Saturday, June 27, 2009
About this blog. . .

Back in 2005 I started blogging stories about my life--from growing up with my little sister after our parents had died, to being a divorced mom raising two kids of my own, to finally finding love after 40 and moving to the west coast.

The stories are mostly funny, a couple are a little sad, and all of them are very personal. I met a lot of lovely people through this blog and had many laughs here. Even though I haven't written new entries in a long time, Looking Glass Houses is still special to me and will remain here.

If you're looking for me these days you can reach me at www.junokughler.com where I am usually working on my newest passion--pencil painting.

Thanks for stopping by. Juno
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Wednesday, September 14, 2005
A Magical Childhood
A photo collage collection for my sister Iris, who still remembers. . .



Strange things happen to children who lose their mother at an early age.

They gain the gift of magic.

Any fairy tale will back me up on this. Look at Cinderella, Snow White, Vassalisa, or even the Goose Girl. It was the magic left to them by their mothers that allowed them to overcome the horrors and adversity they faced in their lives. It was the magic that protected them until they could unfold into the strong and graceful women they truly were.

So when our mother died, it was only natural that the magic would come to my sister and I.

We never had to think about it really. We just knew.

And the magic was never stronger than when we shared our dreams . . .



Each night the snowy owl would appear at our window, ready to take us to the in-between world, the place where "let's pretend" becomes reality. . .



We ran with the wild ponies in sunlight meadows, strong and untamed . . .



We searched for frog princes and played with the fairy folk in the woods. . .



We sang mermaid songs and hid among the water lilies, splashing in the cool water of our secret garden. . .



We made a nest out of ivy, and spent a lazy afternoon nibbling on acorns and sipping honeysuckle blossoms. . .



We chased fireflies in the twilight and danced with the mysterious King of Cats. . .



We called on the Greek gods and they answered. They kissed us, cuddled us, and delighted in our wild games . . .



We looked for the Mother in all her forms and dreamed of one day becoming Queen of the May . . .



The whistle of the trains tugged at our imaginations. We whispered our secret plan to become hobos, hopping boxcars from one town to the next. . .



To combat the scary times, we created friends to come rescue us. Jane and the hippies would appear, laughing, to gather us up and take us on a new adventure. . .


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Monday, September 05, 2005
Why Moms Hate to Shop with Kids

I pulled back the dressing room curtain. "You don't happen to have these jeans with a 34" inseam do you?" I asked hopefully.

The attendant shook her head. "No, I'm sorry. The longest we carry is 32."

I sighed. "Figures."

I hate shopping for clothes. I'm so unproportioned. My legs end where most girls' waists begin.

My son cocked his head, considering. "Those look nice mom."

I looked ruefully at my ankles. "If I wanted to go puddle-jumping maybe."

He giggled.

"Be right back." I disappeared into the dressing room.

Brian sat down on the bench outside the door, swinging his legs.

"I bet if you had beds in these dressing rooms, you'd sell a lot more jeans," he told the attendant.

The woman looked puzzled. "Why?"

Brian shrugged. "So people can lie down to zip up their pants. That's what my mom does."

"Brian!" I growled warningly from behind the curtain.

"She's not my real mother, you know" he continued conversationally.

"Really." The clerk smiled at him.

"Nope. She's not. My real mother is Tina. She's the queen of Mars, and she only wears purple polka dot dresses."

"Is that a fact?"

Brian nodded. He leaned forward confidentially. "You see there was a big war on Mars so my mom sent me to Earth in a rocketship to protect me. She's going to send for me later."

"I see." The woman sounded amused.

"Wanna see the scar on my chin from when I fell down and cut it open? The doctor had to use six stitches."

"Wow! Did it hurt a lot?"

"Yeah. My mom and my sister had to sit on me to hold me down so the doctor could sew it up. It's okay now though."

"Well, I'm glad it's all better," said the clerk kindly.

"Me too. I don't like hospitals much. Mom almost had to take her best friend to the rug burn unit last night--"

I threw back the curtain and grabbed my son firmly by the hand.

"Out. Now."

Brian grinned up at me and waved goodbye to the attendant.

"That's quite a boy you have there," she said , smiling.

"Yeah," I told her grimly. "I get that a lot."
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Sunday, September 04, 2005
Dating and The Single Mom
Dating is more involved when you're a single mom. You tend to be a lot more cautious and very selective about whom you bring into your family circle. Then, of course, the man has have the patience and humor to survive the pre-date child interview:


"So," Brian said seriously. "You want to take out our mom?"

