The Word Made Flesh

I found this blog about people who get literary tattoos. It's funny how many of them like e.e. cummings, The Giving Tree, and Le Petit Prince. What do these things have in common, really?

But my favorite is one to which I can relate:

"I write for the same reason I breathe; because if I didn't I would die." -Isaac Asimov

Actually, I would never have this tattooed on my arm. It seems grammatically incorrect.

I don't know that I would have words tattooed on me at all. I worry that they would seem dumb after a while. (What would, "Jesus loves you and so do I" look like after twenty years? What if the Jesus-like lover became a cynical bastard over time?) I don't worry at all about pictures or symbols, though. I have no explanation.


The True Meaning of Halloween

Has Halloween become over commercialized? Have we forgotten that we need to appease the demons in order to reap our bountiful harvest? Thanks to my father for bringing to light this serious issue.

Crappy Bumper Sticker

I saw a bumper sticker today on a GMC Sonoma. (Why do they name trucks after every place I've ever lived?) The bumper sticker said,



What liars.

I guess they could have attained some higher level of consciousness whereby it is possible to love everyone on Earth, but then would they really be driving a GMC Sonoma and proclaiming it on a sticker? Does the Dalai Llama have a bumper sticker? What would Jesus drive? What about Buddha?



When I was a teenager, my dad had this sticker on his Honda,


I couldn't figure out if he was trying to embarrass me, or if he really thought it was cool. Or both.

My mother (just for the sake of comparison) had a bumper sticker that said,


Someone had tried to peel it off. Half of it was missing, but it was a strip across the middle, so you could still read it.


I don't have any bumper stickers.


The worst ones, really, are the environmental ones, which I haven't taken notice of in a while. Those ones with Chief Seattle,


I used to get so angry, riding my bicycle and seeing those stickers. I used to want to scream,

"You're driving an internal combustion engine, people! WAKE UP!"

But then I got older and I mellowed out a bit. Now I don't even care.

Well, I care. I just learned how not to be so angry all the time.


Still a little bitter, I guess.


Many Thanks to the 25%

We received a lovely little guitar with a lovely little case and a little tiny kitty from Ms. Glory von Hathor of across the pond. Thank you!

Of the sixteen readers of this blog, four of you have now contributed funny little things to the dollhouse.

I don't know what this signifies. Something good.

Sheep Fence: 85% Complete

Cellar Door and the Bad-Ass Husband: Tired as hell, but content.

Psychoacoustic Jamming

The way we are dealing with the bat is this: we bought this thing that makes a horrible noise, constantly. It's called, "psychoacoustic jamming". It's supposed to work to keep out rats, mice, birds, bats, hippies- you name it. Every time we leave the house for an extended time, we turn it on. The idea is that the bat will hate the noise and find someplace else to live- like one of the two nice bat houses we bought and placed outside the house and the barn. So far, I don't know of it's working.

"Psychoacoustic Jamming" is also a synonym for, "Lee Family Reunion".

Country Trash

We've lived out here in the country for a year now. The garbage has been sort of piling up in the garage all this time. I tried taking it to the dumps in Madison once, but that was really too far to go. I sold our tin cans to a guy in a barn in Mt. Horeb. We used the papers for kindling. We used the rotten food for compost. That still left a bunch of plastic, gross odds and ends, and of course Little Z still wears a diaper at night- and they add up. It was really a nice smell for the garage, all things considered.

We were told by a few different sources that there was a dumps nearby, run by an old man and only open on Saturday mornings. The thing that stopped me from going was that everyone said you pay by the calendar year, and it's already October. (Why I didn't go before this- I don't remember.) But I guess everything just hit critical mass today. The tipping point was reached. A year had gone by. Today, it was time to take out the trash. We loaded up the truck (it barely made a dent in our pile) and off we went on the beautiful, scenic drive to the dumps.

