Bromancing the stone

A month ago, I was sitting in the living room, computer on my lap, typing away, when I hear Rog call out from the office.
“Bro! What are we having for dinner tonight?”
I continue typing. Didn’t even look up. He was on the phone I figured, making plans with a friend for dinner.
“Frost! I’m talking to you!” (Gitano/Blade)…(FYI, one of Rog’s pet names for me is Frost-aka. The Devil. Isn’t that sweet?)
I look up.
“My name is not Bro,” I remind him.
“You’re a bro,” he says, shrugging his shoulders.
Rog has continued calling me Bro. Forget honey, sweetheart, or even the shout out  of a “yo babe!” That at least qualifies me as a girl of some sort. But no. it’s Bro.
And hence became the nightmare that is my new name. Since then, I’ve noticed Bro is now not just a name, it’s a title. In fact, it’s a category of person in and of itself, defining a special status that bonds the receiver and the namer in some sort of ‘bro-ness’ that heretofore, has not been properly catalogued.
To be clear, I am NOT a bro. I lack the equipment. I lack the hair. In the 70’s, wasn’t a ‘bro’ a black man? Now, we have all the ghetto-smurff whities liked my husband trying to be cool, bro-in it up as if Maple Valley is the ‘hood. (just writing that felt wrong).
Our fighter-pilot friend Kevin texts Rog in rapid-fire shots, the same way he flies his F-16. The thumb-finger romance comes and gos, in fits and starts, like an on-again, off-again flirtation.
Kevin’s wife Lori will notice and text me, saying the “bromance” has started up again. We laugh. We shake our heads. Us girls text this day in out, 24X7 and men don’t think a thing of it. But when men text, it’s a bromance.
Above and beyond my gender-bending title and Rog bromancing his stone, the whole-bro thing has gone maintream. Late last night I was perusing a friend’s FaceBook page, trolling through an endless stream of birthday well-wishes. It went like this:
“Congrats, bro.”
“Thanks, bro.”
“Bro, Happy firtday.”
“Back atcha bro.”
On and on and on. Sometimes it was peppered with inputs from a girl.
“You made it to the big one, bro,” wrote she. Now, even girls are calling men bros. Is that normal, or is my head so far in these misty, dark grey clouds I haven’t noticed this is names aren’t used anymore, and I’m the dated one here?
Once upon a time, bros was an abbreviation for brothers. As in, a literal brother. Then we had the bro, which inferred a tight relationship akin to a brother, no doubt ushered in, and made popular by the seventies and African Americans, who made the phrase sound cool. “You’re my bro,” was a compliment. 
It was also cool in the same way us girls talk about being chicks, my sista or homegirls (as much as 40+ yr old woman can say that without laughing), but if a man calls me a chick, I don’t really dig on it. But when my own husband calls me a Bro, I start to have an identity complex. I’m not black, nor do I stand a chance of becoming black in this lifetime.
Now, I’ve got my husband yapping about his “homies,” his “bros.” It’s embarrassing. Then he goes on to tell I’m both. Um. I’m neither. We live in the same home, but I’m his white wife, lacking in both relation and the right color.
I suggest we lighten up a bit on the informality of it all. Go back to calling someone by their given, legal name.
“Thanks for the birthday wishes, Mark,” or “Mark, thx for the birthday shout out.” Either work. I could even stand my husband to throw in a “Honey, what are we having for dinner,” or “Sarah, want to go out to dinner?” In the meantime, he’ll be making his own dinner, cuz I ain’t lifting ghetto-smurff homey bod off the couch for no one until I get called by the right name.  

What readers want

In the two weeks since this blog has been live, I’ve become addicted to looking at reader statistics. How many readers, from what country, when and how many pages views etc. As a consumer of mass information myself, I’ve often questioned why a blog/ezine will post a pluthera of pieces of one subject, and ignore others. Through this blog, I’m beginning to see….readers have clear and distinct preferences.

First–the stats…
The first day, the site had about 40 visitors. Day two, nearly 80, and day three, about 140 or so. Weekends and Sat’s in particular are slow, and it took 10 days for the site to have 500. Day 19, the site passed 1100. The # of visitors on the home page counter doesn’t reflect how many pages a person looks at, which is averaging 3 pages (or blogs) per visit. Also, I got the counter up about four days after the site went live, so it’s off a little bit.  I have no idea if this is a good trajectory or not, and it doesn’t matter so much. The money is meager ($<50). AdSense has contributed a whopping .87 cents to my bottom line. Wahuu.  Good thing the near term goal is to provide an outlet for content that will be read.

