The official blog of Susan Landis-Steward, writer of whatever she likes, and co-founder of Puddletown Publishing Group

Posts tagged ‘Jenny’

How I Spent My Sunday – Wonder Babe Edition

The Amazing Wonder Babe Waves at You

This is the Amazing Wonder Babe saying hi. Okay, maybe she’s just waving at her mother. This little girl is very attached to her mommy and, after a combined total of over 30 years in child welfare, I have to say her grandmas are thrilled. My partner is a child attachment expert and she is absolutely enchanted with the way this baby and both her parents are bonded. So am I.

Wonder Babe Meets Good Dog Gwyneth

This was Wonder Babe’s first visit to Oregon. She lives in Seattle and she and her mom came down for a couple days with  the grandparents.  Poppy Face, her grandpa, lives just across the river.

The last time we saw Wonder Babe, we introduced her to our friend Kay’s dog and WB was not impressed. In fact, she was a bit afraid. But today she met Good Dog Gwyneth. (Well, they sort of met once before but it was raining and Gwynnie was outside).  And, yes, Gwyn is on the back of the couch. Gwyn is our funny-looking kid, part Jack Russell, part Springer Spaniel. She looks like someone took a giant Jack Russell head and put it on a Springer body. Yes, she does jump like a maniac at times. Then we pretend she’s a yo-yo. The woman mediating this introduction is my partner of 20 years, Jenny.  Yes, we are old. We’re grandmothers. One of the grandkids, the GrandGirl, is almost a teenager. What did you expect? Spring chickens?

Wonder Babe Reads Her First E-book

Wonder Babe was more interested in my NOOKcolor than the actual book, and more interested in Jenny and the dog than she was in the e-reader. But she quickly figured out how to enlarge the pictures and chew on the NOOK. Clearly, her mother is enjoying the story of colors more than she is.

Puddletown is going to be publishing several children’s picture books in the months to come and I can’t wait to announce them. But not quite yet. WB was our trial run. We have decided she is too young and maybe a two-year-old would be a better target audience. Really, WB just wants a dog.

WB is cutting her first tooth so everything went in her mouth. Including my finger, numerous times, to feel the little tooth starting to poke through. I’d forgotten about their jagged little edges. And to think, our oldest daughter, The Entrepreneur, and her husband, Army Pilot, are giving us another little girl on April 8th. GrandGirl, age 12, and GrandBoy, age 10, are excited, too. What a year!

She’s five-and-a-half months old. We love her. Don’t you?

Kitten Alert

basket cats 1 The one on the left is Abby, named for Abigail Schuto on NCIS. The other one was going to be Ziva, the trained assassin, but Jenny has a bias against boys with girls’ names and insisted he be called Zorro.  When he’s really annoying, he becomes Zero.  Here are some interesting kitten factoids specific to these two kittens:

  • Maggie calls them Cupcake and Squidget
  • Squidget, er, Zorro, has already been trapped in the refrigerator. Obviously he has figured out how to zip through doors when nobody is looking.
  • I now compulsively check the freezer every time I open it.
  • Because I scream so loud when they try to climb my bare legs, they are both learning the words NO and DOWN
  • Good Dog Gwyneth thinks they are her puppies. She grooms them and follows them around to keep them safe.
  • Sophie, the evil cat, is starting to be sort of interested in them.  Mostly to hiss at them, but sometimes to stalk them.
  • Abby loves to play. Zorro not so much.
  • Abby is clearly the smarter of the two. Zorro is the lover.
  • Unlike every other cat we’ve had, these two love yarn, sleep in yarn, climb on the loom, chew on the drive band on the spinning wheel. I think they’ll love it the next time I dye….painted cats anyone?

Some days….

are just too exhausting. A dear friend is in the hospital with a heart virus, something that shouldn’t happen to anyone, let alone anyone who is younger than me. It may be that she is faking to get out of being the parent of a teenage girl for a bit, but I doubt it. I visited today and she really does seem sick. Besides, as teenage girls go, her daughter isn’t half-bad. I know. I raised three of the critters.

Besides, she is really sick. Really. Another friend, Lisa, went with me and Lisa and I always misbehave. Liz laughed at us, and actually admitted to knowing us so she must be getting better. She could have just done the blank stare and pretended we weren’t there.  I am cautiously optimistic. The nurse, aka the manservant, asked us to hang around to keep Liz in bed as she keeps trying to make a run for it. She’s on lots of funny drugs so she forgets that she is hooked up to most of the plastic tubing in the Pacific Northwest. Good thing Lisa is a big strong ex-race car driver. She had to do some serious man-handling at times.