"Yes," Paul looked amused. "I thought I'd take her out to dinner tonight if that's okay with you."

"Where are you taking her?" Amber asked.

"Sweet Baba's--it's a gourmet pizza restaurant that just opened."

"Well she does like pizza," Brian offered helpfully. "But I think she likes Chucky Cheese better. They have games and stuff too. Only last time we were there she got stuck in the ball tent and the people had to pull her out."

"That's cause you were hiding under the balls, and she got worried," Amber told her brother. "She was scared you couldn't breathe."

Paul laughed.

"Can you cook?" Brian asked curiously.

"I can cook a little. I make great hamburgers, and I've been known to make some killer chocolate chip cookies."

"Mom doesn't cook very well," Amber confided. "Sometimes when we go to parties she buys cookies or cake from the store and wraps them in aluminum foil and pretends she baked them."

Brian made a face. "Yeah. And she's always trying to make us eat healthy stuff like whole wheat bread or Toe Food."

"It's not Toe Food. It's tofu."

"Whatever. It's gross."

They sat quietly for a minute.

"Do you think our mom's pretty?" Amber asked.

"I think she's very pretty."

"She gets weird about that sometimes. Thinking she's fat and all. She's already changed dresses three times tonight."

"Yes," Brian nodded wisely. "She didn't like the blue one because she said it made her look lopsided."

"Brian!"

"Well she did!"

Amber shook her head. "Mom's going to kill you," Amber told her brother. "You know that right?"



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Friday, September 02, 2005
Vampire Juno
When I was about eight-years-old, I had my little sister convinced I was a vampire. It was during my Barnabas Collins period. I used to sneak into the den every day after school to watch Dark Shadows, the popular monster soap opera. If my aunt had ever caught me I would have been beaten within an inch of my life. I didn't care though. I was addicted.

It was October, and I had gotten a pair of plastic vampire teeth from the Halloween party we had at school. When I got home I put them in and practiced my best vampiric hiss in front of the mirror, opening my eyes wide and baring my teeth--just like I had seen Barnabas do a milllion times. It looked amazing. Very real. Excellent. Pocketing the teeth, I went off in search of my little sister.

Iris was sitting on the floor of her bedroom, dressing her Malibu Barbie. I settled into the corner and pretended to read. She ignored me. Pulling my face into the most mournful expression I could think of, I sighed dramatically. I peered over the top of my book at my sister. She was brushing Barbie's hair into a ponytail. This was going to require more drastic measures.

I let out a strangled sob and hid my face in my book. Iris looked up, startled.

"What's wrong?"

My lip trembled bravely. "Nothing."

That got her attention. We always told each other everything. "Come on, Juno. Tell me."

"I can't!" I told her, blinking back real tears. "It's just too awful. If anyone ever found out . . ."

She scooted across the floor and put her arms around me. "I won't tell," she promised. "Really I won't."

Taking a deep breath, I looked her in the eye. "I'm a vampire."

My sister punched me in the arm. Hard.

"OW!!!!!"

"That's for making me all worried. You're just mean!" She tossed her head and went back to her Barbie.

"But I really AM a vampire," I wailed piteously. "I am so scared, Iris! Do you think I wanted this? Do you think I want to be a bloodsucking monster with an insatiable thirst, always afraid I am going to destroy the ones I love?" Barnabas had made that speech just last week.

Iris looked at me skeptically. "Yeah, right."

"I AM!" I choked, tears streaming down my cheeks.

Her eyes narrowed. "Prove it. Show me."

I stared at her in horror. "I can't! I might hurt you!"

"I'll take my chances."

"You don't understand," I told her earnestly. "Once I transform, I'm not me anymore. I'm a monster. And I have absolutely no control over what I do. I could kill you."

"Are you going to do it or not?" Iris asked pointedly.

I sighed heavily. "Fine. I'll do it. But let's go out in the hall. You have to promise me that once I change, you'll run in your room and lock the door so I won't hurt you. Whatever you do, DON'T LET ME IN! Got it?"

"Fine."

We walked out into the hall together.

Iris folded her arms across her chest. "Well?"

"It takes a minute," I told her.

