Thanks for checking in, so to speak (…er, write). I am taking moiself on holiday. From this Friday and through June, I will be posting blogs from the same time period of eight years ago (late May-June, 2014). New posts will return in early-mid July.
Until then, I hope y’all enjoy these reruns (or at least gain a modicum of petty amusement from making fun of them, and/or noting how NOT perspicacious my 2014 blatherings observations turned out to be). Perhaps they may spark some sense of déjà vu in you, or cause you to contemplate what you were doing and thinking in those pre-pandemic, pre-idiocy epidemic times (i.e., before the debacle that was #45).
Moiself apologizes for the fact that visuals (pictures; video clips) in the original posts may or may not be included. * * *
The Day of all Days
Today marks the 70th anniversary of the largest seaborne invasion in history, WWII’s Normandy Invasion, aka D-Day. My uncle, Sgt. Bill O’Malley, was one of the hundreds of US 82nd and 101st Division Airborne paratroopers dropped behind the German lines. How he ended up not being one of the 12,000 Allied casualties that day was a mystery to him, he would later tell his curious 4th grad niece — that would be me — who asked him about what he did in the war (a question, I later found out, adults almost never posed as Bill had made it plain, after being released from a hospital after the war ended for treatment for “Battle Fatigue” — also aka shell shock, what we now know to be PTSD — that he didn’t want to talk about it).
The enormity and audacity of such an operation…well, there are a many books about it. One of them, Stephen Ambrose’s Band of Brothers, which follows the exploits of a paratrooper division “Easy Company” from D-Day through the Battle of the Bulge to the German surrender, was made into arguably the best mini-series ever. You need to see it, if you haven’t already. I’m going to watch part of it tonight, and I’ll be thinking of my late uncle, my father, and the other paratroopers, whose courage and tenacity (a part of which was prompted by sheer circumstance and naivete — they so did not know what they were getting into) needs to be regularly retold, and honored.
The Flinging Blonde
That’s flinging blonde, not singing nun.
Dateline: June 1, out for my morning Nordic Walk on a sunny Sunday morning. I approach the grounds of the neighborhood junior high school and see two high school age girls walking on the sidewalk ahead of me. One girl has long (almost waist-length), shiny, thick, straight blonde hair. Long Blondie does two cartwheels in the grass beside the sidewalk. She springs to her feet after each flip and snaps her head forward and back, which causes her hair to cascade over her face and then down her back. She ceases her cartwheels but continues to fling her head, now from side to side, flipping her golden mane, which shimmers in the sunlight.
Look at this hair! Look what I can do with it! Look at me!
And yes, she had really, really, really beautiful hair.
Stop me before I fling again.
* * *
Speaking of things to fling…
How Much More Clear Does it Have to Get?
There are people, in media and social media outlets, who continue to twist themselves with mental gymnastics worthy of a Cirque de Soleil contortionist in order to assert that misogyny was not a prime motivating factor in the Isla Vista Shootings.
In every facet of his life, he professed and documented his hatred of women. But hatred of women, according to some denialists, could not have been the prime motivation of his killing spree. These denialists also assert that if we talk about misogyny, and about the parts of our culture that treat misogyny as normal, even acceptable or even entertaining, we are sensationalizing or “politicizing” a tragic event.
Sic ’em, Greta Christina:
“When men in Islamist theocracies assault, rape, and kill women, we have no problem calling it misogynist hatred. When they explicitly state that their motivation is to enforce God’s gender roles and put women in their place, we have no problem calling it misogynist hatred. And we have no problem laying the blame, in large part, on the culture that teaches this hatred, and on the thousands of ways both large and small that Islamist theocratic culture teaches this despicable concept of women.
“So why is it so hard to see the Isla Vista shootings as motivated by misogyny?”
In her righteously WTF? blog post Elliot Rodgers and Misogyny Denialism,  author and activist Christina calls out the b.s. in her usual, incisive, rational and pissed off prose…even as she she recognizes the motivations behind our desire to recognize the reality of our culture’s underlying misogyny: because it is just to damn painful, and frustrating, and humiliating.
Read it and weep. Better yet, read it and act.
* * *
Is the Paint Dry Yet?
Tuesday evening, the last High School Senior Class Awards ceremony I will ever have to snore through have the opportunity to attend. Belle received four academic awards; local merchants and community organizations gave out community scholarships…and oh, how a certain someone in the audience wanted to sandpaper her eyeballs in frustration when she heard yet another well-meaning, slow-talking older gent preface his bestowal of an award with, “Let me say a few words about the history of….”
