Wednesday, April 30, 2008


There is a new man with a placard on my way home from work.

New because men with placards are not that unusual 'round these parts. (note: it's never women with placards... are we not biologically placard oriented? Or is it that we have better things to do than stand around in the sun holding a sign no one wants to read and shouting a slogan no one bothers to hear. Not sure.) There's a guy who has to wear a sombrero and carry a sandwich sign declaring his support of $3 rotisserie chickens and $2 cans of Tecate. I like him because he serves as a constant and useful reminder to the Children of Why We Go To College (so that when we get a job as a sandwich sign holder that sign will be spelled correctly and will not contain a single misplaced quotation mark) However this is a NEW placard holder.

At first I didn't quite understand his sign though. The "Jesus is coming!" bit was pretty clear, but the "2nd John the Baptist Com" was where I ran into trouble. Because, see, I'm a digital person (yes! Nothing but pixels, me - very, very attractive pixels mind you...) so I automatically thought he was publicizing a web site. I was a little sniffy about it actually - I mean, it wasn't entirely clear whether it was or or some variation thereof and that's just poor marketing. Also I couldn't support the really wishy-washy branding - no way to tell what the product was which is fine if you want to get people all excited about mysteries and things but then you have to look COOL and frankly this sign did not look cool.

Yes, it took me that long to work through all of that and realize

He thinks he's John the Baptist. The second. Like John the Baptist Junior or - John the Baptist II: The Return of Jesus (I see a sort of apocalyptic sci-fi background, probably in deep blues and cool greens, good cloudy sky and a custom font...)

Now, he wasn't there on Friday so I figure he probably got the call on Friday night or Saturday morning which would just give him time to pick up some supplies from the local DIY store (Item: one sheet plywood, cut to specification; item: assorted hardware; item: two pints paint-Moral Purity White and End of the World Scarlet), knock up his sign and still keep Sunday as a day of rest.

I do wonder though just how that went down though.

Voice: I cometh!

Him: Er, what?

Voice: I cometh! Soon!

Him: And you are...

Voice: Look Desmond [he looked like a Desmond]*, I'm a voice from the heavens shaking your very soul and yet audible only to you

Him: Oh God

Voice: Quite

Him: Is this going to involve animal husbandry or anything? Because I've never had anything other than a goldfish and it only lived two weeks.

Voice: No, no, but there are a few things I should probably tell you...

Now, John II obviously doesn't have a good PR staff supporting him. There was no escalating press campaign, no slick web site, no interviews or editorial articles. He's fighting an up-hill battle to really get the word out so I thought I'd do what I can to help him out.

John's back. Spread the word.

*Desmond, from the Latin meaning, "man of the world," alternately from the American meaning, "name given a skinny white kid thus ensuring he would have the crap beaten out of him throughout school and would ultimately have a slight tendency to religious fervor, hearing of voices and assumption of personalities of those considered sacred but long deceased."

Thursday, April 24, 2008

communications 101

What he said: WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH! Mamacita!

What he meant: I realize I'm sitting in an over-sized truck at a stoplight and you're simply crossing the road but I feel we've made a strong spiritual connection.

What I heard: The size of my truck has nothing to do with compensating! Nothing! It's just that the engine noise makes a nice counterpoint to my grunted efforts at conversation.

What he said: You're a web designer, huh? On the internet?

What he meant: Now you say something because then we're having a conversation and we can get to the part where I ask you to join me for a drink.

What I heard: Did you see how I connected web with internet? I've just exhausted my knowledge of the subject.

What I said: Sorry, but I've got a meeting in a few minutes.

What I meant: No. Really, no. Honestly, this is quite sincere, no, as in never. No.

What he heard: I want you! I want you! But you're too much man for me. Keep trying. In particular please lean a lot closer because I want you!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008



I would like you to know that normally I'm a pretty nice person. Ordinarily, if there were no one behind me, I would have stopped for you and waved for you to go ahead and cross the street. It's not that much time for me and it's just a polite and friendly thing to do.