Top read pieces…

Like the Forbes 500 list, this is the Sassality top list. And what you are reading include beauty tips, in particular, the perfect eyebrow secret which holds the top slot since the day it appeared. This is top by a factor of 2:1. Who knew? The piece about grandfather dying in Swedes Don’t Cry was number two for a week, until I wrote the piece on Hope and Love in a marriage. Apparently, people need marital tips more than learning about why us Swedes hold our feelings in and live to be 100.  The one other piece on I wrote on Marital Victory, vascilates between number two or three. The piece about me losing everything, twice is holding strong at #4. It’s great fodder for feeling better about oneself.

Health…weight loss…

It’s become apparent why every fifth segment on Dr. Oz seems to be about weight loss, why Oprah has rerun after rerun on beauty tips, and Dr. Phil has made gazillions of dollars hosting shows on marital issues.

The pieces on slimmer thighs, great abs and good skin are all in the top ten, though the rank seems to fluctuate with the weather. If I was really anal about it, I’d create a spreadsheet mapping the day of the week, time of day and general economic environment with the subject, write a piece and submit it to some journal. As it is, I’ll settle for licking my thumb and holding it outside the car window as I drive 60 mph.

Do-it-Yourself items like the garage are well viewed, but definitely middle-of-the-pack (out of 42 postings thus far, in the twenties), while the humorous shorts on Pickem’ up trucks and speaking in movie language go up on Wednesdays and Friday’s around 12 pm EST and 3 pm EST and 12 PST. This is statistically consistent with Internet data from the last five years, identifying users (workers at home or the office) troll the Internet on hump day when it’s slow during lunch and 3 pm for the east coast. The pattern repeats for the west coast as well.

The summary…

Overall, the data tells me people are having marital issues, or are looking for ways to improve relationships, but want to look good in the process. Marriage provides good fodder. Twelve years of living with someone, raising a family, dealing with family issues, are rich soil to harvest stories.

At the same time, it’s important to maintain outward appearances when times are really bad (e.g. wear more make-up when I’m falling apart internally). Consider my brother’s ability to tell when I’ve just been dumped, or getting ready to dump a boyfriend; I’d always drop five or ten pounds. Conversely, when my relationship was trolling along at warp speed, I was happy and plump. Little surprise that now the entire family worries when I lose weight. I’m sure Oprah’s weight loss and gain and back again have dramatically contributed to her billion dollar bank account, for who can avoid the pics at the checkout line, comparing each pound to a vat of butter? That said, I have no interest having this blog becoming a weightloss diary…hence, my resistence to actually going there and divulging every last gimmick I’ve tried on the subject…but never say never. I might bow to the Gods of weight loss in the end.

Oddities, like shoe protocol and stinky feet are humorous, inspire comments, and items relating to males in particular, ensure I receive emails directly from men. That’s been unexpected and cool. I had no idea how many men see themselves in Rog’s life, issues or no, and they they are actually reading up on how to improve themselves. Talk about inspirational. It gives me hope for “man” kind in general–I guess Dr. Phil is doing his job.

What can you expect then?

Lots of coverage on marriage stuff, as long as it’s relevant and up, not a depressing b—ch-fest. Don’t like those articles. Never have. We love saving a nickle here and there, so DIY (do-it-yourself) will be on-going, as will beauty and health. Clearly, the same old topics are regurgitated again and again (can’t count the number times I’ve read the same piece on thighs but I do “one more time” thinking I’ll learn the final tidbit that will evaporate an inch off my legs).

During the next three months, I’ll mix it up with entertainment, food and holiday stuff, since that’s what Oct-Dec is all about. This will no doubt give way to self-hateration, losing weight, clearing up the complexion and overall motivation after guteral, financial and emotional splurging that takes place before the end of the year.
The entire publishing, television editorial cycle has become clear in this little consumer microcosm called this blog. I’m equally educated and depressed I’ve fallen into the mass media marketing of life. Then again, that sounds like a blog subject!

videos of abs-seriously?…seriously!…seriously.