On top of this trauma, I am busy writing a sermon. Well, I’m not writing it yet. But I am actively thinking about it which wears out my brain-injured grey matter causing a different kind of exhaustion.  And today was writer’s group. I’m leading up to a sex scene and my friend Pat knows she will have to read it to the group. (It’s a devil’s bargain, of sorts) So she stopped me short of the scene.

Then Lisa and I made the beloved Jenny go out to dinner with us as punishment for not making us food. We had to recount the entire hospital scene which was tiring. And didn’t get home until past nine.

A busy day. And not one moment spent in gainful employment which means my page count for tomorrow just went up to 150 pages. Which is a lot.

Also, I’ve just been directed to make sure I stay on my own side of the bed tonight. It’s not that I don’t share, I just take my half out of the middle. She really should get over that. But apparently I drove her out of bed last night, onto the couch, and she’s not happy.

So, that’s my day. How was yours?

Football, A Theological Perspective

I spent the day with friends today and we watched football.

I hate football. I don’t understand football. Here’s what I know about football.


My history with football started in high school. I never missed a football game. I was there to watch the cheerleaders and smoke under the bleachers. I was there to go to the dance after the game. I was there to get out of the house. I was not there to watch football. I knew the object of the game was to carry the ball down the field to the goal place and that other people tried to knock the person with the ball down. Mud was part of the game. As was rain which caused the mud. But, from the bleachers, I could never find the ball. Never. Once in awhile, I would see some guy run down the field, chased by other guys, and I assumed he had the ball. Then he would end up in the mud and the cheerleaders would yell this:

“First in ten, do it again, we like it.” Huh? But they were cute when they did it and I was there, after all, to watch them. Did I mention I’m a lesbian? So when the cheerleaders said it, so did I.

(At basketball games they said “Get it on the rebound, rebound, rebound” and I knew what that meant. But “First in ten, do it again, we like it?” WTF were they talking about?)

Aside:  I graduated from high school in 1969. When I was twelve I went through confirmation classes in the Episcopal Church. I knew that the fact I would graduate in 1969 was funny for some reason but had no idea why.  What I learned in confirmation classes was this:

  • Parts of the prayer book did not really exist (The 39 articles. Have you ever seen them? I thought not.)
  • The Holy Spirit would descend on me when I was confirmed.
  • After that I could eat the body and blood of Christ which was actually fish food and wine.

So I get confirmed. Bishop Carmen had some sort of palsy and when he laid his hands on your head it felt like you were being attacked by a blender on high. Your whole head shook and then you were confirmed. For a long time I thought the Holy Spirit was part kitchen appliance, part bird. Then, after he finished shaking all our heads, he gave us a verse. The point of the verse was this: When we saw him, we were to say the verse and he would know which year he had confirmed us. (Stay with me. We will get back to football after this brief half-time show).

Now, remember this. We are twelve, so sixth grade. The girls had brand new breasts, the boys were still short, we were all, basically, morons. We already know there is something funny about the fact that we will graduate in 1969 but we have no idea what and our older siblings and friends refuse to tell us.  And Bishop Carmen gives us this verse: “Whatsoever he saith unto you do it.” But, he wants to make it easy and tells us we just have to come up to him and say, “Do it, Bishop Carmen.” Although we are not quite sure about the mechanics, we do know that “Do it” means sex. We also suspect that 1969 has something to do with sex and we find this quite funny. We spend the next several years looking for excuses to tell the bishop “Do it, Bishop Carmen.” Hell, we were twelve, we amused easily, especially if it had to do with sex, which we only understood in a clinical 5th grade health class sort of way.

Now back to football. By the time I was in high school I had a better idea about the whole concept of “doing it” and I even had an inkling about what made 1969 so dang funny. And there are the cheerleaders, for no reason I can understand, yelling “First in ten, do it again, we like it.” One of them is my next door neighbor whom I have had a crush on for years. She was four years older than I was, a senior when I was freshman, and beautiful. She moved like the dancer she was (she went pro with SF Ballet) and I have always had a thing for dancers.  So, between smoking under the bleachers and watching the cheerleaders, I’m pretty sure this particular cheer has something to do with sex. That whole “First in ten” thing is a freaking mystery and remains so for my entire high school career. But I was sort of getting behind the whole sex idea and if it involved the cheerleader next door, I was all for it. So I was pretty sincere on the whole “Do it again, we like it” although at that point I had no idea if I would like it or not.