When we got there fifteen minutes later, it wasn't a dumps at all. It looked like a little farm in the woods with a lot of dumpsters sitting around, and people tossing stuff into them- but then there was this old guy directing things, setting this aside, someone can use that- he is the god of recycling, this guy. He was real skinny and a chain smoker. There was this bonfire there, too. I'm not sure if it was really a bonfire. It was just like there was this small area that was on fire, kind of. A garbage fire, you might say. In a muddy parking lot. With a red barn. And a lot of dumpsters, and some stuff set aside.

It was really awesome.

We parked out of the way and I approached the old dude (you just know who's in charge, immediately, though I can't say how- lots of people were walking around), this old dude who was now sitting with his legs crossed in the doorway of a barn, surrounded by crucifixes, holy virgins, and hub caps. There was a sign above him that said, "All transfer site users must have a permit, effective January 1, 1992." I inquired into the price of a permit, and he gave me half off, on account of the lateness in the calendar year. I was suddenly very glad that I had whimsically purchased the checks with the over-the-top Christian angels on them. He held the check up to the light, cigarette hanging out of his lips, and said, "I'll give this to Maria on Monday and she'll send you the permit." God bless Maria.

I went back to the truck and told BAH and Little Z the deal. Brian got in the truck and drove it over to one of the big dumpsters (past the fire in the middle of the parking lot). Little Z and I walked over, and she said to me,

"I want you to carry me. I afraid all these big trucks going to squish me." This is the most intelligent thing she has ever said to me.

While Bad-Ass-Husband was taking the trash out of the truck, the mice who had been living in our garbage back home ran out and played around the truck tires, not knowing where they were. People stopped and pointed at our mice and giggled and made comments. There was a leisurely pace to the unloading of trash. The old dude who runs the place came over to check out the mice, too. Then he suggested we not throw out that burlap- someone might want it for a deer blind- and he had me set it aside, with the other things he thought someone might use. People before us had left some tables, a swimming pool ladder, a shoe rack, and a lot of random wood pieces, among other things.

Suddenly five or six trucks were coming down the dirt road through the forest there, and the old dude said,

"All the lazy butts are coming in now." (The time was approaching noon.)

I wonder how many things about that dump cause death in the State of California?

Man, I loved that open fire.

That place was more fun than most places where they charge you to have fun.

The Shakers

It was in that same class that we had to do the dreaded, "oral report."

We were allowed to do a topic of our choice in history, but I think it had to be about some small group of people. A lot of people did the Donner Party, which got to be boring after a while, hearing the same oral report over and over from different people. I, however, decided to do the Shakers. I'd read about them in The People's Almanac, and I thought they would be an interesting, happy folk to talk about in front of the class.

I didn't really think this through enough.

The problem with the Shakers was that, according to the requirements for the report, you had to tell the class why the group was no longer prominent- and of course, with the Shakers, this meant that I had to say the word "sex" in front of the class. The Shakers declined in numbers because they never reproduced themselves, because they did not believe in having sexual relations.

Saying "sex" several times in front of the class would have been bad enough, but add to the usual embarrassment that my hugest crush of all time was in the class. He sat in front. I still remember looking into his emotionless pale blue eyes and saying, "They didn't, uh, hm, mmm... have sex, so they didn't have kids, so, um. Yeah. They didn't get more people." My cheeks, my hair, my lipstick- all were of the brightest red that day. At least I made an impression.

Damn you, Shakers!

But not really. I still think the Shakers were hella cool.



Going Batty

We think there is a bat living in our bedroom wall. It wakes us up around four or five every morning. We hear it rustling around in there. It's disturbing.

We see it flying around outside the house in the evening, too.

We can't figure out where the bat comes in and out.

Little Z thinks that we should install a bat door for the bat. It's not the best idea, in my opinion, being that it would encourage the bat to live here, rather than discourage it. It's just interesting that Little Z has an idea that she can articulate, and that it actually somewhat makes sense (if you're a big animal lover like she is).

So. We have a bat in our wall.

Any other ideas?

The Things They Know in the State of California

At work, we aren't allowed (by the fire department) to tack things up on more than twenty percent of the wall unless they are known to be fire resistant in the State of California, and are labelled as such. But, of course, we don't live in the State of California, so I object. Things catch fire all the time in California- I know! I used to live there! There are brush fires, bush fires, grass fires, hair fires, forest fires, you name it! Wisconsin? Not so much.

