So yeah…

Once upon a time, there was an active blog in this site.  Sometimes irreverent, sometimes slightly naughty, sometimes intellectual, sometimes goofy, sometimes all of the above.  Lately there’s been a whole lot of:

My prolonged absence has very little to do with anything Richard Armitage has or has not done…I recently watch Pilgrimage (meh) and LOVED Armitage’s voicing of Trevor Belmont in Castlevania.   No, my absence has definitely been all about me.  This space has been really important to me, and it continues to be, so I want to find a way to be present in it again – in whatever form it evolves into.   In the spirit of disclosure I thought I might give you all the highlights reel of what’s been going on that’s been keeping me away.

Back tracking about a year….this time last year, I was having a blast in Greece with Guylty, jholland, Kathy, Claudia and Wydville…a Hellenic girls week.  When I came home, I fell back into my regular routine both at work and at home, but changes were on the horizon.  My Dean’s campaign to find me a full time, full benefit position at the university where I’d been an adjunct instructor for so long was about to bear fruit.  In 2016 we hired a new President and about six months later, a new provost – and we were in for a bit of a ride.  Our new administration has pursued an aggressive program of change in the past year – some of it better received than others, but so it goes with change.  There were hints at a change in my position at the university in November of 2016, but the real kicker was an icy day in January when, due to a knee injury incurred just after Christmas, my meeting with the Provost became a phone meeting.

That phone call initiated a big change in my career path which ultimately resulted in my being offered and accepting a position as an Assistant Dean this past summer.  The past six months has been a crazy journey.  I really like my job, but most days I wonder what I’ve gotten myself into in terms of my insane workload.  So, reason #1 that the blog has been rather quiet, my job has changed to the extent that my down time when not encroached on by home is pretty limited these days.

Never one to limit my challenges, in early March about a month or so after assuming my first job title change, I finally made the decision that my marriage was really over and relocated to my sister’s with my kids while we sorted out the details.   My husband (we are not yet divorced) and I had been unhappy for a long time, and when we finally talked a couple weeks later, we agreed that to preserve some degree of affection for one another and for the sake of our younger child, we should acknowledge that our lives had gone in different directions and that we were no longer a couple and had not been for some time.  Thus far, things have been relatively amicable.   And so, Reason #2  – major life event.

Now, reason #3 is not really about me, but about my oldest child – you know, Showbiz Son.  Well, it turns out that ShowBiz son is actually SuperGlam Daughter.  She had come out to me as transgender about 18 months before, but my split from her father and our subsequent (albeit temporary) move from our family residence was the catalyst that allowed her to begin her outward transition.  She is still a complicated soul, and transitioning is full of all sorts of unseen challenges for us all, but she seems ever so much happier in her own skin these days!

 When I put it all down in writing, it seems pretty crazy.  Yeah, it IS pretty crazy, but we’re all muddling through.  The kids and I are back at home and their dad has his own place not far away.  We’re on the way to establishing our “new normal” I think.   Things have perhaps begun to settle into place a little bit in the new job and even if it is crazy, I’m determined that I really need to carve out a space in my day for blogging.  I’m not entirely sure where I’ll go at the moment, but I hope you’ll decide to come along.


Inter alia: I’m not sure I care for this sandwich Richard Armitage…


Hi, remember me?  Been a long time right?  It’s a sandwich issue that’s kept me running and unable to blog lately.

sandwichesI love a good sandwich as well as the next gal, but unfortunately, this is not the kind of sandwich of which I speak.  I was talking to a colleague from the Psychology Department the other day about some of the things that have been going on in my personal life and she replied,

“Oh yeah – you could have been a guest speaker in my Human Development class today – we were talking about the ‘sandwich generation'”  The comment was generated by my relating that I’d sent my husband back east to be with his mother who had suffered a heart attack and was in the Intensive Care unit as the doctors tried to determine how best to treat her.

I confess, I’d not heard the term before, but I found that it fits me pretty well right now:

a generation of people, typically in their thirties or forties, responsible for bringing up their own children and for the care of their aging parents.