But I did not stop for you. I went right on past, without even a smile. I know. However in my defense:

1. You were wearing a silk shirt in a truly vile shade of orange.

2. You had it unbuttoned to expose the quite impressive crop of chest fur you've been cultivating.

3. Also there was bling. Quite tacky, shiny, "gold" bling.

4. Finally, and this hurts me to say, you were picking your nose - like up to the first knuckle picking, and there seemed to be the beginnings of a mouth-ward movement going on.

Which is why I had to look away and drive on past you sir.

I do hope you understand.

Monday, April 21, 2008


They're back! They survived! A whole weekend without ONE SINGLE NAG and they made it. I'm sure it was a close thing though.

When I came home on Friday after spending the morning carefully collecting and packing food and other interesting items so Child 2 would be The Most Prepared Camper Ever I found a loving note sitting on the table... and Child 2's ginormous sleeping bag right in the middle of the hall. Where you would trip over it. Say if you were packing up to go and trying to make sure not to forget anything important.

I asked it what it slept in and it said, "oh, my coat and another coat and the fireplace." Ah. Well, that's good then.

However I was VINDICATED because one of the first things that happened was the leader going into the port-o-john and coming out all concerned saying, "uh, guys, there's no toilet paper in there..." and Child 2 was able to triumphantly produce its roll of tp BECAUSE IT'S MOTHER IS JUST THAT GOOD. I hope it gave me full credit.


That wasn't the most important thing that happened this weekend.

The most important thing was that Children 1 and 3 went to a buffet restaurant with their team for dinner and a man sat down near them and leaned over to one of their friends and said, "hey, is that good steak? You gonna finish that steak?" The guy shook his head and this man said, "Great! Because I really want that steak for my dog." Then he reached over, took that steak

and put it in his sock.

His sock.

He put the steak in his sock.

And I know at that moment my Children were so thrilled because they knew - this, THIS is why my mother has a blog.

Friday, April 18, 2008


Somehow I have no Children this weekend.

I shouldn't be surprised. I knew about it all theoretically. I was aware of it, sort of individually. It's the collective result that's a little surprising.

I have no Children this weekend.

As in none.


This whole weekend.

Starting....staaaaarting this morning actually when I dropped them all off at school.

Children 1 and 3 went by bus to Colorado where they will... I don't know march a little and run some and maybe wave a few things aimlessly. Oh and I think they shout quite a bit - things like: THE HONORABLE GEORGE W. BUSH MA'AM (only they aren't NEARLY as good at shouting as two people in the group. One shouts like there's a lonely goat herder perched up in a mountain far, far away, like that goat herder's whole life depends on contact being made and the only thing this boy has is his voice. It's that good. The other one is a girl who shouts in the most amazingly high register I've ever heard. Bats congregate just out of curiosity. My Children are nothing in comparison - they don't even begin to compete).

Child 2 on the other hand leaves this afternoon before I get home to go camping up somewhere with a lot of rocks. And much sun. And probably prickly vegetation that waits to ambush the unwary (I've never been there it's just that this describes 90% of the state).

Because I'm a loving mother I not only purchased and packed up camp-appropriate food, I also included an enormous tube of sun screen which Child 2 will forget about until it's already sizzled itself a delicious shade of pink, a spare roll of toilet paper (because YOU NEVER KNOW), and enough ingredients to make s'mores for a small army of Girl's Scouts. I feel I have done earned myself a Preparedness Award of Awesomeness or something.

Or maybe just a lovely, quiet, tidy weekend alone.


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Public Privacy

I've had to accept, reluctantly, that some people view their cars as a small, private oasis where one may explore the various crevices and orifices of one's body at leisure.

But what on earth makes anyone think a cell phone has some mystical ability to surround the user with a bubble of silence?

Just today I heard:

"Nah, no... no, I told you we aren't serious! We've only gone out, like, once... Mom... Mom, don't call her mom, no really, don't! We went out for pizza - pizza is not serious! Mom! What? Yes. Yes I did. No, I really did! I told you I did... Mom it's not like I don't shower - why do you have to ask me if I shower? I did shower. I shower, like, all the time. Like, yesterday and like today too..."

