There’s Something About My Parenting Post

I have been a shitty blogger for months now but somehow people still keep following and reading my blog and that makes me happy and then I feel guilty for not writing. Then I think of ideas and don’t write them. I have a system.



I have been Freshly Pressed a couple of times and written a couple of controversial posts. Those blogs got a ton of comments. I also wrote a post on menopause which occasionally brings in new comments. It’s kind of cool that it shows up when someone runs the Google on Murder and Menopause.

All that being said, I have a post that was brief and gave a bit of background on my parenting strategeries. Not a particularly popular post but it is still being read and I can tell from the comments that I finally wrote something with some staying power, some gravitas and wisdom. If a monkey sits at a keyboard long enough….

I wrote the blog I am referring to back in April. It got a couple of comments but I didn’t think it was my best work. Go ahead and read it, you might agree. It wasn’t a month later that I realized I could have been wrong. I woke on May 9 to read this little gem from “Tests de Logique MathA@matiques & de Calcul Savoir-Faire Astuces Tage-Mage Tage 2 Score Iae Message.pdf”

Please let me know if you’re looking for a author for your weblog. You have some really great posts and I believe I would be a good asset. If you ever want to take some of the load off, I’d absolutely love to write some articles for your blog in exchange for a link back to mine. Please blast me an e-mail if interested. Cheers!

They weren’t just saying that. They meant it. They would let me take some load off. And they weren’t the only ones who were still reading that post. Two weeks later, who do I hear from but “strawberry Smoothie”.

You have no idea what strawberry Smoothie had to say. Sit down for this one.

graham cracker crust.

Graham. Cracker. Crust.

I bet no one ever wrote “graham cracker crust” in your comments section! Did they? No, I didn’t think so.

Not to be outdone just a couple of days later, gave me, “hoodia men“. I feel a little awkward about that comment and don’t want to delve too deeply. I don’t think hoodia men is a parenting method. Nevermind. I looked it up, it’s a weight loss pill. So that obviously piggy backs on the whole graham cracker crust discussion.

Things settled down for awhile and then June hit and we were off again. brought up the salient point of, “calories in grey goose vodka”. Not salient to me as I only drink white wine and I don’t think it has calories but salient to those who follow the grey goose vodka parenting program. Not for everyone but I think it is gluten-free.

Here (Here is the commenter’s name, I guess it’s like Cher or Madonna) went a bit more in depth:

Are there any campers which use alternative causes of energy for fuel (solar panel technology, chargeable battery, etc. With no Agitator, it is possible to wash bulkier items like sleeping bag, pillows etc. However, you can find specially made machines which have low flow rates and reasonably high output pressure. They find greater used in motors, bearings, and seals that suffer axial play over anything else.

There’s not much I can add to that. Here nailed it.

Last week, Transe-formations ; Programmation Neuro-Lingistique et techniques d’hypnose ericksonienne.pdf wrote what we all have been thinking:

It’s remarkable to go to see this web page and reading the views of all mates on the topic of this article, while I am also eager of getting know-how.

Remarkable. Yep, I couldn’t have said it better myself. It is remarkable to go to see this web page.

I had another comment this morning. These comments all come in the middle of the night like Santa Claus. It’s Blog Christmas everyday here at Misc. Maggie.

Melisa let me know this morning:

I am regular reader, how are you everybody? This piece of writing posted at this web page is truly fastidious.

Now, now Melisa — few people who actually know me would call me fastidious but if you insist! Truly, thank you.  And thank you everyone who still hangs out at this blog. I will try to be better.

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Experiencing “Salvage the Bones” by Jesmyn Ward

I finished Salvage the Bones this morning because I couldn’t stay up for the last 60 pages last night. I am keeping a list of every book I read in 2014 and this is #11. I seldom read out of my comfort zone and this book is most definitely NOT in my typical reading wheelhouse. It’s also the 2011 National Book Award Winner and I tend to not care for National Book Award Winners. However, Salvage the Bones showed up on enough “you really should read this” lists that I gave in and read it.

Quick synopsis:

The narrator, Esch, is a 15-year-old girl whose mother died in childbirth when Esch was 8. She has two older brothers: one who has a fighting pit bull and the other hoping to make a name for himself in basketball. The youngest brother is only 7 and has some developmental disabilities. Their father, who clearly loved their mother very much, has checked into a bottle since she died. The Batiste kids are  pretty much on their own at the Pit, which is what they call their homestead in the fictional Gulf Coast town of Bois Sauvage, Mississippi. The book covers 12 days in their lives in 2005. Esch realizes she is pregnant. The fighting pit bull has had a litter. Basketball scouts are coming. Their Daddy is worried about a hurricane out in the Gulf. The hurricane is named Katrina.