Sandwich generation.  Yep, that’s me.  I have an adolescent and a preteen at home and 75 year old parents across town.  Then we throw in my in-laws halfway across the country and you’ve got a pretty imposing mix.  The constant travails of my children are so well ingrained into my daily life as to be routine.  My “aging” parents are generally very self sufficient.  My mom has a myriad of health challenges – fortunately for me, she is diligent about staying in front of them (her day planner is well populated with various doctor appointments)  Nevertheless, I’ve been privy to a fair amount of medical information over the past decade.

Thus, when my husband called from the hospital (after a middle of the night round trip to drop him at the airport) to give me an update, I already had an idea of what they had done and were doing.  He reported that his mom several blocked arteries…the worst of them at 100% blockage.  My response: “have they put in a stent yet?”  Indeed – they had done that the previous evening shortly after she arrived at the hospital.  I’m not medically clairvoyant – my mom had a heart attack a decade ago, and currently sports eight coronary stents along with her two stainless steel hip joints (you don’t want to be behind the Bionic Granny in airport security!)  I’ve been down this road before, and for his mom who is diabetic and subsequently diagnosed as being in diabetic kidney failure, it’s going to be a very, very difficult ride.    (she is currently stable, but still hospitalized and most likely looking at dialysis for the immediate future)

Sandwich for two anyone?  Short of moving back east (which is NOT happening) there is very little we can do in a practical sense.  My husband stayed for a week and is now in touch with his mother and his sisters regarding her condition, but it is a profoundly powerless feeling for both of us…this is not something that we can fix with a bandage and a kiss.  This is real life grown up stuff.

Then there are those kids of mine.  Those precocious, talented, bedeviling fiends.  I love them fiercely, but there are days I think that I would cheerfully drop them off on the side of the road and drive away.  It seems that if one is celebrating a high, the other is down in the dumps.

This weekend, Showbiz Kid scored a coup when he earned an Exemplary Soloist Award for a vocal performance at the Wisconsin State Solo and Ensemble Festival.  It’s kind of a big deal as it is the pinnacle of achievement for a high school musician in the state of Wisconsin.  We are all enormously proud.

Mini Me is right there with us, but there are also visible signs that she is struggling with a pretty formidable jealously in the face of her brother’s achievement.  I get it, I really do.  He is almost ten years older than her, he has rights and privileges that she doesn’t, and now this.  How is 10.5 supposed to compete with *this*  Of course, to me, as a parent, it’s not a competition, but I can see how she might think it is.  Actually, I know for a fact she thinks it is because last night at bedtime when I told her I loved her she replied, “I know you love Showbiz more Mom.”



On top of all of that, my uncle died on April 24.  Granted, he was 81 and he was very sick and living as an invalid for a long time would have been crushing to him, but he was the uncle who threw me in the lake and taught me to swim and the uncle who popped out my first loose tooth with his thumb.  His gregarious, volatile, generous presence will be missed.

Times they are a changin’ I guess…Circle of Life and all that.  Perhaps having written some of this down, I can move it out of my “hard drive” and free up some brain space for some much needed recreational Armitaging…


What say you?!

inter alia: Postcards from the coast…

Well, here I am back safe, and mostly sound from my family trip to Oregon.  This certainly isn’t a travel blog, but every time I travel, it seems relevant (and usually comical) to reflect on the experience.   This was a trip that I was unexpectedly ambivalent about taking.   Usually, I’m counting down the days until these family reunion trips…for the most part, I like my extended family – they are smart, articulate and undeniably quirky (seems to be a genetic marker…)  The lead up to this trip was different somehow…mitigating factors maybe.  Had I not already been committed, I might have simply bowed out and stayed home, but that wouldn’t have made me happy either, so I’m glad I swallowed my misgivings and got on board.

There were a whole lot of firsts on this trip.  While the rest of my family has gathered in the Pacific Northwest previously, I was in Greece on excavation that year and could not attend, so this was my first time visiting that landscape – it did not disappoint.  One thing that did disappoint was that ShowBiz Son wouldn’t be sharing the experience.  For the first time since he’s been on the planet, he did not attend due to prior commitments (which fell through only after we had already booked and he had firmly decided that he was no way going…upside?  Petsitter.)  It’s too bad really – he would love coastal Oregon since the weather, cool and misty, is his favorite forecast.

