Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Hey there, people.

I've had my head under a pile of books (Anatomy/Physiology, Pathology, Therapeutic Massage, etc.), and under a growing pile of children (or perhaps a pile of growing children?).

I'm still here, and I am so dang happy with my new direction that ALL of my directions are happier.  Except that I'm gaining back some of the many pounds I lost over the summer.  But it seems that I can't quite have everything, or everybody would hate me.

If I had more time and more inclination, I'd tell you all about it, but it's coming up on 9 p.m. and I'm getting old and tired.  And I also had a big glass of white wine (from a little BOX -- like a juicebox!  it's awesome), and I think I'm hitting the hay.

But first let me say:  why on EARTH isn't EVERYBODY training to be a Massage Therapist??  It's the best thing ever.  EVARRRRR!  LOVELOVELOVE.

End of entry.  xoxox

Friday, October 26, 2012

In Mom Mode

I have several modes.

Mom mode.
Wife mode.
Massage Student
Massage therapist
House fixer/painter
Cleaner of house
Dog parent

I have trouble switching between them.  When going between one and the next, I have to pause a second, take a breath, and mentally switch hats.  Or shoes.  Or whatevers.  I don't like that I am so non-integrated, but I simply can't do it.  At least not right now. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Best Burglary EVER

A few evenings ago, I picked up a few bags of groceries.  As I came into the house, I thought of locking the car with the keyring fob thingy, but (inevitably) forgot.  My hands were full.  My thoughts were busy.  Whoops.

The next morning, I was in the shower when I heard m husband stick his head into the bathroom and say, "Kate! I need you!  Someone broke into the car!"

Oh. Crap.

I came out right away, wildly flailing the towel around, hurriedly drying off and dressing in yesterday's clothes.  Hair still dripping, I dashed to the car.

"The door was open!  The console lid was open, the glove box was open, and YOUR TEACHING BAG was unzipped and open!" He had his head in the car, looking things over.

Oh no.  I have a wheelie little suitcase where I keep all my music and whatnot that I use when I teach flute lessons.  Luckily I am paranoid, and never ever leave my instruments in a car.

As I looked through the car, I ... didn't notice anything missing.  At all.  Maybe some change from the little dish in the middle.  Huh.  Then I noticed that some of the contents of the glove box had been removed and placed on the passenger seat.  The little manual, the registration, some CDs, a couple of pencils.  I peeked into the glove box itself and saw a small envelope.  The kind you get from the bank.

Full of money.


I pulled it out, mystified.  Did the thief LEAVE A DONATION?  I asked my husband, "Did you put this in the car?"  He glanced over and then froze in mystified confusion.  "What? No! What??"  I looked into the envelope and pulled out $60 in tens and twenties.  And a receipt.  It was dated about 10 months ago, and was from our own account.

"OH!  I remember!  When we drove to Chicago, we stopped off at the credit union!  I thought I lost that money.  You took $40 out and put it in your wallet and handed the envelope to me to put in my purse.  And then I never saw it again. And here it is."

By rifling through our junk, they uncovered our cash - AND DIDN'T SEE IT.
It was possibly the only burglary in which the "victims"  make money.

I am mightily tempted to leave the other car unlocked some night.  I'm missing a couple of pairs of earrings.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

When Llife Gives You LLamas, Make LLamanade

Did I tell you about my brother?  My oldest brother (I have two) has led a life of ... misadventure and adventure, and chaos and wonder.

When he was just a little sprout (waaay before I was born), apparently he was taken to the zoo (probably Brookfield Zoo) by my parents and my grandparents.  He was snacking on peanuts, as was the tradition before peanut allergies brought us to our societal knees.  He and Grampa were watching a hippopotamus in its enclosure, as it stood and walked about and did hippopotamusy things.

Brother reached into his bag of peanuts, pulled one out, regarded it thoughtfully, and then PLUNK threw it at the hippo.

