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

Posts tagged ‘Lisa’

WordPress Post a Day Challenge

Okay, I signed up. May keep me honest and posting, may turn me into the lazy sack-of-shit my friends Mar and Lisa accuse me of being. It’s not that I’m lazy. It’s just that I’m a Type A- or Type B++ and they are Type AAA++++. Plus I work. Hard. Every day. And there’s still that kid running around eating up time.

Okay, enough excuses. I’m giving it a try.

Photo of the Day

Well, Beaver Creek is swelling and threatening to overflow it’s banks again. Whoever said they wanted more snow will be tarred and feathered as soon as I remember who they are.  But the rain does make for some interesting scenes, like this one from our latest jaunt to the nearby dog park.

p1000180 In case you are wondering, the field is, well, a field. The lake is a field with water on it. The chair is the only chair in the whole friggin’ park and, as you can see, the chair is in the middle of the “lake.” Not that Gwyneth cares. But the chair seems to have lost its usefulness in several inches of water (and I assume mud).


When I was a child, I was a big fan of Mad magazine. I especially liked the marginalia, that hysterically funny stuff they hid in the margins. Guess I’ve always been marginalized. Anyway, the only good way to do marginalia on a blog is in the tags. Just thought I’d let you know.

25 Random Things About Me as a Kid

This is another one of those Facebook deals, but anyone blogging should feel free to join in.

Once you’ve been tagged, you write 25 random things facts, habits, or goals about your childhood. Afterward, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about what you were like as a kid.