Of course, whenever you buy something and it says, "Not for Sale in the State of California," or better yet, "This item has been proven to cause cancer in the State of California," the logical thing to say, and the thing we always do say is,

"Well, it's a darn good thing that I don't live in the State of California anymore, now, isn't it?"

Dodged that bullet.

The Wig

We went to the thrift store one day, Little Z and I, and I always buy her one toy when we go to the thrift store. This one day, she picked out a gray wig. It was a real wig, like the type that an old lady might wear, with the real old lady hairstyle- like she had had her hair in curlers all night. Little Z put it on her head and called it her new "hair hat". I bought it for her. $5.99 at Savers Thrift Store.

We went outside. She was wearing the wig. A lady driving by stopped her car and screamed out the window,

"Did she actually pick that out for herself!? Oh, my!" or something like that. So, Little Z stopped traffic with her new wig.

She wore it a few times and then got tired of it and left it in a drawer. That was about three months ago.

Yesterday was "crazy hair day" at school, so I wore the wig. It still had the tag from the thrift store - $5.99- hanging off of it. I thought that was the greatest part. My students thought it was genius, too. They kept pretending not to know who I was in it. It was awesome.

And then my co-teacher walked in. I was in front of the class sort of in the middle of passing something out and lecturing- blah blah blah- and in came K. (She has to come from across the building, so she's always a little late.) K. took one look at me and said in this weird, husky whisper,

"That wig! That wig! I need that wig! I mean, I know this sounds strange... but my mother-in-law died yesterday, and they cut her hair so short, you know, that we were all saying she needs a wig- could I borrow that wig?"

So, god knows what I was telling the class about just then. What I couldn't understand was, if the lady was dead, why did she need a wig? Of course, K. was basically telling me that she was in mourning, so I had to be tactful. And then my next thought was, crap, we're teaching the class! So I whispered,

"Let's talk about this in a little bit."

So the truth was unveiled later on that they wanted an open casket, but her hair looked awful. The relatives all wanted her to have a wig, but had no idea where to get an appropriate wig on short notice- yet Little Z's "hair hat" was perfect. K. decided that if it was okay, she would pay me for the wig. She knew how much it cost me, of course- $5.99 at Savers Thrift Store. That's what the tag hanging over my forehead said, after all.

What could I do? I gave her the wig.


Norway! I went to Norway a few times, once for about a week, and... yeah. Nothing really struck me about Norwegian culture. Well, except, of course, for the fact that Norway spawned the likes of Thor Heyerdahl, the Twentieth Century's greatest adventurer. I saw the Kon-Tiki in a museum in Oslo and bought a slide that looked like this:

Fast forward fifteen years and...

I volunteered to be a guest teacher one day in a high school special ed social studies class. I had recently found a box of slides labeled, "Norway". I had no real way of looking at the slides, except in the teeny tiny view, but I was pretty sure I could wing it when I saw them. I mean, who doesn't remember pictures they took in a foreign country, even after fifteen years?

I introduced the slide show to the class- "These are some pictures of Norway I took when I was your age," blah blah blah. I turned on the slide projector, and that slide- the picture up above there- came up. And I, naturally, had absolutely no idea what that slide was meant to represent. I paused. A feeling of panic slowly came over me. Then, out of the blue, a voice,

"The Kon-Ticki!" yelled a man in the back of the room. He yelled it with gusto! With joy! Apparently, he was a substitute for one of the assistants in the class, and he was a great fan of *Thor Heyerdahl, the Kon-Ticki, Norway in general. And so was I, suddenly. It all came back to me! He saved my life, for the moment. Or, at the very least, he saved the social studies lesson.

* For those of you not in the know, Thor Heverdahl sailed a raft around the world, in an (I think successful) attempt to prove that primitive peoples could have travelled the earth in rafts and moved from one continent to another.

I think he had a lesser-known adventure when he lived on an island with his wife for two years. I only remember mostly that in the documentary they mentioned that they were naked almost the entire time, because they liked feeling the leaves brush against their skin.


