UPDATE: It appears that Marshmallow Spike is going on at 6 which means that youd better get down there quick, and that UltraGirl and I will probably miss it unless she materializes real quick like.
I’m writing this from a “manga kisa” (comic book cafe) in Yokohama, waiting for UltraGirl to finish her beauty treatment at the “este” that she goes to. Definition time: a manga kisa is a place where you can go to read Japanese comics without buying them, and have some coffee while you are at it. As you can guess, many of them have internet access now, and are getting quite elaborate. Remind me to tell you about it sometime. Estes are places to go to get beauty treatments like skin exfoliation and all that other crap that chicks seem to dig.
My stomach is full after having a thanksgiving lunch at Hard Rock Cafe only place we could come up with in Yokohama that had a Thanksgiving special).
Later today we will head to Musashi Sakai where UltraGirl used to go to university to a little club where MJ and Yoshi are playing Marshmallow Spikes first live gig More about that here.
Overall, I wish I could be with my family back in the states for my favorite holiday, but today is pretty OK.
This keyboard has ceased allowing me to type apostrophes quotes and parenthesis so I say goodbye to you now.
I found this tale extremely entertaining. Perhaps because I remember how totally afraid I was of making a major faux pas when I first came to Japan.
The walls are plastered with pop culture memorabilia which at one time must have represented American culture but now represents the infinitely simpler concept of American nostalgia. An orange, having been promoted from his old job promoting citrus fruit, beams out from behind beautifully rusted oilcans, farm implements, and auto parts also in the business of creating a marketable atmosphere. A tarnished Lion’s Club sign along with a boxy black camera and a couple of barber shop totems also add to the effect.
Smiling wait-staff, and I’ve never seen such high-power grinnage even for tips, hurry through the paths between tables in their wide array of unusual hats. They serve burgers and other dishes with tastes that bludgeon more than caress the taste-buds. Beat heavy hip hop music provides a slightly fun, but slightly urgent background rhythm. All of this comes to be associated with the thick diagonal strips of bold red and white that emblazon the tabletops, uniforms, and the “old west meets McDonalds” style sign out front.
Okay, much as I hate to do this, I have to admit something. I am really not a very nice person!
I have this competitive streak that rears its ugly head and makes me behave in a manner….....well let’s just say I’m not going to win any Miss Congeniality awards, if you know what I mean.
As you become more and more knowledgeable about this enigma we call UltraMom, you may realize that I LOVE to play games! Especially ones where I shine; where I can show off my store of useless trivia or familiarity with arcane words. Especially ones where I can be the gracious (and only slightly condescending) winner.
Well, my husband despises most games. Especially the ones that involve useless trivia or anything with a timer. In fact, usually, he despises games that involve other PEOPLE; Computer Solitaire is his game of choice. Hour after hour. In fact, some nights I can hardly get in a few rousing rounds of Bookworm! Once in a great while, I can get a game of Rummikub out of him, or a bit of Phase 10 with the boys. Oh, and he will play Pinochle if his brother invites us over.
Well, a couple of days ago, I reminded him that we used to play Canasta once in a while, and have fun doing it, as I remembered. Wouldn’t he like to try it? No, he wouldn’t. He was tired, and didn’t feel that great.
Then last night he decided to give it a try, more to shut me up, I think, than anything else. Well, he firmly and repeatedly TROUNCED me. I don’t know how familiar you are with the game, but he seems to have this uncanny knack of knowing when to “go out” to leave me high and dry. He gets ALL the red 3’s, all the Jokers, and always picks up the stack when it’s worth picking up. On the other hand, I always manage to get myself in the situation all I can do is give him the cards he needs to further his nefarious schemes. And he did the same thing tonight. Sounds like great fun, right? Oh, DD readers, you would NOT have been proud of me. I believe the words “I hate you” escaped my lips several times; also “YOU keep score for a change” “NO, I dealt the last 3 times, It’s YOUR turn” I also sighed, looked bored, and once slammed my cards down on the table.
Well, I was planning to end this post with a few homespun plattitudes, ending with a vow to be a better loser, but UltraHusband just informed me that I’m already quite a good loser; that I have it down pat. Of course, I can’t ignore a challenge like that, and if Canasta is the only game he’ll play, I’ll keep at it til I have him whipped. For now, I have the comfort of knowing that Canasta is, basically, the luck of the draw. I just hope my luck changes soon.—-UltraMom
Okay, I know this is really, really long, but it is my new and improved life story! Thanks to countless rereading and suggestions from my sons (UltraDaughter hasn’t read it yet), I have come up with the final version, the coup de resistance. That is, unless you have some suggestions for changing it? Speak now or soon it will be too late! And now, our feature presentation:
Kathy A. McDonald
I was 18 years old the first time I ever saw the town of Howe, and I thought to myself “This has got to be one of the most desolate places on earth.” I am happy to report that after living here for more than 25 years, I have completely changed my mind. Now I can’t imagine living anywhere else.