* * *
The Snark Watch, Day Seven
MH and I made a bet as to who would make the first snarky comment re Belle’s tattoo: family friend JWW, or MH’s mother.  I will not reveal who bet on whom. Thankfully, neither of us has (so far) won the bet.
* In Paris they simply stared when I spoke to them in French; I never did succeed in making those idiots understand their own language.
* When good Americans die, they go to Paris.
* Paris is always a good idea.
(Audrey Hepburn as Sabrina Fairchild in Sabrina)
* The best of America drifts to Paris. The American in Paris is the best American. It is more fun for an intelligent person to live in an intelligent country. France has the only two things toward which we drift as we grow older—intelligence and good manners.
(F. Scott Fitzgerald)
To err is human. To loaf is Parisian
* * *
May the erring and loafing begin, and surely the hijinks shall ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
 I know, in last week’s post, I refused to mention his name. There it is.
 MH’s parents flew out from Florida last week, visiting for Belle’s high school graduation.
 Why are there only three footnotes in this post?
Goodbye to one of Oregon’s – and the nation’s – finest. Donald G. Malarkey, a WWII paratrooper and NCO with the 101st Airborne Division’s legendary Easy Company, died on September 30, at age 96.
Malarkey’s story, and those of his fellow Easy Company paratroopers, is told in the finest historical miniseries of all time (IMHO, but don’t even attempt to argue with me), based on the book of the same name, Stephen Ambrose’sBand of Brothers.
Several times in this space  have I mentioned my fondness for the series, and how much the series meant to my father (also a WWII paratrooper). Like everyone I’ve spoken with who’s watched the HBO series, I became absorbed in some way with each of the very different soldiers’ very different stories. That said, Malarkey (portrayed by the terrific actor, Scott Grimes ) stood out in many ways. It was engrossing and heart-tugging to watch him transform from the wise-cracking, amiable, optimistically brash private in paratrooper training to the haunted lieutenant, a veteran of some of the most bloody and decisive battles of the ETO. In the series’ interviews with the surviving members of Easy Company, the real (i.e. non actor) Malarkey evinced the survivor’s pain and humility (Why am I here and my buddies are not?), decades after the incidents portrayed in the series, that came from seeing his good friends blown to bits and/or severely maimed.
A far better tribute to your country than standing and saluting a damn piece of cloth “the flag” would be to educate yourself about The Big War, which continues to affect politics and policies, for good and ill, to this day. Band of Brothers offers a slim time portal…a window through which to look back at what so many of our fellow citizens – our friends and family – endured (and sacrificed) during those times.
* * *
Department Of Good Riddance To Bad Rubbish… And One Regressive Sexist Pig
The good riddance news: Hugh Hefner is (finally!) dead.
The bad news: people keep eulogizing him as if he were some kind of progressive pioneer and/or First Amendment activist.
Hugh Hefner was a First Amendment activist the in the same way that my cousins who used the N-word were free speech advocates.
Friend RE noted with disgust on Facebook that people are “…holding Hugh Hefner up as some sort of humanitarian, or even making jokes that indirectly show admiration for this absolute scum of a person.”
Just the idea of using those three H words – Hugh and Hefner and humanitarian – in the same sentence is ludicrous. If you were to publish a book about Hugh Hefner’s “humanitarianism” it would be one of the smallest books every printed, vying for that claim with Saudi Arabian Sports Legends,The Wit and Wisdom of Dick Cheney, and Authentic French Vegan Cookery.
Some feminists felt they had to make an uneasy alliance with HH, due to his financial support for abortion rights when times were tough in the pro choice movement.  But HH, a profiteer of mid-twentieth century/post-WWII prudery,  didn’t give a lecherous rat’s ass about women’s right to self-determination and bodily integrity. Rather, his support for abortion rights fit into his philosophy of as much sex as possible with as many women as possible…and some of them are going to get pregnant, and if you can convince them to have an abortion you don’t have to marry them and/or pay child support.
I even ran across a blurb lauding HH for supporting “feminist causes.” That would be news to the Predator-in-Chief, himself, who in an infamous 1970’s memo (leaked by secretaries at Playboy) lambasted a reporter, who thought she’d been assigned to do an objective story on the Women’s Movement for Playboy magazine, for not doing a hatchet job on feminists:
“These chicks [feminists] are our natural enemy,” wrote Hefner. “It is time we do battle with them… What I want is a devastating piece that takes the militant feminists apart.”
One Trump fan and singer who says she’s known Hefner since she was a teenager is beseeching commentators, “Please don’t trash a man with class.” 
