Tag Archives: blogging

A Chain of Causation

I haven’t written in over a week, but it’s really not my fault. I’ve been trying. I even stuck my head in the oven but to no avail.

There’s a legal concept called “chain of causation” by which a person who appears to be at fault can prove that a chain of events lined up to create the situation…thus removing the fault from the individual.

Here’s what happened this weekend when I tried to write a post.

Last month, I got a copy of 40th anniversary update of “The Moosewood Cookbook” from a publisher in exchange for an honest review. And you can’t review a cookbook without trying some of the recipes, right? So I found the recipe with the fewest ingredients, one that barely took up half a page. French Onion Soup. YUM.

I bought the onions…last month.

Then life happened.

A lot.

So by the time I got around to trying the recipe, the onions had started to pursue their dream of starting a family, sprouting green shoots that were heading for the sunny window. OK.

So I picked a different recipe…something bakish because I actually had yeast. Again, I checked for a recipe that had fewest ingredients, short instructions, no trips to Williams-Sonoma for special equipment. Focaccia! YUM.

But baking….problematic. Lately, anytime I try to get the oven over 300 degrees, the smoke alarm goes off (thanks to some apple pies, pizzas, and malaise).

I can’t have the smoke alarm going off because my baby hates loud, sudden noises.

By this point, how can I write a blog post without putting my son’s emotional stability at risk? Time to clean my oven.

Historically, I only clean the oven when I’m moving and the security deposit depends on a shiny oven. I’ve lived here since 2003. You do the math.

Soooooo…instead of using the self-cleaning function, I got myself some Easy-Off to really tackle the grime.

I tackled the hell out of that grime. Housewife Scrubbing Oven Clean

Spent so long cleaning the oven that I ran out of time to let the dough rise…so no focaccia. (Am I even spelling that right?)

BUT!  Progress. Clean oven, week ahead of me…surely I can knock out some focaccia.

Turn the oven on Monday and it makes a strange beeping noise and flashes F4 on the panel.

After a little Googling of “Kenmore oven F4 error message,” I discover that I’ve got a broken temperature sensor.

Ohhhh…that’s what that long spiky thing was that I was wiggling around while cleaning the grime. Ah.

See how long this chain is and we ain’t nary closer to focaccia or a blog post?

This is why nothing ever seems to get DONE around here. Set off in one direction with a plan and pfffffffffft. I trip all over the great Chain of Causation.

P.S. – While I was cleaning the oven, someone clogged up a toilet and that cost us another $403. I would drown my feelings in carbs, but…FOCCACHIT.

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Gluten Soaked Republican Plastic Surgeons Need Not Apply

Vintage postcard, Picadilly Circus, London

Vintage postcard, Picadilly Circus, London

Have you noticed anything new about the look of the blog? Yep, those are ads. Upppppp there ^^^, and ovvvvver there >>>. I hope you will forgive the crass commercialization of Baddest Mother Ever. I write because it brings me bliss, but my kids don’t eat bliss.

The BlogHer publishing network makes it easy for small publishers like me to find advertising content that matches the audience (hello, tampons and Capri Sun!). They also make it easy for bloggers to find ads that match our ethical boundaries. When I set up my publishing network account, I was given a long list of advertising campaigns from which I could opt out.

Like diet pills–would you REALLY expect to see an ad for diet pills on Baddest Mother Ever? I think not. Or cosmetic surgery. Newp. And religion? This isn’t the place. (But I am intrigued to see what kind of religious ads are available.  “Jesus! Coming Soon to an outlet near you!”)

Some of the options made me think about things that I do support–like breastfeeding. If you are so inclined, you can opt out of any ad for an infant formula, a bottle, a nipple. I was a BF mom, but I’m not opposed to nipples made of something other than me. Animal products–that’s another option I had. I left it open because BACON. Sorry to my vegan friends, but BACON.

