Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

I've been wondering what to write for my last post of 2009, and it just fell into my lap. Or rather, into my e-mail.

The e-mail below came from a friend who runs the local county affiliate of my work organization. They have a clothing bank and I also gave her a set of Christmas blocks that I had gotten as a present from elderly relatives - I wanted to cry when I got them because they have very little money and it cost $12 just to ship them. Then who knows how much they spent on the blocks (yes, blocks.)

I wanted to let you know that the clothes you donated went to the girl who was hit by a car with our volunteers. The girl, N, had two pairs of pants, 3 or 4 shirts and one pair of shoes. One of each of these was destroyed when she was hit by the car. J, our volunteer and the other two’s mom, asked if we had any clothes in the clothing closet that may fit her and explained the situation. The clothes you donated were cool for a teen and were the right size.

Also, the holiday blocks. I gave them to P and told her that all the work she had done with the holiday season was so appreciated that an anonymous person asked me to give her a special gift. She not only organized all the Christmas bags and gifts for the adults at two group homes, but she also planned the Christmas Potluck at the center. You should have seen her face. She was so thrilled to have someone do something like that for her. She is just getting back to work after years of not being able to work because of anxiety so be recognized that way was a brand new experience. :o)

So there are your good thoughts for the day of how your donations impacted two peoples' lives.

This made my day! How many times have we all donated extra stuff we had laying around and given it little or no thought afterwards? But with a thoughtful person (like my friend), little things can make a big difference, sometimes.

Happy New Year!

- RK

PS Mr. RK took this picture outside of our place last night.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

And here is the fucking joke of the day

We got a couple of inches of snow, and, being unprepared as fuck all like we normally are in Oregon - despite the fact that we get snow every year, and blizzards every four or five years - guess what? Gridlock. Ice. Snow. Plows coming out several hours AFTER it started and there were already wrecks. People driving STUPIDLY and crashes everywhere.

It took me four and a half hours to get home 11 miles. And I am claustrophobic.

But guess what?

The forecast reads (still!!):



You've got to love meteorologists. It's not like they get fired if they call it wrong.

Elsewhere in the country, you should definitely be laughing at us, because all of this was caused by two inches of snow. TWO INCHES!!! Who says size doesn't matter?

Monday, December 28, 2009

All that glitters

Is sending holiday cards a dying art? I seem to be getting fewer each year. (Thank you, btw, to those of you who sent cards. I have them up on the bookcase.)

I found what I thought were sweet, nondenominational cards that I could send to friends and family that celebrated Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Eid, Festivus...OK I'm kidding, but you get the point.

The only trouble was that there was much more glitter coming off of the cards than staying on them. I feel like the Tinkerbell of Hallmark.

There was glitter on my table, on the floor, on me - even in my coffee at work. And my boss somehow got it on his face (I didn't volunteer where it might have come from.)

My friend's husband opened their card and got it all over the front of his pants. "Now I have glittery balls for Christmas!" he reportedly told her.

Another friend, who works at a nonprofit where we made a donation this year, wrote me a personal thank-you note that was inscribed, "What? No glitter came with your check? I'm so disappointed!"

I e-mailed a colleague ahead of time, letting him know about the glitter and that it didn't come from anyone exotic, just little me.

His reply: "Being single with no prospects, anything that resembles a woman or an adult dancer is great!"

Um. How do you reply to an e-mail like that?

"Better luck in 2010!"

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Ghosts of presents past

One of the great things about kids is their honesty.

Mr. RK's nephew opening his first present from us: "I have this one already."

Thank God for gift receipts...although he decided to take it to his dad's house and have one of each at each house. He seemed to like his other presents a lot.

Don't you wish you could have a moment of unpunished honesty when you get presents that are not of your liking?

For years, my grandparents sent the most god-awful presents - mainly from the Avon catalog - and one year, my dad and my uncle realized my grandmother had gotten them both the same dog-on-the-moon thermal drink holder. (I'm not making this up. Avon has a special, detailed ugliness that only Avon can have.)

Some of the gifts were downright hilarious though - especially the ones from the grandmother whom we all refer to as "Grandma Flippy." Grandma Flippy has sent me things such as a size 3XL shirt with a bear on it (I am a petite, 5'3" person); athletic knee socks that came up to mid-thigh (sports kink, anyone?); a gold nugget on a chain; and this year, a huge glittery snowflake necklace (chain tangled) that might be appropriate if I was still eight. Bonus: two holes in the box where earrings were - except Grandma Flippy removed them and presumably gave them to someone else!

