Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Yeah, yeah, I know

Nobody is here anymore, which does not mean anyone but me was here before, other than by brute force, but I've hit that cycle in my life where I feel like writing again, and there's no point in starting yet another new blog, so, hey there.

Blogs will start showing up again, but they won't always include pictures. It was the pressure of drawing pictures that knocked me out of the game. I have stories piled up in the "unpublished" section of this blog, because I couldn't be bothered to draw the corresponding images.

Anyway... I'm sitting here drinking coffee, waiting to get on a train for 2 1/2 hours that will get me to a meeting for 45 minutes, only to get back on the train and come home. Yay.

This past weekend, the boytoy and I went camping for the first of what will hopefully be many such trips. We went up to Sunset Falls, in Washington, which was gorgeous, but it rained most of the time. No matter though, we got to cook our food over a Swedish Log Candle,

and drank shots out of toasted marshmallows.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Magnets aren't food. Understand?

I recently wrote an essay to help protest the CPSC's position that spherical magnets should be banned in the US, despite there being rare incidents of ingestion, and many warnings on all magnet packaging. If you want to join the fight, go to www.savemagnets.com and let the CPSC know how you feel. No pictures this time, because it's an essay, and I don't really feel like illustrating a child choking on an egg or being strangled by a piano... although, now that I typed that out, I might change my mind.
It was with great relief that I read a news article stating that the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is trying to ban all magnetic spheres in the United States. If a company can't predict every possible way that their product could be misused, I don't believe they should be able to sell their product. I see this as the first step in a wonderful new world where people will no longer have to worry about reading, or heeding, any warnings, because only products safe enough for young children will be allowed on the shelves, no matter what the age of the intended consumer.
In order to help this process along, I have come up with some suggestions for items that should have been banned years ago, and probably shouldn't have even been allowed onto store shelves in the first place. This list is not definitive, but brings to light some other dangerous things that the CPSC should investigate and attempt to ban:
1) Eggs. These things don't even come with a warning label! Eggs are kept in refrigerators, which have shelves that are easily accessible to almost anyone of any age, and are shaped to slide easily out of a chicken's cloaca, which is eerily similar to the mouth of a young child. Once in the back of a child's mouth, involuntary muscles will pull the egg farther down to the back of the throat and lodge it in there. If, by some miracle, you are able to break the egg, to stop the choking, the poor child will now have his/her throat torn to ribbons by the sharp shell shards sliding around, and his/her lungs filled with the thick, sticky, contents of the egg.
2) Garden hoses. I can't tell you how many times I've seen people watering their yards without a care in the world, but all I can see is a blatant disregard for my child's safety! Children can drown in as little as an inch of water, and every gardener knows that a good watering puts 1 - 2 inches of water into the soil. I'm aware that most of it is absorbed into the ground, but there are bound to be puddles around areas with more clay in the soil, or what if there's a pie tin on the ground for the birds to bathe in? What if a child is walking by, unaware that the yard was just watered, and trips, falls into that pie tin and drowns? Surely that is the fault of the hose manufacturer.
