I Can Bring Manufacturing Back! Now With Bacon!


Geniousness runs in (from?) our family. I, more than the others (whom I still love dearly), have blinding insights. How do I know that? When I share these insights, people close their eyes until I’m done speaking. (Note to reader: What follows is brilliance at it’s shiniest: if you close your eyes, you will miss the opportunity of a lifetime!) (Note to self: lay off the parentheses.)

After watching this video on TED about making plastic from waste materials and reading this article about harvesting stem cells from fat, I realized that I could bring manufacturing back to America.

Here is my big idea: Stem Cells from Waist Products!

I will build extra-large factories with individual work stations equipped with a recliner, remote control, large screen TV, and laptop.  Workers will have unlimited access to tastes-just-like-real-food stuff (now with extra bacon!). Their job will consist of just sitting and manufacturing future stem cells. Thanks to the food industry and their liberal use of corn syrup in 99.9% of all of those products they like to call food, we can create abdominal fat faster than you can spell triglycerides.

How are these jobs different from most other jobs? Well, sitting around in work stations talking, watching YouTube, and checking Facebook every 15 minutes will actually be in the job description. And, hold onto your love handles, it’s a renewable resource! (Look at me, all green and sustainable.)

Right now I’m working on some recruitment slogans:

  • Come Grow With Us
  • We Let Everything Go to Waist  – That’s the Way We Roll
  • Manufacturing is Back and It’s Big – You Can Be, Too
  • Flesh Out Your Future
  • Clean Your Plate and Dominate
  • Our Employees Have Nothing To Lose and Everything to Gain

I could go on, but I see that some of you have your eyes closed.

Thoughts on Writing


Writing is an exploration of the terrain of truth, and no one can anticipate its discoveries. It is a journey away from home, in search of home. Only those who travel the road know how lonely it can be.

Writing is both disrobing and dissembling. Above all, we seek to be known; and yet, our greatest fear is that people will see us as we really are.

Writing is a compulsion and a conviction entangled with the desire to have a voice that will not be silenced by death.

Writing is a setting out to sea. The sailor cuts loose the ropes and moves some small distance from the harbor, sails unfurled, only to find the winds have died down.

Writing is death. Long and protracted; blood, the only ink. Not writing is death. Quick but painful; the writer a mausoleum full of dead bones.

Writing is throwing stones across the lake. Some skip, some sink, but all cause a change, circle by circle, moving across the waters in the long, slow movement of thought.

Writing is a light that travels out into the darkness long after the flame is snuffed out.

Writing is the echo of the music after the last note is played.

Writing is a terrible struggle for affirmation. The writer is a small child who cries out, “Look at me!  Look at me!”  Sometimes no one looks or looks and says, “That? Anybody can do that, and I can do it better. Look at me!”

Writing is a willingness to lay down the desire for affirmation and serve the call to write. Even if this is foolish.

Lovesome Words: Feckless and Reckless


Searching but not in the junk drawer

Yearstricken:  I’m feeling feckless these days.

Husband: Have you looked in the junk drawer in the kitchen?

Yearstricken: You think it means I’ve lost something called a feck?

Husband: What else would it mean?

Yearstricken: Didn’t we have a similar conversation last year when I said your driving was reckless?

Husband: Yes, and I still can’t understand why you were upset. Most women would be happy that their husbands drive without wrecks. And why are you looking in the knife drawer? I said the junk drawer.


feckless: ineffective; incompetent

reckless: utterly unconcerned about the consequences of some action; without caution

Why I Will Never Say “Oh Shoot!” Again


While in exile, Ovid the Roman poet wrote:


The country here is grotesque, the people savage, the weather awful, the customs crude, and the language a garble. . . . [The people] all carry knives at their belts and you never know whether they’re going to greet you or stab you. . . .


Like you, when I first read this, I thought, “Whoa. He was exiled here in the States?” But as you know, just as many of his works are no longer extant, he himself is no longer extant. And considering the number of angry people out there, it’s amazing how many of us are still extant.


People seem to be getting stabbier. So you’ve got to wonder why here in Wisconsin, we are going to be allowed to carry concealed weapons at our belts or in our pockets or, for larger people, in our coin slots. November 1st we can all start carrying things that make us more confident and sure that we are right, and if you think differently, would you mind stepping over here. I have something to show you that will help you see my point: a gun, or as I like to think of it, a consensus builder. We are the 49th state to get in on all the fun of being not only belligerent, but also deadly. (The very reason I miss Texas so much.)