I’ve been asked by she-who-refuses-to-be-named to provide short videos of my ab exercises. “Even professionals do this,” said she. That, I assured her, I am not. But then, I like being the headless ab (see blog on abs for the inside joke). If I can get my 5 yr old to hold the camera still, I’ll see what can be done.

Fall clean-up

In the great northwest, September means fall clean-up and a bit of planting. This year has meant a lot of both, and I’ve learned a ton about what not to due thanks to the intrepid, ever daring and eternally patient Janel Ecker, of Terra Firma Landscape Design. Who, will likely kill me for mentioning her unless I also type “she doesn’t do the dirt part.” ergo, she designs, not digs.

Lesson number one. Hire a designer first. Bribe. Trade. Babysit. All of the above. When I was a high-heeled, pale, non-jean San Francsico girl and moved up here out of love (and a bit of lust), I naively hired a guy with a big machine. That happens…in any case, he moved a lot of dirt around, but put lots of things in the ground that started green and ended up brown. Permanently.

Lesson two. Ask your ‘advisor’ if they know what kind of soil you have. In my case, the reason we could even afford this property was because it was/is, in the middle of nowhere, relatively speaking, outside Seattle, and it was also horse pasture. Stinky, slimy, rat-infested, dung heaps surrounding a decrepit old house. We were young(er), without children and thought it would be an adventure.

Lesson three. Ask your mother “why she’s crying” when you proudly show her your new pad. And when she gives you the honest answer, “Honey, whatever you have as a budget, double it once, then double it again, and maybe you’ll come close.”

Lesson four. Don’t believe your husband when he says his mother in law “doesn’t know what she’s talking about.” As one year of remodel stretched to 2, then 3, then 4, she was right. But we were still married.

Lesson five. Play Rock Paper Scissors. It saved our marriage. At the beginning of the project, my contractor took us aside and sat us down. We thought he was going to change the price before he’d dug a shovel of dirt.

“I like you two,” he began, his wisened old face scrunched up as he took a drag on his cigarette. “So I gotta tell ya. The three top reasons for divorce are 1-death of a child, 2-job loss and 3- remodel.”

Rog and I looked at each other. We didn’t have the contract in front of us, but I felt pretty sure we hadn’t signed up for the marriage counseling add-on option.

“Well, this is a remodel. And I’d hate to see you kids get divorced.”

Oh, was that all, we said collectively, sighing with relief.

“No, you don’t understand. You like each other know. Maybe even love each other. But when you are twelve months into this and sleeping on the floor with dust in your mouth, you may want out.”

We laughed uncomfortably.

“Get a system now,” he recommended. “Doesn’t matter what it is. Flip a coin. Throw stones. Just pick one.”

Rog likes to proudly announce he’s never been to a therapist, but he has. This was it. That bit of wisdom has seen us through 12 years, and we employed Rock Paper Scissors. Even today, we use it to solve major differences. Rog got his colored walls, I got my garden. It all worked out.

Now, I actually started this blog thinking I was going to write about fall clean-up. So here it is:
1-planting trees. If it has a root ball, take the burlap sack down half-way and tuck it under. This is because the small tentacles on the bottom (in and outside the burlap sack) are feeders for the tree. Removing the sack entirely removes/kills all the feeders. No wonder I’ve killed so many trees!!

2-trim all the hostas. Never done that before either. I thought they were the raggedy look was supposed to represent fall. “Give them a haircut” said Janel, by lifting up the roots, and trimming the top. I was mortified that at 42, I had no idea of either this tip, or the one above.

3-plant plant–seed seed. This is a great time to seed and fertilize the lawn. As much as I like moss, I would like a blade of grass now and then.

4-prepare for winter. I read this is supposed to be 2 years of El Nina, and that means likely 2 ft of snow at the house. We got 2 cords of wood (yes, and I stack it myself), 2 pallats of pellets (Rog helps on that) and make sure the tub works for long soaks.