3) Pianos. Last winter I attended a concert where there were not one, or two, but SIX pianos on stage, being played by children. The children in the performance were being closely supervised by trained adults, but what about the children in the audience who now think it is okay to play a piano the next time they see one, be it in their parents' house, or the school music room, or anywhere music may be performed? Every one of the strings inside a piano is a strangulation risk, and the black keys look almost identical to kit-kat chocolate bars! It's like they were designed as children-killing machines.
4) Shoes. Let's ignore the obvious hazard of shoe laces, and other shoe fastening implements, and focus on the real issue that shoes create in not just children, but adults as well: a false sense of safety. Picture it... for most of your life, you have been walking around in shoes, confident that only the nastiest of evil things can penetrate your sole, but what happens if your shoes are stolen during a daring downtown mugging, and you have to walk home barefoot? Maybe you won't notice the razor blade covered in black, trod-upon, chewing gum and your toe gets sliced. BAM! Blood poisoning.
5) Lamps. I'm sure you know that lamps are the leading cause of lamp-related injuries, and death, not just in the United States, but the ENTIRE WORLD. Not only is the cord a strangulation hazard, but there's the risk of electrocution, and my tongue has often been first burnt and then sliced open by the thin shards of bulb glass, when all I do is lick the light bulb to see if it's gotten warm yet! I am an adult, and know what to expect in that situation, but what if it happens to an innocent child? Why has the CPSC been blatantly ignoring this hazard?
6) Scissors. This is what I consider one of the most dangerous offenders on the list. Not only can scissors be found in just about any store across this great nation, but there have been drawers/containers full of scissors in every classroom I have ever visited, preschool through high school. Yes, the manufacturers have gone to some trouble to make safety scissors available to the youngest of humans, but those only stop people from getting cut. The blades of the scissors are still capable of poking out an eye, or getting stuck in a child's throat.
7) Writing implements. I firmly believe that all writing implements smaller than a keyboard should be banned in the United States. Pencils/pens/markers/crayons/etc... are inherently dangerous in their design, and there are many better alternatives to these outdated modes of writing. Speech recognition software is becoming more and more accurate, and if disabled people can be trained in the use of software that tracks eye movement to type and draw, why can't we use this in school, for all students? The banning of writing implements would almost eliminate the number of repetitive stress injuries from repeated scrawling of letters, numbers, and full words, on paper, and I would no longer live in fear of my children being blinded by those eye-gougers masked as art supplies.
8) Cats. Now, I'm not completely sure that cats fall under the jurisdiction of the CPSC, but they are so notoriously dangerous and unpredictable that the fact even turns up in the myths and legends of our times. Have you ever heard of a little song called, "Cat Scratch Fever" before? Cats love to chase anything smaller than themselves that moves. Most cats probably won't intentionally try to kill your toddler, but combine a kitten on a nip binge with the dangling, taunting, uvula of a wailing child, and you have a catastrophe waiting to happen. This scenario is so likely that the word "cat" is built into a word we have that, according to dictionary.com, means "a sudden, extensive, or notable disaster or misfortune."
If the people of this great nation can find time to just look at how much better the world will be without personal responsibility, and by banning an artistic toy not meant for children, they will know that the CPSC is just doing their job, and making it safe for children to break their bones on trampolines, choke on latex balloons, eat marbles, and ride their bikes into traffic.
I hope you take my suggestions into consideration. Feel free to contact me if you need any more ideas.
Sincerely, Guinevere Cuthbert, Portland, Oregon.