I grew up in Citrus Heights, CA, a suburb of Sacramento, and I had no concept of being “in between” towns. Where I lived, as soon as you left one town, you were in another one. I can remember driving through Nevada on a family vacation when I was quite young and staring out the window at the miles of sagebrush. “Dad, what town are we in?” I was amazed when he replied that we weren’t in any town. But I now have a firm grasp of that concept, as there is a lot of “in-between” in Idaho!
My Dad was an aerospace engineer and worked for Aerojet for more than 20 years. My Mom stayed at home with 5 kids, of which I was the middle child, but she went to college for 2 years when my oldest sister began. Mom majored in Journalism; she was a very gifted writer and used to write for the college newspaper. Later, she sold Real Estate. Both of my parents were active Christians and devoted parents. My parents’ history is a fascinating story all in its own. My Dad, Bob Wesley, was the youngest of 9 kids raised on a dairy farm in Wisconsin. He was the only one of them to finish high school, after which he joined the Army-Air force. During World War II, Bob flew reconnaissance over Germany, France and Belgium, and was instrumental in spotting German troop movement before the Battle of the Bulge. I have often thought that wars, such as this one, were greatly responsible for furthering the “melting pot” that comprises the diverse population of the United States. While stationed in Oklahoma, Bob met Kathleen Hill at a USO dance. Later, she rode the train, all by herself, to Saratoga, Florida to marry him. Kathleen, or Kathy as she was known, was the youngest of 5 kids, raised in Muskogee, Oklahoma at the height of the Great Depression. She used to talk about her parents’ doing without every possible thing in order to provide for their children. After serving in the military, Bob, making use of the GI bill, got his engineering degree from the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma. In Citrus Heights, California, where the family eventually settled, we were far away from any extended relatives, but were a very close-knit family. When I was 16, my Dad lost his job; Aerojet did not get the bid for the Space Shuttle, the project on which my Dad had been working. Eventually, he was hired by the INEL, and we moved to Idaho Falls, where I spent ¾ of my senior year of High School. It never occurred to me to remain behind in California. My older brother and sister did stay, but they were already adults making lives for themselves. And it seemed a grand adventure after living in one place for so long. I was really looking forward to SNOW, but it didn’t take too long to become a little less enchanted with the cold, white stuff. I graduated from Skyline High School, and duly registered at Idaho State University, where John’s sister Kathy became one of my best friends. I was still trying to decide what I wanted to be when I grew up, when Kathy introduced me to her older brother John. I remember thinking that I wished he were MY brother; he was so nice! Well, instead he became my husband, and for the most part, he’s still pretty nice.
John was also one of 5 kids. Unlike me, he had grown up all over the country, including a year or two on the island of Guam. John’s dad, Bill worked for Civil Service, but had recently retired from Hill Air force Base in Utah and moved to Howe with his wife Mary, and children Pat, Kathy and Bill. John and his brother Chuck had recently finished a hitch in the Armed Forces, and decided to go into farming in Howe, the sometime home of their youth, of their father’s youth, and the site of his retirement. John’s dad, Bill, had grown up in Howe, but had met his future wife during World War II while stationed in Alabama. See what I mean about the melting pot? When I met John, the brothers were farming and running a dairy. I had always wished I lived on a farm (I know, I know, what was I thinking!), so that was an added incentive. I dropped out of college after a year and a half, and got married at the ripe old age of 19.
I had a lot of adjustments in my life, not only to being married, but also to living so far away from everything, but for the most part I liked it. Growing up, we had very few pets, so I soon made up for lost time. My first dog, Jeff, was a black Irish Setter; not the smartest dog in the world, but very good natured. I also raised three orphan kittens; Bright Eyes, Pudge and Mike. Bright Eyes later became the mother of many, many kittens. I used to keep John company while he milked the cows in the old rundown barn. We played tunes on his 8-track player. Almost every night, our neighbor Wayne Isham would stop by for a little visit. Everyone was so friendly, and I soon became used to waving at each car I passed on the road, just in case it was someone we knew! Also, while John milked, I fed the calves with calf milk replacer in huge bottles. I got bum (orphan) lambs, who became my first “children”. I’ll never forget Candy, Taffy and Marty. I do have a way with names, don’t I? Candy eventually had lambs of her own.