One doesn’t read this book as much as feel it. This book’s sense of foreboding is heart racing. The stricken reader knows what’s coming and knows it’s not good. Surprisingly, Salvage isn’t depressing. It is full to the point that it seems robust and stuffed like a pillow. The story is swollen so that the characters become pieces of each other, of the land and of the past. Salvage the Bones is crowded with fear, love, violence, poverty, profound sadness, and excitement.

I recommend it highly.

All that being said, I am also ashamed of myself.

This is what I imagined the Batiste family's house looked like.

This is what I imagined the Batiste family’s house looked like.

I remember Katrina. Of course I do, it will only be nine years this summer. I remember watching the news in disbelief, thinking “I’m never going to see what New Orleans was really like”. I donated money to the Red Cross and the Humane Society. I was annoyed with those foolish people who didn’t evacuate. Duh, get the hell out of there!

Why didn't the just leave?

Why didn’t they just leave?

And there is my shame. I have never been to the deep south. I don’t know what the communities are like there…rich or poor. Mostly though, I have no experience with extreme poverty. Why didn’t they just leave? Why were they so stupidly stubborn? It is my shame to realize they had no where to go. They had no food, no gas, no cable, no 24-hour news telling them what to do, no luggage — they had nothing to start with and less than that when the storm ended. How ignorant of me.


This book taught me about hurricanes: what the sky looks like and the heaviness of the air, the suffocating heat, and the terrifying water. It taught me about a population segment of the U.S. that I don’t see because I don’t have to. And now this book has me thinking some very uncomfortable thoughts about myself and the socioeconomic structure of this country. I’m not going to write a political post here and if people want to discuss the politics of then and now, I can; but that is not what I’m thinking about right now.

I am 49 years old. I read a short book (just 258 pages) and I have  been deeply moved and educated. I can keep on reading. Therein lies  the magic of books. Anything a reader wants can be found.

Katrina.French cooking.Space travel.Aliens.Dragons.Libraries.Murders.Jewel heists.Fantasy.Reality.Humor.Memoirs.Fairy tales.The Revolutionary War (U.S., French, Spanish, you choose).The presidency (of 4th grade, Russia, some imaginary university, you choose)

Read! Learn! Even if I think I won’t like a book or that a topic might upset me, I will keep reading just to see. And the book is always better than the movie; except for The Bridges of Madison County….the movie was way better.



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My Return to Rip City

I’m a Portland native and I remember when the Trailblazers won their one and only NBA Championship in 1977. Portland is a small city and the Blazers are our only big time professional sports team. It isn’t easy being a Blazer fan and I don’t mean to portray myself as one but I am married to one. The Blazers have had good seasons, horrible seasons, made the play-offs, blew it in the playoffs, for awhile we had the JailBlazers because at least one of them seemed to be in trouble with the law all the time. That’s when I checked out on even bothering to notice the Blazers existed. The last game I went to was in the skybox for the company I worked for before I had kids and it was against the Phoenix Suns so probably in the 1995/96 era.

That is until last night!

For those of you, like me, who do not follow professional basketball…the Portland Trailblazers are fighting to stay in the second round of the NBA playoffs after defeating the Houston Rockets with this little piece of magic by Portland’s little Frenchie, Damian Lillard.

That is one of the damndest things I have ever seen in sports. Happily I was actually watching the game and saw it happen!

Go Damian.

Stupidly, I liked Damian’s Facebook page the following day which resulted in this Twit from my hilarious daughter, Annie.


The Blazers have been getting absolutely trounced by the San Antonio Spurs in the second round and went into last night’s game down three games to zero games. Sigh. Portlanders get used to this. Close but no cigar. That is one reason, Damian Lillard’s shot with .9 seconds left in the game was so mind-blowing to us….things like that don’t happen to Portland.

Blazers are down three games, must win situation Monday night in Portland. My sister, Molly, has tickets that she can’t use because my nephew had the barfs. Happily they were at the amazing game so Matt will always have that memory! My brother, John, doesn’t want his ticket because the Blazers looked so horrible in Saturday’s game. Voila, two tickets for me and Derwood and we are heading back to Rip City!

Here is the sort of courtyard/park thing they have outside the Moda Center, which was called the Rose Garden (which was stupid because Portland the Rose City has an actual Rose Garden but even duplicating that sounds better than Moda Center).