The best part about the Fins is their modesty- or perhaps their misery. I'm not sure which it is, but almost everyone I met there said,

"Why would you come here? You could go anywhere in the world. Why come to this place?"

Technically speaking, I couldn't go anywhere in the world, I just happened to have an opportunity that presented itself to go to Finland. However, if I had never been to Finland, I think I would now be sad that I had never been to Finland; it was a place I wanted to see.

The Vikings! They're buried all over the place over there in Finland, and there are these cobblestone streets that lead through the fog into what may be an empty abyss- who knows? It's a mysterious place. Lovely. Totally worth going to.

Sweden 2

A lot of people in Sweden have a little shack in the woods somewhere, often by a lake, a "sommarstuga," or summer cabin. These cabins are primitive, and they generally have an outhouse. In that outhouse one very often finds a picture of the king or queen of Sweden- often both. It's usually a postcard size portrait, placed right where you can see it when you are sitting on the throne. Other outhouses- like at roadside pit stops and such- also often have the picture of the king and queen as well.

I never figured out where this tradition came from. It's a mysterious thing. If I ever have an outhouse, though, I'm putting a picture of the king of Sweden up inside.


When they were coming up with the name for Canada, the one guy was drawing the letters out of a hat, while the other guy was writing down the letters on a piece of paper. The guy with the hat drew a /c/, and said,

"C, eh?" and so it was written, "CA."

"N, eh?" and so it was written, "NA."

Well, you know the rest.

I guess my favorite part about Canada is the Frenchiness. That and the vast expanses of beautiful, nearly untouched beauty.

We were staying in a cabin in the town of Marathon, and "Return of the Jedi" was on television- with a catch. It was overdubbed into French.

We watched it for probably an hour just to hear what, "Use the force, Luke," sounded like in French. ("Utilisez la force, Luke.")

I've never been to Quebec. We still heard the French spoken all around Lake Superior on our "round the lake" tour. Apparently, quite a few people in Canada speak French, even outside of Quebec. I wonder if anyone ever says, "Bon Courage"?


I spent two weeks in England. (Which obviously makes me a complete expert.) The best part was the pub culture. We have places that call themselves "pubs" in the U.S., but they aren't. They're just restaurants or bars. Typically, American restaurants have giant pieces of garbage (old bikes, telephone boxes, toys,) strapped to the wall above your head, and I, having grown up in California, am perpetually worried about them falling on me in a freak earthquake. Not so in England. The pubs in London are unpretentious places to eat and drink. Solid meals are served there. People are friendly and at the same time mind their own business. I could live in English pubs.

I probably looked like such a moron while I was there, always drinking just one too many and looking around saying something like, "Wow! This is great!" about a place that was just 100% average.

But, you know, it was great.


I lived in Sweden for a year, and I can truly narrow it down to one thing that I found most wonderful: the language. It's sort of a self centered love. I loved the language, and the language seemed made for my brain somehow. I learned the language, and everyone was so impressed that I learned it so well- and it came so easily. I love how Swedish is literally backwards at times. I love how it really does sound like the Swedish chef. I love how you have to sing a little to speak Swedish. I love how, once you speak Swedish, you understand Norwegian, Danish, and a little Icelandish, too. I also love the near complete uselessness of it- almost all Swedish people speak English. It's art for art's sake, speaking Swedish. I still dream in Swedish sometimes, after almost twenty years. (Although, sometimes, in the dream, I say, "could you say that in English? I mean, it's been a while...")

Growing Up

When I was a kid, I wanted to be an artist.

I have debates with myself over whether or not that happened. Isn't teaching really a sort of performance art?

The Hemland

I don't know who did this originally- stole it from Frog Blog. Does that mean She did it?

The Strange Light In the Sky

There's this light in the sky directly north of us. It's sort of like a star. It stays in the same spot all the time and different colors swirl across it: green and red. BAH says it's Santa Claus.

I looked at it in the telescope tonight. (It's a beautiful night.) The lights swirl across it in the most psychedelic way. It looks very man-made, but it's too high in the sky to be a tower or anything attached to the ground. What is it?