A tRump fan who thinks HH was a man with class? What a shocker.
I don’t know what flipped my stomach more over the years – the pajama-clad pimp himself, or the fact that many people thought it “hip” or “classy” to be associated with a third rate smut peddler sporting a fourth rate dye job. Some celebs thought it was a sign of coolness to be invited to the Playboy mansion. Bill Cosby was a frequent Playboy mansion guest…yet another shocker. Perhaps it was there that Cosby learned his Quaaludes strategy for “allegedly” drugging and then raping women. Hefner was a fan of the powerful sedative, which he often pressured his girlfriends and “bunnies” to take – he referred to Quaaludes as thigh openers.
Excuse me, tRrump fan, you were saying something about a man with class?
* * *
Department Of Enough Is Enough
‘Tis the season, again. And again and again and again.
Come October, it used to be you couldn’t walk within 30 feet of a Starbucks without getting a whiff of a pumpkin spice latte or pumpkin spice chai or pumpkin spice frappuccino. But now, in 2017: pumpkin spice – it’s not just for coffee shops anymore.
Have you noticed? It’s everywhere. There are, of course, pumpkin spice scented candles and baked goods. But, hey, Pumpkin Spice Industry ® , y’all be gettin’ outta hand. I came across a pumpkin spice bathroom deodorizer. Finally, humanity has the means with which to fool guests to our homes into thinking that it was a festive autumn squash dessert which took a dump in our toilets!
And there was much rejoicing.
And the other goods…yikes. These are just some of the pumpkin spice products I’ve seen/heard of in the past week:
You can even purchase a pumpkinspray on spice, to apply to presumable anything that has somehow escaped being pumpkin-ized. (the spray’s how-to-use instructions include this evocative suggestion: “Awaken your breakfast.“)
“Yo, breakfast – wake up or I’ll use the spray…”
The last straw  was yesterday, when I picked up our mail and saw one of those catalogs targeted towards Women of a Certain Age ®…addressed to moiself. Y’all Lady Folks know what I’m talking about? You’ve never purchased anything from such a catalog, never even knew they existed, and then one day you start getting them in the mail.  They have titles like, As We Change, Soft Surroundings, The Golden Times, and The Best is Yet To Come(which, I think, would be a slogan better suited to selling ED drugs to Men Of A Certain Age ® ).
Oy vey. I suppose it’s a better title than
As We Shrivel Up and Blow Away: Feel Like a Nap, Look For Your Eyeglasses, Live Just To Spite Your Heirs
Yet again, I digress.
So, I get this catalog, and discover it contains a little foil sampler packet sample….of a pumpkin spice….ahem….”personal lubricant.”
I kid you not.
Okay, that was a (fragrance-free) lie. But the way things are trending, I betcha next year I won’t have to make up anything like that. Anyway, the point: people, pleeeeeeease, stop. Pumpkin spice your pumpkin pie, and leave the rest alone.
Do I *look* like I want extra foam on my pumpkin spice latte?
* * *
May the spice in your life be anything but pumpkin; May you feel free to trash a classless man; May you appreciate the true heroes in life; …and may the hijinks ensue.
 Currently piloting a starship in the TV sci-fi drama/comedy, The Orville.
 And many others thought he sought to excuse his exploitation of women by “buying” feminist sympathy, or at least toleration, by throwing money at pro choice organizations.
 Who profited greatly from said prudery, for if nudity and sexuality were truly considered healthy and natural, where would be the fun – and why pay for the opportunity – in sneaking behind the bushes and looking at nudie magazines?
 As quoted in How Hugh Hefner’s Incredibly Complicated Legacy Got Cast as Female Sexual Liberation, Slate.com
 Strangely enough, the straw was not pumpkin-spiced.
 I know the gummint is worried about an impending Social Security crisis, but is the SSA selling their data base to marketers?
Dateline: Monday evening, doing my own sous chef preparation before sautéing shallots and Swiss chard. As I strip the ruby red chard leaves from their stalks, I remember how much my father loved Swiss chard.
* * *
Band of Memories
Chester Bryan Parnell, “These are the good times,” 8-8-1924 to 2-11-2009
I think of my father every day, and mention him often (an easy thing to do, as he was a special character), in part to keep his memory alive for K and Belle. But when my family sees that I’ve brought out the Band of Brothers DVD box set, they know something extra is in the air.
Today would have been Chester “Chet-the-Jet” Parnell’s 90th birthday. It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around that number. I’ll let my heart do the binding.
