Mt. Rainier and Lenticular Clouds - Dec. 2008 copyright: JMM

April 30, 2010

To Lighten the Mood

I know I sent these in an email to most of my friends, but they are just too good not to share on my blog too.

This one just about killed Brian.
I swear I know the dude on the left.

I've had this picture in my office for about 2 years.
This one is, by far, my fave.
Personally I don't see anything wrong with this. ;P
Love the pumps.
I laughed soooo hard when I got to this one.

Seriously, WTF is that?!?!?!

April 28, 2010

The Outsider

My readers and friends know I'm from Cape Cod. Any native Cape Codder can point to their town simply by raising their arm into a muscle. I'm from up near the shoulder.The towns on the Cape are quite large, and within the towns are Villages, and I grew up in East Sandwich. My childhood home is so far east, that I could walk to the Barnstable town line within 5 minutes. It remains one of the most rural areas in Sandwich. My parents owned 2 acres, and their home backs up to thick woods (owned by a neighbor) that extend all the way to the salt marshes. Across the street from my parents' house is a cranberry bog and train tracks. The rest of the area is mostly woods or smaller cranberry bogs. That was my world.

Sandwich Village, Forestdale and South Sandwich are more densely populated, with a lot of neighborhoods and homes. The rest of the land area is taken up by Camp Edwards and Otis Air Force base, which border Bourne to the west and Mashpee & Falmouth to the south.

One of the byproducts of being in touch with classmates on Facebook is that I get to see their old photos, which I do enjoy viewing. However, it just drives the point home to me about how much of an outsider I truly was. I firmly believe that the experiences you have as a child really do form what kind of person you are as a teen and adult. And my experiences as a child, feeling like I was a nothing, made me decide at a very young age that, as soon as I could, I was going to move far away, where nobody knew me. Where I could be myself without being teased. To the west coast where life would be better and happier. I'd watch the sun set out the back livingroom window, and hear the sports announcers saying, "stay tuned for 60 minutes, except on the west coast" and that would make me feel even worse.

Mine was a very lonely, solitary existence when I was in grade school. H.T. Wing Elementary was in Sandwich Village, and I, like most of the kids from the other parts of town, was bused in from East Sandwich. Only the 'town kids' were able to walk to and from school. While there were definitely other children in East Sandwich, we were cut off from each other due to geography. The homes were far apart, the roads were desolate and lonely, and any get togethers required planning through our parents. Still, I had a few friends from my part of town, thanks to taking the bus every day with them, and because most of us girls belonged to the same Camp Fire Girls Troup, through 6th grade. Back then, elementary school-age kids didn't talk on the phone like they do now. Besides, my dad was self employed and the lines needed to be kept clear for his accounts to call (this became a source of many arguments once I hit my teen years and spent HOURS on the phone).

I was unable to get together with other children after school and on most weekends. I didn't really know any better and it didn't bother me at all, at the time. I started reading before I was even in kindergarten. I explored the woods and cranberry bogs. I walked on the railroad tracks and put pennies on them. My stuffed animals became my closest friends and I talked to them about my day and so forth. I would do my homework, play with my toys and stuffed animals, read, watch some TV. I lived in my head a lot too, and had a very active imagination and fantasy life. There wasn't much else for an only child, in a lonely neighborhood, to do.

I absolutely LIVED for February, Spring, Summer, Thanksgiving and Christmas vacations, because that's when my cousins Diane and Sharon would come up to stay at their grandparents' house (my aunt & uncle), just a 5 minute walk from my house. I wanted to spend all my free time with them, and they with me. We were very close then, and remain so today. They consider me their middle sister. We played our western-themed 'game' in the woods with our cowboy regalia on. We'd play in the field behind my parents' house. We'd swim in their grandparents' pool in the summer, build forts in the winter, ice skate on the bogs or at the rink in Bourne, do crafts, go to the movies and minigolf, sleepovers in the Coop, go out for ice cream and many, many family dinners. My calendar literally revolved around the next time Di & Sha would be up from Long Island. We are so close that I really am like a middle sister, because my personality is less easygoing than Diane's, but more easygoing than Sharon's. The rest of my childhood memories are made up of trips to see my relatives in Yonkers, NY and spending time at Spring Hill Beach where my parents owned a cottage & which they rented out to my many cousins.