Here are all the people:

Every radio station that can blare music was there. There was an 80s coverband. Sign making stations and a wheel to spin to win a car. I remember a long time ago, it was just a basketball game.

Every radio station that can blare music was there. There was an 80s coverband. Sign making stations and a wheel to spin to win a car. I remember a long time ago, it was just a basketball game.

And here are Derwood and I when we get to our incredibly awesome section 117 seats! Row D!!!


At the game, everyone got a T shirt. We got signs that said “The Spirit of 1977″. We got plastic sticks that glowed red when the arena lights came down. Please see below.

Lots of glowing plastic red things.

Lots of glowing plastic red things.

At halftime, a guy from the audience was picked to shoot free throws and if he made 3 in 45 seconds, everyone there got a card for a free Jamba Juice. And he did! And the Blazers scored over 100 points so everyone  got McDonald’s gift cards. There was a big blowup car that was an indoor blimp and it would fly around the arena and drop gift cards for movies that no one will want to watch or gift cards to Buffalo Wild Wings.

It was a carnival and it was really fun and I only saw a couple of drunks removed from the game by security and I wasn’t one of them!

Red Hot and Rollin'!

Red Hot and Rollin’!

The tiniest 13-year-old girl I have ever seen was seated behind us. She may have been solely responsible for the Blazer victory. She cheered and chanted every second that the game was in play. Never lost her enthusiasm. Brought her sign with her, just adorable. I was going to have Derwood take her picture but thought that might come across as creepy so you will just have to take my word for it.

And in the end the Blazers won!


Now back to San Antonio for game 5! Think good thoughts! Portland could use another win!

And if they win, the series comes back to Portland and my brother would probably want to buy me more tickets because I was there when they won, so it’s probably on me to keep them winning.

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The 2014 Reading List Page and James Patterson Badness

As a 2014 new year’s revolution, I have a page listing every book I read this year.

I don’t know if many of you have checked out THE LIST. It includes the book’s title and author and a rating with a bit of detail but no big book review. I make up the rating scales according to the book. There is a scale reserved for really bad books and that is the “James Patterson Badness” scale.


Many years ago, I was in a book club. Every month one club member selected the book for the group to read. There were many rules to the selection: had to be a paperback, had to be a novel, couldn’t have been read by other members already or if they had read it and didn’t mind reading it again that was okay but not if they didn’t like it. We read a couple of good books. My first book that the group read was, Clear Springs: A Memoir (link is to the New York Times review) by Bobbie Ann Mason. I liked that book but was chided for selecting a memoir instead of a novel.

The next time it was my turn to pick the book, I picked The Lovely Bones but it wasn’t in paperback yet. So, no.  Then I picked An Obvious Enchantment by Tucker Malarkey, a woman I had met through a mutual friend. Nope, someone had read it and thought it was boring.  On and on this goes and I have got to pick a book. I send out an email to my college pals for book recommendations and Kitty comes up with Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas by James Patterson. That’s gets clearance Clarence and we all read it.




Within a couple of pages, I realize that the book is one of the worst collections of words ever published. The physical stereotypes of the characters are ridiculous. They are jaw-droppingly beautiful and Mensa-brained. I believe the young lovers meet at John Kennedy Jr. and Carolyn Bessette’s wedding. A wedding attended by probably 40 people on Cumberland Island, Georgia. Really?! No they did not, Mr. Patterson. That’s just stoopid. The pop culture references are nauseating. And quite frankly some of the intimate details that Suzanne writes in the diary to her son, are really inappropriate. Children don’t want to read about their parents’ sex life.

The group met that month at the Rock Bottom Brewery downtown. We squeezed into a booth and they erupted in laughter at me. Jill, who I had known since junior high, opened the meeting between giggles with, “WHY would you choose this book?” And it went downhill from there. Dumb ol’ book club with all the dumb rules.

Here is a passage that clearly moved many readers because it is an image on Pinterest. Thank you Mr. Patterson, your insight has touched my soul. Trees are asking for their oxygen back because you are not putting it to good use.

patterson quote

I have never forgiven James Patterson and that is why the truly stoopid books I read will receive the James Patterson Badness rating.

Happy Reading unless you are reading Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas. If you are, go set it on fire.

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Dear Katie,

For my readers who don’t know Katie’s story, please refer back here and here. Katie has been home for a few months and returns to school today. She is still working so hard and has come so far and her reward is a touch of normalcy, she gets to go to school half time for the rest of the year! Go Katie, Go Katie!!!


Dear Katie,

What a huge day for you after so many months of struggling and fighting! Congratulations on your return to ol’ LOHS!