When Chet wanted to relax he would haul out his old Martin guitar. He loved to serenade his kids. Beautiful, Beautiful Brown Eyes, a traditional country tune covered by singers from Roy Acuff to Rosemary Clooney, was one of the songs Chet used to sing to me at night.
* * *
My mother is frail;
“I am winding down,” she says.
She is eighty-six.
Widowed five years now;
Her eldest child lives nearby.
I am second-born.
My two other sibs
Live in the Bay Area;
Mom is in So Cal.
Mom loathed to travel,
even when she was healthy.
And, now she cannot.
Twenty-three years plus
I’ve lived one thousand miles north
with my family.
Mom doesn’t do much;
there’s little to talk about.
Calls can be awkward
She always refused
to learn to use computers.
Her children conspired
We got a gadget:
is its user base.
A “one-way device,”
it receives and prints email
From select sources.
Pro: she gets no spam;
Con: she gets but can’t send mail
(which is fine by her).
I send her brief notes –
a small something for the day
In her morning mail
Mondays are for jokes.
Who wouldn’t like a giggle
To begin the week?
Tuesdays I phone her.
Her moods and health are falling.
Tuesdays make me sad.
Each Wednesday I send
a Word of the Day feature.
(I choose cheerful words).
Thoughts For the Day from minds famous and obscure,
are Thursday’s items.
Fridays are for Quotes:
adages and citations
to spark mind and heart.
I send different verse styles,
From Browning to Lear.
I send my mother haiku,
Two verses, or more.
I write them moiself;
thus, they are not quote-worthy.
Silly, but heartfelt.
* * *
A Brief Meditation on Ways to Fail Your Children
Is that a buzz kill subject heading, or what? If you’re looking for the feel-good post of the week, I suggest returning to the picture of the Swiss chard and using it for a gratitude meditation focal point.
I’m thinking about the many ways my father and mother succeeded, as parents…also, about those ways in which they, and parents in general, failed.
This digression is courtesy of one of my recent morning walk podcast sessions. I was listening to the Freethought Radio interview with the president of a N.O.W. chapter, re activism resulting from the SCOTUS  Hobby Lobby decision. This topic was antithetical to the purpose of my morning walks, which are supposed to be somewhat meditative as well as invigorating. The former purpose took a back seat to ruminative rage as I considered the seemingly unending, fact-free, conservative political and social balloon juice about a woman’s right to right to personal jurisdiction, and other issues that should have been settled so, so, long ago….
And I find myself thinking,
We, as in, talkin’ ’bout my generation.
We have failed in so many ways, including imagination.
Thirty years ago, I couldn’t imagine we’d be fighting the same fights.  Sure, a few dinosaur fossils would remain, but I’d hoped that the battle for equality and against sexism and misogyny (at least, in this country) would be history, as in, my son and daughter would learn about it the same way they learned about women’s suffrage (There was a time when women couldn’t vote?! And it was less than one hundred years ago?!)
I realize that historical milestones are almost never confined to a single day or week…or even era. The campaign for women’s suffrage was not waged and won on August 18, 1920, when the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified. Nor was the amendment a one-time antidote to the festering, cyclic, boil-on-the-ass-of-human rights that is the tendency for groups of people to oppress those they view as The Other.
This prompted WOWG to share his “unfortunate observation” regarding human nature:
Few people anywhere have ever easily agreed to share power.
I knew what WOWG meant, but asked him to elaborate. What follows is my (paraphrased) recollection of his simple but profound Walter Cronkite-ism:
Power shared = power diminished – this is what people in power believe. But power does not diminish when shared, it multiplies. Small, stingy, fearful minds don’t understand that – they think power is finite, or is in limited supply, and therefore sharing power with you means there is less of it for them. This is especially true for those who are (or who see themselves as being) on the lower rungs of the power and status ladders; e.g., some of the fiercest, most vicious criticism of the civil rights movement came from poor white southern men.
He ended with: We failed. Our generation didn’t fix that. Maybe it can’t be fixed; but now, it’s your turn.
* * *
And now, a segue to make us all feel better.
I Am A Bad Person #359 is a never-ending series
Making travel arrangements for an upcoming family wedding, my brain did that thing it does, and conjured up a memory from a friend’s wedding, several years ago. I was talking to a teenager at the wedding reception. When I asked her about the rather sour look on her face, she complained to me about how “old people at weddings always poke me in the ribs and say, ‘You’re next!’ “
I told her she could get revenge by saying the same to them at funerals.
“I’m sure she means, next in line for the buffet.”