Suddenly I arched my back, grabbing my throat. I twisted and clawed at myself, letting out strangled cries, seemingly in agony from the throes of transformation. It must have been impressive because my sister began to look scared and stepped back a bit. Finally I turned my head to the side and slipped the teeth into my mouth. I whipped back towards her, wild-eyed and hissing.

Iris screamed. She ran into her room and slammed the door, locking it behind her.

I rattled the handle. "LET ME IN!" I roared threateningly. "I must drink your BLOOD!" I could hear her breathing heavily on the other side of the door.

I fumbled in my pocket and pulled out a hairpin I kept there for just this sort of emergency. Sticking it in the hole of the doorknob, I popped the lock and threw open the door. Iris shrieked and dove under the bed.

Unfortunately it was a very low bed, and she got stuck about halfway under. When she realized what had happened, she began wriggling like crazy , screaming for help at the top of her lungs. I heard footsteps in the hall and quickly slipped the teeth back into my pocket.

"What is going on in here?" my aunt shouted, running into the room. "Why is she screaming?"

I shrugged innocently. "I'm not sure. I heard her yelling and came in to see what was going on."

My aunt went over to the bed and started tugging on Iris's legs. My sister shrieked louder and tried to kick her.

"Stop that this minute, young lady!" With a good hard yank, she popped Iris out from under the bed frame. "What 's wrong with you?" she demanded.

"Juno's a vampire!" Iris howled hysterically. "She's going to suck my blood!"

Aunt Fran looked at me accusingly.

"I have no idea what she's talking about." I looked at Iris, concerned. "Did you have a bad dream or something?" I asked kindly.

My sister glared at me.

Fed up, my aunt grabbed me by the arm and began whacking me. "I don't know what you did, but I know you instigated this. Your sister isn't smart enough to think up this stuff by herself."

Iris watched in satisfaction, only slightly offended by Aunt Fran's comment. My butt hurt for an hour after that, but it was worth it.

Barnabas would have been proud.

Footnote: I called Iris on the phone and told her that I had written a story about the time I had her convinced I was a vampire. After a brief silence, she asked dryly, "which time?."
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Thursday, September 01, 2005
Do one brave thing today--then run like hell!


Got this in my email today. Rich says it reminds him of someone. Can't imagine who.
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Tuesday, August 30, 2005
The Meeting
Back when I was managing the New Age Bookstore, my friend Steve and I were supposed to get together to develop an outline for a project we were presenting to a group. Steve had a great sense of humor and was a lot of fun brainstorm with. We'd already batted around a few really excellent ideas we were both excited about.

Since my ex was unexpectedly taking the kids for an overnight, I decided to leave Steve a message to see if he might be free to meet. About five minutes later he called me back at work.

"Hi Juno, I got the message you wanted me to call."

"Hey Steve. Thanks for getting back to me so fast. I was wondering if you might be free tonight to go over some of the things we talked about in a little more detail. Maybe like around 7:00?"

"Sure. I suppose I can do that."

"Great," I said happily. "Want to meet at your place or mine?"

He hesitated. "Ummmmm . . . your place I guess."

"That probably works best anyway since I have the apartment to myself. This way we won't be interrupted. I can even order in some Chinese food for us."

"Okay."

"I 'm really excited," I told him. " I have some new ideas I want to try out on you.

"Sounds cool."

"I think you'll like them. I figured we can try them out one on one first and then maybe do it in a group next week. . . are you still there? You're awfully quiet."

Steve cleared his throat. "I'm here."

"Good. Okay then." I gave him directions to my apartment. "I'll catch you later."

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

"Juno, you have a call on line 1," my assistant manager called across the store.

"Got it--thanks." I picked up the receiver. "Hello, this is Juno. How can I help you?"

"Hey Juno. It's Steve. I got your message."

I sat down heavily into my chair and stared at the phone.

"Juno? Are you there?"

"I'm here." A queasy lump had formed in my stomach and was moving up to my throat.

"So what did you need, lady? Your wish is my command."

I swallowed hard. "Steve, you didn't call here about an hour ago did you?"

"Huh?" he asked, puzzled. "No, I just got in the door. Why?"

I couldn't figure it out. "Because I just had a phone conversation with a 'Steve.' I thought it was you."

"Nope, not me. Any idea who it was?"

I groaned. "No. But whoever it was now has directions to my apartment and is meeting me there at 7:00."

Steve laughed. "That could be interesting."