I think about you and your family everyday and I am not the only one. Can you believe there are 2083 followers of your Facebook page? And I know the number of people who know and care about your story is much larger. I have friends around the country who know about you and ask me how you are doing and pray for you. There are THOUSANDS of people around the country and around the world who think about you and pray for you and are cheering for you. Isn’t that something? Why do you suppose that is?

Well, yeah there’s the whole interwebs thing, but bigger than that. Why are there literally thousands of people, many of them strangers (unless you know waaaayyy more people than anyone else I know) who know your story?

I have some ideas.

1. You’re a good kid. By all accounts, from my daughter, Annie’s, first encounter with you freshman year — to all the stories I have read in the past six months. You are regarded to be as nice, as kind, and as enthusiastic as your reputation would have us believe. The real deal! When nice people get hurt, other nice people and even not-so-nice people, wish them well and pray to whatever god they believe in for healing. You are young. People want young people to have long, happy lives. I haven’t met you but I can see there is a vibrancy to you that the world needs.

From left: Katie, sister Annie, and mom Trina (although I am just guessing that's Trina because she doesn't look much older than her girls.)

From left: Katie, sister Annie, and mom Trina (although I am just guessing that’s Trina because she doesn’t look much older than her girls.)

2. Moms. I know there are dads following your progress and praying for you but I am a mom and I will speak to the Mom part of this equation.

Katie's dad, Dave, the day in December when though in a coma, Katie signed "I love you".  Dad's rock.

Katie’s dad, Dave, the day in December when though in a coma, Katie signed “I love you”. Dad’s rock.

From the moment a mother knows her baby is on the way, she is protecting it. Taking folic acid and eating right and exercising (unless you’re me and then you eat tater tots and ice cream and grow to the size of an NFL lineman). We read to our babies inside us. We plan rooms and buy the right cribs, buy darling little outfits and blankets and little hats to keep the little baby head warm. We make sure the car seat is installed correctly and the baby faces backwards for a year. Katie, moms make sure the house is baby-proofed, that our little people wear bike helmets, and walk on the sidewalk, we practice letters and numbers with our tiny scholars, and make lunches and beds, and apply sunscreen.

Mothers do every single thing we can think of to keep our children safe from bruised knees, broken arms, broken hearts. Unfortunately we can’t control everything and we aren’t meant to. The goal of all this tending to our children is so that they will eventually grow up and take care of themselves. Slowly, children gain more and more independence, from putting their shoes on by themselves, to making their own toast, to walking to school, reading alone, the list goes on and on. We have to let you go out into the world and roll the dice.

And sometimes when you go out into the world horrible things happen.

Katie, this is why there are so many people praying for you and thinking about you daily. Because you are all of our children. There isn’t a mother worth her weight in varicose veins, who doesn’t realize it could have been our child in the accident. You have become a daughter to all of us. Especially to us moms who have teenage daughters, you are the beautiful girl that owns our hearts, who we have to set free.

And your mom is all of us.  We have all cried for your mother, not knowing anything else to do. We know the fear that goes with injury to one of our cubs. Moms can make all the casseroles in the world but that can’t fix an injured child or replace the ferocious love we have for our children. We all feel for your mother and we all thank God everyday that we don’t have to be as strong as she is. And we all know the strength it takes to keep all the balls in the air, the hospital, the house, the doctors, on and on. And there is your sister and your dad, and the mom has to take care of everyone she loves. It’s a big job and we are all so proud of Trina.

lenin mom

3. Renewal. Life is rough. There is so much bad news every damn day. Plane crashes and tornadoes, politics and business, it can all be so overwhelming.  In the midst of the 24-hour news cycle madness, life can still get through to us. At the most unexpected times, in the most unexpected ways, life brings renewal and hope and awareness of a much larger picture. The spiritual journey that we have traveled with you through a Facebook page has been uplifting and uniting. I’m Catholic and have a deep faith but as a Catholic, I’m not much of a bible reader. If I need to know it, it’s probably in the missal :) I have read some beautiful passages from the Bible on your Facebook page, most I have never read before. Those passages have lifted my spirit, as I hope they have lifted yours.

Your life these past almost six months has inspired thousands to remember what is really important during our time in this world, that can all too often be much too short. You, Miss Katie, are a miracle. Not just for being on this planet today and walking (!) into school today but because you have shown thousands of people what true character and might look like. You have reminded us to love our children and our parents.

I hope to meet you and your family soon. You have all had a great impact on me, on my parenting and on my faith.