When I was a reporter, I wrote a column about this one year, hoping to inspire Dave Barry-like laughs. I got five nasty letters to the editor, from people threatening to adopt my grandparents. I'm not making this up. Some people have no sense of humor.

If I added up all of the Christmas presents I gave passed on to Goodwill over the years, I'd probably have enough deductions to interest the IRS.

I could care less about the actual physical getting of presents. What I really enjoy is the thought that is put into them. Mr. RK's mom, for instance, put God knows how many hours into making a gorgeous cloth Christmas book with pictures of our kitties. She is very talented and could sell this stuff for lots of money, but I am the beneficiary!

And in addition to my Debbie Harry Ladies of the 80s doll, Mr. RK got me a Charlie Brown DVD that I had apparently mentioned a year and a half ago (!!)

"We were looking at a list of Charlie Brown specials online," he reminded me, "and you said you hadn't seen that one. So I checked every few months until it was available."

That makes up for the years of kinky knee socks, methinks.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Enjoy your holidays and hopefully some laughs.

If you can't play the video, go to this link:

Monday, December 21, 2009

A constant

I've had a hard time putting anything into words today. Shock at a friend's terrible news that her mom, a sweet lady, has been hit hard and fast by cancer and is in hospice. Anger or hurt, I'm not sure which, about two so-called "friends" who seem to have fallen off of the globe. Who knows? Perhaps the world is flat after all - or people are more shallow than I thought.

Reflecting at year's end and not believing it's going to be 2010. Doesn't that seem like it should be some far-off futuristic year? Decade?

Which brings the subject of changes - some things, however, and some people, are a constant.

I'd like to think that some things are meant to happen, that some people are meant to meet.

Nearly 12 years ago I spent a weekend in Washington, D.C., apartment hunting. I had been planning to move there. Over the course of the weekend I changed my plans but I also met a slightly shy, funny, sweet guy named Mike D.

We have never lived in the same place - not even close. But we became friends just about instantly and we are friends still. We have been friends through good times, tough times, VERY tough times, and in-between times, through relationships, good and bad, and lots and lots of letters, e-mails, books and Aerosmith music.

Who says the constants in our lives are boring? Not this guy. I wish he just lived down the street.

Mike D, I miss you! I hope you are staying warm in that snowstorm and that it hasn't carried off any cows.*

*A reference to a cow that was tipped over by a tornado in his hometown of Ellington, CT.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Customer service 101

I apparently caught the ick that my parents were coming down with when I left Saturday. This is irritating not just because I can't work out, cook, or stay at work for very long, but also because I am so foggy that my brain is having trouble processing things.

Nevertheless, I know asinine behavior when I see it (is there such a noun as asinism? If not, there should be.)

And this behavior came from - surprise! - someone in customer service at the cell phone company. I am tolerant of their fuck-ups to a certain extent because they're a nonprofit and donate to the charities their members (me) vote on. However, sometimes they're a little grassroots in their organizational skills (or lack of them.)

Don't think I am unsympathetic to the hell that is customer service, because both Mr. RK and I have worked in it and during that time, I think we both wanted to make quite a few voo doo dolls.

I pay my bills online, because 1) it's convenient and 2) I want to save paper. And, 3) because there were a couple of times that I have not received my bills in the mail and I like to pay them on time.

With the cell phone company, occasionally I don't get an e-mail bill, either. This has happened several times and I always get the same form response: "Please check your spam filter, contact your internet provider," etc.

Hello! I grew up in Silicon Valley. I know how to check the spam filter.

This time, when I realized I hadn't gotten a bill for awhile, I e-mailed the cell phone people and wrote, "Please don't tell me to check the spam filter or contact my internet company - I've done both many times and this problem is on your end."

Reply e-mail:

"Dear Ms. RK,
I am very sorry but I am not able assist you this information via email. I do not have an email address on file for you to verify if you are in fact this member.

Would you please give us a call at the number below to add your email address to your account or set up a password? We now require this information to release information on the account via email. This is for security purposes and for your protection."

Apparently the fact that she is E-MAILING ME TO MY E-MAIL ADDRESS is lost on her. I replied,

"My e-mail address IS on file and I do have an account with a password. Why would I be e-mailing you, pretending to be someone else to pay someone else's bill?"