Lingerie ads? Hmmm. I was about to check “No” but that depends on the ad. If it’s lingerie that makes women feel more beautiful and comfortable, absolutely. If there is any hint of a pouting ingenue in some Kardashiesque getup…nope.

Gluten? Sure. Because, to quote Jim Gaffigan, I don’t know what gluten is, but it’s delicious.

There was one choice that gave me pause AND reminded me of a funny story. Political ads. Would I want political ads to have space on Baddest Mother Ever? I don’t talk politics very often on here but y’all can probably smell a knee jerk, bleeding heart flaming liberal vibe coming from my general direction. (You’d be right.)

One time, my late husband Richard (who was the opposite of me in all things political and religious) and I were talking about our potential possible children that might one day come.

He asked me, “So what if our kid is born blind?”

I waved away the very thought. “So what? We take what we get and call ourselves lucky.”

“What if our child is gay?”

“Same thing,” I answered. “They’re born whoever they are and we love them no matter what.”

He considered for a second, then said, “What if our kid turns out to be…a Republican?”

I clutched my pearls and gave him the stink-eye. “THAT? That is just poor parenting.”

Hahahaha….I kid, I kid. He and I may have canceled each other’s votes in the big picture, but we were on the same team in the everyday matter of living this life. My dad says that his parents never fought except over local politics. They’d get so mad about county commision or mayor that they wouldn’t speak for days. Legend has it that Grandmama Eunice once threw an entire fried chicken out the car window on the way to a church supper over Grandaddy Joe teasing her about a school board election. If you ever had the honor of tasting her fried chicken, you’d know just what a tragedy that was.

I guess my point is I had to do some thinking about what I feel strongly enough about to BAN from my space. We all do this all the time–and the digital social world that we live in has made it so easy to click a button and decide “I’m don’t want to see that.”

So if you’re a Republican cosmetic surgeon looking for a place to talk about your gluten-filled diet pills, keep moving.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled program!

I’d Like to Thank the Blogcademy…

new-years-eve-228714_640Y’all.

You guys.

Omigodomigodomigahd!

Y’all. Seriously. Y’all.

My little light?  It’s getting a big chance to SHINE!

 

 

 

Every year at the BlogHer conference, there’s an evening party called “Voices of the Year.”  Last year, Queen Latifah was the host!  It was one of the highlights of my first blogging conference–a joyful celebration of writing, because good blogging always comes down to good storytelling.  Last year’s VOTY stories ran the gamut from discovering one’s gayness at Jesus Camp, poisoning yourself in the effort to craft a perfect pine cone wreath, fighting to save a suicidal child when the medical establishment isn’t listening, chasing pin worms with a flashlight, being mistaken for your child’s nanny, living on the thin edge of poverty, and explaining race to your mixed race son.  I laughed.  I cried.  I was inspired.

Any blogger can submit a piece to Voices of the Year.  This year, over 2000 stories were submitted.  The selection process went through round after round after round.  From that pool, one hundred blog posts are selected.  Then from those 100, a dozen lucky bloggers get to go onstage in front of the whole conference and read a story.  

BH14_VOTY_Selected_150X15Y’all…I got selected as a Voice of the Year.

Squeeee!!!

And I got selected to read.

Hot Damn!!!

Or to quote Carlos’ favorite new phrase:  Seriously, dude.

I am thrilled.  Delighted.  Honored.  Scared-Shitless-But-Gonna-Do-It-Anyway.

And I’m proud.  Proud of myself.  Not for getting chosen by a panel of reviewers–I didn’t have any control over that–but for choosing myself. Back in February, when the submissions were opened, I chose myself.  It took me a couple of tries to get up the nerve.  I made a few visits to the website before I had the guts to hit Submit.  I overcame my doubts and said, “This is something I want to shoot for.  This is something I have the right to try.  This is something that would be really really really fun to do.”  I gave myself permission to want it.  I gave myself a voice.  It was heard!

I am tickled pink.

So today’s message is:  Put yourself out there. 