"Look [loud female voice breaks in]... Look [much more loud female voice, quite shrill now]... look... LOOK!!!! I called you to tell you I was gonna be late and you said you were going to bed anyway so why are you angry when you don't remember when I came home last night? [mumbling female voice] Of course I was home before midnight... [mumble] baby, I know you were asleep. You were snoring. [LOUD female voice] Baby how is it an attack when I say you snore? [mumble] Anyway, I called to tell you I'm going to be home late tonight."

And, rather disturbingly:

"Dude... yeah... nah, it's prescription but it totally takes the rash down... nah, like no itching AT. ALL."

Life amongst the undergraduates.

Monday, April 14, 2008


You know you've achieved something as a parent when you can sit around with your two female Children and laugh until you cry because of the inappropriate conversation you've been having.

I love you guys.

And Male Child? Probably just as well you weren't around.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Parenting Sin

Yesterday I found myself at Ssssssoooopah Target picking up ice cream

You see, I had casually mentioned that it's entirely possible frozen dairy products will never again defile our freezer if I keep having to come home to a living room full of dirty socks and un-cleared water cups. My head might have spun around a little bit and it's possible there was a small amount of laser burning from my eyes but I'm all better now.

Then a miracle happened.

All week, the entire week long, I have left a clean and tidy house and I have returned to a clean and tidy house. The dishes are done, the counters clear, the living room furniture is where it should be and not shoved up against the wall so the Children can do Romanian gymnastic pretzel practice or whatever it is they do.

So yesterday, in full belief that I would again see a sparkling house when I walked in the door, I picked up not one, but two cartons of ice cream AND a bottle of fudge sauce.

Am I bribing my Children to do what they should do anyway? You bet your bippy. And it works.

Just wait until next week though when they realize it's going to extend to include THE BATHROOM... oh the humanity.

Friday, April 11, 2008

All Other Board Games Are Sissy

Child 2 had an assignment to create a board game, which I totally supported because it was going to make the board of cardboard and our garage is currently a frightening Zone of Cardboard Death because I can't bear to throw it out and haven't figured out the recycling in our neighborhood.

Basically the game simply had to include something from their current area of study which apparently is Horrifying and Deadly Diseases! (and if that doesn't scream entertaining family fun then I simply don't know what does)


I did have a few constructive ideas - like, ooh! Why not have a plague marker! So if you're struck with something really horrible and contagious you can infect others with your ooziness! Oh! Oh! And why not make it so the player can choose to infect OR can go all saintly and isolate themselves in their dreadful state of limb-dropping-offage and at the end of the turn the player can throw the dice to see if they lose or if there's a miracle and thanks to their humanitarian fabulousness they get a cure! - or - You definitely need a few god cards - like Godtopus or the Flying Spaghetti Monster or (our personal family deity) Quantos hath spoken and You! Are! Healed!

Child 2 quite irritatingly had already had a lot more interesting and amusing ideas all on its own, but I forgive it because I'm nice that way. Anyway, it hauled off a few acres of cardboard and yesterday it presented its game to the class. Then it brought the game home - thus demonstrating its utter and complete lack of understanding of the whole Cardboard Principle - and suggested we give the game a try.

Three turns in and Child 1 had THREE fabulous diseases (well, okay two and a lost spleen which meant it could contract all sorts of stuff given the chance) and I was 0 for three and feeling quite unloved. But then! Child 1 got some sort of magical wonder card and was allowed to infect the person closest so I totally got to take over ALL of those fine illnesses and not two turns later I had another two as well! It was an excellent game indeed. The only problem was we were all convinced that once one had, inevitably, died (from, say Mad Cow disease complicated by influenza and kidney failure) one should be allowed to stalk the board as Death which meant every last one of us wanted to die immediately. And be given a finely honed scythe and a natty black outfit. And speak stentoriously AND ALL IN CAPITALS.