A valid question, no?

So today I got an e-mail apologizing from a supervisor and someone is going to contact me. Ha. If the e-mail arrives, I'll let you know.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The apple doesn't fall that far...

We have what people have started calling a "blended" family. Personally, I think this is hilarious - what are we, a smoothie? A milkshake? An iced coffee drink?

Anyway, I probably relate to my "stepbrother" - my dad adopted him when he was 1 1/2 and I just think of him as my brother - better than I relate to most people. He's 13 going on 40.

He loves books, coffee and chocolate. For years we have secretly believed that we somehow share DNA. And when I sent him this adorable picture of my cats cuddling, this is what he sent back.

There's no doubt now!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

You asked for it!

Here is my favorite chapter from my (as of yet unpublished) book, illustrated by my brother Nik. By the way, congratulate him! He now has an agent!

All work copyright if any of you darlings would steal it :) The web site is a work in progress at this point. Thank you, Mr. RK and Mike D for the work so far!

The book is a series of vignettes in the life of Antonia Elizabeth Jones, a sassy six-year-old who has "changed" her name to Black Jack Pepper. She lives in Minnesota with her three-year-old brother, Will, their dad, and their cat, Rocco, who likes to eat pancakes.

Lucky the Blue Lobster

"Hey, dad!" Black Jack Pepper called. "Can we get a lobster?"

"To eat?" he asked.

"No, for a pet," she said. "Come and look."

Her dad walked over from the cat toy aisle, shaking his head. She pointed to the tank with an Australian blue lobster, which was about 4 inches long.

"You said we could get any kind we want," she reminded him. "And besides, he looks kind of lonely."

Her dad sighed.

"OK," he said. "You can get the lobster. Just be sure to ask the lady behind the counter what kind of food he eats."

"French toast?" asked Black Jack Pepper.

"No," her dad replied, "I don't think you can feed him French toast."

"Oh good," she said. "Then Rocco won't get jealous."

Black Jack Pepper, Will and their dad bought an aquarium, food for the lobster, the lobster itself, and a book about how to take care of it.

"Is it a him or a her?" Black Jack Pepper asked.

"I'm not really sure," her dad replied.

"Is there a way we can find out?" she asked.

"I don't think so," her dad said.

"Well, I think it's him, because he's bigger than the other ones," she said.

"Him!" Will said gleefully.

"It could just mean that he's older," their dad said. "But OK. We'll just assume that it's a boy lobster."

"What's his name?" Black Jack Pepper asked. "Did the people at the pet store name him?"

"No, they don't name the lobsters," her dad said. "We do. Do you have a name in mind?"

"Not really," she said.

"Do you, Will?" he asked.

"No," Will said.

"Well, let's go home and get this aquarium set up, and you two can think about it," their dad said.

Once they got home, Black Jack Pepper and Will decorated the empty aquarium with colorful rocks on the bottom, and a small castle on top of them. They added small plants and watched their dad fill it with water.

"Is that lobster grass?" Black Jack Pepper asked.

"It came with the aquarium," her dad said. "It's probably just for decoration."

"Does he eat it?" she asked.

"I don't think so," her dad said. "In nature, they eat small fish, algae or shrimp. We bought him some food pellets with a mixture of those things."

"Yuck!" Black Jack Pepper said. "That would be even worse than eating grass."

"Yuck," agreed Will.

Their dad winked.

"Just be glad you're not a lobster," he said.

When everything was set up and the lobster was in the tank, their dad told them he was going outside to work in the garden.

"Can we stay here and watch the lobster?" Black Jack Pepper asked. "Maybe we can come up with a name for him."

"Sure," her dad said. "Just don't tap on the tank, because it will give him a headache."

He went outside, and Black Jack Pepper and Will continued staring at the lobster.

"He isn't doing much," Black Jack Pepper said. "Shouldn't he be swimming around, or eating or something?"

Will shrugged his shoulders.

"Any why is he blue?" Black Jack Pepper asked. "Aren't lobsters supposed to be red?"

"He's cold," said Will.

"Aha! I think you're right," Black Jack Pepper said, jumping to her feet. "We need to warm him up, and then he'll be a red lobster."

She opened the blinds to that the sun was shining directly onto the lobster tank.

She and Will sat and waited for a few minutes, but nothing happened.

