

GET CAUGHT UP! Life has been so crazy lately that I need to get caught up with paperwork, housework, friends, blogging, etc.  I will dedicate 1 evening to do what I have to do before doing what I want to do – catch up with friends!  See kids, I lead by example!

Just a fun idea to make me want to go through paperwork and turn it into something new and exciting! What pile of paper drives you the most crazy?

SEE A MOVIE! Whether it’s at home or at the movie theatre, it’s a great excuse to not cook, just eat popcorn for dinner like I did in college and be entertained!

What are the hottest flicks in theatres/rental right now?

READ A BOOK AT THE BEACH!  This is my new favorite to take a book to the beach and not leave til I’ve damn well finished it!  Next time I’ll be sure of more accurate coverage with sunscreen.

What book shall I read next?

BE CRAFTY! Pinterest is my new favorite toy!  I’m going to make 1 meal completely from pinterest recipes and do 1 craft project inspired by something I saw on there.  Give me a link to propose your favorite ideas in the comments below and don’t forget to follow me on Pinterest!  (Button to the right!)

Such a fun and simple idea – wait, don’t have a sewing machine. What’s a fun and simple one you recommend?

Well, tell me what you would do!

LOOKING FOR AN IN WITH THE OUTSIDER

Only one celebrity inspired me to write a fan letter C. Thomas Howell.  I was in 8th grade, an outcast in my new school (5th new school in 8 years), and he played an outcast high school Greaser in a little story turned big movie.

Be still my heart!
Thanks Fanpop.com for the great shot!

While it boasted a pile of heartthrobs, his heart of gold stood out. I never finished that letter but it probably went something like this:

“Dear C. Thomas,

Do you prefer Christopher or Thomas?  I wanted to tell you that I loved you in The Outsiders, and E.T.! It must be really cool being a movie star, but I love that you still take time for your horses!  I ride too! English, mostly, except when I hit the trails in my western saddle or bareback. If you’re ever in San Diego, please look me up – we have great trails!”

I settled for one-way conversation from the big screen to my heart, but was heartbroken when I didn’t hear much from him after Red Dawn!

Wolverine!
Seriously, they remade this?!

What brought this on? Yaani York’s 2012 blog that featured Letters to Celebrities!  She thought of everything you’d want to ask or bring up to smack sense into celebrities, not just adoring them as I did.  I can think of a few celebrities who need her to give it to them for real! The thing that I love most about her nominating me for the Beautiful Blogger Award in May is that she proudly calls herself a writer.  For me to get recognition from someone in a position that I’m striving for feels amazing! So Thank You, Raani, for your support, your publications and fun letters!

Ironically, 20 years after penning my letter, I stood in line at a grocery store at the next cashier over from C. Thomas Howell.  Did I talk to him? No after such a long time with a one-way conversation, I didn’t know what else to do but check out imdb.com and to see what he’s been up to and what he might be filming in my neighborhood.

We haven’t aged a day!

I was pleasantly surprised that he’s been working steadily this whole time so now I have 20 years of catching up to do!

#TheOutsiders #CThomasHowell #SEHinton #Greasers #Socs #Horses #Cowboys #TeenAgeHearthrob #celebritycrush #penpal #whatcouldvebeen

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