We are going to need new ways to describe new behaviors. Road rage is not enough. To save valuable time for the psychiatrists who will be defending all those shooters who were drunk and temporarily insane, and also were traumatized as children by clowns with inappropriately sized shoes (and, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, balloons!), I have created a list. I’m using bullets because that’s so apropos, and also fitting:


  • Avenue anger
  • Boulevard blowup
  • Freeway fury
  • Interchange ire
  • Underpass umbrage
  • Expressway exasperation
  • Street heat
  • Highway hotheadedness
  • Path provocation
  • Bicycling belligerence
  • Overpass outburst
  • Sidewalk surliness
  • Hall huffing
  • Roundabout rampage
  • Footpath frenzy
  • Pew pushing
  • Mall malice
  • Blog bulleting

Concealed weapon and concealed weaponer

F-word Fatigue (Part Two)


The F-word is getting old

When the f-word rode into town in the early 1960s on his Harley, with his leather jacket, and fresh tattoos, he was everybody’s darling. People just couldn’t get enough of him. He could take people’s breath away just by showing up in a book or on a stage and flexing his muscles.


Now he looks a lot like the late Elvis. The extra-wide seat on his Harley isn’t extra enough, and his skull tattoo that used to scare little old ladies is starting to look like Casper the Friendly Ghost. Worse yet, have you noticed how often he brings his mother with him when he makes his appearances? I mean, what other curse word does that? I can just hear all the other tough words saying, “Hey, Mr. F-word, where’s your mommy today?”


Eventually people are going to tire of him, and stop inviting him over. I won’t feel sorry for him though. He has a cozy retirement home waiting for him over at the OED.

F-word Fatigue (Part One)


Half a century ago, the Boomers (at that time more like little Poppers) came up with two culture-changing ideas: let it all hang out and tell it like it is. People today take this first idea way too literally. Have you seen how much is hanging out of people these days? We’re starting to look like a nation of vending machines what with our front and back coin slots.


We Poppers were young, hip, and oh-so-uncensored when we began telling it like it was. We needed the f-word in our shock and awe campaign to overthrow the establishment and bring peace, love, and drugs to the world. And did we ever bring the drugs. If you have enough of them, you really don’t care about the other two. Mission accomplished.


So, the f-word. Go here and type it in the search bar. You’ll see that after a bout of popularity in the 1800s, it went bankrupt, started hanging around sleazy bars, singing for food and sleeping in dark alleys. Now, it’s a celebrity, the kind who is famous for being famous. The kind whose face and body parts are plastered on every magazine in the checkout counter and who keeps appearing on the front pages of newspapers who should know better.


That’s why I have f-word fatigue. Every other noun, pronoun, verb, adjective, adverb, and interjection is being replaced by some form of this word. (Thankfully, no one uses it as a preposition or conjunction yet, but please keep this a secret, or it might change.)


In the future, will we all speak F, formerly known as English?  Or as they say in F: In the f, will f all f F, f-ly f-ed as English? This will cause people to run around saying WTF all the time, much like they do already. Maybe the future is already here and I just need new glasses.


Over half a million words are languishing in dictionaries, waiting for someone to adopt them. Do your part, take some home, put those puppies on a leash, and let them chew somebody’s leg or pee on their shoes. Or take pictures of them and post them on the internet. The f-word is a dog that has had its day. It’s time to put it down. 

My Grandchild is a Car Genius




The other day, in the car with the offspring of my offspring… (Kind reader, please step over here for a minute. Since the last offspring no longer lives at home, should we be saying “offsprung” instead? I thought so.)


The other day, in the car with the offspring of my offsprung, the small one said, “Grandma, look, there’s a Taurus.” All I could see were a bunch of those metal things on wheels that keep getting in my way.


“Over there,” the child pointed. And sure enough, after I pulled up close enough, I saw the word Taurus branded on its rump. (Did I tell you I’m from Texas?)


This small child, who cannot read yet, can point out a Taurus, a Mazda, a Supra, a Jeep Cherokee, and a Blazer. Just by looking! See what I mean about the genius part?


Once when I took my car in for some repairs, the man at the counter asked me what kind of car I drove. I thought it was a trick question. I do not follow my car to work, so I am not familiar with what is written on the back of it. I said, “I think it’s a Buick,” but that didn’t sound right. Then I said, “I think it’s in the same family as the Grand Am, but it is not a Grand Am.” He looked at me strangely and said, “That’s okay, lady. I’ll go outside and look.”


I have only three questions when it comes to cars:


  1. Does this car make me look fat?
  2. Does it have a heater?
  3. Does it have an air conditioner?
  4. Does it have a radio?


Okay, that’s four questions, but the first one goes without saying, right.

Descartes at 30: I think, therefore I am; Descartes at 60: I age, therefore I melt


Student: Teacher, I like your turtleneck. Is it one of those new scrunchy kinds?

Yearstricken: (Places hands on throat – her own, not the student’s) I’m not wearing a turtleneck. And student, this is not the way to an A.

Student: Does teacher want chocolate?

Yearstricken: Yes, very dark, on the bitter side.

As the student walks away, Yearstricken thinks she hears the student mutter, “Like teacher?”