Naturally, it went precisely into the hippopotamus's ear.  And at that exact moment, the hippo decided to lay down.  Now, when a hippo decides to recline, it's not a very graceful motion.  It's more of a "crash to the ground on its side" kind of thing.


Grampa nodded, "Yep.  You did. Let's go," and he took my brother by his chubby, sweaty hand and led him swiftly away.  

A Day Packed Full, and How It Went

Yesterday was a good day to be me.

Woke up, had a lovely cup of coffee, got snuggled on by my part-basset, Teddy, and talked to and listened to my kiddos tell me all of their dreams and adventures and plans for the day.
Kissed them, sent them on their way, and got myself over to a Junior High where I have been hired to coach their solos, their ensembles, and accompany the soloists on piano for their S&E contest next month. In between classes, I was working on beginning to organize the band director's solo/ensemble music files.  Eugh.  What a job. Somewhere between a treasure trove and a messy glove compartment.

After five hours of that, drove over to the car dealership where I needed to have them do some work (ON WARRANTY, so no $$).  I got to hang out in their leather chairs, relaxing, watching some stupid Dr. Phil thing until I realized that I was getting all worked up at his stupidity, so practiced my calming transparent breathing ("I'm made of clear water, and it all goes through me.").  It worked!

Got home and heard all about my kids' days at school and their Halloween plans for costumes, decorating, Trick-or-Treating.  We hung out a bit and watched a little TV, then I went to prepare to give a massage. I ended up arriving early, so I sat in a park and admired the lowering sun through the red and gold leaves.  Sigh.  Then grabbed some GOURMET amazing food for my friend and myself, headed over to her place for a massage session.

I deeply enjoyed giving the massage, learned a lot, and tried to remember all my techniques (and failed).  Then we sat and talked of beautiful things and thoughts and some of our greatest joys. 

I got home to find that the kids had cleaned the living room, and they were all in their jammies and ready for bed and snuggling.  We sat down and talked a bit and loved on each other, and were joined by the dogs who sensed a snuggling going on.  We all then retired to bedrooms for reading and sleeping. 

This was a great, fantastic, satisfying, tiring, lovely, thorough, full day.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

In Which I Do Not Begin At The Beginning

So today, October 10th, I went to class.  Again.

You might remember that I'm in my first semester of Therapeutic Massage school.  It is awesome.  It is fun.  It is DIFFICULT.  And there are a whole buncha classes.

Mondays are 10-2, "Body Systems for Massage," or "what the body is made of, and what you call it, and how it all works."  Harder than one might think, given that we have been walking around in these bodies for several years at the least.  But yes, it's fun and tough.

Tuesdays (10-2) are Ther. Massage 1.  First half of classes are (up to last week) theory, such as "if so and so is hurting here, what might you do?" or "If so and so has a suspicious, oozing, dripping, stinky sore, what might you do then?"  (Answers: check with their doctor, and OMG RUN AWAY)  The second half of the day's class is hands-on, where we practice our new-found skills (not the running away, though). BEST. CLASS. EVER.  Free massage once  a week.

Wednesdays (10-12) is Pathology.  Here, we talk through all the gross, nasty stuff that can happen to a person's body and/or mind.  Not pretty.  Nobody ever brings snacks to this class, if you get my drift.  The pictures... oh, the pictures.  This is a really tough one, because if you've never had it, you have probably never even HEARD of  hypoparathyroidism.  Etc. (FYI: Even Blogger hasn't heard of that one.) (It's when your parathyroid glands --right behind the thyroid-- underproduce, and because of that, not enough calcium gets taken from your bones into your blood stream and ...bad things happen.)

Thursdays (10-2) have a short-semester class that is super duper practical "how to be a massage therapist" class.  For instance, how to talk to physicians and get them to call you back, or how to handle a client who shows up late.  What to wear, what not to say, how to not get sued.  Where to locate your (future) office, what art to NOT hang on the walls, how to not give yourself carpal tunnel, what to do if you meet up with a client and her boyfriend at the mall.
 (Answers: use accurate medical language, and leave a working phone number; mention the lateness but  don't give them extra time at the end of the session. Wear scrubs or khaki pants/polos unless you're in a place that doesn't make sense; no sex, politics, or personal stuff about the therapist; don't ever date a client and don't give medical advice. In a place on the first floor or someplace accessible by elevator and WITH a bathroom; anything abstract or that could be interpreted as unprofessional or threatening/weird, use good body mechanics, and don't say hi unless she does first.)