* * *
Spam subject line of the week: IF YOU DON’T READ THIS NOW YOU’LL HATE YOURSELF LATER !!!
I didn’t read it “now” (or at all).
It is later.
I don’t hate myself.
Ergo, it must be my turn for an all-caps-three-exclam-attack:
VICTORY IS MINE !!!
* * *
May you always be next in line for life’s buffet, and may the hijinks ensue.
 Which, yes, oft times seems as if it should be the acronym for Sexist Codgers (and not Supreme Court) of the United States.
 Only with different, and often troll-enabling – technologies.
 WOWG lost a brief but fierce battle with leukemia ~ 10 years ago.
 I remember, a long long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, trying to explain to my kids, who were dealing with fledgling democracy concepts in school, how women couldn’t vote to give themselves the vote.
HOW IN THE FLYING MONKEY BUTTS DID IT GET TO BE AUGUST?
* * *
Spoiler alert: there will be a running-around-naked story in this post.
But first , these important messages from your sponsor.
* * *
҉ Let’s All Agree To Get Rid of This Word ҉
A new feature, wherein we put aside our various political and other worldview differences, and unite to eradicate an unnecessary and doofus-sounding word from our vocabulary.
My first nomination is gubernatorial.
Say it aloud, if you haven’t already. Don’t you feel as if you just dropped ten IQ points (and perhaps a couple of your incisors) into a bowl of corn mush?
The dictionary is, IMHO, of little help in raising the status of this most clod-hopping of political terms:
gubernatorial (ˌɡjuːbənəˈtɔːrɪəl, ˌɡuː-) , adj , chiefly ( US ) of or relating to a governor [C18: from Latin gubernātor, governor]
Really. That’s what it says.
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout….
I’m referring of course to Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonators of all ages and genders, who’ve just discovered that there is a Latin origin for Ahnold’s political nickname. Gubernātor, who woulda thunk it?
To Do List: 1. Fix teeth 2. Marry a Kennedy 3. Get a better nickname than “Tappen die Frauen-ator” 4. Run for political office
Once again (etiam, in Latin), I digress.
The word’s noble origins cannot extend a prestige umbrella over its yokel-evoking pronunciation. Say it again. Better yet, try to act gubernatorial. Don’t you feel like you should be pulling straw out from under your denim overalls and kicking a moist cow pattie into a pig trough? 
We-alls gonna enter dem gubernatorial races right after de hog-hollerin’ contest.
We can – and most of us do – say, “governor’s race,” and everyone knows what we are talking about. There’s no reason for the continued usage of… that word. I say we not only get rid of it, but we export it to a netherworld where cooperation and compassion and rational negotiation simply cannot abide. Perhaps Secretary of State John Kerry would have more luck with the Middle East Problem ® if he’d just threaten to go all gubernatorialon their recalcitrant, sandy asses.
* * *
Don’t you feel better now?
I know I do.
You’ll feel even better if you join me and
Ditch the Dirty 100
Join the campaign against the one hundred entities that sued over the contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act. If you’re squeamish when it comes to phone calls and letter writing kind of activism, it can be as simple as finding out who & what these organizations are and boycotting their products and services.
N.O.W. and other organizations have compiled a list of plaintiffs in the 100 cases that have been filed in opposition to the birth control mandate in the Affordable Care Act. As I scrolled down the list, most came as no surprise to me (Liberty University? Imagine that!), but, Eden Foods, WTF !?
My favorite maker of organic, salt free canned beans and other products… I had no idea the company’s president is one of Those Kind Of Catholic Nuts ® . Before anyone jumps on the religious bigotry whine wagon, as one protesting poster on the company’s Facebook page put it:
…And BTW, I do not mind that you are a Christian-based company. I don’t mind if you’re Catholic. I wouldn’t stop buying your products for those reasons. When you cross the boundaries, then we are also forced to cross those same boundaries
Yeah, what she said.
And and and and and, does Eden Foods have a clue as to who be their target audience? It ain’t the fundy-thumpers; it’s us liberal, MYOB, keep your theology out of my biology folks, that’s who.
* * *
☼ Happy Families are All Alike ☼
Explaining to your children that, while you were indeed born at night, it wasn’t last night.
Earlier this week my two young adult offspring briefly joined forces in an attempt to dissuade me from doing something they thought I might regret. 
The occasion: I’d just found out that not only is Cards Against Humanity a board game,  it is the game with the motto, “A party game for horrible people” and the descriptor, “The game is simple. Each round, one player asks a question from a black card, and everyone else answers with their funniest white card.”