5-check your regional advice. I really like Home and Garden’s regional section. I can never remember what I’m supposed to do, even when I’ve bribed someone to tell me. This month’s October section was perfect. If it hadn’t been for my reading, I would have forgotten to divide (well, Janel told me once, I forgot already and them remembered. Thx H & G)

I’ve already mowed the lawns today, perhaps for the last time this year. As my relatives bake in the 100+degree of Arizona and Nevada, I must say, I do envy the warm weather and ability to get some vitamin D. But I wouldn’t trade the beautiful fall weathers for a tan. I’ll happily cover up my under-belly-of-a-slug white for the natural loviliness of fall.

Sunday, running shoes and family

Sunday’s are great for two reasons. The first is because in theory, I get to exercise, and the second, I get to go to church. One is for health the other for my happy factor. Allow me to explain.

Like every other day, I’m typically awoken by one of my two cats, laying on either side of me, reminding me it is possible to have a sunspot while on Earth, my dog, who needs to be let out, or one of my daughter’s who is bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the six-am-range.

Today was no different. By 7 I had donned on the running shoes for my exercise of choice, the treadmill. Yet, Porsche wants pancakes, Sophia is trying to squeeze her head through the metal rungs by our stairs. You get the picture. Time passes, breakfast, cleaning, etc., and I’m not on the treadmill. I’m literally walking towards the rubber mat of death, when Rog comes around the corner, wearing new running shoes and says “hey! want to go running outside?”

Now, I’ll let you in on something. Rog is from Ouray, Colorado, raised at @7K feet elevation. He runs like a gazelle. He needs to run like a fish needs to learn how to breath under water. Which means he’s really telling me that I he bought a new pair of shoes he wants to test out. You must also understand I like being dry, which means running in the sun (or on the treadmill) whereas Rog actually likes the rain, snow, sleet etc. because he keeps cool (that freaking high metabolism again). Mind you, he looks down at his Puma running shoes that he scored for $50 on sale and we both start laughing. You see, he’s got two full bins of running, basketball, workout/lifting shoes upstairs, all of which look as spotless as the day he brought them home from the store.

By the time we get done debating the merits of taking both girls in the Burley, which is boasting one flat tire, the hills we have around the house and whether or not it’s good to run on cement, another 30 minutes has gone by. At 10 am, it’s time for me to get ready for church, thus eliminating the possibility of a workout. Now I get to attend church, a highlight of my week.

Now, this may come as a surprise, since I’m not sure what I come across like to those in my circle of the universe, but I’m pretty sure it’s not that I’m a church-going gal. But in fact, I do. And I like it.

I go by myself (Rog is somewhere between skeptical and angry on the religion spectrum, thus he stays home with the girls), and a funny thing happens. I hear stories of love, hardship, hope and faith, and whether I tune out with boredom during lows, or cry when touched by a heartwarming story, 60 minutes is all it takes to get re-centered on the important thing in life. Family.

One word. I know it. I’ve always known it. But nothing takes the place of hearing about a 42 yr old father of four dying of a heart attack to make me stop and say, WOW, I’m really glad that wasn’t my husband, followed by a quick run-through of all the great things about Rog. Not to sound sappy, but its easy to fall into a trap of non-appreciation, which begets ingratitude, begetting frustration…you see where this goes. And it turns out that no matter the topic (are there bad topics at church?), I come home quite happy to see Rog and the family.

A few years ago, I got lazy. I stopped going for a few months, slept in (we only had 1 kid at home) and Rog said–“have you stopped going?”

“No,” I replied. “I’m just taking a break.” Thinking he’d be pleased, I asked him why he asked the question in the first place.

His answer shocked me.

“Well, I don’t know how to say this, but you are a lot nicer to me when you go to church.”

How’s that for some thick irony? Since then, I only miss if we are out of town or sick. And when I come home, Rog has had “protected time” with his girls, usually the only moments of such he gets during the week.

Now that Rog and P are off at the fair, I’ll get my workout after all. And it was all ok it didn’t happen on my timeline.  I’m happy, feeling appreciative for a (live), gainfully-employed, supportive spouse.

Just this morning…Marital discord, happiness and Thunk

Do you ever wake up, the sun is shining (somewhere), you feel good and then BAM, it all goes downhill? That was this morning…picked what was left of the tomatoes in the garden, such as it was this year, walked around w/P and little P (P-dog), chased rabbits….then Rog and I get into a scrap. Not a major scrap, but enough that we retreat to our respective corners (he the bathroom, me to the office) for personal timeouts. BTW—this nearly saved our marriage a few times. Blood pressure rises, irrationality sets in, and then one of us (the person who’s being-big at the moment) calls for a personal time out.