There's also an online class called "Medical Elements of Massage," which is basically a medical terminology class with a smattering of "here are some commonly-used drugs and how you might need to change things to make sure you don't kill anybody."  This is actually pretty hard, since it involves learning lots of Latin and Greek terms and word bases.

We're also supposed to do lots of home practice, so I have a personal goal of giving 150 full or partial massages by the time I finish the program.  You see, one of our teachers said that "you don't really know what you're doing until you've given, oh, 150 massages," so I want to get those out of the way before I go out and try to get paid for this.

Whew. It's fun, but lots and lots of time.  But really, what better job could there be?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Unfortunately Hopelessly Inappropriate

Sometimes, even when (perhaps especially when) I'm trying to be sensitive to someone's feelings, I shove my size 9.5s firmly into my mouth.

Like the time a friend from grad school told me all about how her best friends were all gay men, and how rude people could be sometimes.  I, later in the conversation, said that something was "gay, but in the best possible way."  I NEVER use the word "gay" to mean anything but either homosexual or giddily happy.  Never.  But then?  That day?  Blammo. 

Then there was the student whose relative had died in an unexpected and somewhat grisly way.  During that lesson and the next one, I managed to use "dead-on," "deadly," "I'm dying here!" "you're killing me!" "one foot in the grave," and at least a few more corpse-laden words. 

Got financial trouble?  Surely, I'll talk about something "breaking the bank," or "sending me to the poorhouse."  Medical issues?  "Apple a day," "it's not like it's brain surgery!" or "that's like a CANCER in society!"  Weight struggles?  "Yo momma so FAT, she has her own ZIP code!"

What is WRONG with me? 


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Massage Is My Next Thing

I'm a brand-new Massage Therapy student!  Did I tell you that?  Yup.  I'm in a very intensive 3-semester program here in town.  I'm totally psyched.

Here's how it rolled out:

I got my transcripts to the office (I think I'm gonna win for most post-high school credits in an applicant this year), and sent in my ONE PAGE application.  And tah-DAH, I was in.  It was absolutely the easiest college application I've ever done. 

Classes started -- theoretically -- on Aug. 26.  I showed up to class, and found 5 other people there also waiting.  We waited and waited, to no avail.  Whoops.  Class didn't start until Monday.

Our first class was on Monday, and was Body Systems for Massage.  Basically, "here's what is under the skin that you're rubbing!"  I love it.  I got to say "golgi bodies" out loud!  For a good reason!  I was very satisfied.

The next day was hands-on Massage I.  We simply chose partners and put our hands on them and ... felt.  Just stood still and touched their backs, their heads, their spines.  We breathed.  We thought.  It was... fantastic. I felt natural doing it.

I am delighted. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Derfing With Mrs. G and Debra

Yesterday morning at 11:30, I hopped into my little silver stickshift car and drove drove drove to the little town of Peninsula, Ohio.   It took about 5 hours (with traffic and whatnot).  I was meeting the esteemed Mrs. G of Derfwad Manor at Debra's gallery, Elements Gallery.

The town is right near a place I used to go for flute lessons, Oberlin.  My flute instructor, Michel Debost, lives in Elyria, which is just up the road a piece.

I found Debra's gallery right where she said it would be, across from the scenic railway station.  And scenic it was!

The moment I came around the corner of the building, I saw this:

Many years ago, a circus was passing through Peninsula and had a crash.  All the animals escaped!  In time, all were recovered except two pythons.  One was eventually found, dead.  The other was never located, and there were numerous python sightings in the area.  So to commemorate this auspicious event, the town hosts Python Fest, including a parade and many artistic renderings of pythons scattered throughout the town.