It really was an idyllic childhood. It was safe, it was quiet. East Sandwich was a great place to grow up.

The downside to my life between kindergarten and 6th grade, and even a little bit into junior high, was that I was not well liked by the Town, Forestdale, Lakewood Hills and South Sandwich kids. I was bullied a little; but I was picked on & teased a lot. I have never had athletic prowess so I was always the last person called in gym. And when I didn't do well on the gym team, I took a lot of shit from the other kids. I would cry to my parents that nobody liked me. No one would talk to me. They were mean to me and teased me. How I hated this girl or that girl because they were just so mean. Kids are just plain cruel. My one & only foray into real team sports was when I joined our junior high softball team in 7th grade. Besides the humiliation of riding the bench the entire season, the girls on the team didn't treat me like a teammate, but as a pariah. One of them stole my denim jacket out of my gym locker. Crushed, I never joined another team again.

As I got older and into junior high and high school, I actually did have a lot of friends. I sometimes remember those times as my being 'friendless' but Diane once gave me a reality check. She exclaimed, "What the hell are you talking about? You had a TON of friends. Go look at your yearbooks! They are full of signatures of people who say what a great person you are!" I did actually review my yearbooks after Diane said that, and saw that a couple people even wrote, "to the girl with a million friends". It's funny how you remember things differently than other people. However, it needs to be noted that, while I did have a lot of friends in high school, most of them were in the Classes of '80, '81 and '83. Not so much from my own Class of '82. I used to say that I'd never go to my own class reunion, but I'd love to go to the 1981 or 1983 reunions. By the time I was a senior, I was only hanging out with 3 people from my own class, and all my other friends were from Barnstable High School. I spent K-11 doing my best to stay off everyone's radar and by senior year, I just didn't give a fuck anymore. I dressed in my army jacket covered in punk pins. I used blue hairspray in my hair. I listened to the Sex Pistols and the Clash while everyone else was listening to REO Shitwagon and Loverboy. I hung out at Wave Records in Hyannis on the weekends, with Liz & Joey, while everyone else was partying hard. I purposely alienated almost everyone in the class because I was just sick and tired of taking their shit. I was sick and tired of Sandwich. I didn't go to my junior or senior prom. For one, I wasn't even asked, but for another, I knew I wouldn't have fit in with everyone else at the prom. Fine, you wanna make fun of me? I'll give you something to make fun of. You wanna fuck with me? I have plenty of friends in Barnstable, including several members of punk bands in their mid-20's, who will be more than happy to set you straight.

The more isolated I felt, the more I longed to get out of Sandwich. Get off the Cape and head west. I didn't want to live in a town where:

1. I could ever be considered a 'townie' which is a moniker I despise and which hits me in the face every time I go back to visit my mom because I end up running into people; and

2. No one wanted to be my friend anyway, so fuck 'em.

At this point in my life, I'd pretty much made my peace with the fact that elementary school was rough. Enter Facebook. Up to this point in time, it never even occurred to me that my classmates who lived in real neighborhoods with other kids, got together after school and on the weekends. When the school year started in September, they'd been playing together all summer. When the school year started in September, 95% of my class had not even seen me since June. And the other 5% who did see me were only at birthday parties for those girls born during the summer or at swimming lessons. I had nothing in common with my female classmates either. I am quite certain that the girls, who were the cruelest of all, did not don cowboy hats, adopt boys' names for 'the game', play with capguns, and go racing through the woods or build forts like I did with my cousins. They all saw each other at the town beaches, whereas I swam in my aunt's pool, or hung out on Springhill Beach, which is a private beach & only open to cottage-owners. Once we got older, a lot of my classmates from Lakewood Hills, Forestdale and the Village were hardcore partiers and I wasn't. For one, my parents kept me on a very short leash. For another, I had no interest in it.

