Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Monday, July 28, 2008

mother of all hugs or that's a mother hugger

Dr. Deb's post on one type of therapeutic hug reminded me of another, quite different hug.
An organic hug.
A spiritual hug.
My social work therapist friend attended one of Amma's hugging events. She flew to the other side of the country, stood in line with thousands, waiting, and then getting, her hug. She was quite in awe and remains inspired.

Below is a video of Amma, "The Hugging Saint," at a visit in New York City.

How do you get your hugs?

Friday, July 25, 2008

my favoritest, largest jewel

The kids and I spent one day this week at Barton Springs Pool. "The Crown Jewel of Austin," it takes the lion's share of credit for luring me to this awesome city.
Barton Springs is home to "Parthenia," the mother spring of four natural springs located in the heart of Austin.

It's also home to the Austin Blind Salamander, an endangered species found nowhere else on earth, and hence, the subject of quadrillions of editorial columns and letters to the editor. This teeny salamander is at the center of a raging struggle between land developers and Save Our Springs (SOS) activists.
Cute little bugger, isn't he?

The spring flows up from the ground in the area of the diving board. It pumps out an average of 31 million gallons per day, making for some clean, clear, chilly water - a steady 68 degrees year round. And when the air temps are above 100 degrees, it makes for a truly refreshing plunge. Otherwise, its just focking cold!
Here's DauA doing The Flying Squirrel, her approach dive to getting one with the last remaining salamanders.

And here are all three kids, setting off on a destiny of swimming from one end to the other, without stopping.

One lone swimmer makes it.

Even Robert Redford, who says he grew up swimming in Barton Springs, has jumped into the debate. He co-produced a documentary, The Unforseen. The trailer has a nice panoramic view of the Springs, and, more importantly, a sweeeet shot of Redford looking his environmental activist hottie best.

Ok, so after looking over this post, I gotta go back.


Blind Salamanders, make room!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

middle age sag


SAM gets a free pass for a year. All praise and no ragging. He saved my day. And I'm hoping, my back.

My lower back has been speaking to me again. After a morning at the grocery store, I bent over to pick up something off the floor and felt the twinge.

The pain isn't the thing. It's the fear.

Will I have to give up tennis? Will I be blogging from the floor for eternity?


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . "Can I see this in sleek and sexy, please?"


Will I miss time on the job? Will I be the one lieing on the couch while my patients sit in my roller chair? Will they care?


My job requires sitting long hours. So back injury wreaks havoc with my career, with my patients' treatment, with my finances - no sick leave or disability benefits in this psychologist's self-employment package.

Breathe deep. Fears aside. Focus on a solution.


I've been noticing that our $1800 latex mattress has been sagging. Waking up with back feeling achey again. Bought said mattress after a particularly lengthy and scary tennis injury two years ago. Stretched our budget in order to get proper support for my back. Guaranteed not to sag. Yada yada.


After this latest twinge, I just know it's the bed.

Spent all evening searching, searching, searching through the file cabinets, the clutter piles, the junk drawers for the warranty. Finding every focking receipt to every focking other purchase ever made, including the old mattress purchased 15 years ago, but not finding the warranty for this bed! Argh!

In a last, desperate, ditch effort, SAM looks under the bed.
The boxspring was bowing miserably. We take the bed apart. It's such a duckwad design, this twice-as-costly, firm support guaranteed for 27 years, bed. The boxspring is supported by two long skinny strips of wood running the length of the bed, head to toe.

Who engineered this? Four-feet-tall pygmies who sleep sideways?

............................. Chief Executive Officer,
............................ Pygmy Mattress Engineering, Inc.

So last night at 10:30pm SAM gets out his saw and three slats of 1 x 6 boards that happen to be in our garage (thank you, thank you), and on our driveway, under the light of the moon, he proceeds to cut the boards to fit across the bed frame.

And oh my goddess, what a difference! Support! I woke up feeling like a million bucks.

SAM called me this morning to check in and see how I slept.

As sweet as that is, I did not fail to note this certified middle age marker.

Phone calls no longer about "Was it good for you last night, too?"

It's now, "How's your back pain?"

Sunday, July 20, 2008

one, two, three ... drool

Are we all watching the fabulicious Greg Norman trying to win the British Open? He would earn the distinction of being the only man to win three British Opens in three different decades. He would also be the oldest man to win a major. But what is age, really, when you look this good?

He ended yesterday winning. He's slipping behind on the leaderboard, today. We must use our collective voodoo to nudge him onward.