Monday, February 20, 2012

True Grit

I've always loved to cook, and like to think I'm fairly good at it, but hands-down, the most disgusting thing I ever did was cook Hamburger Helper for myself, and my little brother, when I was about 12.

Our mom was working, as usual, so it was my task to feed him dinner before she got home, and we'd BEGGED her for weeks to buy cheeseburger hamburger helper, because we usually had to cook food from scratch, which was just fine, but I wanted to try something new. Maybe it was her small food budget, or that she didn't want us eating very much of that stuff, but we were only able to convince her to buy one box, so it was like the ark of the covenant in our house.

I read, and reread the instructions on the back of that box. I got all of the cooking equipment I'd need, carefully measured water, set out the powder packet and the measured bag of noodles, and set to work. Everything was fine at first. Alex and I were excited to finally get to taste this culinary delight we'd seen advertised on TV so often. The meat was cooking well, and it was starting to smell good, then it came time to open the bag of noodles. I swear someone had made the bag out of steel and closed it with gorilla glue.

My mom had all of our sharp knives hidden, because my brother was only five, so I couldn't just cut open the bag, and all of my attempts to stab it open with a fork were useless. I could see the noodles inside, but there was no way it was going to open without a fight, so I proceeded to do everything I could think of to gain access. Finally a small hole appeared in the side off the noodle bag... I was almost in! I stuck a fork tine into the tiny hole, and widened it enough for my fingers to hook inside, then, because the bag had been so tough, proceeded to pull it apart with all of my strength, and tore the bag completely asunder.

Noodles flew up into the air and spread out across the stove, and on the floor around my feet. Being twelve, and obviously an amazingly quick thinker, I did what I thought any sane person would do. I picked up all of the noodles from the stove, and put them into the pan, then picked up the kitchen rug that had been sitting in front of the stove for who knows how long, and dumped all of the noodles from THAT into the pan, and proceeded to finish making the meal.

The rest of the meal-making flew by, and we didn't think anything more of the event... until we took our first bites and got mouths full of hair and floor grit. Yum. It was many many years before I wanted to try Hamburger Helper again.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Staring Down the Sun

My mom and I always had a conflicted relationship. Despite being told how horrible I was my entire childhood/adolescence, I never really did anything wrong. I never even skipped a class until my junior year of high school, and the only thing I did during that time was walk down the street to buy rose-scented temporary tattoos. I never even had a serious boyfriend until my senior year of high school, and then did rebellious things like taking pictures for the school yearbook with him, and going to the school's games. The first time I did anything vaguely scandalous was after my 30th birthday, and that horrible act was to try pot for the first time. I'm such a risk taker!

During my straight-laced life, I used to do little things to prove my mom wrong. I watched color television at friends houses (she was sure they caused cancer, and, to my knowledge, has still never owned a color TV), dared to eat meat and drink milk DURING THE SAME MEAL, and stared at the sun whenever her harping got to be too much for me, which was fairly often.

Looking back, it's probably a good thing that I lived in the Pacific Northwest for half of my childhood, so there weren't as many sunny days. Somehow I've made it to my mid thirties only needing glasses for a mild astigmatism and 20/30 vision. As for her other rules, I'm still tempting fate by wearing sunscreen, watching color TVs, and owning a microwave. I'm sure she's praying that it bites me in the ass someday.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Breaking the Lawn, or, Death of a Gardener

From the age of 7 to 8 I lived in a beautiful sectioned-off Victorian house, in Prescott, Arizona, which was very similar to one in the movie, "Coraline." The portion of the house my mom and I lived in had one front-facing window, and our only entrance was the former back-door of the full house. In the living room was a door-to-nowhere that originally led to a stairway, but when the house was divided they walled off one side, and left the functional door in place, which was only useful for tricking people who came to our house for the first time, and asked me where the bathroom was. If I had a place like that now, I would put a mirror the same size as the door frame in there, but I'm getting off topic. This is a story about me and my friend from down the street.

Joanne's parents owned a place two houses down from mine. She and her family lived in Phoenix most of the year, but during summers they would stay in Prescott, so I spent most of my time playing with her.

One day Joanne's father was outside doing some gardening. We asked to help, so he gave us teaspoons, and said to dig up beside the sidewalk, where he wanted to put in some flowers. After digging happily for a few minutes, glad to be helping an adult with something important, Joanne dug up a small, dirty, necklace. We'd found treasure! Forgetting our original task, we went to work, with much more vigor, searching for more loot that had obviously been buried by a former tenant.

In our greedy minds, an old woman's family had only loved her for her money, so she did the only thing available to her, and that was hide her money in the front yard, then cover it with grass. Not finding anything in our first hole, we started another one a few inches further away from the sidewalk, because, naturally, the old woman wouldn't want her stuff to be too easy to find directly next to the sidewalk. Six inches from the sidewalk, however, would totally confuse her greedy relatives.

The second hole was about five or six inches deep, and about the same width, when Joanne found something weird. It was round, and white and kind of squishy, but we couldn't get a good grasp on it with our fingers, and the dirt around it was harder, so we moved on, and widened the hole again, occasionally poking at the white thing, to figure out what it was. After more digging, we got to about the same depth in the widened area, and found... another round, white, kind of squishy thing.