An earthy cross between Mad Libs and Apples to Apples, eh? Sounds right up my alley (and I gather the game has a white card with a more vulgar version of up my alley). Anyway….
“I can’t wait to play it,” sez I.
“I cannot play that game with you,” sez son K. “There are some terms on the white cards…I just don’t want to go there.”
I flashed a what’s-up-with-your-bro? look to my daughter Belle, who gave me a patronizing smile as she came to her brother’s defense. “Mom, we really don’t want to have to explain words like smeeg-ma to you.”
Ahem to the nth power:
Is there anything more satisfying than seeing the look on an eighteen-year-old’s face morph from pure patronization to horrified humiliation when her fifty-something mother enlightens her as to the correct pronunciation of smegma?
Alas, I didn’t capture that look on camera. Trust me, it was as satisfying as gazing upon a baby sloth in a box:
* * *
My Mother’s Favorite Streaking Story
#1 in a Series of One
Dateline: Spring Break, a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.
My friend RR spent the vacation with my family, camping at Joshua Tree National Park. One evening RR and I strolled through the campground, admiring and commenting on the park’s isolation, the stark beauty of the unique desert topography, the canyons and rock formations. RR made what she thought was an offhand comment.
“WOMAN !  You know I’ve always wanted to go streaking! We’ve got to do it before the fad fades, and instead of streaking we’d be weirdoes running around butt nekkid, and here we are, camping with a bunch of strangers – people who will never see us again – oh, this is perfect, we can do it tomorrow….”
RR blanched when she realized I was serious. Her me-and-my-big-mouthexpression soon faded, and she helped me plan our escapade with unadorned (ahem) enthusiasm.
After we agreed on the logistics, we realized we needed an accomplice: my younger sister, who for this story shall be monikered as YS. YS had a mini-snitfit when I refused to let her join in the running-naked part,  but she agreed to abet us.
RR and I weren’t satisfied to be just another couple of streakers. Oh, no. We came up with a theme. It was Easter week.
Our streaking route included a circular portion of a hiking trail that was oh-so-cleverly named The Wilderness Trail. The Wilderness Trail originated at one end of our campground, and meandered by or through most of the sites in our campground before heading up into the surrounding rock formations. We chose our time (six pm, when most campers would be at their campsites, firing up their grills), and with YS’s help, we gathered our “equipment” without my parents or brother suspecting anything.
A few minutes before six pm, RR, YS and I headed for a small rock formation in the desert that was ~ 100 yards from our campsite. Crouching behind the rocks as YS stood lookout, RR & I stripped off our clothing. Once we were naked except for running shoes and socks,  we began to accessorize:
* we donned jingle bell collars around our necks (from my father’s and brother’s Indian Guides ceremonial costume paraphernalia I’d found – oh, joy! – stashed in the camper);
* we knotted long pieces of twine around two balled-up white athletic socks, and tied the twine around our respective waists so that the socks approximated rabbit tails;
* we used zinc oxide sunscreen ointment to paint the end of our noses white and draw white rabbit whiskers across our cheeks. 
Kinda like this, only naked.
YS giggled, “You look great!” before she ran across the desert with our clothing. And RR & I had a moment of sheer, unadulterated, side-splitting panic. There could be no chickening out – we had to streak to the rendezvous point to get our clothes back.
RR: “I can’t believe we’re doing this.”
Me: Do you realize we are standing here, naked ?
We doubled over, convulsed with laughter.
Me: I am laughing so hard I could pee my pants, BUT I’M NOT WEARING ANY!
We somehow managed to calm ourselves. RR & I took several deep breaths, and on the count of three we hauled ass as ass has never been hauled in Joshua Tree National Park. All the while we were running, we sang a song we had written, especially for the occasion:
(to the tune of “Here Comes Peter Cottontail”  )
Here we come in our bare tails Streaking down the Wilderness Trail Hippity-Hoppity, Easter’s on its way
Look at us and you will see Streaking’s come to Joshua Tree Hippity-Hoppity, Spring is here to stay!
We were not quite finished with the first verse before a group of kids riding bicycles on a ridge overlooking the campground yelled, “SSTTRREEAAKKEERRS!”
It could have been worse. Much, much worse.
It took us three or four run-throughs of the song before we reached the rendezvous point (an area behind an enormous rock formation a safe distance from the campground).