In any case, he beat me to the punch, called the personal time out first (leaving me more angry), I took my walk, and was bound to set things right. I find him taking a shower, tell him I’m leaving to run errands, and he starts laughing. The inside joke here is that he knows I a) wanted to leave w/out telling him, in the hopes of making him angry, but b) this was my way of saying I’m sorry, although aa) not asking for an apology nor ab) offering one. He then says:

“Since you’re being big, and I know you know that I know you want an apology from me, but you’re being too small to give me one, I’ll give you one first. Then I’ll be bigger than you twice!”

He laughs with the moral superiority that only a spouse who has just won a scrap can, upon which I laugh (at my smallness) and call him a Thunk. That would be the combo of a Thug (which, if you’ve done business with my hard-headed husband, he is a Thug) and Lunk (because if you’ve seen him playing hockey-you also know he’s a Lunk. In fact, that’s Porsche’s nickname for him). Thug+Lunk=Thunk.

There you have it. Now I can be off on my errands, the world set in fine order, a new word to boot.

dogs and cancer–10 yr trend and cure

Last May, my special P-dog, code named such because my sister named her p-doggy because Penelope the pitbull frightened the uninitiated…started manifesting lumps on her body. They were red, and would come and go like an overgrown bug-bite. It was really strange, especially when she kept after them, licking them until they started bleeding. I wasn’t really worried until she got three on the same side of her body.
Jane the Vet identified the bumps as cancer cells gone awry, requiring major surgery, removal, and some nasty scars on my poor, lovely, mushy dog.

“Is this going to return?” I ask.

“Most likely,” she says, before telling me why.

Turns out that big dogs, or dogs with a lot of muscle-pits, rotts, mastiffs, bulldogs etc., have had an alarming increase in cancer over the last decade. Jane said she’s not quite sure why, but the thinking among vets is that something in the food/air/whatever, is getting into the muscles. The muscles can’t “expend” the carcenogens, it builds up, and then poof. One day, it turns over to the dark side and is cancer. She gave me 2 types of pills designed to ‘dispel and dissipate” the build up. It wasn’t quiet a death sentence. More like an on-going session with the chemo machine.

Now, I’m going to reveal that I’m a believer in alternative medicines. Not because I’m not down with western medicine, it’s just that the Chinese have been at it for 4,000 years, and I roll with the notion that they perfected using nature for healing. Since homeopathy is the same principle (plant based healing to be simplistic) I turned to my swami in the foothills in Arizona to see what could be done.
He told me about AlcaGreen, a green, powerdy substance comprised of a whole lotta good foods. Turns out that stores abound (on-line) of people being helped/cured by the the human version of the stuff. I bite, and in a few days, i get two big vats of green powder I’m to feed my dog every day.

Skip forward 6 months. The dog, nicknamed Stitch, when she’s turned left, and P-dog when she’s turned right, was fine, until I stopped giving her the Alcagreen. I went on vacation for a month, didn’t take with, and in another 30 days, 2 bumps reappeared. Call the swami, he said-don’t freak-and resume treatment. Sure enough, the bumps left, Jane couldn’t find the lumps when I took her back in, and it appears we might have the solution to this weirdness afflicting our pets.

My specialty is mixing a tablespoon with half-cup of soup, though she’ll take the remnants of baby food in a pinch.

the importance of photos

Rog hates this photo and suggested I crop it. but why? if I did that, it would take out the hysterical white-girl yo-sign that we did at the lake. and for my peeps, Janelly and Lindsay, that wouldn’t be much fun. If it goes down, then i’ll have to find something else equally as interesting.

This blog is intended to compliment my other ‘business‘ (e.g. boring) blog required by my writing adn business world. To quote my editor, it sucks for the general reader, while great for the .000000001% of homosapiens that care about writing. uh, ok.

So here it is. My sis came up with a complete email full of great subjects, more in a thirty-second stream of brilliance than i could must in 2 months of complete suckiness writing. Rog then helped even further by telling me to write a cookbook on Swedish Fusion, which in fact, I may do. I’m tall. I’m swedish. I like to eat. That too, can apply to the other .00000001% of folks I failed to reach with my other blog.

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