The other night, one of my classmates, who I've known since 1st grade, posted a photo of a group of kids in our class. She didn't write when it was taken, but if I had to guess, I'd say anywhere between 5th and 7th grades. There are about 6 boys kneeling on the ground, and the girls are sitting on the boys' shoulders, with their arms around each other. Everyone is grinning or laughing. Instead of being delighted by the photo, I felt sad. Really, really sad. Sad about how much I missed out on because of living in East Sandwich. Sad about the way I was treated throughout school by many of those same kids. Sad because I don't have any memories like that of my own, other than the few times I would visit a friend on a Saturday afternoon or go to a birthday party. Sad because maybe I wouldn't have felt so compelled to flee the East Coast, had just one of those kids invited me over or spoken kindly to me.

I had always felt like an outsider when I lived in Sandwich, but seeing the photos of my classmates playing together drove home the fact that I was an outsider. They didn't like me, or want to be friends with me, because they didn't know me. I am sure that, to them, I seemed like a real oddball. It was easy to pick on me because they never got to know me. I also had no older brothers or sisters to pave the way. We didn't ride the same bus, we didn't play after school, I didn't see them for 3 months in the summer. They only ever saw me in the context of a classroom setting. And unfortunately, because most of my teachers lived in Sandwich, my father did their plumbing, so there was always an undercurrent of "teacher's pet". I mean the last thing you want is to stand out from everyone else in school, right? But when your teacher calls your name on the first day and exclaims, "Is your dad Johnnie Mendonza the plumber? He's worked at my house! He's a great guy! Tell him I said HI!" Meanwhile I am turning 6 shades of red, hoping the floor will open up and swallow me and feeling the eyes of my classmates burning holes in me. In 7th grade, I actually had a teacher come right out and tell me that, because of who my dad was, I didn't have to do any work in her class and I would still get an A. That upset me. It upset my parents even more. And it further damaged how my classmates viewed me. Oh and let's not forget how "adorable" my parents thought it was that my dad named his boat, "Joanne". Which boat was moored at the Sandwich Marina from first grade through third grade. In full view of everyone. Except the boat also had to show the town, so it actually said, "Joanne Sandwich". I took my lumps at school for that too. My god my classmates must have thought I was a spoiled little princess.

It's kind of a weird feeling for me to now be Facebook friends with some of my classmates, especially some of the women. There is one girl on there, who really gave me a ration of shit throughout high school. She was the kind of girl who will ask you a question with a smile on her face, but you can just tell she's making fun of you or waiting to pounce on your answer with ridicule. Yeah, yeah I know, "everyone grows up" and all that shit. But as one who was on the receiving end of taunts and shunning, it doesn't take much to open up old wounds. I almost unfriended her when all those long buried hurt feelings came boiling to the surface, but I haven't yet.

I have been chit chatting with the woman who posted the pic of the group of kids. She's really cool & nice, and she's someone that I wish I had been friends with all through school, but she was a town kid with her own set of friends. She actually was kind to me in the 2nd grade, but then our paths never really crossed after that. We have a lot in common, now. I told her the other day how I felt so isolated from everyone in our class because I wasn't a 'town kid' and she told me to count my blessings because the town kids were nothing but trouble. She told me I was lucky to have had such a quiet childhood in East Sandwich. I found that amusing. Sort of a "be-careful-what-you-wish-for" thing.

After I graduated from Sandwich High, I headed for college and never gave most of the Class of '82 another thought, except for my handful of friends. But I think about them a lot these days. It's amazing how things have come full circle over the past 28 years since I left SHS. Now that we are adults, maybe now some of these people will realize that I wasn't such a bad kid after all. But I'm still not going to our class reunion.

April 26, 2010

Silkie Sue & Sam's Giveaway!!

I've been following the blog of an extremely talented artist in the UK, Sam, who is supervised by Miss Silkie Sue, seen here. Sam is very prolific and an inspiration to lazy bones craftspeople like me. Sam is multi-talented, painting watercolour treatments....
.....which she then creates into the most adorable, hand made stuffed animals. This is William. Isn't he sweet?

This is Hamish, who was created to go along with Sam's husband's not-yet published children's stories about Hamish and his adventures.

Miss Kittan.

Teacup is one of my faves.

Sam is doing a giveaway of this adorable little fellow, Little Ted. I hope to be considered for the giveaway!

Please stop by both of Sam's blogs, Silkie Sue, and Gingerwine's Lost Toys If you send her a message, she'll enter you in the giveaway too!