In advance, please excuse me if I completely fall apart when I finally lay eyes on you. I’m like that.

Happy Friday Miss Katie!




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Now It’s Just Embarrassing

Many of you know how useless and actionless my job is but you also know it provides me with health insurance, very lax office hours and oversight, and an income while I work to get enough non-profit contracts to leave this job. I can now add physically painful to that list, as my neck and both arms hurt and my right hand is swollen.


And now it’s just embarrassing.

Yesterday I was downtown by 7 a.m. to take a Microsoft Word Class. My boss requested that I take it so I could be the “Word expert” in our office like that is a feather in my cap. Ooooo, I’m so happy I spent four years at Colgate University and am smarter than your average bear and NOW I get to be the Word expert! My overqualified cup runneth over! When my boss told me he wanted me to take the class, I asked why. Got the expert answer and thought “screw it” and signed up. There was no way I was going to convince him that the class wouldn’t teach me anything I didn’t already know.

I showed up at Portland’s World Trade Center (seriously?) got to the 11th floor in a very interesting elevator. (There are no buttons on the inside. You punch the floor you want in a key pad and it tells you which elevator car, A-F, will take you there.) The receptionist at the training place took me to the “classroom”.  The class room was a small conference room with two monitors on the table. Me. I was the student in an empty room.

The class was taught by Debbie in Philadelphia. “How are you Debbie?”

“I don’t know what it is but I’m cold! It’s cold here in Philadelphia.”


There are two monitors. One for me and one for me to watch what is going on on Debbie’s screen while I listen to her on speaker phone. I’m alone in the room free to fart and pick my nose but Debbie in Philadelphia can see my screen so I can’t just play spider solitaire or Friends with Words.  Yesterday was one of the few times EVER that I have wished for an IPad.


There were others taking the class in conference rooms around the country. For example, there was Margie in East Brunswick, NJ. Margie sounded like an older woman (who am I to talk?!) and she had some problems working her mouse. Maggie and Margie are similar names. “I’m going to have to be careful with Maggie in Portland and Margie in East Brunswick. I’ll have to keep you two apart,” crowed Debbie in Philadelphia. Well, Deb the 3000 miles should do it. Ashley in California was also on the line.

“Maggie and Ashley, please keep in mind we are on East Coast time so it isn’t the same time out there.” Again, thank you Debbie. She reiterated “EAST COAST time” for me and Ashley regularly so I wouldn’t freak out that I had time traveled and it was suddenly noon when I had only been in class for two hours! Whoa! What?!

I will quickly summarize some of Debbie’s greatest hits. Please keep in mind she is referring to Microsoft Word, a software program for creating documents.

“Mind blowing!”

“Shocking how many table styles there are!”

“How cool is that?!”

“Oh this is going to be fun!”

“I could spend three days just on SmartArt. There are some CRAZY ones!”

Happily we had lunch at 10 a.m….I mean 1 p.m. EAST COAST time. Debbie cautioned us, “Remember it’s Thursday, not Friday. No liquid lunches, if you know what I mean!” I know what you mean Debbie and if I had known what I was in for I would have brought a bottle with me.  Instead of boozing it up,  I bought a newspaper for something to occupy me in the “afternoon” but it wasn’t really afternoon because I am in Oregon and Oregon is on WEST coast of the United States.

You know what I did learn? There is a tool in Word that allows you to pretty up pictures and realtors use it so potential buyers won’t realize a house is a dump until they actually see it. So any of you in real estate that aren’t already using this fantastic bait and switch maneuver, you’re welcome.

Oh! and in Word 2013, you can insert links to video. Caveat: the link won’t work if you print the document. The video link will not work in a PRINTED document, so if you are reading a piece of paper and you tap on a link with your finger, nothing is going to open. Just wanted to be clear.


I have to go write some pitches to potential clients. The indignity of my professional existence is getting to me.

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Parenting Disclosures from my Childhood

I am happy to report that three days in, the new rules at my house are still working. No one has missed the Volvo bus to school. The girls understood the situation that while I was really upset on Sunday, this is not a punishment but more a reorganization. Thank you all for your comments, FB comments, and emails regarding this issue. I always appreciate hearing from friends, old and new, and I was happy to know I wasn’t alone with my beautiful monsters.

Mitch and I had lunch yesterday to discuss the girls, the new normal, summer jobs, etc. And we are on the same page with everything, he really never had morning issues with them so he doesn’t need to make changes in that area. We agreed that we bear much of the responsibility for the girls’ behavior. We both have tended to just do things ourselves because it is easier. This eruption has been years in the making but we have not wanted to deal with it.