The run itself is mostly a blur to me now; we were speedy, to say the least, as we did notwant those kiddie cyclists to catch up to us. Still, I have two strong memories of our dash to destiny:
(1) passing one campsite just as a man was transferring a burger from his grill to a folding table, and he dropped his jaw – and the burger, in the sand – as we sailed past him;
(2) passing an outhouse just as its door opened, and the occupant yelled “whoa!” and nearly fell back on his can;
(3) occasionally glancing sideways at my brave buddy RR, seeing her sock bunny tail (and nothingelse, scout’s honor) bouncing jauntily.
Okay, three strong memories.
Breathless and euphoric, we met my sister at the rendezvous spot. We shed the bells and sock-bunny-tails and donned our clothing…and discovered we’d forgotten an important detail: a clandestine return route. That is, the spot where way we ended up in the canyon left us no choice but to retrace our steps in order to return to our campsite.
We gathered a certain amount of are you the ones? looks as we casually (or so we thought) strolled back through the campground. No one said anything directly to us, save for one middle-aged gent who asked, as we passed by his campsite, “Are you the young ladies (thankfully, he did not use finger quotes) who just went streaking by?”
RR and I may have been temporary exhibitionists but we were no liars. We nodded our heads in the affirmative. The man nodded his in return and said, “You looked allright.”
At the time, RR and I found that comment cringe-worthy. Looking back, I wish I could have seen us, then. RR was (and still is) blonde, and gorgeous, and while I was nothing in the va-va-voom department, we were both seventeen, on several school athletic teams, and in excellent physical shape. I daresay we looked rather… fine…to anyone who’d have been able to get a good look. Did I mention how fast we ran?
(An explanatory pause for my offspring’s generation: the reason RR & I would even consider such an escapade was because it was a time before cell phones and hand-held camcorders; i.e., we’d no reason to fear that our youthful exuberance in the springtime could come back to haunt us.)
That evening, after dinner, RR and I played the board game Password (based on the TV game show) as a team, versus my parents, as YS and my younger brother looked on. RR and I had arranged to have certain cards come up for us (RR distracted my parents during dinner while I flipped through the clue cards, a technique colloquially known as cheating). Our clues all had to do with running and/or movement, and we kept giving “streaking” as clues. My father finally asked what was going on.
Sister YS squealed with pride as I ‘fessed up, and she regaled our parents with the story of her being our accomplice. My brother considered several reactions to our story before quickly settling on a combination of mild annoyance and fraternal embarrassment.
My parents’ reactions were typical of their respective characters. My father thought it was hilarious, and said he couldn’t wait to tell people (co-workers, neighbors, churchy people – he told them all). My mother laughed weakly, then begged, “Oh, please don’t ever do it again.”
And then, this week, thirty-something years later, during our phone conversation, my mother begged to hear the story. She said that as her health fails she’s been recalling the good old days, and that my streaking adventure was One of my favorite family stories.
Really? I reminded her of her less-than-enthusiastic reaction at the time, but of course I retold the story. I was grateful for the reminder, as I hadn’t thought of it in years. I also told her about my attempt to plan a follow-up adventure. After doing the streaking thing, I’d wanted to find a place to kaerts.
Despite how it sounds, kaerts is not a Yiddish term for a person with a Vitamin A deficiency;  rather, it is streak spelled backwards. I figured that streaking backwards would involve walking very slowly, fully clothed, through a nudist colony. My Kaerts-ing venture never worked out for a variety of reasons, including that my research revealed that nudist colonies are located on private, gated properties, with access restricted to colony members (ahem…ahem).
So. All these years later, I have streaked, but I have never kaerts-ed.
“Oh well,” my 86 year old mother said. “You still have time.”
* * *
May we have all the time we need for those things that need to be done,  and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
 Really bad pun – butt first – so, so not intended. Trust me.
 I got an A in my college calculus class, and today I could not do a calculus equation if you put a gun to my head, but I can recall the exact lyrics to our improvised streaking song. Long term memory has its priorities.
 (and, as my mother reminded me, “RR was quite busty.”
 Or maybe it is. I don’t speak Yiddish and I made up kaerts.
Monday, February 11. I headed upstairs (where the backup TV/DVD player resides), a glass of champagne in my hand.
“You’re going to watch something – what?” K asked me.
“Band of Brothers.”
“Oh,” she replied. “Of course.”
Monday was the four year anniversary of my father’s death. He’d called the night before, and we talked for a long time, longer than usual (we talked on the phone at least once a week). He was in a reflective mood.  One of the many things we talked about was the HBO series, Band of Brothers. The year after the series came out on DVD I purchased the set for my parents – a Christmas gift, I think. Besides being one of the greatest mini-series in the history of the genre, B-B was the impetus for many detailed conversations between my father and me, about his experiences as a paratrooper in WWII  and also those of another paratrooper, his brother-in-law, my Uncle Bill. 