Oh, and here’s the funny part.  I’m at a bit of a loss.  If you go to the announcement page for 2014 Voices of the Year, there are links to these wonderfully entertaining posts.  But the ones that get read on stage?  They don’t have links–they’re a secret.  Y’know, gotta keep the suspense up.  So the link beside my name is just to Baddest Mother Ever, not the specific post that got selected.  

Wellllll…unfortunately, I can’t remember which story I submitted!  Duh.  So after a couple of days of playing it cool, I will have to email someone at BlogHer and say, “Thank you SO MUCH for giving me this opportunity to read….now, can you refresh my memory on what exactly I wrote?”  

So today’s message addendum:  Put yourself out there, but jot down where you put yourself.  

A Year, In Numbers

YearInNumbers

365 days since I started writing Baddest Mother Ever

301 posts about everything from panties to heartache to parenting to courage

101,500+ –  page views

2327 – most views in a single day (my Grandmama’s panties went viral)

3047 – comments from awesome readers like YOU!

1796 – Facebook fans…oops, make that 1795…WHAT DID I DO WRONG???  COME BACK!!!

257 – Twitter followers (@Baddest_Mother)

3 – number of times I’ve been approached out in public and asked “Do you write Baddest Mother Ever?” and number of times I have stuttered with glee, “Yes!”

1 – paid blogging gig over at Work It, Mom!

2 – magazine articles published

10 most popular posts this year (and the About page):

If You Walk Out of Your Panties…    
Cry Havoc and Let Slip One Inch of Snow    
About    
My Daily Tangle With Prejudice    
Dust to Dust    
A Tuesday Kind of Miracle    
Looking for the White Knight    
The Door Mat    
Stolen Chicken and Racism    
A Blue Bead for Boston    
If He’ll Cheat With You…    
The Engagement Fart    

2 words I can’t say enough – THANK YOU.

2014 – Going to be the Best Year Yet!

3 goals for Year #2 – 1000 email subscribers; 5000 Facebook followers; 250,000 page views

Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  For reading.  For sharing.  For coming back on the boring days.  For telling me when the words line up the right way and say something to you.  Thank you.

love life

A Room of One’s Own

Virginia Woolf once wrote, “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”

Well, now I have one less excuse to write my Great American Novel.  Here is my room:

It's so CLEAN!!!!

It’s so CLEAN!!!!

This is a short list of  things that will not be allowed in my room:

  • Sticky fingers
  • Legos
  • Nick Jr
  • cymbals
  • whining
  • kvetching
  • malingering
  • moaning
  • farting
  • dirty dishes
  • Gogurt
  • any of those TV shows with Hitler or aliens or Hitler’s Aliens
  • Juice
  • Glitter (with exceptions made on a case by case basis for drag queens)
  • Glue
  • Glitter glue

Any stains on the carpet will be made by ME.  Any books left lying around will be left lying by ME.  If the window is left open, it was left open by ME.  The only person flopped out on the couch in front of an open window with a book…shall be ME.  I will NEVER walk into the room and find anyone else already in there because no one is allowed in this room except by express invitation from ME.  Seriously, I am going to put a sign on the door like a teenage girl.

My Grandmother Eunice's platform rocker.  I loved this chair when I was little because it was low enough to let even the shortest legs reach the ground and rock.

My Grandmother Eunice’s platform rocker. I loved this chair when I was little because it was low enough to let even the shortest legs reach the ground and rock.  Not that any short legs will be rocking in it anytime soon…

A short list of things that will be allowed in my room:

  • daydreaming
  • napping
  • lolling about
  • lollygagging
  • ruminating
  • vegetating
  • cogitating
  • staring
  • lounging
  • sprawling
  • contemplating
  • musing
  • pondering
  • mouth breathing

This morning, I snuck down there for five minutes to sit in Grandmama’s chair and look outside in peace.  Out one window, I could see three fat birds waiting in the sourwood tree for their turn at the feeder and the moon hanging white against the morning sky.  It was quiet enough in my room to hear the moon.