Before we even had kids, Mitch was pointing out that some of my child rearing principles might be a bit off. I assured him that he was most definitely wrong and the way my parents did it was absolutely correct.

So here is some background on how I was raised.

My mother did everything. Everything. There are four kids in my family: me, John (16 months younger), Katie and Molly (twins 6 years younger than I am). One dad and usually two dogs. My mother got up at 5 a.m. just to have some time to herself with coffee, cigarette and her reading material for the day. Her reading material wasn’t the newspaper, it was all the notes left on the stove by her children the night before.

“Mom, Could you please hem these jeans so I can wear them tomorrow? Thanks!”

“Mom, please type this paper for me, it’s due 3rd period and has to be double spaced.” No computers back then.

“Mom, can I have only carrots and crackers in my lunch today?”

“Mom, can you iron this for me?”

Not kidding.

My mother in 1973 when she had an 8 year old, 7 year old and twin 2 year olds.

My mother in 1973 when she had an 8 year old, 7 year old and twin 2 year olds.

My mother taught me how to do laundry the summer before I went to college, which ruined the gig for my sisters because my mom realized the monster she had created.

I didn’t use an alarm clock till I went away to college. My mother would wake me up every morning, sitting on my bed and saying, “Maggie, now is the hour.” During my mother’s annual trips back east to visit her family, we would be left alone with my father which was terrifying on many levels. First of all, he didn’t know how to properly wake us up and would just walk down the hall pounding on doors and barking, “Get up!” He didn’t buy much at the grocery store other than canned soup and ice cream, although he did buy just about every flavor of both. So we had it pretty rough when mom was gone.

Come to think of it, I can’t remember how I took my Tetracycline for my acne when my mom was out of town. Mom and I had it down to a science. I had to take the medication an hour before I ate anything, which was tough because I like to eat as soon as I get up so we worked out a system.

How to give teenage Maggie medication:

  1. Enter her room quietly around 5 a.m. holding one Tetracycline pill and a glass of water.
  2. Gently nudge Maggie awake.
  3. Maggie will hold out her hand.
  4. Place pill in Maggie’s hand.
  5. Maggie will put pill in her mouth and hold out her hand again.
  6. Place glass of water in Maggie’s hand.
  7. Maggie will swallow the pill with a gulp of water and hand the glass back.
  8. Quietly leave Maggie’s room. Return in an hour to wake her for school.

If all goes as it should, Maggie will not have ever opened her eyes.

I don’t know how I wound up spoiling my children.

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An Open Letter to My Daughters

Dear Annie and Brigid,

Your nonchalant refusal to take me up on my invitation yesterday to join me on my trip to the cemetery to take flowers to my parents was completely thoughtless, showing that you have hit new lows in self-indulgent, inconsiderate behavior. You were not only disrespectful to me, you were disrespectful to my parents, your grandparents.

Please let me remind you that BaBa and MéMé were caring for you, in Annie’s case, when you were just a couple of weeks old. My mother was my daycare until you were six months old. Who do you think was funding the weeks in Gearhart and Palm Springs when you were little kids? Who do you think bought the tickets for the first TWO Broadway musicals you saw? Who was paying for Waverley Country Club so you could swim and have people bring you popcorn and lemonade and anything else you wanted? My parents adored you two, nothing made them happier than having you around.

And you two couldn’t take less than an hour out of your busy, busy Easter Sunday to accompany me to pay your respects to two people who definitely deserve them.


You two have heard me comment more than once, if you want to understand children’s bad behavior you need only look at the parents. I am a lot of things but I hope to never be hypocritical so since your refusal to join me yesterday, I have been thinking about you both and how your father and I have raised you. You are both polite, charming, kind people. I have never once had a complaint from a friend, family member, another parent or teacher about your behavior. So that’s all good.

Unfortunately, dad and I have clearly not instilled in you a sense of respect for your parents and family. You have been overly-indulged and catered to. So I gotta fix that.

As I told you yesterday, I will no longer be waking you up or concerning myself with whether or not you have breakfast or lunch. You are 14 and 16, you can handle that yourselves. On regular days, I will be in the car at 7:15. On late opening days, I will be in the car at 9:05. If you are in the car, I will take you to school. If you are not, you’re on your own. Any tardies or absences are on you and will go unexcused by me. Once Annie has her license, you will be entirely on your own in the morning.

You will be making dinner on Tuesday nights from now on. You will plan the menu, make it, serve it and clean up. Let me know what groceries you need (for this and anything else) and I will get them.

