Archive | January, 2009

Words Have Histories

29 Jan



Hence the name

26 Jan

I knew at some point I’d need to explain. So, before anyone asks, here it is…

Approximately nine years ago, when my mother started to play hearts online she assumed the screen name mudtutle. Shortly after, I began to enjoy online card games and I assumed the screen name wildmudturtle. My daughter’s uses minimudturtle, and my son uses muddymudturtle when he needs a screen name. Even though mom was the first to use mudturtle as a screen name, I believe I have the authentic pseudonym.

If you know my father well, you know that he has a vocabulary that is uniquely his own. Growing up we had a dog named Bear, but Dad affectionately called him fart face dog. I remember complaining to him once that my fourth grade teacher wouldn’t let me be excused to the bathroom. He told me to ask her if her mother wore army boots… good thing I knew better.

When we were kids, we’d get ready to go somewhere as a family and he’d always be the first one ready. He’d never get very angry when we kept him waiting, he’d just stand by the front door and yell, “Let’s roll dogos!” Then, when everyone was in the car, and we were backing out of the drive way he’d say, “We’re off, like a pack of wild mud turtles.”

Most of the odd things my dad would say were kind of funny, and truthfully he sang most of these things. I can still remember him coming into my room to wake me singing, “Rise and shine in the early morning” or “Roll or bowl a ball a penny a pitch”. So he wasn’t completely original in all his sayings/singings, but he was certainly happy, and a happy father makes for a content child.

Thanks dad, for so much more than a screen name worth writing about.

Where I’m From

22 Jan

I am from Cherry Blossoms
and Mars and the Milky Way
From Baseball Hill at the top of Mud Alley
and kick-the-can

I am from echoes of
“Pull yourself up by the boot straps”
and “let’s roll dogos.” I am from The Ed Sullivan Show
and Hockey Night in Canada
From skiing through the woods
and pitch on a brand new axe

I’m from “I’ll Fly Away”
and rosebuds on cake
and pie cut in quarters

I’m from “Blue Suede Shoes”
and Raquel Welsh with a chuckle
from Treasure Island
and countless other stories told over
and over, and over.

These memories and more
and an abundance of new ones
Live on in the hearts of my children
as they search to discover Where I’m From

The Funny Factor

19 Jan

A couple of weeks ago Seldon came home from school upset. He said, “Mom, I’m not the funniest kid in my classroom anymore.” He was very upset. He went on to explain, “I’m only the third funniest,” as he was shaking his head in despair. This was important to him. I, in my best Mom voice, told him that everyone thinks he’s very funny. I told him “don’t try too hard to be funny because it doesn’t work; just say funny things when you think of them.” He accepted this idea, or he seemed to. I’ve never strived to pump up the funny factor. I think this must be mostly a male concern.

I’m not all that quick witted, but I think I happen to have a fabulous sense of humor. I can pass along funny stories, but I’m not very good at making stuff up, at least not funny stories. I hate those email jokes you get from people you barely speak to. I don’t read them, and never forward them. However, like most of us, when I find something funny I love to share…

I love the new sitcom “The Big Bang Theory”. A few weeks ago we noticed this screen of writing that flashes so briefly it is impossible to read. After every episode of a Chuck Lorre Production, you see what is called a vanity card. With the PVR we’re able to pause the screen and read it, and they’re hilarious. So, tonight after the show I googled Chuck Lorre Productions and found every vanity card he’d ever written.  Check it out:


14 Jan



Have you ever heard of transmediation? I had to look it up. According to “transmediation is the process of recreating the meaning of a text from one medium to another. (e.g. from a novel to a film).

Rebel Reader

10 Jan

Most of my memories of reading in early childhood aren’t really memories of my own. I think I had my parents’ memories told to me over and over, and those are the things that stuck with me. I’m told that when I was younger I loved to be read to. What child doesn’t? I’ve been told that I always wanted my father to be the one to read to me. Like many children do, I would insist on having the same book read over and over. It was Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss. He’d read it, and I’d literally hop on “Pop”. That must have been amusing.

I have a vague memory of my mother reading the Anne of Green Gables series to me. She’d come into my bedroom at bed time, and sit on the edge of my bed and read from the novel. This was well after I’d learned to read, but before I would have dreamed of tackling such a large novel on my own. I remember with fondness the time we shared together more than the plot of the novel. But, I do remember Anne talking about finding a “bosom friend… a really kindred spirit”, someone with whom she could share her soul. I think this is when I started romanticizing about the idea of having a best friend, a kindred spirit.

When I started reading novels for myself my mother started me off with books by Judy Blume. These are the books that I identified with, the books that let me know that I truly was a reader. These are the books that made me realize that reading could be fun if you liked what you were reading, because up to that point I despised reading. However, I never really adopted the pastime of reading for pleasure until I was an adult.

Even so, there was one book that I longed to read. The one Judy Blume book that my mother refused to buy for me, was the one I couldn’t wait to get my hands on. To tell the truth, I still don’t remember how I got the book, but I do remember hiding it in my dresser drawer under all my clothes. I remember moving it sometime later to a safer place where my mother was sure not to find it. Most importantly and most memorable are the evenings I’d go to be without a fight and take the book under the covers with a flashlight to read it. I was a rebel. Reading the forbidden Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret. I don’t remember much about that book now, but I do remember the chant of the main character and her deepest desire to increase her chest size. She’d do an exercise while chanting “I must, I must, I must increase my bust.” I understood why my mother didn’t want me to read this book, but I couldn’t stop myself. I think she found it months later while cleaning, but that isn’t what I remember. I remember the thrill of reading something taboo.

I still love reading things that might seem taboo to some. I like to read things that challenge my beliefs and values. I like the occasional trashy novel, not the Harlequin Romance kind, but the New York Times Bestsellers with evil, blood, guts, crime, and a little sex dropped in there. In fact, it was just last month when we were going somewhere that I needed to bring a book along to read but left the book that I really wanted to read home. It was too embarrassing of a title to read in public.

35 Years of Memories

7 Jan

Today is my only sibling’s 35th birthday. I have so many memories of us, my brother and me, growing up. Some of them good, and some of them bad, but most of them downright hilarious. You know my brother Greg, don’t you? He’s a nut! And, I say that with all the affection possible.

Oh the stories I could tell! Lets see, there’s the BBQ accident, the glass in the mud, the wet willys, the fish hook incident and I could go on and on. I’m not sure if Greg remembers, but I have a vivid memory of the cruel things I did to him when we were kids, like when I told him the truth about Santa Claus when he was only seven. I remember clearly throwing a big brown leather ottoman at him once, but for the life of me I cannot remember exactly what he did to deserve it. I also recall some of the cruel things he did to me, actually they mostly involved him jumping out of dark closets and scaring the life out of me.

I remember the time Greg challenged me to a race. Whoever reached the front door first was the winner. Now, if you know both of us, you’d know that almost any time during the last 35 years if Greg and I had raced he would almost always be the winner. But, not that day. I was ahead of him by about two or three feet and it became clear to him that I was going to win. Greg didn’t like to lose, especially to me. What boy wants to lose to his sister? So when we were about three feet from the front door Greg reached out and lunged forward and smashed through the glass on the screen door. (Just after losing the race.) He required several stitches.

One thing is for certain, and I’m sure Patti probably agrees, life with my brother is never a dull one! Happy Birthday Greg, I love you!

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