Mini Me was also a first time air traveler on this trip – we’ve road-tripped them all in the past decade since she arrived on the scene.  (and even before…she was a “stowaway” for the July 2005 assemblage in Dodgeville, WI)


Apart from a death grip on my hand during takeoff and exasperation that her Kindle was not compatible with the plane’s inflight streaming service, she did great.  (Her airport wandering is another story!)  Truthfully, my mother constantly tapping me from the other side for help with her crossword was far worse…can’t you see I am watching THOR woman!?   Speaking of my mother, this trip also marked the first time that I have recently traveled by air with my approaching elderly parents.  My mom and dad are veteran travelers, but since my mother had both hips replaced five years ago, they have traveled exclusively on the ground…and for good reason.

While she is mostly ambulatory, my mom can’t walk long distances quickly, or without tremendous pain.  It didn’t seem like a major obstacle – I’ve seen wheelchairs and motorized carts buzzing around American airports for decades, but I got my first personal taste of how shockingly able-ist air travel is this trip.  Theoretically, there are accommodations made for passengers needing wheelchair conveyance…and from the check-in counter, we found this to be mostly true.  The airline personnel called for a wheelchair and it arrived within ten or so minutes to pick her up.  We all lined up to follow behind to find that we would get also get the fast track through the TSA Security check…no need to drag out the liquids, etc.  The story was a bit different upon arrival at our destination though.

As it turns out, we didn’t do enough research or apparently ask the right question of the original desk agent in Chicago.  What we were supposed to have done was to arrange this all in advance by calling a airline reservation agent – fair enough.  Our bad.  However, once he learned that we hadn’t done this, given that she needed a chair to get to the gate, and she would certainly need one back from the gate at her destination, would it have killed the guy in Chicago to 1. Call ahead to his colleagues in Portland to arrange this or 2. tell us that we should do it while we waited for our plane?  Evidently the thought did not occur…and so we had significant clusterduckage on our return flight as well.

It certainly didn’t occur to me while I was wrangling my parents and my daughter through security and then several gate changes (weather, weather, weather) and then through the food court, considering that no one had eaten since breakfast and there would be no food service on the flight.  As the recently designated trip coordinator,  two things occurred to me here as well,

  1.  my mother and daughter need to be fed a regular intervals to ensure optimal behavior
    1. a.  I’m going to need to carry snacks!
  2. I may need to start pinning a note on my dad’s shirt…”If found please call 555-555-5555″

Don’t get me wrong – I adore my parents.  They have been a never ending source of love and support for me.  I simply had not recognize that they have definitely slowed down a few steps and we need to leave room for that in the future.  On the plus side, the experience has made me aware of some of the challenges I might face next year as I plan to take an alumni group on a tour of Greece…lead time, lead time, lead time.

After a couple of customary room sharing hiccups and a hearty brunch where my mom kvetched about the prices and my dad eulogized the mustard, we got on the road in the late morning to head to the coast.  Did I mention that I was also the designated driver for the trip?  Indeed.  That was great fun trying to find the hotel the night before.  The narrated navigation wasn’t working on my phone and Oregon has a hands free cell phone law.  Handing it to my mother to read the turn by turn directions was futile as well..”It turned off…how do I turn it back on?!”  *face palm*   Once we purchased a paper map (and a bottle of ibuprofen for me) my mother was an excellent navigator from the back seat…if only she was a less aggressive back seat driver!  The drive was fine until we worked our way into the curvy, sun dappled road over the mountains to the coast.  It was like a scene from a National Lampoon film…MiniMe was getting green from the curves, Grandma needed a restroom, and Obscura needed an espresso because the sunlight through the trees was putting me to sleep at the wheel.  Only Grandpa was stoic – he saves it up.  After a visit to the filthiest McDonald’s in the lower 48 states (they were also out of soft serve which sent my mother back to her seat grumbling like a toddler)  we were on the road again…yours truly considerably revived from sipping on iced coffee  (Say what you will about McDonalds…and this one left a lot to be desired…but they always have a bathroom and some kind of caffeinated beverage on hand.).  

