Wednesday, December 31, 2008


image credit:

"Try It" was the motto I chose at the beginning of this year after finding that diamond earring in a trashcan full of glass.

And, hoo boy, try it I did.

Some of that trying turned out okay. Some of it didn't. Or maybe it did and I just don't know it yet. And that's life, right?

Tomorrow I'll announce my motto for 2009 (because I know the world waits in breathless anticipation). Until then, April wins the mystery bar from a few posts back. I hope you all have a safe and Happy New Year.

Sing us out, please, Mr. Cohen.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

being joe

So, all those bodily fluids on a plane turned out to be worth it. I got to spend Christmas week with a bunch of the people I love most in this world, and then I got to drive back home to Arizona with a couple of those people, laden with gifts and listening to some great old Mojave Desert music like Willie and the Junkies. The snow was waist-high when we finally made it up the mountain, and I'm wondering if I'll ever find my driveway again.

Slept like a petrified tree last night, and when I woke up this morning there was an email in my box from an old college friend. No doubt you've seen it already, but it seems to me at the end of this...unique....year that the message bears repeating. So, here it is - in abridged form:

Basically, there's this young woman who b*tches to her mother about how life is so hard, how she's tired of fighting and struggling, and how it seems like just as one problem gets solved, a new one pops up.
After no doubt rolling her eyes and offering daughter a Midol, Mom takes her daughter to the kitchen for a little Shut-Up-and-Deal-with-It Demo. She brings three pots of water to a boil and puts carrots in the first one, eggs in the second and ground coffee beans in the third.
After about 20 minutes Mom turns off the burners, fishes out the carrots and eggs and places them into a bowl. Then she ladles some coffee into a bowl. "Tell me what you see," she says to her daughter (who, if she is anything like me, also rolls her eyes at this point and tries to remember if she cleaned out the lint basket before starting that last dryer-load of laundry).
"Carrots, eggs, and coffee," the daughter replies.
Mom asks her to feel the carrots which are, of course, soft. Then Mom tells her to break the egg which is, of course, hard-boiled. Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. And here's one of the best parts of the original email: "The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma." (Can you really taste an aroma?) It's followed by another great line: "The daughter then asked, "What does it mean, Mother?"
Anyway, Mom explains that each object faced the same adversity - boiling water - and that each reacted differently. The carrots went in strong, hard, and unrelenting but came out soft and weak. The eggs went in fragile but came out with their insides hardened. The ground coffee, however, actually changed the water itself, bringing us to the Moral of the Story (which is about as subtle as a case of Montezuma's Revenge, but I still like it):
Which are you? When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot that becomes soft and loses its strength? Are you the egg that starts with a malleable heart but becomes hardened after a death, a break-up or financial hardship? Or are you the coffee bean which changes the very circumstance that brings pain, releasing fragrance and flavor? If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you.
I like to think the daughter humored her mother, got the drift and stopped whining. If she's anything like me, though, it will probably take a few more demos.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

if only in my dreams

It all started with a broken x-ray machine at the Flagstaff airport.

"We have to hand-check everyone's bag," one of the security ladies with her official security badge called out over the large (for Flagstaff) crowd of holiday travelers.

No biggee, I thought. We're here in plenty of time. Turned out we could watch our bags be unpacked and rifled through, but we could not, under any circumstances, touch. With my carry-on open before her, its guts already spilling out onto the metal table, another security lady produced a razor blade. "I have to open your Christmas presents, too," she told me.


Fortunately, they had scotch tape on hand at the airport, and once it was decided that the kids and I were not, in fact, going to hijack the plane using several pairs of underwear, some glycerin soap, a pair of Isotoner gloves and a curling iron, I was allowed to re-wrap the gifts and re-pack the luggage. Time to sit and wait for our plane to arrive.

Around the same time I noticed another mother traveling with her two small children (younger than mine) I also noticed said woman hurrying to a nearby trashcan with her son. "In there," she said, and the boy flung himself toward the can, just in time to clear his stomach of all its contents. The splat! made other waiting passengers look up from their reading and their re-wrapping at the metal tables, and I knew we were all thinking the same thing: Lord, don't let my seat be next to theirs.

Of course, you know what's coming next. Yup, the other mom and her kids were our last-row-of-the-plane neighbors. I don't know how many of you have ever flown out of Flagstaff, but the perennially soused Ron White once did a great and very accurate bit about the experience.

I had already given the barfing kid's mom my travel pack of Kleenex back at the gate, so once my own children were in their seats I set about trying to find a bunch of airsick bags for her boy. "I already raided all the seats around us," she told me, though, waving the bags in her hand like a Spanish fan. "We're heading to Mexico today. To La Paz via Guadalajara, so I want to be sure I have a good supply on hand."

We were delayed for almost an hour, and though it had been zero - yes, you read that right: ZERO degrees outside when we'd left our house earlier that morning - the cabin of the little puddle jumper was sweltering. The barfing kid held it together, though, and by the time we got off the ground, everything seemed to be going smoothly - despite the fact that the 8-passenger pack of gum in which we were all flying looked to have been constructed around the turn of the century (the one starting with 1900).