April 24, 2010


Film at 11!

April 22, 2010

Happy Frisky Friday

Some of the bumpersticker apps on Facebook let you make your own stickers and upload them for others to use on their Facebook pages. I made this Vincent D'Onofrio one about a year ago.
I want a real one for my car. Happy Frisky Friday everyone! Have a great weekend!

April 20, 2010

Craft Whore: Because I'll Try Anything Once

I'm a complete and total craft whore. I'll try anything once. I know, you're shocked.

That's why I love, love, LOVE the Craft Kit of the Month Club through Creative Home Arts Club. There was also a kit of the month club that I did in about 2002 or so, but they went out of business. What I love about the kits is that you get to try your hand at all different kinds of craft projects without having to invest loads of money into the supplies. Everything you need (except scissors, glue, ruler, etc) is included in the kits. The only ones I have been unable to attempt are knitting and crochet. But I'll try anything at least once....sometimes with mediocre results and sometimes with great results!

For example, one of the 2002 kits was for a birdhouse that I had to assemble, paint and decorate. Unfortunately the directions did not state that it was to be an indoor, decorative birdhouse. After 3 days in our apple tree, it fell apart and the birds ate the decorative corn off the front. So that one went in the trash.

Here's a slideshow of various Craft Kit of the Month club projects, and some other crafts I made from kits. Muir Woods papercraft kit was very difficult to assemble, as each tree had to be delicately cut out and then assembled. The paper camera was another hard project and that took about 3 months of weekends to complete. It really works too, but I haven't used it. All the gears and such are made from paper. Also, there is a wind chime birdhouse that I painted, but the flowers that decorate it are stickers. I didn't paint them. My stained glass attempt is a bit cattywampus but it was my first try. The tray was already assembled, I just painted and stenciled it.

Sorry if there are repeats of things you've seen before. Hope you like!

April 14, 2010

She's Freaking Me Out

For the past few weeks now, Pepper has been acting very strangely. She's not sick because she's eating heartily and her poops are normal. She's bright eyed, cold nosed and lively when asking for treats or pets. For the most part, during the day she seems fine. But at night, she's starting to get frightened of something. She keeps going down to the end of the hall downstairs. If the doors to the den and/or back room are open, she will go into those back rooms and hunker down. If she is in the family room, she huddles up to my craft table area, which is where she parks herself if I'm making stuff and it's stormy, or there are fireworks during the summer.

The thing is, last year she was acting clingy and there was an earthquake in Humboldt County, California, like 600 miles away, but I felt it and it woke me up. I blogged about it. I know that animals are very sensitive to stuff like that. Pepper started acting like that again right after the earthquake in Chile, and she's been hinky since then. If she's out in the yard, it's hard to get her to come in. When she's in the house, she's trying to hide down the hall, or panting and shaking. She'll stand near us, kind of on alert, looking around. It hasn't even been raining or windy.

We can't figure out what could possibly be freaking her out. Our routines have not changed. Brian and I don't fight, so it's not like she's picking up vibes from us. I mean, this time last year we were WAY more stressed than this year, despite Brian still not having a job. If she was going to pick up on bad vibes from us, it would've been last summer. A few years ago, she literally tore the den apart, which was extremely out of character for her, when we had a TV on the floor in there, and a large box w/ an unassembled TV stand. She's always been very sensitive to any change in her surroundings. Once the TV & stand were gone, she was fine. So that's what we can't figure out: What could possibly be bothering her?

The one and only thing I keep coming back to is: Earthquake. Like I said, this behaviour started after the Chile quake. She was totally fine around the time of the Haitian quake in January, though. But since Chile, there have been large quakes in Southern California, Japan, Mexico and SE Asia. There have been countless aftershocks. Pepper was just starting to act normally again....or at least less-hinky....till last night.