The final leg of journey offered some truly spectacular natural vistas…the coast here abuts almost right up to the mountains so there are incredible views…

Sheer rock faces on one side of the road


and the Pacific coast on the other


Gorgeous.  The view from the hotel didn’t disappoint either.  My mom had said that for budget’s sake, she hadn’t reserved a “seaside” suite.


The view from the balcony disagreed…turns out this is a “seaview” suite as a apposed to a “seaside” suite which is only a few steps down to the actual beach.  Not a problem from where I was standing.  I could hear the surf, and we had an excellent view of Haystack Rock in the distance.  Cannon Beach is a really beautiful place, and the Pacific is just massive.  I’ve been to the Pacific Coast in Southern California, but here it just seemed so much…I don’t know…More.


From the misty expansiveness of the beach even at high tide,


to the burst of color in the lush hydrangea bushes that were lovingly tended all over the property.  It was a fantastic setting…I have to tip my hat to my cousin…she picked a great location!

The reunion itself progressed pretty much as they all do…smiling greetings as people trickled in (we arrived a day early, so we were the unofficial welcome wagon)  far too much food…(I think my west coast cousins may not need to buy groceries for awhile thanks to the leftovers) lots of laughter and only a few tears.


I inadvertently contributed to laughter, and tears from laughter when during a beach side bonfire,  I stood up, promptly tripped over the very same log I’d been sitting on and face planted into the soft sand.  I would like to assure you that alcohol was not involved…I have a certain gift for magnificent falls.  This little ding was the repercussion…that and the fact that this tumble reminded my cousin of the infamous Swing Strip of 1982 and the Otter Slide of 1984…timeless tales of Obscura taking spectacular spills.  I told you it was a gift!

Happy Sunday ArmitageWorld!!

inter alia: A belated Happy Mother’s day….REALLY belated!

I found this on my RL Facebook feed and almost died laughing…


This papyrus fragment records the remains of a letter sent from in the first century AD from one Hikane o her son Isidoros and it goes a little something like this:

The parentheses represent insertions of standard bits of text that are not actually present on the papyus, but can be easily inferred.

The parentheses represent insertions of standard bits of text that are not actually present on the papyus, but can be easily inferred.

Ahhh, a mother’s capacity for laying guilt LOVE is timeless!

(sounds like something I said yesterday after Mini Me woke me up from my Mother’s Day siesta for the third time in 45 minutes.)

I only have time for a quickie Richard Armitage…

What can I say?  I’m a total sucker for the naughty double entendre…and apparently I’m in familiar company…

 One of the greats.... Source

One of the greats….

Life has been particularly jammed this week….prepping for ShowBiz’ Solo and Ensemble performances on Saturday (which required finding a Ragtime era costume) and Mini Me’s youth group outing on Saturday (which might require a dose of “Mother’s Little Helper”) has kept me jumping.  But that’s all par for the course.

It’s work that has really been the time and energy sucker.  Apparently, EVERYONE, in EVERY department has had their underpants on fire all week, which has resulted in my frequent state of

frequently accompanied by rocking in place...

often accompanied by rocking in place…

Fortunately, I’ve not been going it alone.  In fact, I’ve had some royal protection stationed at sentry:

Chibi Thorin has been perched on the keyboard to ward off encroachers.

Chibi Thorin has been perched on the keyboard to ward off trespassers.

I was feeling quite secure under his furrowed brows…until I relocated to my secondary office this morning that is.  Something seems to have caught Chibi Thorin’s eye…

It's a tough gig balancing on that "Arkenstone"

It’s a tough gig balancing on that “Arkenstone”

I think he might actually take an axe swing at me if I try to move him now  🙂

Happy Weekend Armitageworld!

Inter alia: Installment 2 of “S#%t My Family Says”

Apologies for the silence…many things afoot, including a high school run of a post apocolyptic Macbeth for which my son is the chief scene mover and blood applicator.  By default, I am the chief chauffeur, so am currently blogging from my phone while awaiting his return…

The main event though, happened when my daughter came home with the latest school fundraiser this week.  It’s genius really…your child produces an artwork and a company applies that artwork to a variety of surfaces for parents and grandparents to purchase at fundraising inflated prices.  Cookie dough and wrapping paper I can pass up…this? I am currently toting around my lunch in a bag imprinted with a Mini Me original from 2012 and use a mousepad with the 2013 design. 