Eventually, the barfing boy's sister needed to use the postage stamp-sized lavatory, which was fine, since it was located about two feet from where we were all sitting. When the girl emerged, the mother decided to go next. She was in there not two minutes before the boy, clearly agitated that his mother had dared to leave his side, got up and started pounding on the lavatory door. "She'll just be another minute, Sweetie," another nearby passenger told him. At that moment, the door opened, and the boy's mother was no doubt about to say something like, "Hey, I'm right here," or "Stop pounding on the door, Buddy," but she was cut short by an explosive and voluminous stream of vomit that was so powerful it actually hit her and then arced around both sides of her body, covering the inside of the lavatory from ceiling to floor.

I did mention there was only the one toilet on the plane, right?

Sitting back there in the rear of the cabin, I had a great view of other passengers' heads as they swivelled around to see what had made that splat! sound. "Uh, Miss?" I called to the stewardess.

Turned out there was nothing much that could be done short of keeping the lav off limits until we landed at Sky Harbor where a cleaning crew would take care of the mess. That would have been all well and good if nobody had consumed any beverages (several cups of coffee, anyone?) before our hour-long delay on the Flagstaff runway. And though the flight to Phoenix takes less than an hour, those remaining 20 minutes quickly started to pass at half the speed of dog years.

Almost immediately, as if in some Pavlovian response to Murphy's law, there was a chorus of little kids' voices from different areas of the plane calling out, "I have to PEE!" And then there was an almost liturgical, in-union parental response: "You have to WAIT."

One kid was particularly persistent, though. He was seated a few rows ahead of me, and I could hear him calling out, "Mom! Mom!" to his mother, who was seated a few rows ahead of him. (Did I mention that the stewardess had to move passengers around before we took off in an effort to re-distribute the weight because the plane was a little "front heavy?" You really need to fly out of Flagstaff sometime if you haven't. It should be on everyone's bucket list). Anyway, this boy's father was sitting on the other side of the aisle, also a few rows ahead. Dad had already turned around a few times, clearly embarrassed at the scene his son was making, to say, "You have to WAIT, Buddy." The boy wasn't having any of it, though. He was all but flailing around in his seat in an apparent attempt to redistribute the pressure on his bladder. I half expected the skin of his face to be yellow when he turned to look longingly toward where the toilet was located.

Poor guy, I thought. Apparently, his dad also thought so because the next thing I knew someone was saying, Psst! When I looked up, I saw the boy's father trying to get his son's attention with an empty plastic water bottle. The boy looked up, too, and when he saw what his father was waving in the air - like a carrot on a stick - his shook his head violently. No way, Man.

"You'll feel a lot better, Buddy," Dad said as quietly as possible (but not quietly enough - Mom turned around, saw what was going on and rolled her eyes, like "They are SO not related to me.") Eventually, after making it clear that he would never in a million years answer nature's call trucker-style, the kid caved and got up from his seat. The next thing I saw was a makeshift tent being held up by the dad and horrified expressions on the faces of my fellow passengers. "He's not..." some of them mouthed. "...IS he?"

"He is," I answered, smiling. All I could think was that the scenario gave a whole new meaning to the movie title "Snakes on a Plane."

"This," I said, turning toward the barfing boy's mother (who was clearly relieved to have found a kindred spirit of sorts in the peeing boy's father), "is going to make an awesome blog post."

Friday, December 19, 2008

friday mystery soap giveaway!

Okay, Folks. This week I'm doing a mystery soap giveaway, which means you never know what kind of bar you might get!

To win a bar of the every-popular, glycerin rich Garland Prairie Soaps (great for face, hands and body, not to mention long-lasting, lovely smelling, pretty to look at, etc., etc.), simply leave a comment telling my what your dream soap would smell like.

I know, I know. I asked for this same thing a while back, but I'm hoping to get more ideas. So, comment away. I'm talking to you, too, blog lurkers.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

crazy cat lady in the making

You know this is funny. Shut up. You KNOW it is.

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

a quiet, loyal friend in the shape of a book

I have just finished Isla Dewar's Dancing in a Distant Place, which was given to me by my mother and which has taken me months to finish (which is no fault of the book's - I have simply become a snail's pace reader in recent years). I think it stems from having to read in fits and spurts, fitting that most lovely of pastimes in between all the mommying, dog-owning, employment, soap-making duties which are my (mostly happy) lot in life as the thirty-something gal I am.

It was one of those books I hated to finish, and I put off reading the final two chapters as long as I could. Seriously, turning that last page was like seeing a quiet, loyal friend off on her move overseas. Mildly heartbreaking, in other words, but it's good to know Ms. Dewar has other novels floating about out there. Plus, I just like the look of this Scottswoman:

photo courtesy of

She's definitely someone with whom I'd love to sit in a Glasgow pub over a pint or two (I'm not a beer or ale drinker, but would gladly make an exception) and discuss womanhood, motherhood, writing and life. Rare for a book to move me so. Rare, but delightful. I highly recommend this one (and you can read the first pages here).

In other news, Ken wins the bar of Berry Cobbler. I think I have your address, Mr. M, but I will let you know if this is not so.