Anybody wanna play?

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Child 2 remarked the other day that it was surprised I had put a picture of myself on the internet.

"It is 20 years old," I pointed out.

"Yes..." It said, "still..."

Which I take to mean:

Still, mother, you haven't effectively aged now, have you? You are still youthful and beautiful and everything that is fabulous.

And your mouth is still always open.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


Today I saw something wearing a turban and a dress and for the life of me I don't know if it was male or female. I almost convince myself of one (dress - come on now, DRESS=woman) and then swing violently back the other way (dress and MUSTACHE does not=woman). I spent at least five minutes trying to decide if those were boobs under that calico or just part of the rollage that was going on all up and down the torso.

Today I added to my Mortal Sin of making my Children watch old and slightly obscure television shows by putting the whole Blackadder discography on my Netflix list. And I'm not even sorry.

Today I tried so hard to go back to sleep just because I could that I forced myself into a state of hyper-awakeness. But I stayed in bed anyway, wide awake because I believe firmly in the importance of morning laziness at all opportunities. [Note: This is possibly because I was raised by a Morning Person who convinced me that being a Morning Person was a sign of Righteousness Before the Lord. This Morning Person clumped, on weekend mornings, purposefully and with intent to wound. I was a Night Person and always aware of my heinous sinful state. But I still wanted to sleep in.]


Today would have been my 20th wedding anniversary.

Which I didn't quite know how to post about, because yes, it sucks to have to put that "would have been" in that sentence. Because Kirk and I used to talk about how cool it would be when we had been married for longer than we had been single. Because I do still miss him and think about him every. single. day.


I loved being married to Kirk. I loved it when we were dirt poor and had three children under the age of four. I loved it when we were tired and stressed and desperately unhappy with everything except our marriage. I loved all of it, especially that it was funny and silly and we laughed all the time over things like turban-wearing hermaphrodites and Brit-coms no one else watched and how important it is to really, truly get into your lazy self every now and then.

And that's what I'm thinking about.


Tuesday, April 08, 2008


My boss called me last night and asked, ever so nicely, if I would please, oh PLEASE, oh pretty please (but don't if you can't because that's okay too) switch my work hours around so I do afternoons instead of mornings. And because I'm a team player and a generally all around fantastic person I thought:

Hmmmm.... I could sleep in!

But I would have to park farther away

And there's rush hour traffic and the freeway is being worked on

And I hate that kind of stuff

Which is why I arrange to be at work at such a ridiculously early hour

But I could sleep in!

So I agreed. Then I spent the rest of the evening going na-na-na-na-na-na to the Children and pointing out that I! Could! Sleep! In!

Of course this morning I was awake at the usual time anyway BUT I didn't get up (which is the main point) and IF it was possible to have fallen back to sleep I could have!

I can also stay up late if I want to, and I can eat breakfast in my pajamas and not even take a shower until, like 8! I have a sudden urge to dye my hair magenta and paint my room black.

Excuse me. I need to crank the volume on my Depeche Mode. It's time to party like it's 1986.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Multiple Personality

So, again, sorry there will be no segue.

The problem is I started this as a blog about Kirk and so there is a great deal about missing persons, about Kirk, about all that sort of stuff. But inevitably my current life and the Children and stuff like that sort of crept in and lo! There was multiplebloginality! I suppose I should get organized and put the Kirk story into one blog and the rest of it into another, but in the meantime you'll have to cope with the virtual whiplash as we whiz from one thing to another.*

Susie Dow, who blogs at Missingman has been doing amazing work getting all sorts of details and things organized about Kirk's story and about other related things (the clever among you will notice that she started her blog in November 2003, as soon as the story broke. She has been doing this with great dedication for four and a half years now). She has put in so much work lately and produced so much stuff that I wanted to link over for those who want more information. As always Susie, thanks.