For 2014 the theme is super heroes…


Behold “Make Up Girl!”  She defeats evil one eyeshadow quad at a time.  But here’s the best bit.  According to Mini Me:

“Her worst enemy is a bad hair day!”

How do ya follow that?!   😀

inter alia: I wonder how far Richard Armitage fell from the tree?

No need to be concerned…I’m not responding to a breaking news report about Richard Armitage climbing trees in Central Park or anything.  I was just thinking about something my mother used to…and that I now… say often:  “The nut doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

Turns out that the "apple doesn't fall far from the tree" version of this idiom is much more widely illustrated!

Turns out that the “apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” version of this idiom is much more widely illustrated!

It is a very common adage around here referring to the fact that children are often very similar to their parents.  I suppose that this is true to a certain extent.  My own children are like me in a lot of ways.

This is the book my daughter came home from school with on Friday...with no input from me BTW!

This is the book my daughter came home from school with on Friday…with no input from me BTW!

They are both bright, articulate (to the point of being maddening), polite (to everyone but me), and I’m told, they look quite a bit like me.  I take it as a backhanded compliment when people say, “Oh Mini Me is sooo cute…she looks just like you.” (I’ll take compliments where I find them thank you very much!)     🙂   

In other ways though, it seems like the apple took a bit of a detour.  A friend on my RL Facebook feed was joking this weekend about being sportsmom.  My mom was a sportsmom.   Athletics was an interest that I inherited from my parents, both of whom were outstanding prep athletes.  It was a special connection between my mother and me though, because when she was in school, there were no official teams and no official honors for female athletes.  My mom was my biggest supporter as I earned  varsity letters and regional all conference honors in volleyball and softball during my high school athletic career.  She has two artificial hips to testify to the amount of time that she sat in bleachers watching me play.  She also sat in the surgical waiting room while an orthopedic surgeon pinned my fingers back together after I broke them playing softball my senior season.  (I don’t have full range of motion in them to this day…but I made the all conference team!  Let me hear a heavily ironic *U-RA-RA*!!).  I don’t think I’m destined to be a sportsmom though.

Hmmm, I wonder if there was any pressure on this kid to be athletic?

Hmmm, I wonder if there was any pressure on this kid to be athletic?

I was determined, with both of my kids, to give them as much room to choose their path as is reasonably possible.  I tried really hard to be gender neutral with most stuff…to let them choose if/when they wanted to.  My daughter?  Despite my attempts, every time she’s been given the choice, she opts for pinks and purples…the more bling the better.  At four, she showed a passing interest in softball, so we signed her up for summer T-ball (I can’t recommend this enough…it is endlessly entertaining to watch a crowd of four year olds try and shag balls!).  She didn’t like it.  “My hand sweats in the glove Mommy” she explained.  (!#@!$#!$????)  OK…fair enough – dance class it is.

My son has always broken the mold to a certain extent.  He was an only child until he was 7, and is very independent – to the point of being a bit of a loner from time to time.  In the interest of finding some physical activities of interest, I made any number of athletic options available to him…he went, he tried, he disliked.  Well, actually, he rather liked gymnastics class, but I had a feeling (which has been proven correct now that he is 15 and six feet tall) that he wasn’t going to have the right body type to do that for long.

Despite the fact that he looks like an inside linebacker, it turns out that he is much more inclined towards drama and music – especially vocal music, so we foster that.  Last year, thanks to the Grandma and Grandpa Scholarship Fund, he started working with a vocal coach from a local university for the arts.

The effects have been pretty dramatic.   I am the back up band (in that I play the accompaniment CD) when he sings in church…which he’s been doing since he was ten.  Last year, he sang “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and I almost had a merry little mommy meltdown…WTH?!  When did my little soprano become freaking Michael Bublé?! One of the “church ladies” (are you getting the mental picture?)  came up to me after and sighed…”Oh, there were notes in there that were just like honey!”   Vaguely awkward…

So, instead of being a sportsmom, I guess I’m destined to be a stage mom…but not of the Honey Boo Boo variety!  (if you’re not familiar, Google it, I dare you!)

stage mom tee

My SIL, whose sons are huge into baseball and football was aghast…”aren’t you devastated that he doesn’t want to play sports!?!” she asked.   Ah, no…for one, concussive head trauma does not often play a major role in the long term health of singers.  Plus, when I go watch my kid “play” (appearing soon as Piragua Guy in a school production of In the Heights) instead of an icy cold metal bleacher in the freezing wind, I get to sit in a nice warm theater with a comfy seat.