My family hears the elegiac, haunting main theme wafting down the stairway, and they know where I am. And what I’m thinking about.
I don’t know how to describe the greatness that is Band of Brothers. So I won’t. Just watch it, if you haven’t already. Were I ever to meet Steven Spielberg and/or Tom Hanks, I would thank them, profusely, for producing that series. Not a word about Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull or The Money Pit would cross my lips.
* * *
Tuesday morning I had leftover frittata for breakfast. Earlier in the week I’m made a kale, potato, onion, Spanish (smoked) paprika, parmesan cheese frittata for dinner. I don’t know if my father ever had a frittata, for any meal. I do know he would have liked it.
A great scene in a greatly underrated movie, Morning Glory: Grouchy, veteran, respected but currently unemployed television journalist Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford, in a credible Mike Wallace mode) has been essentially blackmailed into becoming the co-host of DayBreak, a ratings-poor, national morning show of the “infotainment” style Pomeroy despises. Pomeroy tries to sabotage the show by getting drunk, refusing to banter with co-host Colleen Peck (a cheerfully acid Diane Keaton), and by making use of a clause in his contract that allows him to refuse assignments, like cooking segments, that he considers beneath him. Pomeroy eventually forms a mutual if grudging admiration with Becky Fuller, (Rachael McAdams), DayBreak’s new, “Energizer Bunny” producer. When DayBreak begins to rise in popularity and ratings, Becky receives a job interview from a rival show. Colleen tells Mike that his refusal to adapt has driven Becky away. He goes to the TV set kitchen where food segments are done, and Becky watches in shock as Pomeroy shows the viewers how to make a frittata.
* * *
Always nice to have something to look forward to, and I – we – have May 13 – 19, which is Children’s Book Week.
CBW is the yearly celebration of “books for young people and the joy of reading.” Every year during CBW author and illustrator appearances, storytelling, parties, and other book-related events are held at schools, libraries, bookstores, museums across the country.
Mark your calendars, if you are a local. Tuesday, Tuesday, May 14, starting at 7 pm, moiself and two other authors will be doing a reading and book signing at Powell’s City of Books, at their Cedar Hills Crossing (Beaverton) location. This event has just been scheduled; I don’t yet know all the logistical details it will involve (walking up and down the book stack aisles, wearing a sandwich board advertising The Mighty Quinn?), but you can be certain I’ll post further harassments reminders as the date approaches.
Powell’s is the largest independent new and used bookstore in our solar system, and if you don’t know this, well…. Even if you’re from waaaaay out of town (any New Hampshire readers out there?), you need to make a pilgrimage to Powell’s if you are any kind of a book lover. If not for my event, then soon. So, you can’t fly to Portland in May? Not to worry, there is a Children’s BW event somewhere near you.
Whatever your favorite childhood book is, was, or will be, may the remembrance of it be worthy of the Pretty Purple Toe award.
* * *
No political commentary, nor rehashes of the latest misogynist pinhead proclamations in this week’s post. I am too focused on fathers and frittatas and positive memories to celebrate, say, the resignation of the leader of one of the most wealthy, opulent, hypocritical, corrupt cults on the planet one mere pope. Now, if we could get all priests, imams, preachers, lamas, gurus, popes — and the ovine followers who give them “authority” – to resign…. Yeah, you can wake me for that breaking news.
* * *
In honor of Valentine’s Day, a reminder of that most romantic of date movies, When Harry Met SallySnakes On a Plane Snakes In a Dish.
Because I can only imagine that when Samuel L. Jackson gets serious about love – about anything – hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
 The temptation, of course, is to think he had some kind of premonition. No evidence or proof of that, on my part. Just gratitude.
 In his case, training for the invasion of Japan that never came, due to Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
 Bill somehow survived actions from North Africa to Italy to D-Day to the Battle of the Bulge. Not surprisingly, he was hospitalized after the war for what was then called “Shell Shock”, now understood as PTSD.
 Observant readers will note that it is bok choy, and not kale, in the picture. What can I say – all the kale went in the frittata.
 I love Roger Ebert’s review of what makes the comedy so enjoyable: “It grows from human nature and is about how people do their jobs and live their lives.”
Active, reliable, sarcastic, affectionate, bipedal, cynical optimist, writer, freethinker, parent, spouse and friend, I am generous with my handy supply of ADA-approved spearmint gum and sometimes refrain from humming in public.