"Oh shut up and let me think." Nervously I began fiddling with the sheafs of papers on my desk, trying to calm down. Suddenly, I froze.

"Oh God! I know who it was." I stared at the resume in my hand.

"Who?" my friend asked curiously.

"I've been running interviews for a new sales clerk all week. I finally picked out this one guy and had left him a message to call me so I could offer him the job."

"Let me guess. His name was Steve?"

"Uh huh." Horrified, I replayed the conversation back in my head. "This is very bad. Oh my God, I am so screwed! Taken out of context it sounds like I'm asking him to have sex with me in exchange for me hiring him!"

"Wow! Do you sexually harrass all your employees?"

"It's not funny Steve! This is so embarrassing! I better go. I have to call this guy up and explain what happened and hope he understands."

"Good luck. Let me know what happens."

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

"Steve? This is Juno from the bookstore."

"Oh. Hi again."

"I wanted to call and apoligize to you. I am so sorry." I took a deep breath and explained the whole situation to him. "So you see, it was a simple case of mistaken identity."

Steve laughed. "So I don't need to come to your house tonight?"

"God no! I mean, that's not necessary. This is SO embarrassing. Lord only knows what you thought of me!"

He was still laughing. "It did actually sound like you were propositioning me. And then when you talked about going one on one this week and then doing it with a group the next week, you made me a little nervous. But I really wanted the job so I was going to go along with it."

I blushed furiously. "I am so sorry. I'm really a nice woman, and I don't go around trying to get strangers to come home with me--especially potential employees. Trust me on this one."

"It's okay," he said kindly. "What the heck. It actually makes a pretty funny story."

"Thanks," I said, relieved.

"While I've got you on the phone, can I ask you a question?"

"Sure."

"Did I get the job?"

I laughed. "Yes you did. That's why I had left the message for you."

"And I don't have to sleep with the boss?"

"Nope." Thank goodness he had a sense of humor!

"Good. 'Cause I'm gay and it might have been a little awkward."

Both of us lost it at the same time. I laughed so hard I could hardly hold onto the phone. "Come on by the store around 10:00 on Monday, and we'll get you started," I told him when I could finally catch my breath.

"Will do. And Juno? Thanks."

"No problem, Steve. Thank YOU!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

You know, it's incidents like these that give a good girl a bad reputation!

My husband Rich proofs all my stories for me. He pronounced this one "typical Juno". This kind of stuff happens to me all the time. He suggested that maybe I should start getting more details about a situation before I jump in. I told him I thought I HAD the details! Oh well. . .
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Monday, August 29, 2005
Who Is The Alpha Dog?





"If that dog does not stop chasing my cats, she has got to go," my husband insisted. "I am NOT going to have them constantly in hiding because they are too terrified to move."

"I know," I admitted miserably. "I feel terrible too. I've even been doing some research to find out what obedience trainers have to say about it."

"And?"

"And they say that you have to establish yourself as the Alpha Dog in the household."

Rich looked at me blankly. "How exactly are you going to do that?"

"Next time I catch her going after one of the cats, I'm going to roll her over and grab her neck in my teeth."

"You're going to bite the dog?" my husband asked, genuinely startled.

"Of course not," I said indignantly. "I'm just going to assume the alpha position."

Rich raised a brow and his lips twitched.

"Ahem!" I looked at him sternly. "I meant I'm going to take on the dominant role."

"Really?" he grinned evilly.

"Don't even go there, buddy. Anyway, maybe it will work. I just have to catch her in the act."

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Five minutes later I got my chance. Rich and I were in our room when we heard a scuffle outside the door followed by hissing, yowling, and growling.

"PHOEBE, NO!!!!!" I yelled, running to break it up. The cat escaped and fled down the stairs.

The dog guiltily flipped on her back in submissive pose, her brown eyes apologetic. I fell to my knees and, baring my teeth, growled at her and clamped my mouth around her throat.

She licked my face, wagging her tail.

"She doesn't seem very afraid of you," my husband observed.

I released her neck and sat back on my heels. "I thought I was very fierce actually." I said, disappointed. "Didn't you think I looked fierce?"

Rich considered. "You definitely had a wild look about you. The growling thing was a nice touch."

"Thanks."

Phoebe put her paws on my shoulder and began cleaning my face. "Cut it out!" I wrinkled my nose and pushed her away. She trotted over to her pillow and curled up, watching us both. "You're still a bad dog." I told her.