  1. My mother went into labor with me during a Christmas gathering and they raced to the hospital in a blizzard. I wasn’t born until two days later and I think she held it against me my whole life.
  2. I had an older brother who died at birth. I’m pretty sure my mother held that against my dad but I’m not 100% sure as it was a taboo subject. I am sure that I felt I had to make up for his death. Hence I was the oldest girl and my father’s only son. Pretty strange orientation on your place in the family.
  3. My  parents adopted a baby when I was 20 months old and then gave birth to another one seven month later. For those of you who are math challenged, that’s three kids in 27 months. I went from being a baby to being Susie of “Susie and the Little Kids” overnight. While it might have been a great rock group, it was not a great sibling group. My sisters resented my status as the big kid and finally carried out a successful rebellion when I was about 13. Since by then they were both bigger than I was it sort of made sense.
  4. Because I was small, I got hand-me-ups. That was just wrong. The practice kid gets enough shit heaped on them without having to wear the cast-offs of the others kids.
  5. My mother had her hands full with those babies so I was sent to school at the age of 2. I liked chapel, French, and nap. I still like those things.  Did I mention I went to an Episcopal school?
  6. I started writing poetry, quite illegibly I’ll have you know, at the age of four. My father transcribed my scribbles and saved them in an old Bible. The Bible is now lost, along with my poetry, but the Bible was in German. My poetry is not. If you find a German Bible with scraps of paper and little kid poems, please return them to me.
  7. It made me really mad when my sisters got menus in restaurants and I didn’t. I was the only one that could read. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
  8. Private school is a mixed bag. I got a great education but none of my friends lived in my neighborhood. Well, three boys. But I was not then, nor am I now, interested in playing with boys.  I didn’t much like playing with my sisters either because they were “little kids.” (See #3 above)
  9. In the summer, some kids came to visit their grandparents on our street and there were two girls my age. We spent the summer playing blind man’s bluff with our younger siblings. This involved blindfolding the little kids, then walking them off (small) cliffs. We also set up a slip-n-slide to go over a (small) cliff and land in blackberry brambles. When we tired of this, we would play penny ante poker, with the same little kids. We made up rules as we went along and by summer’s end we were very rich in pennies. Then we’d sleep in somebody’s backyard under the stars. I’ve loved to camp ever since. Although it does remind me of my life of crime.
  10. When I was 12 my friend Tisa and I stole cookies from Strohecker’s bakery counter. Up until then, I was pretty sure I was sinless and destined for heaven. Those cookies changed everything.
  11. I joined Girl Scouts in 4th grade and loved it. I went through Cadettes and probably would have gone on to Seniors if the troop hadn’t been so freaking girlie. I wanted to be a Boy Scout and do fifty mile hikes, but without the boys. Back then Girl Scouts didn’t do that sort of stuff.
  12. I learned to sew when I was very young, attending Mrs. Leech’s sewing class. For $.50 we got to spend an hour after school every Thursday learning how to make rolled hems, pin cushions, do blanket stitch, and embroider. I was really good at it and eventually won the Make It With Wool contest for a tailored coat my senior year in high school. I made almost all my own clothes back then.
  13. I also learned to knit, crochet, and weave (on a real loom, not a potholder loom) at an early age. My lifelong love affair with fiber was well underway by the time I was 8.
  14. I took piano lessons but the piano was in the basement and when they urban renewed the city, the rats came to live in our house which was on the side of a hill. The house had settled and had some cracks in the foundation so the rats could get in and the day a rat ran across the top of the piano was the day I took up the violin. In the dining room. Upstairs.
  15. I was in 7th grade French class, staring out the window,  when the head mistress came in to announce that JFK had been assassinated. The whole school gathered in the Lower School chapel, including the Upper School students and the nuns. Up until then, there had been rumors of nuns teaching in the Upper School but none of us ever saw them because we were not allowed in the Upper School or in the wing where the nuns were rumoured to live.
  16. I fell off my tricycle at the age of two, in the house, and hit my head on a corner of a brick hearth. The hearth and I both have scars to prove it. I bled like the proverbial stuck pig.
  17. I wanted to be a chemist when I grew up and had a great “lab” in the basement (after the rat-festation was dealt with.) My neighbor Brownie and I would spend a lot of time blowing things up. I had my first subscription to Scientific American in 3rd grade although I had no idea what they were talking about.  I sort of gave up on chemistry after I learned the hard way that drenching your arm in alcohol, filling a pipette with same, and then emptying the pipette on top of a lit Bunsen burner results in a) a big bang and b) all the hair on your arm igniting. Fortunately, alcohol burns fast. Still, seeing my entire right arm, up to my elbow, engulfed in flames was enough for me.
  18. In seventh and eighth grade I had to attend Friday Night Dancing School. This was a very socially proper thing to do and involved girls in dresses and heels, boys in suits, and all with white gloves, learning to waltz, fox trot, and swing dance. The only good part was when there weren’t enough boys and I got to dance with the girls and going out afterwards with my carpool buddies for ice cream.
  19. By the time I was in 8th grade, I hated private school so much I rebelled and convinced my parents to let me go on to public high school.  Since I already had lots of friends there from dancing school and Girl Scouts and church, it seemed like a good choice. Welcome to the land of cliques. I did not fit in because I had not gone to the right grade schools and because I was smarter than my peers in everything except math. The latter was not the school’s fault, I just hated math. I flunked algrebra II within a month because I apparently had never had Algebra I. When I got a 684 on my math SAT, the guy that flunked me was pretty sure I had figured out how to cheat on the SATs.
  20. I was labeled an underachiever in my English class after I didn’t hand in some homework because our house had caught fire the night before. The teacher didn’t believe me, even when I told him he could check with my mother. The house really did catch fire.
  21. My school offered horseback riding every Wednesday afternoon so I would spend an hour or so trotting, cantering, and occassionally galloping away on a horse that stood 17 hands high. I was about 4′ tall so that was a BIG horse to me.  One time, some fools decided to canter with a beginner in the ring and her horse ran away with her and started a stampede. I could barely control my horse and, when another horse cut in too close in front of her, my horse threw me. I remember watching hooves flying everywhere while I laid there on the ground. Somebody got me out of there but I’ve had back problems ever since. I truly hate idiots.
  22. In first grade, my teacher was named Mrs. Mallory and she had a grey house with a purple door. I always wanted a grey house with a purple door so a few years ago I talked Jenny into painting our house (very light) grey and the door was sort of magenta. Close, but no cigar. My first grade class room had 12 students and four of us were named Susan.
  23. In third grade I found a spider’s nest and kept it in my desk. Naturally, the spiders hatched. Now, I love spiders and these were really cute baby spiders but nobody else liked them much. The school kept wondering where the spider infestation came from in the third grade classroom. I never fessed up. My best buddy was Jeff Seaman because we both liked dinosaurs.
  24. I learned early on in social studies that if you didn’t know the answer, maize was always a good guess. I still can’t travel south of the border without having random thoughts about maize.  In Peru, I even drank maize beer.
  25. My favorite school project was trying to color the map of the US with four colors in such away that the same color never touched. If you give me an uncolored map of the US and four crayons (red, blue, green, and yellow would be nice) I will be occupied for the rest of the day. Colored pencils would be even better.

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?

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?

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