Dear Judy,

I cannot freaking post on time for love nor money. Not that I have been offered any money but if I were I bet it would have to be a LOT to get me to write a blog post everyday. This is the exact reason there is no book about the Cakes, apply ass to chair and don’t play Spider solitaire once you get there.

I have the list that your mom posted on Facebook so now I have to catch up to today (which is tomorrow when I’m writing it now but tomorrow will be today when it is published.) I only did 1 and 2 so here is 3 through 12. WordPress is against printing the title so just so you know it is “Catching up to 12”. Powerful, right?

3. Weather. I guess it’s a good thing I waited on this one because there is some interesting weather coming. There is an Arctic reflux coming down from Alaska bringing windy winds and coldness. Very cold for Oregon this time of year. Q is going to Outdoor School this week so Deren is grateful that I continue to mention how freezing ass cold it will be while she is gone. It doesn’t freak her out at all.


4. Can’t Live Without. Technically I can live without anything but air, food and water but I don’t think that’s where they’re going. I could live without anything unless both my children died and then I would most likely would continue living but not worry so much about the not smoking. Superficially what can’t I live without? Diet Coke? I can live without that because I did for Lent last year. Netflix! I cannot LIVE Without Netflix. Netflix is everything that is right in my world. Whatever emotion I want to feel, I can queue it up on Netflix. Do I want to go where everybody knows my name? Damn straight I do and I can go there when Rebecca is drunk and be even happier.

5. 8 o’clock. I must remember this originally was for photos of each prompt so I could take a photo of 8 o’clock but it would just be dark out now. 8 o’clock reminds me of when prime time television used to matter. You had to be in front of the TV at 8 or you would miss it and have to wait until summer reruns to see what you missed. And as we have already covered in #4, I love my shows. Brady Bunch…. 8 o’clock. Happy Days…. 8 o’clock. Cosby Show… 8 o’clock   Family Ties….  8 o’clock. Christmas specials 8 o’clock. Life and bed time were far more structured when I had to adhere to the tenets of prime time televsion.

6. Made me smile today. I had therapy today and spending an hour talking about Maggie, makes me smile.

7. On the floor. You never know what is on the floor so it is best to wear shoes of some kind or at the very least some socks.

i dreamed my whole house was clean

8. A place. I’ll do a photo for this one.


You know this place.

9. Heck yes. Heck yes I’ll write a blog.

10. I do this everyday. I brush my teeth every day. I don’t floss but I do brush my teeth everyday. I’m clearly losing steam here.

11. A set. A set of Christmas china like this:

xmasplatesHow cute is that?! I love it! It’s by Bernardaud, who I have never heard of before. I have Spode Christmas China, you know the Christmas Tree china? I initially asked for it in high school, because I was the sort of kid that asked for Christmas China while still in high school.

I now have all of this. All the plates, the old fashioned glasses, high balls, salad plates, ornaments, ashtrays, bells, you name it and I don't want it.

I now have all of this. All the plates, the old fashioned glasses, high balls, salad plates, ornaments, ashtrays, bells, you name it and I don’t want it.


12. Normal. It is normal for me to take more than one day to write a blog which is why this one was initially titled “Catching up to the 11th.”

Love you, mags

Catching up to 12

I Saw This!

Dear Judy,

This is my I Saw This post-Halloween blog. I saw this is the 2nd topic of the list your mom posted on Facebook. For the details of the post, I have Roam About Mike, one of my favorite bloggers, to thank.  Go check him out. He doesn’t write as often as he used to but there is plenty of material there to keep you busy for awhile. He travels globally and goes to places like Asia so I don’t have to.

When I was in the 9th grade my family was one of the first to get a VCR. My parents were good enough to put it in the basement on the kids’ TV. Most likely one more ploy to keep us out of their hair so they could have cocktails and play gin in peace. There was a store called Captain Video that was of course, the coolest store ever and we could rent any movie we wanted. Well, any movie if you didn’t let my dad know what had been rented.

One weekend night, my parents went out and my siblings were all somewhere other than home. I went to the Captain’s and rented The Exorcist. Just a note: I didn’t rent the movie because my parents were out. My dad would have had no problem with me renting The Exoricist. He would have lost his mind if I rented Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Exorcism of satan is okay, the Beatles most likely doing drugs, NOT okay.