Once I get a couple more bookcases in there, I will officially have more bookshelves than books for the first time in my adult life.  I hesitated to put a TV in there–it’s a sanctuary, after all–then I thought about being able to watch a movie with cussing and/or kissing whenever I wanted to.  I’ve got a table that will be my writing desk and a futon for flopping.  An old traveling trunk that Richard found in a dumpster for my coffee table.  His grandmother’s floor lamp from the 1930’s to read by.  A painting of a mother and child that G gave me a few years ago.

That shelf?  That shelf is high enough that I can put precious things OUT OF REACH.  There’s the print of a sleeping puppy’s belly that I bought in an antique shop in Bath, England.  Tiny dachshunds I picked up in a model train store in Aachen, Germany or some at the Lakewood Flea Market.  Copies of Vermeer paintings I brought back from Amsterdam.  And a sampler I found in my Aunt Mary Fuller’s things after she died.  She was Grandmama Eunice’s younger sister and a real sweet lady.  It reads, “Give to the world the best you have and the best will come back to you.”

Grandmama Eunice's baby sister, my Aunt Mary Fuller. left this sampler.  She was a sweet lady.

Grandmama Eunice’s baby sister, my Aunt Mary Fuller. left this sampler. She was a sweet lady.

Amen to that.  Now get out of my room.

Name Your Passion


My friend Saralyn asked a great question on Facebook the other night:

 “What is something you used to be passionate about, but have let go over time?”  

The answers from her friends ranged from classical ballet to learning German to making lamps from junk.  The list of responses grew and grew as the night stretched on.  Scrapbooking, skateboarding, wildlife rehab, writing, houseplants, drawing, painting, birding, baking, shooting pool, thrift shopping, tennis, cello, gardening, poetry, drumming…

passion

I had to ask myself–what have I left by the wayside that used to be a passion?  My quick response was quilting.  I used to love to make quilts for babies…until I got busy having my own.  One year for Valentines Day, I made Richard a pair of red quilted pillows with our initial stitched inside a heart.  The last quilt I worked on was for Vivi.  It never got bound.  It’s still downstairs in my sewing stash.  

I miss spending time at flea markets and antique auctions.  I miss running on the weekends.  I miss trying new recipes every week.  I miss traveling.  I miss going to movies.  I miss rearranging my furniture.  I miss listening to music.  

But there’s writing.  There’s the writing.  

Tuesday night at boot camp, as I was huffing through a run, my coach Cynthea asked “How did you decide to start your blog?”  My first response was, “I’ve always been a writer.”  That felt so cool.  Owning it.  Not hedging it with, “Well, I like to write…”  Straight up claiming it–I’m a writer.  

This blog is almost a year old and I am a different person now than I was last January.  I still haven’t finished the quilt and my recipes are boring and the running is HARD…but I’ve made time for this passion.  I cannot tell you what a joy this space has become for me.  Thank you for stopping by, for sharing your thoughts, for reading.  After 279 posts, I can’t imagine going a week without writing!  

So Saralyn’s question is still out there–What is something you used to be passionate about, but have let go over time?  Is there a way to make some space for it in your life?  

Now I’m Leaving Normal, Headed Who Knows Where

If I’ve been kind of quiet for a few days, it’s because I’ve been sitting around feeling sorry for myself.  I’ve been sick with that Creeping Crud for 3 weeks.  Even with the Mucinex, VapoRub, Sudafed, neti pot, chamomile tea, Breathe Right strips, humidifier–I still can’t breathe, can’t talk, can’t sleep.  And my physical weakness coincided with the demands of kids being out of school, the holiday bustle, and G being sick as well.  I feel like I’ve been staring at the wall for a month.  Somebody call me a wahhhhmbulance.