Had to be a proud moment... Royal Premiere of "The Hobbit:  The Unexpected Journey"  2012. Source

Had to be a proud moment…
Royal Premiere of “The Hobbit: The Unexpected Journey” 2012.

All of this made me wonder how far from the family apple tree Richard Armitage’s career pursuits have taken him, and what adjustments his own “stage mom” made to help him achieve all that he has…

OT: Inappropriate dinner conversation round 2…

Sometimes I sit at the dinner table with my kids and wonder, “Who’s responsible for these kids?!”  Oh right, that would be me!  Allow me to set the scene.  Sunday afternoons in the summer often find me at my parents’ house.  My kids love to hang out with their grandparents, and especially love Grandma and Grandpa’s pool in the summer.   Our house was the neighborhood hangout when my sister and I were kids.  We lived outside of town, and why trek over hill and dale to the community human stew – er, I mean pool, when we could swim in the back yard.  No brainer for us and all of the neighborhood kids.  There has been a pool at my parents” house for 35 years now – every so often my dad rumbles about getting rid of it, but I think that he secretly likes having people take him up on the open invitation to “come out and swim.”

If I play my cards right, an afternoon of swimming often turns into dinner…my dad also loves to cook, and doesn’t know how to cook for less than a battalion.  There’s always enough for everyone, especially if my daughter has been dropping “subtle” hints since church about what she wants for supper.  So, like many other Sunday’s, we sit down to eat.  Here’s the typical arrangement:

The relative size of Mini Me's space reflects the fact that even though she's the smallest, she demands the most space!

The relative size of Mini Me’s space reflects the fact that even though she’s the smallest, she demands the most space!

So far so good, the meal proceeds without incident apart from the resident space invader constantly bleeding across into my area to alert me that she needs something cut or passed to her.  We are finishing up, Dad and Mini Me have left the table and #1 Son has begun taking dishes to the sink when I hear my sister start wheezing and look over to see her shoulders shaking as she gasps for breath saying, ” ‘Nice phallic meal‘  he says.”  Evidently #1 Son made an in sotte voce editorial comment about the menu of corn on the cob and bratwurst as he passed by her on his way to the sink.

So he's not wrong, but c'mon!!

So he’s not wrong, but c’mon!!

Do other peoples’ kids talk like this?  Is it normal that a soon to be 15 year old high school freshman even knows the word phallic, much less uses it in the proper, albeit questionably appropriate, context?  It’s probably my fault for talking about ancient culture too much!  I will own that we have pretty open dialogue policy in our house…not much is out of bounds topically, although I do try to keep conversations to an age appropriate level around Mini Me….however, since she seems to be a 26 year old woman living in an 8 year old girl, I’m constantly challenged.

Part of the problem, I think, is that my kids seem to have inherited some irresistible impulse to instigate mayhem.  They know what acceptable boundaries are, but they are constantly inspired to cross them and see what happens…ask me about the time Mini Me dropped the F-bomb on Christmas Eve…they know better, they just go ahead and do it anyway.  One thing is certain, even when dinner conversation is more tame – this past Sunday included monkeys and their disposable thumbs and the average weight of adult giraffes (1600-1800 lbs) – life is rarely boring chez moi!

OT: Out of the Mouths of Babes.

I was sitting at dinner with my family last night…a real gourmet event – Subway.  For some reason, we were talking about religion, something about Christian denominations when out of the blue my almost 8 year old daughter bursts out, “Dad is Catholic and,” gesturing to her brother, me and herself, “we’re all prostitutes!”  Hilarity ensued.  That definitely trumps “Elvis Parsley” as her best misspeak to date.  Sometimes I’m afraid to take her out in public for fear of what she’ll say next!  🙂