I looked at Rich and sighed. "What now?"

"I don't know, hon. Let's just keep trying to work with her a little longer and see what happens."

Phoebe just closed her eyes and snuggled in for an afternoon nap. Alpha Dog One and Alpha Dog Two were really quite nice, she decided sleepily. But they really don't know the first thing about cats.
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Saturday, August 27, 2005
Why Children Should Not Be Movie Reviewers


Victor and I sat at the kitchen table talking and sipping tea, when Brian trotted into the room. To Victor's amusement, my son climbed up into his lap and helped himself to a cookie.

"Whatcha talking 'bout?" he asked, his mouth full of chocolate chips.

"Chew with your mouth closed," I told him automatically.

Brian looked baffled. "It IS closed. But I have to open it when I talk."

"Well, swallow your food first and THEN talk."

My son shot me one of his grownups-are-weird looks and swallowed. He took another bite of cookie. "So whatcha talking 'bout?"

Victor laughed.

I gave up. "Movies. We're talking about movies we've seen."

"Momma got me a movie the other day about Robin Hood."

"Did you like it?" Victor asked.

Brian nodded.

"Well, what was it about?"

"It was about this guy who wants to go to Texas."

Victor and I exchanged puzzled looks.

"Honey, you must be thinking of a different movie," I told him.

Brian shook his head indignantly. "No I'm not! It was about this sheriff who wants to go to Texas and Robin Hood won't let 'em."

"Maybe he's mixing up two different movies?" Victor suggested.

Brian looked from one to the other of us, completely exasperated. "I am NOT mixing up movies. Don't you remember, Momma? The sheriff kept riding through the towns saying 'Texas, Texas. I need money for Texas.' But then every time he got some money for the trip, Robin Hood took it away from him so he never got to go."

Dumbfounded, I stared at my son then started to laugh. Victor just howled. Brian watched us as though we'd lost our minds. "What's so funny?"

Victor wiped his eyes. "You know, it's actually a whole other movie when you look at it that way."

I gasped for breath. "Sort of makes you feel bad for the poor sherriff."

Brian nodded sagely. "Yes. Nobody else liked Texas very much."

It was quite some time before Victor and I were able to speak again.
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Friday, August 26, 2005
The Matchmakers


I was cutting the kids a slice of chocolate cake when the phone rang.

"Hello?" I said, propping the phone between my chin and shoulder and handing the children their plates.

A man's voice came through the phone line. "Hi. Is this Juno?"

"Yes. Who's this?"

"This is Phil."

I hesitated, puzzled. "I don't know any Phil."

He laughed. "I'm the guy that pumped your gas this afternoon. Your son gave me your business card and told me to call you. He thinks you need to get out more."

"He WHAT?!?"

The kids were watching me with interest. I put my hand over the receiver. "Brian, did you give some strange man my business card and tell him to call me?" I whispered furiously.

Brian suddenly decided he had eaten quite enough chocolate cake and quickly excused himself from the table. Amber covered her mouth and started giggling. Great.

"You have quite a little guy there, " the man went on. "He's really bright for his age."

"He certainly is." I was going to have a very long talk with the little Einstein as soon as I got off the phone.

"So how are you?"

"I'm fine. Listen Phil, this is a little awkward. It was very nice of you to call, but I'm really not interested in dating anyone right now."

Brian stuck his head around the corner and peeked at me. I pantomimed a swat on the bottom, and he disappeared again.

I could hear the amusement in Phil's voice. "I can understand that. Still, every mom needs to get out and have fun every once in a while. How about I take you bowling this Saturday--no strings attached?"

"I don't bowl," I said automatically. Amber tugged urgently on my shirt."Sorry Phil, can you hang on a minute please?" I held the phone to my chest. "What?" I asked my daughter.

"Ask him to take you bumper bowling, Mom," my daughter offered helpfully. "Even YOU could do that."

Laughter poured out of the receiver. Figures he'd hear that.

"I really don't think this is a good idea," I said into the phone.

"I'm sure I could arrange for a bumper lane if you want."

"Very funny."

The man simply refused to take no for an answer. "Come on," he wheedled charmingly. "We can take the kids with us. They'll have a blast, and I'd really enjoy the company."

Brian had tiptoed back into the kitchen and was whispering wildly back and forth with his sister. They stopped when they caught me looking, faces wide with innocence. I drew my finger across my throat meaningfully.