She wouldn't come in the house from the yard. However, when Brian went out to the store she happily ran across the yard to go with him and Sagan. But when he got home, she refused to get out of his truck. She was huddled up in a ball in the center of the back seat. He had to haul her out, w/ me pushing her butt from the other side, lift her out of the truck and set her down. Once she was on the garage floor, she trotted right into the house, ran upstairs barking and jumping around like normal and asking for belly rubs, but then spent the evening hiding again. I woke up this morning, turned on the news and there was a 4.0 in Mexico and a 6.9 in China over night. Just now, as I write this, Brian had to bring her back in the house from the yard b/c she refused to obey his command to come in. Now she's back to hiding in the hallway. By the way, Pepper's behaviour is very puzzling to Sagan, who keeps going back and forth between us and her. He has not been clingy at all.

How in the world can she possibly sense seismic activity halfway across the world? I know that she's very, very sensitive, but we're talking THOUSANDS of miles! How can my goofy little mix breed Beandog be sensing quakes so far away? Is she feeling the earth shifting around the Pacific Rim? Are we going to be next on the Ring of Fire hit list? Is it going to be an earthquake or is Mt. Rainier waking up? She didn't seem at all phased back in 2005 when Mount St. Helens started percolating again. I don't recall her having any issues at all and there were several quakes & ash plumes down there, and we're only talking about 150 miles or so from our house; probably less as the crow flies.

Seismologists and geologists keep reassuring everyone that this Pacific Rim quake swarm is normal and the only reason we are hearing about it is that, recently, they've occurred in high population areas. Normally they occur deep in the ocean or remote areas so it doesn't make the news. I'm sure that's true; I haven't done any research on my own to analyze the statistics. I know they're the experts and they ought to know, but it really does seem to me like the severity and frequency of seismic activity has increased exponentially over the past 6 or so months.

My one main reason for blogging about this is in case we do have an earthquake. I want it documented that Pepper has been acting weird for quite some time and it's getting worse. To say I'm concerned is an understatement. Brian and I have discussed it at length and we can't find any medical reason for her frightened behaviour. She does act like this during storms and fireworks, but it has never, ever lasted this long or resulted in her hiding at the back of the house. Brian chalks it up to her always having been sensitive and the fact that she's about 9 now, so she's getting older. But she's in no pain, she eats normally and voids normally....she snuggles with me at night and runs around the yard chasing Sagan, like normal. But when she's in the house, at night, something is scaring her big time.

If anyone has any suggestions, or theories, I'm completely open to them, because she's really freaking me out.

April 10, 2010


Last November and December, I wrote about the Lakewood police officers who were murdered in cold blood by Maurice Clemmons. It was an intense time for Pierce County, and the ripples are still being felt, and probably will be for a long, long time.

A couple of days ago, news broke that the families of the 4 slain officers had filed a multi million dollar claim against the City of Tacoma and Pierce County. As soon as I read that, I said out loud, "And here comes the angry backlash..." I was right. Comments were pouring into the various news websites: KING-5, KOMO-4, KIRO-7,, ad nauseum.


"How dare they do this a mere 5 months after the cops were killed!"

"We gave money to the fund to help them out and that wasn't enough? I want my money back!"

And of course the usual lawyer-bashing that goes on whenever frivolous lawsuits are filed. I love a good lawyer joke, and I agree that a good portion of them are sleazeballs, but I have never, and will never, work for a sleazeball. Oh no wait, that's not right. I did work for some sleazeballs when I first moved to Washington, and that is why I had 5 different jobs in less than 2 years, because I couldn't stand the people I for whom I was working, so I kept quitting.

Because I have worked in law for nearly 20 years, I understand the reason why the claim was filed. I knew in my heart that the families were definitely NOT in it for the money at all. However, a claim is the first step in the legal process against a municipality like Tacoma and/or Pierce County. It puts them on notice that a lawsuit will probably be filed after the 8 month time period runs out, at which time discovery will commence and then we can find out what exactly went wrong last fall and how to fix the system so that it never happens again. Unfortunately, you have to put a dollar amount attached to your claim. Or else you have no claim. The claim was filed simply to force the County to take this crime seriously and never, ever let another murderer like that out on bail, under any circumstances.

However, the general public doesn't know that and can't be expected to know the reason why a claim pretty much had to be filed. I knew one was coming and the only thing that really surprised me was that it is only 5 months since the murders and even I thought it was too soon. Sheriff Ed Troyer, the Pierce County Sheriff's Department spokesperson, was taken off guard and even he made a comment to the press about this is what happens when you get lawyers and greed involved. I was surprised that he came right out and said it. The public outcry was vicious. Of all the comments I read, there were only a couple that supported the families' decision.