Dear Mexico. Marvelous Mexico! To narrow it down to one thing is near impossible. But I can. And I will.

It's an attitude. I love the attitude. (Maybe that should be the tee shirt, "Mexico. It's an attitude.") The attitude that maybe it's okay not to be all together perfect, as long as you're doing your best and you know how to relax a bit. A sort of "safety last" attitude. And yeah, the government down south doesn't do the best job, but the flip side of that is that people in Mexico seem to rely more on their own brains to figure things out. They don't act like cows and assume everything will be okay. Or maybe, you know, they do, and I'm just stereotyping, because stereotypes are fun!

Okay, forget it. Can't narrow it down to just one.

Things I love about Mexico:

1. The attitude.
2. The buses.
3. The food.
4. The food!
5. The food!
6. The food!!!!
7. The ways of expressing religious reverence.
8. The food!!!
9. The language.
10. The way people carry their children.
11. The food!!!
12. So much more.


This week I shall blog about the tidbits of other people's cultures which I find special or wonderful or - well, whatever.

I once became friendly with a French exchange student in the US. When I went to Sweden, we kept writing letters, and he often ended the letters,

"Bon Courage."

Since then, I've noticed that this is a common phrase for the French. I assume it means something like, "Have courage," except that if you think in French, the world is of course a different place entirely.

I wish I had someone now in my life now who told me, "Bon courage." Being a schoolteacher is scary.

Perhaps I have finally found my mantra.

Glasses Dark As These

I propose a new TV series based entirely on the songs of Johnny Cash. It might be a bit violent- should be late night. Each episode would follow the life of someone- the outline established in an old Johnny Cash song. The theme would be that of redemption, of course. It could be called, "Glasses Dark as These" from the quote, "It's so hard to see the rainbow through glasses dark as these."

Possible episodes (there are more, I'm sure):

One Day Too Late

No Picking Cotton

Oly Gets His

Tennessee Stud

One Man Who Tried (Climbing the Wall)

Mamma Waits Up

Johnny Take His Gun To Town


"My Name Is Sue. How Do you Do?"

I'm sure that one of you is secretly a television producer, right?

As good as it gets

Today Little Z and I lay underneath the giant Maple Tree and watched the leaves fall on us (her idea). She calls it "the Tree House," I think because it's as big as a house- or maybe because it covers the front yard like a roof. It was a good idea. Very relaxing.

Unfortunately, right now she is screaming at me. Over nothing. Such is a three year old.

And now, for my real plan...

I have all of your email addresses. I can now commence with phase 2: email you long jokes and inspirational messages, daily! Hourly! Semi-hourly! This way, you can all know the true me. Nothing will stand between us now.

The Dance

They had this dance after school on Friday. The idea of my eighth graders at a dance was just too much for me to miss. I snuck over to take a peak.

The teacher manning the door knew exactly what I was there for.

"I haven't taught middle school in like seven years, and I just had to-"

"I think I can sneak you in," she said with a wink.

There were the blinking lights, the loud hip hop music, the lounging kids pretending to be at ease. The door monitor showed me around,

"This is where they dance, down here," she said, with the same kind of look on her face as I felt. "This is where they lounge about. Then the gym is open, too, so if they want to go play basketball..."

We were standing over a sunken area which was serving as the dance floor.

"Oh, my god. Oh, my god. They're so cute! I just couldn't miss this. They're so cute."

They were doing the raisin' the roof moves.

"Aren't they?" We stood there with a giggly, warm glow about us.

No one noticed us.

This is just their nightmare, isn't it? People standing around talking about how cute they are. Of course, everyone knows that teachers aren't actually people, so it doesn't matter in the slightest.

Privacy and all that

I made the blog private because I was starting to get paranoid. I didn't want to post anything, because of the public nature of being a school teacher in a rural area. So, here we are! La creme de la creme: people I actually know, and people whom I've come to know through other blogs- and that's it!

It's like a birthday party, but without the cake. Welcome. (I hope you brought a good present.)