He sure is a tall drink of water.

And the best part? He gives credit to his new bride. Is there anything more sexy than a man who truly appreciates the woman in his life? And talks about it in public? Swoon.

When I was in 9th grade, on the tennis team, I had a Chrissy Evert wooden racquet. The one with the long grip to accomodate her famous two-handed backhand.

I worked really hard on that backhand. I wanted to look just like Chrissy.

I've since gotten new racquets and I've pretty much dropped the two-handed backhand, but she's still my tennis idol.

So she and Greg together? Its almost better than being there.

rebate madness

I was dazzled by the promise of the rebate high. Yes, I'll take it, I told the cocky, condescending little (he weighed less than me) salesman. Yes, I'll copy my receipt right away. I'll mail in the rebate form without delay. All of the promises of redemption solemnly made by the rebate addict.

Of course, I didn't copy the receipt right away. It sat in my appointment book where the dreaded smudge occurred.

What is it with today's receipts? Printed on soft, shiny paper, the fragile figures smear and fade, so that come tax time all the important numbers have disappeared. Its a conspiracy, but by whom? And for what purpose, exactly?

The store logo is there, however. Indelible, for the world to see. How is that? They've somehow figured out how to leave their permanently legible, fireproof, will survive in a nuclear holocaust advertisement.

But I digress. The rebate form, also printed on this shiny paper, has two critically smudged numbers: the rebate number and the P.O. Box number where the form gets mailed for processing. I've heard it said, if one tiny number is incorrectly copied, NO REBATE FOR YOU, SUCK-UH!

So I spent the better part of my Saturday afternoon with my strongest reading glasses on, under the brightest reading lamp, trying unsuccessfully to deciper the smudged numbers. Got my son involved in the investigation with his perfect vision. Together we pieced together a few more numbers with a bit more clarity but not the whole series.

Panic rising, I then follow the "What to do if you have questions" portion of the form. It directs me to to the Office Despot website. Click on the supciously cheery link, "If you're looking for a mail-in savings form, you're in the right place."

More hard-to-read numbers are required: Product SKU, Model Number and Offer Number, none of which are labeled as such on the receipt. But I make a determined effort, tentatively plugging in scads of alpha-numerics. Press "SUBMIT" and .... The webmaster's reply: "No records were found that matched your request." Again and again, failed attempts to deliver the website generated mail in form. Arghghgh.

"This is exactly why they offer these %$^#$! rebates!" Says SAM.

"That and the corporate powers intend to keep consumers confused and sleep deprived so we'll hand over our credit cards without hesitation." Say I.

This image lifted from Tobiasly’s Blog, a fellow cynic who thinks Office Despot has a scam going.

So I've given up for now. Will follow SAM's advice to call the store and demand assistance from the rebate pusher.

And when I recover from yet another hangover? Rebates Anonymous for me. This time I really mean it.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

has she lost her mind

Or is she using excellent time management skills?

For the first and only time in my life, I seriously wished I had a camera phone yesterday. I was leaving my office parking lot. There in the late afternoon sun stood a woman behind her bright red, shiny pickup truck. The tailgate was down revealing a truckbed full of clean laundry. About two months worth, by my house standards. Ask me how I know what two months worth of laundry looks like.

What was she doing behind her red pick up, you ask?

Why, she was folding her laundry, of course.

That's right. Out of the back of her pick up.
I assume her husband or child was inside the building having a therapy session. And that she was making good use of the empty time that others of us might waste thumbing through Hollywood gossip magazines. Or programming our cell phones. Or staring at acoustic ceiling tiles.

After my initial shock and double take, I thought, that is one (brazen hussy) smart lady! She knows the secret of getting things done, no matter how (ridiculous) odd it appears or who sees her doing it.

The most original time saver I ever came up with occurred when I had infant twins and a three year old. I stopped folding my underwear. And pajamas. Straight into my dresser drawers they went. Who cares about wrinkly PJs? Who even saw my underwear anymore? Not very original, though, now really.

I also started wearing the same clothes two days in a row (underwear being the exception). Occasionally three days in a row when I managed to avoid baby spitup. Leaving the day worn clothes on a chair, waiting for the next day. No folding. No deciding what to wear. Two days for the price of one. But again, no originality. (I do occasionally still resort to the two-days-in-a-row clothes. Ok, I do it a lot now.)

I stopped shaving my legs. Not very sexy.