Night fell and I prepped myself to watch my movie in peace. I went downstairs in the basement and put the movie in. Teenager. Basement. Linda Blair doing nasty things even before she hooked up with Rick James. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I had made a poor decision. I paused the movie. I went upstairs…turning lights on as I went, I found a good-sized butcher knife and called Murphy, our German Shepherd, to join me in the basement.

I didn’t turn the movie off, I simply put together safety measures to prevent Satan from getting me.

Every light in the house on. Big knife in hand. German Shepherd at my side. Push Play.

No, I’ve never seen it again after that night.

I saw this.

I saw this.

Love you,


Something Blue

Dear Judy,

Your mom posted this on Facebook today.

novpostsThere’s no way I’m going to post a theme photo everyday of November but I can use these as writing prompts so I write to you more often.

The first prompt and thus the post for Nov. 1 is “Something Blue”. I don’t know how I should do this. Should it just be the first blue thing that pops into my head? Some sort of word association post? Should I tell a story if I have a blue story, which could be sort of pornish…you know blue, like they used to call porny things? Or about why I am so blue? But I’m not blue at all so that would be a fictional story and I’m not good with fiction. Ironic that I really prefer reading fiction but I’m only good at writing fact. Perhaps not fact but fact according to me. I’m a memoirist not a novelist or fictionalist. If people ask what I do, tell them I’m a non-profit fundraising memoirist. They won’t bother you with follow up questions that way.

Blue makes me think of a garter that my mother had from her wedding and I wore it for my first wedding (20 years ago yesterday). I don’t know where it is now.

My brother has blue eyes which is surprising because both my parents had brown eyes BUT just as we learned from Mengele or Mendel. Mendel the guy with the pea plants, not Mengele, the Nazi who did bizarre barbaric experiments on concentration camp prisoners. Isn’t it weird that two Germans who are famous (or infamous) for their interest in genetics have such similar names?

Anywhooo, both my grandfathers had blue eyes and I think just like two wrongs make a right, John has blue eyes. When we were in high school, John observed that no matter how gray the sky, he could always find a piece of blue in it. I found that so uncharacteristic of him that I wrote a horribly sentimental poem about it. Happily I stopped writing poetry while we were in college.

This marks the end of my blue period or at least my blue post. I don’t know what else to write about blue. I focused on navy blue and white clothes for this past summer.

I’m tellin’ ya Jude, this may not have been a very good idea.

xoxo mags




Dear Judy,
I’m reblogging your post today. Reading it gave me a big smile. I’m always telling you not to engage with strangers (especially in bars) but now you have found the perfect country for doing just that! I hope you are happy over there.
Love you!

We Are All Carpenter's Kids

Tanzanians, and I’ve heard other Africans, take greetings very seriously. I’ve talked about how kind the people are here. And, now three times, people have taken me by the hand and shown me to my destination when I was lost. Kind of like when Julia Roberts tells Richard Gere, “For $20, I show you personally.” Only no one here expects payment. And I’m not a rich businessman getting involved with a beautiful hooker. You get the point.

But the greetings situation is extraordinary. Pretty much everyone greets everyone, not just when you get to work or a social setting, but on the way to work, in the market, everywhere. It has happened several times that when I am walking to or from work, people who do or don’t know me, walk all the way with me so we can chat, even when they are headed elsewhere. (Chatting may be a…

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“Beautiful Ruins”: I Judged a Book By Its Cover

Dear Judy,

As you know, I have been keeping count of all the books I read in 2014. Number 21 is Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter. I am bogged down in Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park so I had to take a break. I have been looking at Beautiful Ruins for months now. It comes up on my home page of I see it in book stores. I finally bought it because look how beautiful the cover is! This book cover is made for me!

Absolutely gorgeous book cover

Absolutely gorgeous book cover

And you know what quote was on the cover of the edition I bought? “A literary miracle.” NPR’s Fresh Air. Judy,  a literary MIRACLE. Who isn’t going to read a literary MIRACLE?

And the back of the book has other good news for prospective readers.

Helen Schulman of the NYT Book Review told me, “You’re going to love this book.”

According to Steve Almond of the Boston Globe this book was crafted with “the generous soul of a literary classic.”

“Damn near perfect,” wrote David Daley of Salon.