Two days later, the attorneys announced that the claims were being dropped immediately by 3 of the families, and no monetary damages would be sought. But I feel like the damage is done. The quick back peddling and withdrawal of the claim was the right thing to do, but as I said, the damage is done. I'm not so sure that the public will ever feel compelled to donate to any charity that benefits the families of slain police officers, like they did last fall when 6 cops were murdered in a 2 month period.

One of the things that the families cited as a reason for the claim was that Maurice Clemmons told his wife over the jail house phone that he was going to kill cops. I've heard the audio tape of the conversation and it's chilling the way he angrily tells her he's not going to jail again and he is going to kill any cop that tries to back him down. Everyone has been asking why that conversation wasn't monitored. Unfortunately, inmates have as much right to free speech as everyone else, and cops accept the fact that prisoners threaten to kill them all the time. There also isn't the manpower to monitor every single phone call of every single inmate. It's not realistic to expect someone to attempt to sift through thousands of hours of calls and try to figure out if threats are real.

How do I feel about it? Well, I like I said, I was surprised that they acted on it after only a few months. I figured a claim would be filed some time in the fall. I also figured that it really wasn't about the money for the families. All they want are answers, change and closure. And to ensure that it doesn't happen again. I also think that the lawyers were pretty sleazy to request in excess of $130 million. I mean, come on, be real! I think that it was a poor choice to sue the County that opened its arms and hearts after the Lakewood 4 were killed. After all, it's our tax dollars that would have to pay the claim, no matter how much it was. And that's not cool. Personally, I think that the state who is liable for this whole fiasco is Arkansas. They are the ones who ultimately dropped the ball by releasing Maurice Clemmons, who was serving a life sentence with no possibility of parole. I'm still not 100% clear on the reason why he was set free. Arkansas unleashed him on Washington.

What do you think? Should the families have filed the claim? Waited longer? Not filed at all? Were the lawyers out of line for requesting over $130 million? Do you think the families wanted the money or weren't interested in it? I want to know how you feel about this issue, because the public reaction, region wide, was so visceral.

April 7, 2010

Good Enough To Eat!!

Austin Hamilton of Vancouver, BC, was not only having a sale, but if you joined their Facebook fan page, you could also type in the code "FACEBOOK" to receive free...that's beads. Who am I to turn down free beads? So I ordered some absolutely bee-you-tee-ful lampworked beads.

I'm not sure if I want to make necklaces with them or eat them.

If and when I do make jewelry with them, I'm not sure that I will sell them. They are way too pretty to part with!

April 5, 2010

If At First You Don't Succeed.....

Because I refuse to be bested by a bunch of eggs!!! It's that whole "Sagittarius-Year-of-the-Dragon" stubbornness thang.

Remember the robins-egg blue whose side blew out like Mount St. Helens?

Now it holds a happy little chick, tiny silk flower and 'eggs', which are actually candy-covered sunflower seeds (and which are quite tasty too, I might add).

And the purple egg, into whose shell I plunged my finger before I even drilled the holes?

It's the Easter bunny!!
When I showed this hot pink one to Brian, he laughed and said "Is this for your bordello? I mean, it just screams "Whorehouse"..."
It doesn't quite hang straight unfortunately. I was having issues getting the ribbons to set right.
Top view.
The orange egg also had a huge crack in it, so I covered it with ribbon. I found the crystal strips in fall colours, so I used those too.
Now it's a Halloween egg.

And then there was the midnight blue egg that cracked down both sides with smudged dye.
Nothing that a little ribbon can't hide!
Now it's a celestial-themed egg!

Finally, I also used the Dudley Tie Dye kit on 4 hardboiled eggs I had in the fridge. Dudley brand dye kits have never been very good, and certainly not as good as PAAS. The technique worked so-so.
But they are still pretty and the glitter makes them all sparkly.
I still have 4 hollowed-out eggs left to decorate. But since they won't go bad, I don't have to kill myself to get them decorated. It's just nice to know that this craft project didn't conquer me, I conquered it!