December, 2007 archive:

Kirk's Car - post stating questions about Kirk's supposed actions on the day he vanished

Car Photo - photo of the type of car Kirk drove that day

Safa Shukir & the Phone Call - post of questions specifically about the phone call to Ultra Services employee, Safa Shukir

FOB Pacesetter - excellent background post with information on the base Kirk visited including maps and photos

January, 2008 archive:

This archive page has loads of excellent geographic information, general and then specific. Susie has included photos and some excellent maps with markers to help put everything into scale. The posts include:

Jabal Hamrin
Jabal Makhul
Jabal Hamrin and Jabal Makhul - photo and map
The Tikrit & Kirkuk Road - videos and map

February, 2008 archive:

Further background information including:

Military Bases in North East Iraq - with map and key
Still Missing - names and details on those still missing in Iraq
Ultra Services - Who, What, Where - including bios and photos (where available) on both the American's involved and the Turkish and Iraqi employees.

March, 2008 archive:

Kirk von Ackermann's Nissan Patrol SUV - information on the car itself, on the jack and the tire and some links to additional sources

Ryan Manelick's Hyundai Galloper - background for the car driven by Ryan and his companion on the day they were killed in December, 2003

'Nice White Land Cruiser'- the final of the three posts on the cars involved

Sun, Moon, Weather Data and Context - background information on weather and questions or issues it raises

The Bridge Theory - excellent post. Includes a graphic showing decision points on the day Kirk went missing

Thoughts on Conspiracy

Americans Missing in Iraq - update on those missing in Iraq. The remains of six people have been found and identified.

April, 2008:

LSA Anaconda - General and LSA Anaconda - Motor Pool - information on the base

Into A Dark Place - fair warning! Susie is going to write up a fictional (imaginary) account of what happened.

The Mind of Susie Dow - based on her investigation this is Susie's account of what could have happened. Please note, she states clearly this is NOT the CID account and NOT intended to be read as fact. It is conjecture and imagination based on the information she has.

The Demountable Guard Shack - information on the guard shack Kirk (and I) designed, a product he was in the process of marketing. He had meetings set up in Europe to talk to suppliers for raw materials, had had a firm offer from a Turkish business man who wanted Kirk to leave Ultra Services and produce this product, and enthusiastic reaction from military officers in Iraq when he described the product and asked about their interest in it. This product was, for a short time, marketed after Kirk's disappearance. I have no idea whether they actually produced it or sold any units.

Short Note

*Hey... I have a segue after all...

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Random Sunday Thoughts

A. A sparkling clean window ledge is conducive to inner peace.

Further note - while high-gloss paint in some application is one of the lesser works of the devil (see also plastic easter grass and crop tops with low-rider jeans) it is, at times a thing of beauty.

B. I have kept two spam emails in my inbox just because I'm amused to see heartfelt messages from Amber Valentine and Igor Braunwort.

Further note - those two are clearly made for each other. I should forward those messages simply because somewhere out there there should be two people in love who look deeply into each other's eyes and murmur, "Oh Igor..." "... yes Valentine?" I think this would make the world a better place.

C. I'm convinced that half the population dresses in a darkened closet and sprints out the door lest they catch a glimpse of themselves in a full-length mirror. Nothing else explains the:

13+ muffin tops
4 violations of the no-socks-with-sandals rule
2 violations of the no-knee-length-white-tube-socks-with-shorts rule
1 violation of the no-crotch-height-skirts-after-40 rule

All seen within 10 minutes on Friday.

D. Our family conversations are heading in a frightening direction. Last night we had a serious discussion on just how sexy Sly Cooper is and whether or not the pistol-holder thing he wears (in which there is no pistol) is intended to highlight his manly raccoon thighs. For the record, we voted yes.

I'm not sure what all this says for the week to come.

Friday, April 04, 2008


It was award night at JROTC last night.

No: Award Night with capitals because there was a sound track and everything so you know it was a Proper Noun Night all around.