In other, other news, head on over to Maiden's blog to see a picture of Santa stealing a satellite dish (not really, but that's what it looks like to me - verifiable proof that our economy is, indeed, in the crapper - in case there were doubts).

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

clearly, there will be no swinging today

No school, either - which makes the kids understandably ecstatic. No Winter Program either, though, which makes us all understandably bummed out, considering how hard all the students have worked on their Christmas songs and skits. I'm thinking Christmas Break starts today rather than Friday, since this storm series is supposed to last right through the week.
So, we're contentedly housebound today, the kids sipping hot cocoa and me nibbling on the Scharffen Berger dark chocolate my mom brought when she visited over Thanksgiving. It was good to see the county snow plow show up to clear our quiet road:
And my daughter, ever the optimist, crafted what I think is one of the best To Do lists I've ever seen:
Here's a translation:
Without a doubt, the girl has her priorities straight.

Friday, December 12, 2008

friday soap giveaway!

It's Berry Cobbler this week, Folks. Because there's nothing quite like the scent of something warm and freshly-baked to heat up a cold December day!

The bar up for grabs today is infused with the nummy scents of spiced blackberry and vanilla, for a truly calorie-free, saliva-inducing bathing experience. As always, the soap is premium quality, rich in glycerin and wonderful for face, hands and body. To win, simply leave a comment, telling me your idea of the perfect soap fragrance (yes, it can be a fragrance blend).

Anyone who will be in the Flagstaff area tomorrow (Sat. 12/13) should be sure to head on over to the White Dove Cafe' (on the corner of 4th and 7th in East Flag) where Garland Prairie Soaps will be displayed in abundance. It's a 4-H benefit show, the last (and I mean it this time) craft show of the season.

Have a great weekend, Everybody!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

for those about to rock

...please go easy on those of us who will sit home sighing while you watch Angus, Brian and the gang strutting their stuff tonight.

My brother saw AC/DC a couple of weeks ago in the Bay Area (for the umpteenth time - he's been a major fan since the early 80's), and tonight I have friends going down to Phoenix to see them while I, alas, stay home and work. (You can hear that sound, right? It's the world's tiniest violin playing a sorrowful tune just for me.)

I guess I can get a bit of a fix by watching this. The humor will no doubt be lost on some of you, but we headbangers get why this is so funny.

Monday, December 08, 2008

of milestones and gifts and rivers

The second blogiversary of A Writer and a Rider was last Thursday. Of course, being the scatterbrained little wallflower that I am, I completely spaced it out. So, Happy Second Birthday, AWAAR! I didn't think I'd keep up that new fangled blogging thing for an entire week back in 2006, much less for two years.

On to some other current gifts. Tonight, daughter and I crafted a Garfield-worthy lasagna, which bakes in the oven as I type, giving me a few minutes to blog. We used cottage cheese instead of Ricotta and Bocconcini Mozzarella instead of shredded, so we'll see how the thing tastes. Speaking of lasagna, I spent a lovely Friday evening last week at the home of a new friend (of razor-sharp wit and most excellent taste in heavy metal rock n' roll) who baked, of all things, a squash-based lasagna. I'm fairly certain I'd never be able to pull off such a gourmet treat, but this was one of the best dishes I've tasted in a long time.

I also received an invitation to the reading of another friend and amazing writer whose bazillionth novel (well, maybe her fourth) is coming out soon. Her premiere reading of the book will be at Bookman's in Flagstaff, so anyone within driving distance should go ahead and black out that date on the calendar now. I'm proud to say that Tammy was my office mate during our first year as graduate school TAs at Northern Arizona University, and her success as a writer alternately turns me completely green with envy and inspires me to hang in there in search of a home for my own manuscripts. You can bet I'll be among the first in line to get my signed copy. Here are the details:

Who: T. Greenwood, authoress extraordinaire
What: Premiere reading for Two Rivers You can pre-order it here.
Where: Bookman's Flagstaff
When: January 8

Sunday, December 07, 2008

shy little wallflower

It's been brought to my attention by more than one reader that I have not made an appearance on the blog in quite some time, and that sort of attention always makes me want to burrow even deeper into obscurity for some reason.

There's no excuse for the absence, really, unless the fact that I'm living a life that resembles a robust concoction of Judge Judy's courtroom (really, ya gotta love her), Bergman's The Seventh Seal and Airplane, all percolated to bittersweet perfection counts as an excuse.

Did that analogy make any sense to you? It didn't to me, either.
Anyway, I'm back. I've been hawking soap like a madwoman, teaching like a... (what does a hard working teacher resemble? No, really, it's not a riddle. I'm asking for real) ...and having some fun in the odd, free moments. I saw Australia a couple weeks ago, and it wasn't bad. Not stupendous, but not bad. That Hugh Jackman is a tall drink of water if there ever was one:

Kinda reminds me of The Boss in his glory days:

Anyway, Nicole Kidman wasn't bad, either. Ever since Far and Away (in which she was awesome) she has seemed to get more precious (not in a good way) and cloying. But she actually grew on me throughout Australia, until I was darn close to liking her again by the end of it all.

So, what have y'all been up to lately?