"He's still blue," Black Jack Pepper said. "His tank is too heavy to put in the microwave. How else can we warm up the water?"

She and Will both thought for a moment.

"I've got it! Follow me," she said, leading the way downstairs to the basement.

She opened up a box labeled "CAMPING" and found a portable stove.

"This should work," she said. "Come on, Will, let's go warm up the lobster."

As they were coming back upstairs, their dad was coming in to check on them and to get a glass of water.

"Where are you going with that stove?" he asked.

"We're going to warm up the lobster," she explained. "He's blue because he's cold. So we thought if we warmed him up, he'd turn red."

"Do you want to eat him?" their dad asked.

"Yuck! No way, Dad!" Black Jack Pepper said, making a face. "What made you think that?"

"Because lobsters don't turn red," he replied, "until they're cooked."

Black Jack Pepper and Will each let out a small shriek.

"Oh no! You mean if we heat up the lobster's tank, we'll cook him?" Black Jack Pepper asked.

"Yes," her dad said. "And you are not allowed to use the stove anyway, remember?"

"No cook!" Will said.

"No way! Black Jack Pepper said. "I'll put the stove back."

She ran down to the basement, put it back in the box, and came back.

"Wow, Dad, you came in just in time," she said.

"Just make sure you don't do anything to the lobster's tank from now on," he said.

"OK," they said.

"And there's one more thing," he said. "I think I came up with a name for the lobster."

"What are you going to call him?" Black Jack Pepper asked.

"I think, under the circumstances," her dad said, "his name should be Lucky."

Friday, December 11, 2009

It is to laugh

Mr. RK has an idea for another kid's book, "Animals You Should Not Pet, and What Will Happen If You Do." What do you think?

You've all noticed, I'm sure, that I love to laugh. I also love to make other people laugh. Growing up, no one at school or church believed that the naughty jokes I heard were from him. It was sort of like growing up with Weird Al.

After telling an inappopriate joke at Sunday school: "WHO told you THAT?"
Me: "My dad."

Who was the pastor of the church.


I love that Mr. RK makes me laugh constantly as well. I wish I could be as clever.

While we're on the subject of laughing, today we went to see my little sister's school holiday "Songfest."

I was almost in the giggle loop the whole time, with my dad on one side whispering jokes in my ear and my brother doing the same on the other side. Kids are hilarious because they don't have so many social filters. I saw more scratching in inappropriate places, more signing off key and loudly - you remember the Bible verse about "making a joyful noise"?

Then they sang Hannukah songs and my brother whispers, "Why does every one of these sound like the part in Fiddler on the Roof where people are getting kicked out of their homes?"

(An aside - my own family stock is composed of Swiss Jews, Apaches, Irish and all kinds of characteres that I am only now learning about, including my dad's transvestite great Uncle Louie, who lived that way openly in Iowa with no trouble. He must have been an Executive Transvestite.*)

My dad leaned over and said, "Why is it that if it's your kid, it's the best thing in the world, but if it's someone else's, it's just god-awful?!"

That's the million dollar question, isn't it?

*If you haven't seen Eddie Izzard's Dress to Kill, you really, really must.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009


Look up "debridement" and welcome to my dental hell. OK, I shouldn't be bitching - but I SQUIRMED and later I found out that people who have this procedure done are 1) usually given a numbing agent, and 2) sometimes sedated. Neither of those were offered to me. You know there's a problem when your dental hygienist says, "Ibuprofen is your friend!"

Despite religious toothbrushing and flossing, I have gum trouble and bone loss. God knows why. This means a hard cleaning every week in February - that's going to be a fun-month. I've already warned my boss and my husband that I'm going to be in a bitchy mood all month long.

So in between wistfully thinking of things I can't eat for a few days - things I love, like popcorn, peanuts and corn chips with salsa - I've been freaking out my teeth and driving Mr. RK nuts by asking over and over, "DO YOU THINK THEY'LL FALL OUT???!!!!"

I have anxiety to begin with. This is not a good pairing with a series of dental appointments!

Anyway - fortunately I have a few days off and I'm down in California visiting my family. It was 10 degrees when I left home (no exaggeration) and I had to laugh when I landed in San Jose (visiting family) and the pilot said it was "a bit chilly...43 degrees." Ha! That's 33 degrees warmer than it was at home.