"I don't know anything about you," I pointed out.

"What would you like to know? I'm funny, charming, and not too hard on the eyes I guess. I have a steady job, like kids, cook a mean steak, and I never leave the toilet seat up. I've never gotten a ticket or been in trouble with the cops--although I came close the time I was almost caught rolling Susie Hamell's yard when I was twelve."

I laughed.

"See?" he said. "You like me already."

"Can they really arrest you for rolling a yard?" I grinned, despite myself.

"Well, it was a bit more complicated than that. My friend Billy's dad had a carton of pink toilet paper he'd picked up on remainder somewhere. Once we felt pretty sure the family was asleep and it was safe, Billy and I started tossing something like 20 rolls all over the trees and bushes. It was a beautiful sight. Then we almost got caught by one of the neighbors who was out walking his dog, so we ran all the way home. The only problem was, we didn't count on it raining that night. The next morning Mr. Hammell came out to find that his yard, his driveway, and the roof of his shed had turned bright pink."

"Oh no!"

"Uh huh. Luckily he was able to get rinse most of it off with the hose. And since Billy and I managed to get away, my record is clear."

"Glad to hear it."

"So," he continued smoothly. "Should I pick you up about 1:00 on Saturday?"

"You just don't give up, do you?"

"Nope. I'm stubborn that way. How about this? You think on it a bit, and I'll give you a call tomorrow. I promised my mom that I would treat her to dinner tonight so I'd better head on over there now. If you like I can have her call you and reassure you that I'm not an axe murderer or anything."

"I really don't think that's necessary . . ."

"Good it's settled then. I'll give you a call tomorrow. Bye Juno." Click.

I stared at the receiver, still not quite sure what had just happened.

I hung up the phone and looked around for the kids. I found them curled up on the living room couch watching TV.

"Okay. Hand 'em over."

They looked at me, puzzled.

"Hand what over?" Brian asked.

"My business cards. I want you to give them to me right now. "

Reluctantly Brian reached into his pocket and pulled out a stack of cards held together with a ponytail elastic.

"Thank you. I don't know what you were thinking of, but you can't just go around handing out information like that to strange men. You know better than that. "

"He wasn't strange--he was funny and nice!" Amber piped up.

Brian nodded his agreement. "Yeah. I mean it's not like I give 'em to everybody. Only the really cool people."

"I don't care. I do not want you to go around asking men to date your mom! Not only is it extremely dangerous, it's downright embarrassing!" A thought struck me. "Exactly how many of my cards did you guys give out.?"

The kids exchanged looks.

"Well, there was the cash register guy at the grocery store," Amber offered.

"He's a TEENAGER!" I exploded.

"He was cute though," she insisted. "And you're always saying age doesn't matter."

"Well it does if you're old enough to be the kid's mom!" I sighed. "Who else?"

"The pizza guy downstairs. . ."

"The guy at the laundrymat. . . "

"The old man who runs the movie theater. . ."

I put my face in my hands and groaned. This was not good.

"They all thought you were really pretty," Brian offered helpfully.

Great. Just great.

"Listen, I know you two meant well but you have to promise me not to do anything like this again. I mean it. I don't like you talking to strangers without me present. Understand? And I am perfectly capable of choosing for myself what people I want to go out with."

The kids looked at each other doubtfully.

"I mean it guys! No more handing out business cards or trying to set me up. Got it?"

Amber shrugged. "Fine."

"Brian?"

"Okay, okay! I promise."

Looking back, I should have made sure his fingers weren't crossed behind his back. And I definitely should have remembered to check his secret stash under his bed. . .
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Thursday, August 25, 2005
The Mask


I have a very hard time getting my kids to take me seriously. Brian says it's because of all the practical jokes I played on them when they were growing up. Amber says it's because I've done so many weird things in my life that nothing suprises them anymore. For my part, I think they have just become way too conservative and lack imagination.

Most of the time I like to think I've been a fairly good mom, loving, kind, wise and so on--the mom who packed a healthy lunch for her kids, took them to plays and museums, read them stories, and attended PTA meetings.

Then there is the other mom who thinks farts are funny, sees nothing wrong with hanging a nude portrait of their grandmother in the living room , and won't hesitate to buy good art supplies but thinks brand name clothing is a waste of money. This is also the same mom who innocently suggested to her horrified six year old that he wear his sister's underpants when he ran out of clean underwear for school.