Fast forward. I never went to a single game in college because I was too busy being a hippy and doing that whole sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll thing. Yes, I did it. And I liked it. After college, I went to a New Year’s Day party some college friends still hold today, some 30 years later, and we played an annual game of flag football. However, since these were mixed teams, flag meant the guys tackled the girls into the mud. Sort of as if we were still in sixth grade only in our late 20s. Morons. Some guy on my team tackled me. You read that right. ON MY TEAM. And my glasses broke so I had to sit out. I am blind without them. That is the only time I ever played football, I was tackled in the first 30 seconds, and couldn’t even see the rest of the game. If I remember correctly, there was a bong involved.

Another fast forward. I meet the beloved Jenny who actually likes football. I make it clear that I will not watch football with her and she decides that she will watch only the Super Bowl. Or maybe the Rose Bowl. I get those two mixed up. So once a year she goes butch on me, watches a football game complete with yelling at the TV which I patiently explain cannot hear her, and I go in the office and do something else.  For about 13 years this works just fine. Then our kid, the Divine Miss M, decides to be a cheerleader. She makes the squad freshman year and by senior year is star of the show and team captain. Suddenly I have to go to football games. All the time.

I no longer smoke, you can’t get under the bleachers anyway, and I’m still there to watch the cheerleaders. There is no bong involved although I wish there was. But Jenny is determined to teach me to like football. So start the endless repetition of the FACTS OF FOOTBALL, listed below:

  • There are two teams.
  • The home team wears white. This means that if we are at home, we’re the white guys, if we are not at home we are the blue guys. Except Maggie’s school always wears blue so one of my certainties flies right out the window.
  • Each team has two lineups, one for offense, one for defense (finally I know why there are always so many guys just standing around)
  • On the far side of the field, the one I can’t see because I am blind, are two, or maybe three or four, guys with orange numbers on sticks.
  • The number guys move around depending on where the ball lands and they flip the numbers to figure out many yards the ball went. This has something to do with the white lines on the ground if it isn’t too muddy.
  • There is still something called “First in ten” and I still don’t know what it means. Or maybe it’s “First and ten.” Either way it’s meaningless to me. Jenny explains it every game. And every game I forget. Did I mention the brain injury?
  • The game still consists of about 20 minutes of action and three and a half hours of standing around.

Every week she explains this (or something close to it) and every week I have no clue. (You have to know that one of my daughters played soccer year round for almost two decades and I never understood offsides either) (and, I find out, football has offsides as well but I have no idea what that means either) (However, I’m pretty sure that football offsides and soccer offsides are not the same but it doesn’t matter because I don’t understand either.) I watch the cheerleaders.

(Note: I am no longer interested in the cheerleaders in that way because they are now young enough to be my children. In fact, the one they keep tossing in the air is my child.  And that would be, well,  icky. Not too mention illegal. And I am married (although apparently that is not legal either since I’m married to a butch-wannabee named Jenny.) And, in case you forgot, my name is Susan which means we are both women. That whole lesbian thing. And don’t ask me which one of us the guy, you moron. The whole point: NO GUY!)

However, today I learned something about the mysteries of football. One problem with live football is that they run, they fall down, the stick guys move, and everybody huddles, slaps asses, and then they stand around until they do it again. Like I said, little action, lots of standing around. But in televised football they can fill the “standing around” time with instant replays. Endless instant replays. Endless instant replays of instant replays. So you can’t even figure out where the game ends and the replays begin. Makes it all so much clearer to me.

PS. The Divine Miss M is trying out for the PSU cheer squad in April. She will probably make it. I will have a few more years of chances to understand football. I just hope the cheerleaders are still cute.

Why I Hate Lisa, or Has it Been 500 Years Already?

First, let me confess that I don’t really hate Lisa, but I do want to call her out on her bizarre behavior on New Year’s Day.  More on that later.

When we decided to build a house on Beaver Creek, we knew there was a possibility of flooding. Being smart women, we went first to the county and were told that the property we were looking at, although a full third of it IS Beaver Creek, was not in the 500 year flood plain. We were talking to the chief-guru-in-charge-of-such-matters, and he actually put his signature on some papers, so we thought we were okay. However, just wanting to make sure, I went back a few days later and talked to a sub-guru who said the same thing. Then, because I am, in reality, chopped liver in the not-believable section of life’s grocery store, our contractor went and asked. He got the same answer. So we built.