And you should all be proud of me, not only for being so brave at the dentist but for not swearing while I was there. I didn't say "fuck" once - maybe because her hands were in my mouth.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

This has not been photoshopped!

Mr. Riot Kitty and I go to our local library's bookstore every couple of weeks. Paperbacks are 50 cents, hardbacks are a dollar, and it's volunteer-run - all proceeds go to support the library.

I saw this book in the children's section (I love kid's books and have written one as well) and burst out laughing. If I'd had more coffee this morning, I would have seriously embarrassed us both.

Of course we bought it.

So when I finally got around to reading the back of the book, I found out that "Satan" is apparently another horse. And it's a "fight to the death!"

But who thinks of this stuff for a kid's book? A bit apocalyptic, is it not? Either that or a really bad, cheesy way to present an evangelistic metaphor. I'll stick with C.S. Lewis, thank you very much.

But what do I know? I'm still trying to get my book published. Perhaps I should try some other ideas along this vein:

Horton Hears an Athiest
Little House on the Prairie of Hell
The Lion, the Witch, and the Sadist
The Cat in the Warlock's Hat
Nothing's Fair in Fifth Grade...and so Sheila Became a Voodoo Priestess
Harold and the Purple Cape

How about you? Any suggestions?

Friday, December 04, 2009

Taking pictures illegally

Lynn, who always takes interesting pictures for her blog posts, took one on a tour of homes right before finding out that there would be no more picture-taking allowed.

Which reminded me of a story from a few years ago that I thought I'd share because, if you are like me, you could all use a LAUGH after this past week.

On a trip to New York (where, incidentally, I went to college), a friend and I went to the Museum of Design. It's a small museum close to "Museum Mile" on the Upper East Side. One of the exhibits had a bunch of propaganda posters for the military from WWII. Amazingly, I was able to find this online (see above), although the poster we saw also had pink, red and purple in it, so it was VERY colorful, and perhaps even more funny.

We laughed so hard we almost fell over. There was a strict no photo policy, but I *had to* have a picture of this. We even checked the gift shop first to see if we could buy prints, but no dice.

Trying to be sneaky and unobserved, I snapped a shot and my friend stood on watch for the museum guards - one of whom, of course, saw what I was up to.

"You're not allowed to take photos in the museum," she said.

"I know - but I ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO have a picture of this!" I said, pointing to the poster.
The guard started laughing and said, "Go ahead - take a good one!"

I will keep that picture as long as I live! As Lynn said, it's still good advice :)

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Why is it...

that celebrity and political sex snafus dominate the headlines in this country?

I mean, we have 20,000 poor bastards on their way to Afghanistan, a mind-boggling national debt, massive unemployment, a record number of people who aren't getting enough to eat in this land of plenty - in other words, plenty of news - and yet every news site I go to, except for the one for our city paper, is full of the sexual stories about a certain geeky-looking golf player. (For the record, I can't imagine wanting to get into the sack with any golf player, but I suppose that's beside the point.)

Prior to that, it was a certain idiotic governor who followed his prick to Argentina while claiming to be on state business...and so on and so on.


And do you think people really want to read about this?

If so, is it because we are a sex-obsessed, still Puritanical nation, or celebrity-obsessed? All of the above?

I really want to know your opinions.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Top 10 Tuesday

Here you go, Joey!

Top 10 things I have seen recently that I wish I had not seen:

1. The preview for "Me and Orson Welles." Oh gag. This guy is probably turning in his grave to flip you off, movie producer.

2. The black leotard-clothed ass cheeks of the guy at the cafe today who was wearing his pants below them because they were so fucking tight. Buy a new pair of jeans and stay out of Cindi Lauper's closet!

3. A reference to "alternative lifestyles" in a so-called "feminist" book. Hello!

4. All of the new Barbie Ladies of the 80s dolls, because I WANT THEM ALL! Don't laugh. You know you want them all, too.

5. My cat's breakfast this morning, post-digestion. Sadly for Mr. RK, we both saw it right as I was heading out for work.

6. The blatantly stupid e-mails from my old college buddy, who is married and apparently not getting any.


8. The sixth or seventh story about a murder-suicide - in the past month - in this relatively low-crime metro area.

9. The dark sky before 5 p.m.! Winter, you suck.

10. This video, which you can play above. Oh just kidding! This is the most adorable thing ever. (Sorry, Joey, I owe you one.) But we all need a little bit of cute once in awhile.