I also started carrying an empty basket around from room to room, alternating the picking up of stray items and the putting away, in their rightful place, of other stray items. A trick I still employ to this day (and am now the proud owner of three full baskets of stray items waiting months or years to be put in their rightful place). Maybe somewhat original but not terribly effective.

I suppose that's why I was so fascinated with the parking lot laundress. I'm no time manager. In fact, I am the master of taking 3 hours to do something that mere mortals can do in 3 minutes. Just ask SAM. He'll tell you.

Some call it procrastinating. I call it the fine art of piddling and dawdling. And now I call it blogging. Getting in touch with my inner writer (yeah, rrrrrrrrrright).

I am also the master of worrying way too much what others are thinking of me. I'm an unconventional thinker who behaves way too conventionally out of fear of disapproval.

So the folding laundry in the back of a pick up? Probably won't see me doing that. At least not in a red pick up. SAM's is white.

What creative time management inventions have you come up with lately?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

begging for mercy

I mentioned Duffy in an earlier post, here. I said I liked her sound and I hoped she makes it to the U.S. radio.

Well, she has. I heard this song on my kids' favorite pop station. When the kids say, "Mom, turn the radio to ---- " I used to cringe.

Not anymore.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

signs of old times

We visited my in-laws over the weekend. Whenever we get on the road headed in that direction, I start to think about my all-time-favorite hamburger joint, The Chicken Oil Company, located just up the road from Texas A&M University campus.

It was a gas station originally. Little by little, over a period of 40 years, sections and levels were added, all in keeping with the original "architecture" that would be officially known as as "old shack."

.....................Above the ordering counter, you can see the original exterior
........................shed roof that used to surround the old gas station.

These days it looks like it has served as a restaurant forever. Hundredss of authentic, rusty metal motor oil and gasoline signs dating back to the 1940's and 50's: Magnolia, Kendall, Havoline, Sinclair. Many, like this Mobil sign, located directly above a row of old leather saddles, seem to say don't get too comfortable. Your mode of transportation will become obsolete. With gas prices as they are, I sure hope so.

A taxidermist's dream, this place, with antlers and game mounted up high everywhere you look. Deer, elk, moose, buffalo, havalina, bob cats, jackalopes, raccoons, possums. They all look down, baptizing your meal with their silent gaze. I imagine they're thinking, if they have to end up stuffed on somebody's wall, "Chicken Oil" is a great place to hang.

And beer signs. Lots of beer signs.

License plates from all over the country are tacked up in a line on one wall, my favorite being the out of state glamour plates donning "Aggie," donated no doubt by some South Carolinian or Georgian who reluctantly surrendered their most public claim to their home state.

Then there's the beer can shelf housing every brand of beer can known to Texas, domestic and international. Or at least, every brand that can fit on the 20 x 8 feet of space allotted. In true Texas style, not too many international labels.

The tables, every last one of them, are covered in hand carvings: the traditional initials and sentimental "I heart Katies." But also state names such as MICHIGAN, first and last names in full. It's all sanctioned, encouraged in fact, by the owners. Each of my kids have their initials on a table, somewhere in the place. I can't remember which table, exactly.

We sat after our meal looking around while the kids played video games, digesting our lunch (thinking I could eat another burger!) and taking in the rustic details. SAM kept saying, "everytime I come here I see something different."

But when it comes to ordering, SAM and I always get the same thing: a burger and fries. Delivered in one of those cheap, colorful plastic baskets, lined with paper.

For my burger: mustard and pickles only. This time, however, I ordered mine a little different. Quite possibly a sign that I've finally and officially shed my northeast palate and exchanged it for true Texican: mustard, pickles and japs. Jalapeno peppers, that is. Lots of 'em. You're looking at SAM's burger, above, by the way. No lettuce and tomato on mine, thanks.

Here's a burger, below, (courtesy google) loaded with japs.

I wondered as I sat there looking around, why I like this beat up, dive of a burger joint so much. What is it about looking at all the old, in some cases forgotten memorabilia that I find so appealing? It shows that time is noone's friend, afterall. It shows us that in two generations, that which we know changes and disappears from the landscape. Not so pleasant to think about.

Maybe the answer has exactly to do with the rapidly changing times we live in. That it's comforting to be in the presence of familliar momentos, to surround ourselves with a roadmap of where we've been since we can't see the road to where we're going. Or maybe its the old memories these sights conjure up. Takes us back to simpler times. The Kendall motor oil sign, for example, reminds me of the auto parts store in my neighborhood when I was four years old. Big and round, it hung, suspended on a metal arch.