You get the idea. Respected reviewers from publications from coast to coast, on line, on air all read this book and decided it was one of the BEST books of 2012. I’m not sure what book they read. Perhaps I got the right cover but someone changed the contents. I get the whole “Beautiful Ruins” thing…could be an island, a hotel, actors (somehow a bastard son of Richard Burton is worked into the story), lives, dreams. I get it. All of the stories back and forth across decades do not add up to a “literary miracle”. A Tale of Two Cities could be anointed a miracle. Maybe To Kill a Mockingbird is a literary miracle as it is the only book written by Harper Lee and is “damn near perfect”.

What would constitute a “literary miracle”? Is that a book that just appears out of thin air? No author? No publisher?  Would the author have a transformative experience and the story writes itself? Perhaps in a language the author doesn’t speak? Or more simply, is it a book that tells a a story of universal truths creating characters who become flesh and blood to the reader? A book that is so enchanting that the reader feels and tastes and smells and laughs and cries the book. Wouldn’t a miraculous book draw the reader into the story? A miraculous book becomes a part of the reader, a piece of the reader’s life. A piece which forever informs that life going forward.

This book read like a story being told, not like a story being lived. It seemed like the author and hence, the reader were removed from the events of the book. The characters were pedestrians the reader sees through a window so there is a barrier to a real connection. A barrier which wouldn’t be there if this book were a literary miracle.

I don’t know the author, Jess Walter, but if someone reviewed a work of mine and called it a “miracle”, I’d be a bit irked.

“Thanks buddy, a miracle? Really? Glad no one will have particularly high expectations for this little book of mine.”

Or worse, he agreed with the assessment; pleased that others comprehended the depth and symbolism of  Beautiful Ruins and recognized his “miraculous” writing gift.

Remember our motto in college, “Judge a book by it’s cover, but don’t read it”?

Just sayin’.

Love you,


Going Postal

Dear Judy,

Yesterday I went to the post office to mail a couple of things and get a stamp for the card I mailed to you today after you sent me your address.  I just thought what if I gave out your address and see if you get a bunch of mail?! It only costs $1.15 to mail a card to Tanzania.

I digress, I went to the post office. I went to the Tigard post office and got the last parking spot. I went in and there were no small-size express mail boxes and the line was out of the line area, through the door and into the lobby. I returned to my car and drove to the Lake Grove post office. It was easy to park and there was an ample supply of small-sized express mail boxes, which I needed to mail something that wasn’t even for me because I am such a nice person to my co-workers, especially A who is like our office’s own Spiccoli except he’s Asian.

But Asian

But Asian

Even though there was a line, I stuck it out. I made friends with the lady in front of me who had the cutest little envelopes that she was mailing to Washington, DC. And her daughter is going to Washington University in St. Louis but doesn’t want a job in St. Louis, can you blame her? My new friend and I were both taken aback when the woman who was next in line was summoned to a window and summarily dismissed because she did not have return addresses on her letters!

What?! The post office man at the counter refused to mail her letters without a return address. It’s none of his business if she didn’t put on a return address. What if it was a secret love letter and she didn’t want the recipient to know who sent it? What if it was ricin and she didn’t want it tracked back to her? What if they were ransom notes and meant to be private? So she had to go to the window where no one was working and write in her return address on her letters.

The next two women were called in quick succession. The first one went to the return address capitain’s window and waited while he moaned and groaned and said, “jeezusss” about something and then he was gone in the back for awhile. Two different people showed up from the back and offered to take packages that had postage or to get mail that had been on vacation-hold but they were not going to sell anyone anything.

I watched the white-haired gentleman working at the third window. I honestly have to wonder if he was told he had best move verrrrryyyyy sllloowwwwlllyyy and make sure he had looked thoroughly at the mail being presented to him. He should write very carrrrefullllyyy and cllleeeaarrrllly. He mustn’t rush to make change or just give someone a receipt without studying the slip of paper and checking to make sure nothing is printed on the back. And he would not mail the darling, little envelope letters because mail must be at least 3 1/2 x 5 inches.

I'll tell you what's NOT going in the U.S. Mail...these cute envelopes.

I’ll tell you what’s NOT going in the U.S. Mail…these cute envelopes.

What must an interview to work at the post office counter be like?

“Ahh, hello Mr. Sluggish, good to see you!