Using our magical powers of 8 yr old logic, we quickly ran through a list of what those two things could possibly be...

ping pong balls
bouncy balls
paddle balls
racket balls

Then we both realized the ONLY thing they could be.


Joanne and I looked at each other; her eyes were huge, and I'm sure mine were as well. We dropped our spoons, screamed, and teleported the 15 feet, or so, to Joanne's dad, where we hid, trying not to see what we had just seen.

We told him all about our hideous discovery: The necklace, the first eyeball that we weren't sure about, and the second eyeball that made us SURE it was eyeballs, and we KNEW there was a dead person buried under his front lawn!

Once he had calmed us down some, Joanne asked her dad if he was going to call the police, or if she and I should walk down the police station to report it. We weren't old enough to make phone calls on our own, but we were allowed to walk just about anywhere we wanted to.

After thinking a minute, Joanne's dad told us

"If there's a corpse there, you'll have to dig it up, so you have something to show the police! They're going to want to see more than just eyeballs."

Somehow this made complete sense to us, so we crept back over to the hole in the lawn, each carrying a handful of grass, and gently covered the eyeballs, so we wouldn't have to see them, and went back to digging.

For a while we dug in our hole, slowly working away from the sidewalk, using the eyeballs as a guide for a good guess where the chin would be. While we were digging we had a good talk, and figured the police would be okay with us just digging up the head and letting them do the rest of the work later.

Probably feeling sorry for us doing so much digging with tiny spoons, Joanne's dad finally handed us a couple of trowels. This made our work much faster, and we went straight to where we were sure the jaw would be.

Finding nothing in that direction, we came to the realization that the corpse wasn't just buried in the lawn, it was underneath the sidewalk too, and by digging in the direction we had, we'd just missed finding the top of the head.

Joanne's dad had been resting on the porch steps while we were searching for the jaw, but when we switched directions and decided we had to dig up the sidewalk to find our evidence, he went inside. Joanne said it was because he was thirsty, but I secretly knew, by the way he'd been covering his face and fake coughing, that the fear of what we'd discovered was tearing him apart inside.

While her dad was inside, Joanne decided that she'd had enough of this and ran over to grab the shovel he'd been using. After some bickering back and forth about the best place to dig (beside the head, or straight down to it), it was agreed that we should probably make sure they were really eyes, by popping one of them.

Neither of us wanted to do the job, but both of us were extremely curious. Finally, we both held onto the shovel handle, closed our eyes, and stabbed downward on the count of three.

Slowly uncovering our eyes, and forcing ourselves to look into the hole we saw that... we'd completely missed both of our targets, so we tried again, this time setting the shovel tip against one of the white orbs, and stepping on the shovel at the same time.

It worked! We looked down and saw... the inside of a mushroom.

Feeling defeated, we filled the hole up, and never updated her dad on what we'd discovered. She may have told him later that night, but he never mentioned it to me.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Dear Prostitute...

Dear ageless prostitute, who will always look about eighty years old,

Despite trying to hide your partially crushed can of Hamms inside your less-than-ample bosom - I can see part of one nipple, by the way - I can still tell you're a drunk prostitute.

Thanks for trying to hide it from my kid though.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Stop! Thief!

This episode's illustrations brought to you by The Rabbit.

I've always liked going to the park, and enjoy taking my kids to feed the birds whenever we feel like having a day out. Usually days spent in this way are peaceful and lovely. Usually.

When I woke up to a wonderful summer morning, sometime in the summer of my fourth year, and was told by my mom that, after breakfast, she'd be taking me to the pond to feed the ducks, I was excited. A day in the sun, probably seeing friends, and just having fun!