My older brother and I would walk down to the auto parts store, pennies in hand to put in the gumball machine. Nothing beat the clink of the coin, the turn of the metal dial, the anticipation, waiting to see which color would be delivered into our waiting hands, fingers curled just so to catch it, steady eye on that little trap door.

Or, maybe the answer has to do with the burgers. Plain and simple. Damn good burgers.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

answers at any hour

One of the things I love about "the internets" is the ready availability of answers. Answers in pictures, even. A virtual, day or night, daily updated encyclopedia.

Last night, for instance. I'm reading For Love, by Sue Miller. The heroine keeps mentioning the "porte cochere" on her neighbor's house. Its part of the story.

What the heck is a porte cochere?

I get out of bed. Sit at keyboard. Open Google. Type 12 letters in the long blank box. Hit return. Voila.

French for "coach door," it says. "The architectural term for a porch or portico-like structure at a main or secondary entrance to a building, through which it is possible for a horse and carriage or motor vehicle to pass, in order for the occupants to alight under cover, protected from the weather."

So one of those side-of-house car port thingies.

Oh, but wrong, continues my other late night resource, Wiki.

"Porte-cochères should not be confused with carports in which vehicles are parked; at a porte-cochère the vehicle merely passes through, stopping only for a passenger to get out."

So now I know.

Back to the story.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

complememing the meme

Laurie at three dog blog tagged me with ... drumroll ... my first meme! I'm obviously new at this or I wouldn't be excited. To be more accurate, this is the first meme I will have completed. I believe I was tagged first by
motherscribe with a six-word-meme. I had every intention of completing the meme (complememing?) but somehow I let the moment pass.

Five Blogs that Catch my Fancy. I chose the kind of blogs I went looking for when I first jumped into the blogosphere, just over six months ago. I hoped to commune with psychologists, therapists and therapy types. Not just blurbs about research and the like, but a mix of psychology, therapy, and self.

Here's my list in (more or less) alphabetical order.

alison at
woman and child first shares an inviting blend of psychology, art, music, and ..... in her words, the odd bathroom sink.

ann at eclectic blog is a therapist, photographer and mommy. Wonderful warm pics featuring her divine miss em.

health psych is an ussie psychologist who mixes good health news with music and funny videos, plus bits about herself and family.

slutty mcwhore Who is this brazen hussy? I had to know. A sex worker, she does a specialized brand of "therapy," many would say. Not your ordinary slutstress, she recently earned her masters degree while training for a marathon. She keeps it honest and real and insightful.

therapy doc at everyone needs therapy is a PhD social worker and family therapist. I was immediately drawn in by her blog name, being in complete agreement. Conflict of interest aside, of course. I keep going back for her wise professional insights and personal sentiments.

Note: When I first was trying to figure out what a meme was, I thought it was pronounced me-me. (Hint for newbies, it rhymes with theme).

Monday, July 07, 2008

good ole fashioned 4th

A neighbor threw a neighborhood wide 4th of July barbeque in his backyard. On his 3-drum bbq pit, he smoked four beef briskets, ten chickens, and "a whole lotta sausage." We neighbors brought side dishes.

The setting:

The participants:

The apparatus:

The fun:

The afterglow, gazebo style:

The neighbors who threw the bbq said, "All these years we've had that gazebo, nobody has ever used it."

I'd say we gave it the proper christening!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

should have stayed in bed

Took my kids on a mini-shopping trip to a local thrift store. In search of 4th of July goodies to decorate their bikes. Our 'hood has an annual kids-on-bikes parade. Way more fun than sitting curbside watching high school marching bands.

A little background. Yesterday my daughters and friends had a lemonade stand. Correction: a gatorade stand. They earned $49 thanks to a good marketing scheme (scrolls left on door knobs) and overly generous neighbors. So my daughter KAY stuffed her share into her new wallet. $13 worth of mostly quarters, dimes and nickels.

We entered the store, grabbed a cart, and away we browsed. Only we lost track of the cart. And the wallet went for a walk. We checked with the store manager. Nope. Noone had turned in a wallet. KAY was speechless for the second time in her life (the first time was when she nearly bit the end of her tongue off in a teeter-totter-gone-wild mishap).
She looked so hurt and deflated. I told her to think of it this way: The person who took what was obviously a child's wallet may have been poor and desperate. She may have been at her wit's end, unable to afford (her next crack fix) flip flops or a summer bathing suit for her daughter. So think of that $13 as a gift to some unknowing child.
To her credit and my relief, KAY brightened just a bit.
Then completely forgot about it by the time she filled up her Slurpee cup 15 minutes later.