This exchange is almost true: Yearstricken loves dark chocolate; her students know this. And her face is starting to melt. Her cheeks are starting to hang off her face. People call them jowls. This makes Yearstricken scowl, howl, growl and make rhymes. A lot of her face is melting down her neck, but it has nowhere to go because her shoulders are in the way. Her skin is puddling there.

(Time out for dark chocolate.)

Hi, I’m back and speaking in the first person again. Chocolate helps me that way. One of my recurring dreams is that I can fly. By merely raising my arms, I can lift off and fly all around the dream universe. After watching those videos where people in wingsuits jump off mountains and fly, I realize that these dreams are prophetic and I’ve been preparing all my life to jump off mountains and fly, but without the wingsuit. My arms are ready, very flappable, that is, able to flap. In fact, I could go as a bat on Halloween if I painted them black.

So, where does Descartes come into all this? He watched a candle melt and developed an entire system of knowledge, how we know that we know what we know. He was a very knowing man. He called it the Wax Argument and in his book, Meditations, he includes this line: The wax can be extended in ways that I cannot accurately imagine.

The Wax Argument - I age, therefore I melt

Really, that’s what he said. I cannot make up things like that.

If Descartes had made it to 60 (he died at age 56), I have no doubt he would have made the connection to that candle and the way people melt as they age. Also, he would be amazed at the ways in which my candle is extending. If he were here, I’m sure he’d thank me for making all this clear.

To All the Real Mothers Out There


Both of my children are adopted.  Our first-born is now our second child, and our second child is the first-born. It’s okay if you need to re-read the last sentence. When you give birth to children, this kind of thing is impossible; the rules are fixed. With adoption, there are no formulas. Birth order in an adopted family is based on when the child is birthed into your family.

Let me explain. Our youngest was adopted first. The second day after the birth, my husband and I went to the hospital to get our first-born child. The birth mother chose us to be the adoptive parents after viewing a group of portfolios she was given by the adoption agency.  I suppose, for precision’s sake, we could call her the birth-to-the-second-day-mother, which would make me the third-day-on-mother, but I ‘ll talk more about names in a moment.

When we arrived at the obstetrics ward, we met not only the birth mother but her mother and grandmother as well. No one could speak. Our nervous smiles held back the wild joy we felt; their smiles held back a fierce pain. When that young woman placed her baby in my arms, the pronouns all changed, and every one of us began to cry. We stood in a circle, each struck dumb in different ways. Only the social worker could speak, so she offered a prayer.

Normally, even in adoptive families, people do not  upset the chronological birth order, but we did. The first child was three when we adopted the second who was five. Some things are more important than birth order, like love.

We were living in Okinawa, the southernmost prefecture of Japan, when we found out about our second child.  We had to travel  the full length of Japan to an orphanage in Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost prefecture. We never met the birth mother.

From the beginning, both children knew that they were adopted. We were careful to use the proper terms and explain that they had a birth mother and a birth father, but now we were their mommy and daddy, and we loved them very much.

What are we three mothers involved in these children’s lives to call ourselves? Birth mother fits the other two women, but then what am I, the “after birth mother” (too messy), or the “life mother” (more appropriate for a goddess), or simply “mother” (what I generally use.)

The word that has been raising its hand and waving it wildly in order to get our attention is  that four-letter word, “real,” as in, “Will the real mother, please stand up.”  If by this term we mean the woman who carried the child and gave birth, no small gift, then I am not the real mother. Each of us can have only one of those. The two women who gave life to my children are real mothers who physically sheltered and nurtured them nine months, and then willingly went through the pain of childbirth knowing they would release these beautiful babies to strangers. They were, and are, much more than mere incubators of my joy. Only those who are real can pay such a price.  I love and appreciate these mothers though one I have never met one and the other only once for a few minutes.

It is difficult for our language to accommodate the idea that children can have two real mothers. In the plainest use of  language, it is contradictory. Two parallel lines can never intersect, something we’ve known since Euclid. In an Euclidean grammar, the lines are clearly drawn: there can be only one real mother, and the other must be the birth mother or the adoptive mother, depending on who claims the title of “real.”

There is a geometry besides Euclid’s, however, where these parallel lines do not exist. In elliptical geometry, all lines on a sphere eventually meet. I choose to use a grammar based on that, so I can say without hesitation that there can be two real mothers–the one who gave birth and the one who adopted.


“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

“I suppose you are real?” said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive.

But the Skin Horse only smiled.

(from The Velveteen Rabbit)

Northeast Wisconsin: Serving America


As you know, America has been steadily losing manufacturing jobs to not-America, where they seem to make everything cheaper and better.

But here in northeastern Wisconsin, we are doing something about that. We are showing those not-Americans! Oh sure, they can and do make dumb waiters (who talk funny), but we can make them dumber! And ours speak English, kind of.

Stand up, America, and be proud. Then sit down and let us serve you.

P.S. You know all those people whose elevators do not go all the way to the top? We do that here, too! You’re welcome.