I guess my first question is ‘are you plodding’? Do you plod?

I see. Well, if you are willing to plod, we can get you position right up here at the front counter!

Welcome aboard!”

Perhaps they should serve beer in the post office.

Perhaps they should serve beer in the post office.

Seriously. SERIOUSLY, why WHY do postal workers (not mailmen who deliver the mail) but the people who work in the Post Office, Why are they so. damn. slow?????

I think the guy I was studying yesterday has been at that post office since it was new. I can’t find a construction date for it but I was pretty young when it was considered LO’s “new post office”. And I’m not young anymore.

It was finally my turn at the window. I paid for the box for Spicolli. Then I gave him the large envelope to be mailed to Raveeah, Mass. It was a children’s book, a picture book, very thin. I requested it be mailed Media Mail.

“What kind of media?”

It’s a book.

“It’s a book?”


“And that’s all?”


“We might want to look at first class. Ahhh, yes. First class is $2.04 and media mail is $2.67.”

OK. Well whatever works. And I need a stamp for this card to Tanzania.

“That’s $1.15” Get’s pretty round stamp and puts it on the card.

I pay and he reviews my receipt and I turn to go and realize he took the card that hasn’t been addressed yet.

Apparently the post office will NOT mail letters without return addresses but are happy to mail ones without any TO address.

But it is a grueling procedure.

But it is a grueling procedure.


Life Boat Question

Dear Judy,
You have brought up a big issue here. I have pondered the fate of Africa since you have been there. I have a general, very general, understanding of its history but no idea how to turn the situation around. Are you formulating thoughts on that? Should we leave them alone? Are they better off without our help? “Help” because I have read in places that our aid is more of a hindrance. Anyone know anything about Africa??

The Ebola catastrophe has spread to the U.S. which is very unsettling. Africa is in the news…Sierra Leone, Liberia, people live in those countries in circumstances I wouldn’t put my dog in. How did that come to be? As you mention, the African continent is full of natural resources that should be making them rich as oil as made countries like Qatar and Saudi Arabia beyond wealthy.

What has happened has happened but now what? We have been “helping” Africa for generations? Remember when we were in school and “We Are The World” came out? Or “Do They Know It’s Christmas”? What did that do? I’m sure LiveAid raised millions of dollars for famine relief but did it change anything? “Do They Know It’s Christmas” has always irked me. What ignorance. No, they don’t know it’s Christmas because these are Muslim nations, idiots.
Love you, Mags

PS To clarify, I’m not suggesting throwing Africa out of the lifeboat. I’m just wondering if we are now causing more harm than good. Not that we shouldn’t be helping with Ebola over there. I don’t think the continent is a throwaway, I just wonder if our foreign aid is not truly aiding but as you said, trying to form them into our idea of what a country/continent should be.

We Are All Carpenter's Kids

There are things we can control in our lives; there are things we cannot. There are hundreds of books written about Africa and her struggles.  The question we hear lately is, what do we owe Africa? What does anyone “owe” anyone, really. You could say, and many do, “I wasn’t there when the European leaders carved up the African continent, and besides, that was a long time ago.” And it was a long time ago when Westerners began to avail themselves of the gold and diamonds and dozens of other minerals and metals with which Africa is so rich. Of course, you may  know that a large percentage of the world’s gold, diamonds, chromite, cobalt, phosphate rock, manganese, uranium, and rare earth minerals have come from Africa for many years, and still do.  (I just read the description of rare earth minerals because I collect rocks and I thought it…

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The Funeral

Dear Judy,

So much for the writing everyday vow. Honestly, I cannot stick to anything I say ever. No one should ever believe me when I say I’m going to do or not do anything everyday. I’m usually full of shit when I avow things.

Remember at Kitty and Geoff’s wedding when you and I cried to the point of almost hyperventilating? Well, that was me at Ellen’s funeral last Thursday. Having lost both my parents to death, I have some funeral experience. Unfortunately for me, some families don’t mask their grief with dark humor and alcohol. To each his own, right?


Ellen’s kids were clearly heartbroken and dealt with it by crying and comforting each other. I don’t really know what to do with that, but it was their day. They each spoke and told stories of their mom and it was lovely.