En route to said Slurpee machine, more excitement. I see a handwritten note has been stuck under my windshield wiper. It's written on a piece of paper torn out from a check writing register and says:

To Whom May Concern:

I bumped into your car.
My name is D---- N-----.
Phone ---- -----
Geico Insurance Policy # ---------

Please call me so we can work this out.

So sorry.

We rush all around the car. We see a big scraping gash and dent along the back bumper and above the rear wheel well. Nothing major. But its not pretty either. Formerly dent free, it now looks like it has a sordid past.

But that note written by D---- ? It restored my faith. I will definately call her with a big thanks for her honesty. I want to reward her with a free pass. But SAM thinks otherwise. He's a man afterall. So annoyingly not prone to magnanimous gestures of gratitude.

Oh, so one more thing. Moments before I started typing this, I heard a loud CRASH. My son was working on a t-shirt sewing project. That crash was the sound of the sewing machine coming loose from its carrying case, arcing into space and flying onto the concrete floors. He SAYS "its just fine." In fact, I now hear him sewing. Ahh. Jangled nerves but false alarm.

But I think I'll go crawl under the covers anyway, just for added measure.
Update: SAM called the honest note writer five days later. She said, "Oh I didn't hear from you so I kind of hoped the wind blew the note away." Yup. Honest.

boy 2 girl


There was a guy in my hometown named Bobby who joined the cheerleading squad - as the mascot. He dressed up in a furry animal costume at football games and was voted as "most school spirit" by his high school classmates. He moved away shortly after graduating. Several years later he returned with a new name: Crystal.

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), transgender broadly refers to "anyone whose identity, appearance, or behavior falls outside of conventional gender norms."

More people are familliar with the term transsexual, which may describe Crystal. The APA defines transsexuals as "transgender people who live or wish to live full time as members of the gender opposite to their birth sex."

We typically hear news stories about adult transsexuals who have "transitioned" to the opposite sex,meaning they have undergone hormonal therapy and surgery in order to officially become and live as the gender of their choice.

The above photo is Mianne Bagger, a professional golfer who transitioned to a woman when she was 29 years old. She is the first (known) transsexual to play in a professional golf tournament.

What we don't hear much about is young children who solely identify with the opposite sex gender - young children diagnosed with Gender Identity Disorder, for example.

What happens when a young boy wants to wear dresses, play exclusively with dolls and other traditionally "girl" toys, and rejects typically masculine interests? Or a girl who insists she is a boy, who refuses to wear dresses, who wants only to play with the boys in her neighborhood, and who feels disgusted by the idea that she should "act more like a girl?" And what happens when parents pressure these kids to conform and they start acting out in extreme ways?

How do psychologists advise the parents of children such as these? Make the child give up their favorite toys and force them to conform? Or allow the child to go to school as the opposite sex gender?

According to a two-part news story aired by National Public Radio, each of these might be recommended, depending on which psychologist is consulted:

Part 1 : Two families, two treatments

Part 2 : Treatment to delay puberty

I occasionally treat people with transgender issues. I don't have an opinion as to which treatment is better for children, however. I think it is a highly individualistic decision that depends entirely on the child and the unique circumstances (as should all treatment decisions).

I do, however, have a wish. I wish that people could learn greater tolerance of gender identity differences. That little girls who want Tonka trucks are embraced. That boys who want to wear dresses, pink frills and tap shoes are accepted.

Maybe if society deemed gender as a fluid concept rather than a "set in stone" assignment, fewer parents would need to give hormones to their children. Fewer adults would feel the need to surgically alter their bodies.

Let boys be feminine. Let girls be masculine. It can all be good.

I know I'm looking at this in an overly simplistic way. I know it's idealistic. It won't solve every transgender problem, of course. But it sure couldn't hurt.

For a moving video clip on transgenderism, click here.

Have questions about gender identity and transgenderism? The American Psychological Association webpage answers some of them, here.

Thanks to feministgal for posting the links to this NPR piece

Side note: You probably noticed that my blog post just boomaranged from the rough and tumble rawhide story of Texas barbeque to accounts of boys who choose to live as girls. Please be tolerant. My blog is experiencing identity confusion.