We got dressed, I put on my flip-flops, and we headed to the store to buy some cheap loaves of bread, then took the bus to the park. Usually my mom would hold a loaf of bread and let me have one, or two, slices at a time, so I wouldn't throw giant chunks at one bird, then run out of bread quickly. This day I showed her my newfound restraint, and my ability to throw tiny pieces of bread, without being reminded, "because I'm FOUR!" so she relented and gave me an entire bag of bread to hold by myself.

Things went really well for a while. I got to feed some ducklings, the mommy ducks were able to get some food before the daddy ducks stole it all, and I had a train of ducks following me all over the park, as I happily waved the bag of bread around.

I'd gone through half of the loaf, and was a pretty good distance from my mom, when a goose showed up, and kind of honked at me. I thought it was cute and threw it some bread. This encouraged it, and a couple other geese that had suddenly appeared, to start honking for bread.

Yay, geese!

I loved geese. I thought they were the most awesome birds in the world.

Still oblivious to the upcoming danger, I kept dancing with the bread bag, and leading the train of a quickly dwindling number of ducks, and no ducklings, and a quickly growing gaggle of geese. The geese were getting kind of loud, but I found out if I gave them bigger chunks of bread they seemed to like that, and were quieter.

I stopped to fix my shoe, and looked up to see that all the ducks were gone, and so was the train that had been following me. Instead I was now surrounded by geese. Since I was shorter than most of them, there were geese for as far as I could see. Honking, and closing in, and staring at the bag of bread.

At first I didn't mind, because I had plenty to feed them, then I reached into the bag and found out I only had two slices left. Panic set in and I called out for my mom, but she was out of bread, and couldn't really help me.

The honking was getting louder as my captors got more anxious, and bread-thirsty, and I was starting to freak out some. I think my mom was getting worried too, because her slightly higher pitched than normal advice was, "Guinevere...I think you should throw the bread and run."

She probably should have been more specific, because instead of lobbing the bread over the geese, and distracting them, I threw both pieces directly into the face of the biggest goose, standing about 6 inches from me, and he was NOT pleased.

My mom yelled, "Run, Guinevere, RUN! Throw the bag and run!"

I did run, but my confused, and panicked, mind couldn't grasp what the bag had to do with anything, and I was using it as a weapon now, to keep the geese as far away from me as possible, which wasn't far at all. They were nipping at my shirt and pants, and hair, and honking loudly at me from every side.

Finally I got a burst of speed and managed to get a little bit ahead of the geese, but not very far. My frenzied bag swinging must have looked hilarious to any witnesses, because my mom was doubled over laughing, but kept yelling at me, "just drop the bag!"
which I still wasn't willing to do.

It felt like I was running from those geese forever, and I was starting to get tired. I saw a tree near the pond and thought maybe I could get behind it, or somehow use it to get away, and with the last of my strength I sped up and ran around the back side of the tree and felt like I was getting away when my foot caught on a root and SPLAT! I slid across the wet grass, and probably mounds of bird poop, and was soon pounced upon by all of the geese. They were pulling at my hair and toes, and pants, and shirt, and whapping me with their wing tips. I curled up in a ball and covered my face with my hands, while still holding the bag, which caused them to bite my fingers too.

My mom came running all the way across the park yelling nonstop "Drop the bag, Guinevere, DROP THE BAG!"

I don't know how many times she yelled it before it finally dawned on me that the stupid geese thought there was still bread in the bag, and, still covering my face, I wadded the bag up and thew it as hard as I could. The bag flew about a foot, but it was enough to get the geese off of me.

Right as my mom came running up, the geese triumphantly took the orange bread bag into the water, and as a final payment, for not having anymore bread, one of the geese grabbed my flip-flop from where it had gotten stuck in the tree root, and took it in the water too.

I was bruised, scraped, bleeding, muddy, covered in bird shit, and sobbing uncontrollably all the way home on the bus.

I wonder what people thought my mom had done.