You will be expected to feed the animals, clean and sweep the litter box area, and load/unload the dishwasher, clean the kitchen and keep the big room downstairs and your bathroom clean. Every. Day. What you do with your rooms, is your business but the common area must be clean. I will no longer do your laundry and that includes your bedding.


Here’s the big one….Summer employment. I suggest you start now and get summer jobs. If you do not, I will get them for you. This means applying at parks and rec, country clubs, retail although that may be tough with your ages. Camp Counselors. Oregon Humane Society. Dove Lewis. Habitat. If you need ideas, I can help you. But make no mistake, you two are not spending the summer sleeping and hanging out with your friends. I started working 40 hours a week the summer before I entered high school. I have been remiss in requiring you to work. It builds character and apparently you two are in need of that.

I think you both know that I am your biggest supporter and have worked hard to ensure you are happy and have nice lives. I have gone overboard and need to make some adjustments. It is embarrassing to write this as I’m sure some people are going to be thinking “what the hell is she doing?” And I’m embarrassed for both of you.

This one left a mark but ultimately I believe we will all be the better for it.

Much love,



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A Miraculous Good Friday to You!

Ten years ago on Good Friday my dad was dying. Not like, he was sick and frail and was going to die soon. Dying. Multiple organ failure and that Friday his kidneys were beginning to fail. Renal failure generally means you aren’t long for this world. He had been ill for weeks. My parents came home early from Palm Springs, a trip he never had any memory of. When they returned to Portland they went to St. Vincent’s hospital for testing and then home and then back to the hospital for close to two weeks and that was when the organ failure from congestive heart failure almost got him.

I was married to Mitch then, stay-at-home mom and the girls were 4 and 6. I remember Matea, the cleaning lady (who was only in her 20s at the time) was working. My father “discovered” her. She called him “Sir”, even when referring to him. “How is Sir?” instead of “How is your father?” Matea has a thriving business today and I will say that is in no small part due to my father’s efforts to spread the word about how great she is. Anyway, Matea was at the house, all 4’10” of her and she said, “I so sorry Maggie” and I fell apart and cried all over her.

Good Friday is a horribly sad day. This past Sunday, Palm Sunday, I teared up as I do every year at the reading of the Passion.

‘My Father,’ he said, ‘if it is possible, let this cup pass me by. Nevertheless, let it be as you, not I, would have it.’

That line gets me every time. Jesus was human and he knew what was coming and reeeaaallly did not want to do it.  The story is so awful. A good man was taunted, tortured, and murdered. He was abandoned by those He trusted. What a dark and empty day. And that is how I felt, that day in 2004. So sad and scared.

I have a strong faith and I have never asked “God, why are you doing this?” When the shit comes down, I’m not blaming God,  I’m praying for God’s support and when necessary just letting Him handle it because I can’t. This is the season of miracles and back in 2004, the miracle came in the form of Dr. H. Dr. H was a friend of my dad’s and also the Chief of Internal Medicine at St. Vincent’s Hospital. And he had one more thing to throw into the mix and if that didn’t work, we would have to say goodbye to my Dad and I knew none of us were ready for that.

And on the third day he rose again. “He”, in this case, being my father. On Easter Sunday, the nuclear antibiotic that was being IV’d into my dad began working and brought him back! Miracles don’t have to be supernatural, sometimes miracles are trained professionals and modern medicine. Sometimes miracles are foster parents or paramedics. Sometimes miracles are good Samaritans or teachers or friends or dogs or technology. And I always thank God whenever a miracle happens.


In other Holy Week news. Derwood is being confirmed into the Church tomorrow night. That amazes me. I certainly didn’t ask him to convert, this is something he has been thinking about long before he met me and this is the year he’s doing it. I can’t imagine picking a religion and putting it on. To me, it is a true leap of faith. And when you throw Catholicism into the mix, dear God!

The Catholic Church is a mess just as any huge bureaucracy is a mess and I have been appalled at the priest sex abuse scandal, the coverup, the greed, etc of the humans who run the organization that is the Catholic Church but it has never affected my faith. I love Catholicism because you always have the chance to start over. Every single day. I don’t find the Church to be one of hellfire and damnation but one of forgiveness. No matter how far gone you may feel, you can always start over again. There is always that opportunity to live a little longer, a little better, a little happier.

We had my dad with us for another year and a half. That was a miracle.

Derwood is taking on the mystery of faith tomorrow night and that to me is a miracle. I am so proud and so in awe of his decision. And he will have his new beginning, which I’m sure will rub off on this ol’ cradle Catholic and give me a new perspective and interest in my faith and religion.