My husband says I remind him of a bad child who can't resist the opportunity to pull some crazy stunt. I prefer to think of it as having an "inspired moment."

Take for example the time I decided to use one of those clear, peel-off facial masks to clean my pores. Having waited for ten boring minutes for the stuff to dry, I came up with a brilliant plan.

"Brian!?" I called frantically.

A head poked around the bathroom door. "Yeah, mom?"

"Come here a minute. I need you to take a look at something."

Brian cautiously entered the bathroom. "What is it?"

I ran my hands over my face."God, Brian, I'm so scared. I think there's something wrong with my face. Please, can you take a look at it for me?" My eyes welled up with tears.

My son came a little closer. "What's wrong with it?" he asked suspiciously.

"It's my skin," I wailed. "I think it's coming off. Look!"

To Brian's utter horror I peeled off a huge strip of the clear facial mask. He screamed and backed away, his arms flailing and his legs sort of running place.

"Help me," I wailed piteously pulling off another chunk off my cheek for dramatic effect.

"MOM! You're losing your skin! Oh my GOD!" His voice rose in panic, and he looked around frantically for help. "Should I call 911 or the doctor or something? I think you should go to the hospital!" He hopped first on one foot then the other, torn between fascination and fear.

I couldn't hold back any longer and started laughing. My son stared at me as though I had lost my mind. When I regained enough control to show him the tube of facial mask, he was thoroughly disgusted and stomped out of the room. To this day he has absolutely no sympathy for any physical ailment I might have. He says he figures it's karma coming back to get me.

Personally, I think he's just annoyed he hadn't come up with the idea first.
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Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Sounds From Another Room

"I know what you and Daddy were doing in there," my three-year-old daughter said matter-of-factly, adding two plastic fried eggs to the skillet on her toy stove.

Horrified, I froze outside the bedroom door where I had hastily been knotting my robe.

"You do?" My voice cracked.

Breathe, Juno. Breathe. In my mind I frantically tried to recall what the parenting books said to do when your child discovers you in a compromising position. God. We've probably scarred the kid for life.

Amber nodded solemnly. "Yes." She opened the toy fridge and pretended to pour a glass of juice. "Want some?" she offered sweetly.

I tipped the glass to my lips. "Yum. That's really good juice." My daughter nodded, satisfied, and moved to put a slice of plastic toast in the tiny toaster.

"Soooo. . . " I kept my voice deliberately casual. "What do you think mommy and daddy were doing in there?"

"You were eating ice cream."

Relief left me weak kneed, and I sank into the couch.

"That is exactly right. How did you know we were eating ice cream?"

"Because you kept saying 'Mmmmmmm. . . mmmmmm'. I knew you must be eating something really good so I figured it was ice cream."

Made sense to me. I laughed and got to my feet. "Well for being such a smart girl, what do you say I get you a little bowl of ice cream too?"

Amber's face brightened and she trotted after me into the kitchen.

What can I say? I'm not above bribery and deception--under the right circumstances.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Rich and I lay in bed together making owl sounds. We had just finished talking about how we used to call owls when we were children, and now we blew into our cupped hands trying to get just the right pitch and tone.

'What the hell is that?" I could hear my daughter's voice in the hallway. "What are they doing in there?"

"Don't ask," advised my son. "Last night they were doing weird cat sounds. Some things you're just better off not knowing."

My husband cracked up in mid-hoot, and I tried to smother my laughter in his shoulder.

Most of the time my kids and I operate on a sort of "don't ask, don't tell" agreement. It helps cut back on the therapy bills.

I looked at Rich. "Should I tell them we were actually talking to the cats?"

"Nah, let 'em wonder," he grinned wickedly. "Besides they won't believe you anyway."

"True. " I sat up and gave him a kiss. "I can do a terrific seal impression. Wanna hear?"

There is something infinitely satisfying about having your adult kids think that your sex life is more wild and exciting than theirs.
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I'm a 40-something writer, artist, and Jill-of-All-Trades. For me, magic is looking at the ordinary and seeing the extraordinary. My writing tends to take me to unexpected places--not so surprising when I think about it. I had an unusual growing up and have always chosen the offbeat over the "safe". I prefer interesting people over beautiful ones, and I am fascinated by people's stories. What I love most about life is its glorious imperfections and fantastic plot twists.

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