The county did request an extra 16 inches of foundation, on top of the already generous amount the contractor had planned for, so we ended up with almost five feet of foundation at the corner nearest the creek. We built, we moved in April, and enjoyed a long hot summer of leafy coolness at the side of the creek. Then it snowed.

Oregon gets snow. A few inches a year, lasting for a day or two, enough to foul the roads, close the schools, and give everyone a few days of midwinter rest. But this time it SNOWED. We had over 2.5′ of the stuff, topped with a couple inches of ice. Enough to drive me round the bend, especially since Jenny was home and relaxing but I’ve yet to find a publisher who will buy the excuse “My hall was too icy to get to work.” I worked all through the snow and ice, although it seems that the weather has prevented the publishers from actually paying me, but that’s another rant, er, story.

We were snowed in for a week, and the snow hung around for two weeks. Then, on my 57th birthday, it started to rain. Rain, of course, means the snow melts. The creek rose, came up into the yard, then receded. We heaved a sigh of relief and went out on New Year’s Eve to celebrate with a rousing game of SongBurst with the old gang. New Year’s Day we woke to a monsoon. Almost four inches of rain fell on Beavercreek, OR that day, breaking records and causing me to mutter about every single global-warming-denying Republican who ever lived.

And the creek rose. And rose. Instead of a quiet meandering float, it became a raging river, complete with rapids. The rapids were the access road to our place.  And WERE is the operative word. We no longer have an access road.

Now, I have a great deal of trust in the weatherman on channel 8. Don’t ask me why. My mother had faith in channel 8 and so do I. So I was listening to channel 8 and the guy was saying the rain would stop, the water would peak, and things would return to normal. He’d been spot on about everything to do with the “Arctic Blast” which gave us snow in the first place so I was sure he was right this time.

So. Jenny would go outside and measure the water depth and I would do the math. I figured that the water would not make it into the house so I was all “Hakuna Matata” and just wanting to chill. But Jenny was becoming more and more agitated and wanting to evacuate. Finally, at midnight, she decides she needs to talk to Lisa.

Lisa is maybe 27. Okay, maybe 42. Either way, she is young enough to be Jenny’s kid and behaves very much like me, which is to say mostly badly. But Jenny thinks Lisa is a wise woman. Besides, Lisa is one of the few people we know who is still up at midnight. The other is Mar, but we knew Mar was out of town.  So we call Lisa and Jenny tells her that the house is surrounded by water (which is true) and the creek has become a raging river (also true) and that the water is rising faster and faster (not the way I remember it, but then I’m chopped liver, remember?) And Lisa, hearing the freak in Jenny’s voice says something to the effect of “Well, if you’re surrounded by water, you should leave.” Great. I hate Lisa.

Jenny IMMEDIATELY packs a bag and puts on her coat. I’m dawdling because I REALLY don’t want to go and REALLY don’t believe the water is coming into the house. But I finally grab a few things and agree to go to a motel. We wade through about eight inches of water to the car, coax the dog to join us, and head out. Fortunately, someone had the foresight to build a back way out of our place. We have to drive through another raging stream, only to find the main back way is blocked by high water. We turn around, and take the other back way which is basically one long pothole full of water, with a washout at the end. Jenny just charges the Sienna across the washout and we are on Beavercreek Road. Which is blocked by, duh,  high water.  It takes us the next hour, most of it going in the wrong direction, to find a road that will get us out of Beavercreek and headed toward Oregon City. It is now 1 am and we are heading for a motel. We are also running out of gas and can’t find a gas station that is open. I want to go home.
I call Lisa again, just because when I’m annoyed I need to annoy others, and Lisa admits that she wouldn’t have left in the first place. I hate Lisa.

Suddenly I realize that we have a dog with us. And we have no idea where we will find a motel that will take dogs at 1 am on New Year’s Day in the rain. We need a plan. So the plan is this: We stop at Shari’s because it is open all night and will let us sit there forever as long as we eat something. After a couple hours of listening to the tunes on the video poker machines, someone says it’s snowing. THE RAIN HAS STOPPED! The snow is falling in big wet globs, putting a couple of inches of wet snow all over everything. But we still don’t have gas and the last thing we want is to drive around looking for clear roads back to Beavercreek and run out of gas. This is the country, man, and there are no people out except us, my cell phone battery is mostly dead, Jenny’s cell phone is mostly at home, and I’m getting really annoyed.