Then they had a slide show with a recording of Ellen singing when she was in high school. That set the tone for my hysterics but it got worse. A year ago the four kids and their mom took their first ever trip just the five of them to Ellen’s childhood home outside of San Francisco. One of the kids was in the back seat and filmed the drive on their phone. They drove down this idyllic street that looked like the back lot of an Andy Hardy movie and Ellen told stories about her house and the neighbors and the victory garden in the neighborhood park during the war.


In case my younger readers don’t know what kind of neighborhood is an Andy Hardy kind of neighborhood. Not actually Ellen’s neighborhood but a facsimile I found by running the Google. Photo credit goes to somebody but I don’t know who.

What a gift. Thank goodness one of the kids pulled out their phone, they will always have her voice and her stories. The slide show ended with a video of Ellen at a birthday party. She waved at the camera and smiled her big smile and said “Thank you!”

I’m sure you can imagine how that went over with me. Hearing her voice set me off and then after the “thank you”, I did one of those weird hiccup shuddering sob things so the woman next to me was rubbing my shoulder and comforting me. No, Ellen wasn’t my mother, but I’m happy to become so distraught that complete strangers feel the need to offer me support.

That being said, it was very nice if not very religious and they are a pretty religious family. One of the boys told me later there was a mad rush trying to find a church so it wasn’t at one of the churches the family attends. Being Catholic, I’m used to a lot more ceremony but it was full of love for Ellen and that is the only thing that matters.

The minister, who had never met Ellen (and that happens), was talking and I think he was trying to convey with gesture (patting himself on the back) and words that Ellen did a lot of good during her life and didn’t expect to be acknowledged for it nor was she impressed with herself. Unfortunately, instead of saying that she wasn’t interested in “patting herself on the back”; he said she wasn’t “into self-slapping”.

And with those words, the funeral ended for me. Sure, just seconds before I had been sobbing uncontrollably but I wasn’t going to let sadness get in the way of purely adolescent glee and repeating “self-slapping” in my head and nudging my sister and trying not to laugh.  As I mentioned, the minister didn’t know Ellen and has no idea what her views on self-slapping were. I don’t even know if you would call it slapping. Everyone does it and very few ever go blind. No, I didn’t stop talking about self-slapping for the rest of the afternoon. Ellen would have wanted it that way.

One of the reasons the family had to compromise on what church they used was because they insisted that the reception be held at the country club in LO. Going to the country club for this specific occasion with the group of people who gathered there was very sentimental and nostalgic for me. I grew up at that place. The people gathered there were my friends and my parents’ friends when I was a little girl. It was one of those times in life when the past enters the present.  And it was nice to see people I had made out with 20+ years ago. A Cake is always a lady.

Love your almost 50-year-old friend who still gets a big guffaw from beat off jokes,



Dear Judy,

I’m sorry about the crying at work. I cried all morning here yesterday. I cried on the way to work, went through a box of Kleenex while writing the blog yesterday, which 22 people read. What the fuck with that? I’m still getting followers on the other blog, probably spam followers but still, and I get 22 hits yesterday. Bullshit.

I think I was hormonal as well as sad. I cried so much I scared everyone in the office away from talking to me and felt like I had a hangover. My boss came up to me and asked:

“Do you have a cold?”




“Stuffed up?”

No, I’m just sad.

“Oh, I’m sorry.” Runs back to his office.

i-dont-always-say-something-stupid-memeI sent this picture to Derwood and showed my boss yesterday and they both deserved it.

My boss just wanted to tell me that he would get me my money for editing the book, which he did and he bought me a gift card at the golf course near our office to make me feel better. There are benefits to crying openly at the reception desk for hours. And I told him I’m not working Thursday either because that’s Ellen’s funeral and the anniversary of my mom’s death. He’s too scared to even blink at that now.

Yesterday this made me laugh

But then I started crying again.

I have a happy folder in my email and I save things there for when I feel crappy. I forgot to look at it yesterday but will share some of the stuff today.

This photo makes me happy every time I look at it. Sean is one of Molly’s friend’s kids.

LOOK at that face! That's crazy.

LOOK at that face! That’s crazy.


The autocorrects here make me explode laughing:

Just click on it. You’re welcome.

And remember, no matter where in the world you are, one thing is true:

The-Only-Thing-Better-Than-One-Bottle-of-Wine-MemeLove you,


Crying At Work