Even when I could drag myself in to work, it was different too.  Four dear friends are gone from the group of eight who had Christmas lunch last year–two out of jobs, one consumed by a huge project, and one off to Chile for five months.   So much work to do, and not as many co-conspirators.  Harumph.

Chaos rules the house.  The decorations need to go back up in the attic but I hate to say goodbye when it feels like I just got them all up.  There are the broken ornaments that need to be glued back together–the gumdrop ball that Carlos tried to eat, the seal from Bar Harbor that lost a flipper, the pink baby shoe that shattered.  And the presents still need to be put away!  The cookies seem to be the only things getting put away in a timely fashion.  Blargh.

My children change so quickly that I wonder who I’ll meet every morning when it’s time to wake them up.  Sometimes it’s good change–like when Carlos was pushing his Jeep up the driveway the other day and turned around to wave, blow me a kiss like usual, then he added, “I love you!” for the first time.  Sweetness.  Sometimes the change is more ominous–like last night when I told Vivi to pick up the scraps of paper from her snowflake craft project and she gave me a massive eye roll.  Perhaps it’s her first, but I know it won’t be her last.  When I called her on it, she explained with her best first-grade logic that she was just exercising her eyes in a completely neutral way and I happened to interrupt her right in the middle of it.  Uh huh.

And writing.  It’s supposed to be my happy place but I’m overthinking it.  Freezing up, like the weather outside.  I wrote a spot-on piece about living in the moment for New Year’s Eve (There Is This) and ever since then I’ve been afraid to write anything else because I keep looking over my shoulder to admire that piece about…not looking over my shoulder.  Duh.

So to recap:  Waaaaah.  Harumph.  Blargh.  Uh Huh.  Duh.  Where is my NORMAL???

I guess the lesson we all learn if we get to grow up is that we can sit around crying for normal or we can live the day we’re handed, no matter how lumpy or strange or viscous it might be.  I made a decision yesterday to shake myself out of the rut and within an hour, this verse from a Cowboy Junkies song popped into my head:

 “Leaving Normal”

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen the high plains of Expectation
And I’m way past the lowlands and the deserts of Failure and Doubt
And the last time I passed through Satisfaction
I felt like a stranger there
Now I’m leaving Normal and I’m heading for who knows where…
 
 

Yeah, I don’t hang out on the high plains of Expectation any more–I am generally happy in this place and don’t need Fabulous.  And I have made it out of the deserts of Failure and Doubt…most days.  But Satisfaction?  I should buy a little vacation house there, meet some of the locals.  And the only building in Normal is a bus station to get you out of there.

In the song, the woman continues on a Greyhound bus, headed who knows where and she’s POSITIVE about it.  Leaving Normal is moving on. Onward and upward.  I’m trying to follow that advice, so here are the things I’ve done to kick my own ass today:

1.  I signed myself up for this weekly lesson on writing by Alice Bradley, delivered right to my Inbox so I can get better at the craft of writing.  I am going to be less afraid of writing, especially when I do it well.

writing class

2.  I signed myself up for WoW Boot Camp, the fitness program that I loved for two years and I’ve missed for three years.  I am going to feel strong again.

boot camp

3.  I talked to my friend Betsy the nurse practitioner about this Crud and she suggested a steroid for the bronchial inflammation.  So by Monday, I should look like this:

woman on steroids

I took a few actions.  Pity Party CANCELLED.  Honestly, I have better things to do.

And what do you know?  Those friends that I’ve been missing so much?  We got together for our regularly scheduled Friday lunch and who should come walking in but our world traveler!  Erica is home and the sky is looking bluer already.  Hooray!  Salsa verde and hugs all around.  

erica

Here’s Margo Timmins singing “Leaving Normal” if you’d like to hear her belt it out.  I would pay money to listen to her read the phone book.  One day I’ll tell you about the time I rode a train across Canada with the Cowboy Junkies and Margo and I talked about her dog eating rocks.  Dang, I think with that one sentence, I’m starting to sound like myself again!