I love a town that gets handed pythons and makes pythonade.

Catching a quick snapshot of her handmade python was Debra, our hostess for the night, and owner of Elements Gallery.

She's pretty, isn't she?  Oh, wait a second....
There she is!

 We introduced ourselves, and just as we were about to go inside, along came MRS G!

Much laughter and hilarity ensued.  Mrs. G and I oohed and aaahed our way up the stairs and inside.  Debra and her darling husband Stephen have this fantastic gallery/shop/studio where he throws pots (that's where you put the clay on a wheel and spin it and magically it becomes a cup or urn or mug or whatever, not where you toss a pot into a wall and it crashes into smithereens).  

Debra etches her tiles.  I'm sure that's not the right term, but she puts these incredibly complex, detailed patterns and things onto flat tiles (and other things too), and glazes them and puts colors on them and all that fancy awesome art stuff.  And then they sell it.  

Debra explains her approach to art, running a gallery, and life.
Part of the back room of the gallery.  That is one big roll of bubble wrap!
 We hung around there at the gallery for a while, admiring the pots, dishes, metal work, wood work, glass, jewelry, and everything, and met Debra's sweet husband, Stephen, and her charming daughter.

Dad and daughter working on some mugs.

We were starting to get kind of hungry, so we walked over to The Seraglio, a shop/gallery owned by a totally sweet Turkish man named Muffit.  Pronounced "Moooo-FIT."  Not "moooo-FEET." I asked why the party was happening, I was told that Muffit and his lovely wife just wanted to have a party for the neighborhood artists, business owners, councilpeople, etc.  I was so taken by all these wonderful folks.  

One of THREE courtyards at La Seraglio

another one

Muffit made deeeelicious beef kabobs and chicken on the grill, there was fresh hummus, baba ganouj, pita, rice, cucumber/yogurt salad, cucumber/tomato/onion salad, and a wickedly awesome pasta with a very spicy garlic sauce.  Wine flowed freely, and for dessert?  HOMEMADE BAKLAVA.  It was decadent to an extreme I'm not sure I've experienced before.

Sadly, I did not remember to take any photos inside, but apparently the building used to house a bookstore with an upstairs reading loft.  The spiral staircase to the loft is enclosed by A TREE TRUNK.  With a door.  You open the door of the tree and walk up the spiral staircase inside the (faux) tree.  It's so cool, and I can't believe I can't show you. Sigh.

There are such stories to tell you!  I met a tall, gorgeous woman who not only was a Councilwoman, but makes Fairy Gardens!

I met an older man who owns a B&B by a waterfall with his wife.  He is the oldest vegan I've ever met.

Then there was this one elderly woman everyone deferred to was sitting near us who wore an "I <3 Peninsula" pin on her ball cap.  I found out later she was Peninsula's citizen of the year, and had been town librarian.  She said that since Peninsula was an old canal town, they used to have mules that would get roped to the barges in the river and they'd tow the boats through the locks.  Her grandfather had a barn which housed the mules. When she was a girl, she found a bunch of tiny little horseshoes, and thought they were for baby horses.  Her grandfather then told her the stories of the mules that had once lived there.

It was an explosion of amazingness.  Everybody had a story.  Everybody sparkled (in a non-stupid-vampire way).  There was music, laughter, hugs, food, drink, and more laughter.

Finally, Mrs. G was starting to wilt after a LONG day of driving (a long month, really), so we wended our way out.  Debra rode in Mrs. G's car with her (her husband wanted to check the kiln, so he drove their car separately), and I followed along.  Mrs. G is very law-abiding when it comes to driving.

We arrived at Debra's Palatial Country Estate a mere 15 minutes later.  (Can't you hear the capitals?)

It was getting to be dusk, and it looked very cozy.

We were greeted by a flying pig (of which I also have no picture), and her three delightful dogs.
This is Lily, the dog that liked me.  The others were not so sure.