And because I do love Child 1 and Child 3 I did not take my book to Award Night (which is a family tradition by the way. My father still takes his Louis L'Amour to the symphony - and he takes it out and reads it during every break), and I did not wear my 12 year old sweatshirt that I stole from Kirk three months after he bought it, and I firmly repressed all urges to shout "you GO baby!!" every time they called one of the Children's names. Which means I completely earned that framed certificate they gave me for... apparently having successfully bred AND not killed my oldest Child, which totally made up for all of those sleepless nights and stuff. Totally.

[funny story - the announcer was doing the lead up chat to handing out these "awards" to the parents of the graduating seniors and actually said, "To all those parents who have stuck it out for three years, or four years or even {pregnant pause} ... one year." I happily whispered "even... one year" and giggled to Child 1 three times during the rest of the evening]

Both Children received a letter* which amused the hell of me because it reminded me that I personally lettered in Drama in high school. And if letter jackets didn't cost a bajillion dollars I would so buy one now and sew on my Drama letter (or I would if I hadn't pitched it years ago during one of our moves) and I would strut around campus and patronize all of the jocks.

Then they both got a fitness award which completely shut me up because it never, ever occurred to me that any member of my family would be awarded for fitness (Kirk's side? Oh yes. Mine? Not so much). Child 1, who admitted it had struggled to complete 2 laps at the start of the year now runs under a 10 minute mile AND regularly does more sit-ups than anyone else in its class (that's full sit ups mind you, where you cross your arms on your chest and sit up so darn far you can put your elbows past your knees. None of those sissy "crunches" that really mean you're just picking your head up and looking focused). Child 3 meanwhile runs a cool 6:27 mile at the moment and voluntarily does things like pull ups and push ups and other muscley-bendy things. I'm so darn impressed with them both.

Then we zipped into the main event which was the Award awards. These are sponsored by various groups, like the Veterans of Foreign Wars or the Daughters of the American Revolution, and I saw the woman I want to be when I grow up. She must have been 70 something, bounced up the stage stairs, instantly whipped all four people up there into shape ("no, that's not the right thing, here, look at this, hold that, turn that over...") AND was overheard later that night browbeating the Senior Msgt into submission for not recycling the soda cans. She rocked.

However, I have to admit that I was only one for two on Correct Associative Military Response to my Children's awards. Child 3 received the award for leadership sponsored by the Purple Heart Recipients of America, and I know enough to agree with Child 3 that it is a totally cool award, and that I did get a little chokey and teary just thinking about all the people who are represented by that medal and that it probably should go up on the wall so it can be admired properly. But Child 1? It came back from the stage and showed me its new medal and my response was, "oooh! It's all stripy and pretty!"

But it's definitely going on the wall too.

Along with my Successfully Avoided Infanticide award.

Because I earned that damnit.

*Note for non-American type readers: American high schools hand out these school letters - literally letters. They're felt-backed, fuzzy A's or B's or in this case S's in the school colors. The idea is you then buy a ridiculously over-priced jacket (see sample photo) to which you attach the letter (or letters) to announce to the world that... well, that you have a letter I suppose! Personally I've always associated the things with activities involving sweating and running and other jock stuff so the whole idea of a Drama letter just makes me giggle. However, my darling Children, that does not mean that YOUR letters are not Very Impressive and Entirely Deserved. Which they are. No really.

Thursday, April 03, 2008


I've always had long hair.

Well, except that one time on a school trip when I let my friend cut my hair and she went all 80's on my head and I ended up with one side up to my ear and the other down at my shoulder. Such things might have worked (in the 80's) with sylphs with silky straight hair but not me and my even-in-the-desert curly mop. Oh, and there was the sad, sad day when the hairdresser mistook my request for "simple" and "easy" for "lop-it-all-off Mom-do."

But other than THAT I've always had long hair.

And I do know that I haven't exactly done any trimming lately... say for several months...

So why am I suddenly surprised to find that I'm sporting a head of hair more than halfway down my back?

And why is it that part of me is well aware that I'm not nine any longer and I should definitely get the damn hair cut...

... but the rest has spent the day secretly being thrilled because everyone knows that princesses have really, really long hair.

Now I just need a tiara.