Happy Easter. I hope the renewal and miracle of Easter stays with you throughout the year.


Just two Catholics just takin' a selfie.

Two Catholics just takin’ a selfie.


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We Got A Floater!

Upon my return from spring break in Palm Springs, I read Mike Calahan’s story about his parents’ anniversary (you should be following him, if you’re not — go do it, we’ll wait) and it reminded me of some of the more twisted O’Connor family moments and one of those happened in Palm Springs.

In 2003, I took the girls (then ages 3 and 5) down to visit my parents, who would go to the desert for a couple of months in the winter. That year they rented a house owned by the daughter of a friend of my dad’s. The house had been built probably in the ’30s. It was a long house with bedroom wings off the kitchen/living area and all rooms had doors out to the patio area. It was a comfortable, pretty house with beautiful Mexican tile throughout. The garden areas were lush and bright with bougainvillea, cacti and palm trees, the Mexican tile accented the garden walls, fountains and pool. Really an ideal vacation spot.

The girls and I arrived in the late afternoon. If you have ever flown into the Palm Springs Sonny Bono airport, you know how cute it is. It’s mostly open air, it has a play ground and during spring break all the arrivals of children are met by waiting grandparents. It’s very sweet.  My parents were thrilled to have the ladies arrive for a nice long visit. (When the girls were younger I always figured I could raise them in Portland, or I could raise them in Palm Springs or Gearhart….so why not vacation for as long as possible?)

My parents also brought the shih-tzu, Fred, to California with them. The three of them drove from Portland to Palm Springs in my dad’s giant gold Cadillac de Ville, basically a living room on wheels. I loved that car, the suspension honestly made it feel like the car was floating.


This isn’t my Dad’s car but it is almost identical.


Anyway, we arrived at the pretty house, ate dinner, went to bed and woke to a beautiful sunny morning.

My mother gave me and the girls a tour around the back yard area being sure to close the door into the house so the dog didn’t follow us because he was old and blind. We found all the floats for the pool and looked at the fountain and so on and so forth. Oops, someone left the door open (to this day I think it was me but my mother always said it was her. I’m sure so she wouldn’t wind up hating her first born till the end of time.)

“Fred! Freddie!”

Where’s Fred??

No Fred. We can’t find Fred. Minutes pass and my mother gets edgier and edgier.

“Maggie, pull back the pool cover!”

So, with my mother and the girls standing there and my father in the house, I pull back the blue pool cover and yep….we got ourselves a floater.

My mother starts screaming for me to get the dog out of the pool, the girls are moon-eyed in stunned silence, and in I go (with my clothes on) to pull a fucking dead shih-tzu out of the pool. My mother is screaming like a mourning middle eastern woman and my father comes out side yelling that he had to take some nitroglycerin because the screaming was giving him heart palpitations.  My mom is now giving mouth-to-mouth to a dead dog. I hustle the girls into a bedroom to watch “Bear in the Big Blue House” and go back to the scene. My mother is sobbing, my father is upset, I guess, but he didn’t really show emotions like that and I think he probably wanted to go back to his coffee and morning cigar and paper. We bundle the dog in a towel and my mother takes him to a vet for cremation. I offer to go with her but she says very dramatically that it’s something she needs to do by herself.

While she takes care of that, I get the girls in their swimsuits and get on with the day. They get outside and look at the pool and then look at me, “We’re not going in there.” My ass your not going in there, put on your damn water wings and you’ll be fine. We are not spending two weeks in California without putting you in the pool.  Girls go swimming, Dad is fine, all is calm all is bright.

My mother returns from the vet, absolutely wiped out. She is standing in the circular drive telling me about the vet, she’s a mess and there are red ants crawling up her leg and she looks at me and says, “I think I handled that pretty well.”

Sure, that was great Mom. The girls aren’t at all traumatized and Dad didn’t have a heart attack so I think we’re all good.

Ahhhh, spring break in Palm Springs.


My Mom said that there was always a warm spot in her bed where Fred used to sleep. Maybe six months later, my parents got another shih-tzu named Henry. But by that time, my dad had a touch of dementia so he thought we had two dogs (although he never saw them together). There was Fred and then the “other” dog, Henry. My mother was going crazy dealing with my dad and this whole uproar over the two dogs so she told us we just had to call Henry… Fred. We called the new dog Fred and my dad said, “Look at that Fred! And you know what? That other dog is gone.”

And once the new dog came along, the warm spot on my mom’s bed went away.

Here’s to you Fred the First.

fred the first


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