Her home was the home of artists.  Sculpture, paintings, books, funky furniture, many mysterious doors, cool odds and ends.  There was a beautiful mural on the stairway walls and ceiling, done by one of her daughters.  One of my favorites was a door painted by a daughter.
Isn't that lovely?

We sat on the couch with the dog, chatting, laughing, pausing, pondering.  We talked about kids, husbands, life, death, the Universe, books, art, education, wine, and Kitty Gigantica.

One thing I noticed about Mrs. G. that I didn't expect:  her voice.  Have you ever watched Sex and the City?  You know Samantha, the sex-crazed one?  If you've ever heard the actress speak (when she's not being Samantha), you'll marvel at her soft, gentle voice, as opposed to the pushy, aggressive, tough-girl voice on the show.  With Mrs. G, it's kind of like that.  Her online voice is so spunky and witty and edgy that her sweet, gentle voice was a real surprise.  I've even heard her online videos, and in person?  It's like her voice is made of that loopy, scrunchy yarn that some scarves are knitted from.  It wraps around you ... like a cuddle from a favorite aunt. She was so fun, insightful, and open to new experiences. 

Debra is a marvel.  She's raised two daughters, homeschooled both, and is a prolific artist.  She talked about "the art of business" and the beautiful community they have there. Oh, and she's wickedly funny.

I don't know what they thought of me, but I was pretty honored to be there with those two ladies.
We all went to bed (including the three dogs and all the chickens), dreaming out-in-the-woods dreams. 

The next morning, I woke to the sound of her puppies clattering on the old wooden floors, and followed my nose to the coffee.  My mug was one of their handmade ones, and Debra also made me "a glass o' pink," which was a smoothie (in a Vitamix blender, no less) made from strawberries, blueberries, banana, yogurt, and fresh pineapple. There were also muffins, but I wasn't quite ready for food.

Soon, it was time for Mrs. G to hit the road, so we gave hugs all around, and drove off (Stop Sign, LEFT, Stop Sign, RIGHT), and I drove home, my head full of new people, ideas, art, community, and stories.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

To Pee, Or Not To Pee.... (story)

My mother is a sweet lady.  I love her to bits.  She's polite.  She's well-dressed.  She's pretty and articulate and makes a mean grilled cheese sandwich. 

But.  Put any one of her cubs in danger or distress?  You're asking for a smack-down. 

Once, many moons ago, there was an elementary school near our house.  The principal there was rather ... old-school, shall we say.  Apparently a kid at the school did some drawing on the walls of one of the bathrooms, and This Is Vandalism.

The principal decided that meant that NONE of the kids in the school should be allowed to use the bathrooms At. All.  There was an announcement made over the loudspeaker that day, telling us that the very next day would begin the great No Bathroom Access All Day punishment.  The vandal had not confessed, and It Would Be So until we knew who did it.

My mother was incensed when she heard this.  "It's not healthy!" said she.  "It's not SAFE!" "You need to be able to go to the bathroom!" she cried, pacing about.  "What is WRONG with those people?"

So, in her quiet, wearing-a-nice-dress way, my mom staged a sit-in the very next day.  She simply went to the principal's office and told the principal, the secretary, and the school nurse (to whom she gave a serious scolding about this) that until the kids were allowed to use the restrooms, the adults would not be allowed to either.  All. Day.  And my mom said that she'd make sure of it. 

I can only imagine that at that point, she crossed her legs, arched an eyebrow, and sat back.  Waiting.

Guess what!

The bathrooms were opened.  Kids peed freely.  And my mom, no doubt, picked up her handbag, gave a gracious smile, and strode out of there with perfect posture. 

Thanks, Mom.

Monday, July 9, 2012

We'll Always Have Paris -- Or Not (cartoons)

 This post was originally published on one of my FAVORITE blogs, Rants From Mommyland, when they asked me to be a Special Guest Writer. 