We head down toward the freeway and find this: no open gas stations. Then we call AAA and they tell us there is a 24 hr gas station right next to us. And there is. But we’ve already been there and they won’t take credit cards, we have no cash, and pay day isn’t until the next morning. I’m sure you’ve been there. Finally, after a short eternity, we find an open gas station and get gas. I propose three possible solutions: motel, go to the church and sleep on the couches in the basement, or go home. I really want to go home, and I really hate Lisa for getting me into this, but I feel that, as the rational one in this situation, I have to offer several options.

Now that we have gas, Jenny is suddenly feeling really butch. She decides that we will go home. So we do. And the water is gone, we are now just a peninsula, no longer an island entire of itself, although we would have been just fine as an island if Lisa hadn’t told Jenny to evacuate. I hate Lisa. Do you understand why?

And, while I fully expected that at some point we would face hell AND high water, I didn’t expect it during our first year, our honeymoon year, in our new house. So until Wednesday when I see her again, I’m going to hate Lisa for making me leave my warm house, wade through ice water up to my shins, and drive around all night in Oregon City. When she would have stayed home. After all, that’s what good friends are for, right?

I'm afraid…..

Ever since we got Gwyneth, the dog, I’ve been obsessed with the creature. You must remember that I hate dogs. But, with one glaring bad habit, this is a truly delightful and well-behaved animal.  For the past two days, I’ve been able to call Jenny at work and announce: “You left for work at 5:55 am, didn’t you?” “Today you were late. You didn’t leave until 6:20 am.

This is important because I often pass Jenny in the hall on my way to bed, her way to work. I am a night owl. She goes to bed before the sun goes down. I go to bed as it comes up.

Enter Gwyneth. Although she sticks to me like glue if I am vertical, she sees Jenny as a good substitute if I’m sleeping. But the minute Jenny walks out the door, she starts barking. Then we have to go out on the front porch where she proceeds to stare at the driveway as if willing the car to reappear.

This, of course, is ridiculous. If it keeps up, I’ll become a morning person. It’s not even dark yet and already I’m thinking about bed……I’m afraid…..

Why I Don't Like Dogs….But Love Aliens

Dogs sniff my crotch. They jump on me. They slobber, drool, have horrible breath, and otherwise annoy me.

Enter the alien lifeforms. In this case, one Gwyneth, a half-Springer Spaniel, half-Jack Russell. (How ironic is it that my last name, during my married-to-a-guy years, was Russell?) The Beloved Jenny was itching for a pooch. She actually started itching years ago but our lives were just too complicated. Then we moved to the country, the Divine Miss M graduated, and Jenny started to drool. For a dog. She spent hours on Craigslist, rescue sites, breed sites, humane society sites. She sent me dozens of links everyday (doesn’t she actually have to work at that DHS mothership?) and basically convinced me a dog would be a good thing.

Friday, she dragged me to two different Humane Societies. Possible because Portland is just a bridge away from Vancouver, WA. And there she was: Henna. Yep, Jenny, on the perennial Welsh kick, changed the poor thing’s name. Which I can never remember so I call her Puppers or Gimpers. I can get away with it because I’m disabled too. Of course a brain injury and a torn ACL are probably not really in the same class but, hey, I can limp if I think about it.

Yep, we adopted a disabled dog and will spend roughly $3000 to have her leg fixed. Why? Well, she fell in love with me and anything that does that has to be a) alien and b) worth bringing home to spend the night. That’s how I got Jenny after all…..

Sophie, the evil cat, is not impressed. But Puppers is so laid back she just sniffs the cat and walks away. Sophie hides, just to elicit sympathy from Jenny, because she knows damn well the dog is not going to do anything to her. Of course, Sophie still hates me. What else is new?

So I now am loved by a dog. I find myself talking baby dog talk although this dog is five years old. I go for walks. I have yet to clean up poop but, hey, we live in the country. Out here we call it compost. I throw things which she won’t chase. I make a stab at things like “sit”, “stay”, “down”, all of which I am very good at but the dog is more interested in the treats in my pocket. So, I still don’t like dogs. But I’m starting to love this one.

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