[This part is from Kate and Lydia of RFML:
So, we love artwork. This is nothing new. We take perfectly lovely and sweet photographs of kittens and sunsets and Maude and jack 'em all up and make 'em say really profane and generally disrespectful stuff. So, when one of our MommyLand moms sends us a story about her most embarrassing moment AND included 27 separate e-mails worth of original artwork to got with it, ummm, HELLO! Of course we're going to run it. Mostly because we begged her to write it for us in the first place.  A very huge thank you to Kate in Michigan, who is also the dictator of the RFML SparkPeople Strength Team (where we first became acquainted with her incredible illustrating skills).  She is the Queen of the Ninja Pirate Hookers and we adore her. ]

Sadly, this is an entirely true story.

We'll Always Have Paris. Oh, Wait...No We Won't

Back in the DBK (Days Before Kids), my husband and I lived in Pittsburgh.

We loved it. We were young (late 20s), smart (he was getting his PhD and I had just gotten my Master’s), and with a small amount of discretionary cash which we spent unwisely and very well. One Friday afternoon in January, my husband called me at my temp job and asked if I wanted to go to PARIS the following weekend.


Well, turned out that there was an insanely good rate on airline tickets out of the ‘Burgh, but ONLY if you buy TODAY. 

“Ummm, even yesser!” I believe was my answer.

So we went. It was three days of walking, eating, going to museums, checking out the Eiffel Tower,

and eating some more. I felt so cosmopolitan. Such a World Traveler. We just up and went to Europe! For the weekend! How cool were we?

After shopping on the Champs Elysees (we bought him a leather coat - did you know there are INCREDIBLE sales in Paris in January? It’s true.) We were happy, tired, and a mite hungry. That’s where our story begins.

Oh, how wonderful. An out-of-the-way Café full of Parisians! Incroyable! We practiced our EXTREMELY limited French and got a table near the windows. The tables were adorably close together. Cigarette smoke everywhere.

We happily ordered coffee while we perused the menu.

 Oh, it felt so good to be able to order lunch -- IN FRENCH! Did you know that “hard boiled eggs” is “oeuf dur”? It totally is.

The ham was on the bottom, with some fancy schmancy mustard (pardon, “la moutarde”), interspersed with delectable tomato slices and some green leafy something. The halved oeufs were arrayed artfully on top, their little white bottoms nestled into what I can only assume was some mustard/Dijon/hollandaise sauce. I didn’t care what it was called. I wanted to dive in.

 Cradling this rather large sandwich in my hands, I debated the best approach. It was too tall to just munch easily, so I began nibbling on one end, all the time sitting up, coquettishly swinging my crossed leg back and forth, showing off my high-heeled boot.

Out of the corner of my heavily mascaraed eye, I saw something white fly through the air.

White and yellow, actually. My husband caught my eye. We both sat very still, smiles frozen on our faces.  

Him: “What was that?”
Me: "Maybe an egg?”

I peered at the far side of my sandwich. Whaddya know -- an oeuf was AWOL. Whoops. I snuck a glance under the table, expecting to find the egg where I could discreetly kick it out of sight.


 Maybe under my seat?

 This was not funny any more.

An egg cannot just disappear. NOT EVEN IN PARIS. I was starting to hyperventilate a bit. Then…

I looked at the woman at the table RIGHT next to us. She was so exquisite. So chic. So… wearing white. In January.

 Ummm, oh. no. it. didn't.

[Instant Replay]

I began frantically searching for...for what? Words!

She glanced down, wrinkled her flawlessly alabaster brow, and said in mellifluous French,

Oh God. What? Is she telling me she’s calling the cops on the Ugly American?

My husband, seeing that even the tiny shreds of my Frencherican had abandoned me, translated. “Honey, she’s saying that it’s not easy to eat those sandwiches.”

I was desperate. I was sweating and hideously embarrassed. I needed to get out. We flagged down the Garcon and paid the bill -- and probably tipped him about 427%. I couldn’t meet the Chic Woman’s eye as we left. However, I did hear a very French snort.

So, just a review:



Next time I visit gay Paree, I’m gonna change my name. And avoid oeufs. Dur.