Milking was an adventure all in its own, especially the way we did it in the old, run-down “barn”. John used to run the Holstein bull through the milk barn so he could get his dose of grain along with the cows. Sometimes when John was especially sleepy (hard to imagine being that way at 4 A.M.), he would try to “milk the bull”, much to the surprise of both of them! After a while the bull became unpredictable, as Holstein bulls often do (too much milking?) After he tossed John around the holding pen a few times, the brothers decided he would have to be sold. They were trying to herd him into the loading chute, John on a tractor and Chuck on foot armed with a club. (Chuck, what were you thinking?) Brother Bill stood by with a pistol just in case. It was a good thing he did because Chuck’s club turned out to be no match for the bull, and Bill shot him just as he was getting ready to deliver the “death blow.” I missed the whole thing as I had run to the barn to answer the phone! Not being wasteful people, we butchered the bull and ate a lot of tough steaks and bull-burger for a very long time. Another time, the electric fence current somehow got routed through the metal milking stalls. John herded 4 cows in to milk, and closed the gate behind them. Well, that completed the circuit, and two cows were dead before he figured out what was going on and turned the current off. Usually, John grabbed the metal stall preparatory to jumping down off the concrete platform. Considering the high voltage that would have coursed through his body, I’m glad he didn’t that time. Eventually, the milking venture reached the point where we would either have to expand and build a new modern barn, or get out of it altogether. We chose the latter. There was still plenty of work to be done. I always thought that the worst thing was the flood irrigating. John would set his alarm to change the water sets every two hours all night long. Sometimes when his headlight was broken, I got to come along and hold a flashlight. Once I tried to jump a ditch after John had sailed across with ease; I landed right in the middle of it. I didn’t find it nearly as amusing as some people did.
For the most part, having my own children has been even better than raising the bum lambs. Bob, our first-born child, named after his Grandpa Wesley, was born with water on his lungs. He underwent surgery when he was only one or two days old, and still has little scars under each arm where they inserted tubes to drain the water away. Thankfully, there have been no lasting effects (we think.) Bob has always been very intelligent and inquisitive, but he hated to play by himself. So both he and I were thrilled when his beautiful sister Heather was born, also a redhead. They used to ride their tricycles around and around the kitchen table. A few years later, Johnny came along. Johnny could and often did play by himself, and was frequently in a world of his own, building towers of blocks, or swinging on the swing set glider and making up songs. Jim was supposed to be my second girl, but I am now very glad he wasn’t. Although an extremely handsome young man, he would have been one homely girl. Jim was the one who usually got along with all of his siblings. Once when I asked him for his secret he replied, “Well, I just did whatever they told me to do.” But sometimes he had had enough. One day, Bob told him that he had his shoes on the wrong feet. Jim firmly put Bob in his place with this reprimand: “You aren’t the boss of my feet!”
I loved getting to stay home with my kids while they were young. We read books, had picnics in the yard in the summertime, and played games. As they got older, there was Vacation Bible School, 4-H, T-Ball and Softball. In addition, we often had “friends over”, either because we were babysitting or just for fun. When Bob was about 10, he won an “Etch-a-Sketch” contest. He drew a marvelous hot air balloon on his etch-a-sketch, and we very carefully transported it to the school, turned it upside down on the copy machine, and ran a copy for submission. The prizes started arriving before the letter informing Bob of his good fortune. Among other things, he won a plastic sports locker, a plastic basketball backboard, and a killer water gun. He also got $10, with which he decided to throw a party for his friends. I think we bought a couple of liters of pop and some snacks and let the kids play with Bob’s new toys. Since John and I have 4 brothers and sisters each, there have been a lot of fun times with Aunts, Uncles and Cousins. They were especially close to cousins Nicki and Sara, who also lived in Howe, and they spent many happy hours building “forts” among the trees, floating down the ditch, watching “Duck Tales” and eating homemade Popsicles “Grandma and Grandpa McDonald (Bill and Mary) lived just a few miles away, so that was another incentive for all of the McDonald cousins to visit often. The McDonald Grandparents had a spoiled little terrier named Willie, who would snap when provoked, and hide his favorite toys when the kids came to visit. The Wesley Grandparents were in Idaho Falls, but sadly, Bob Wesley died not long after Heather was born. Grandma Wesley, however, continued to be a major influence. She was the one who made sure my kids had a swing set, a basketball hoop (she later claimed credit, and rightly so, for Jim’s basketball success), and lots of good books. Now, all of the Grandparents are gone.Bob, Heather and Johnny attended Howe Elementary through 6th grade, and Jim through 5th grade. There are pros and cons of going to such a small, close-knit school, but I think that the pros outweighed the cons. A definite “pro” was (and continues to be) Lou Jones, whose wonderful cooking (which I’ve never managed to measure up to) and loving attention made each child feel special and cared for. Sue Norris as kindergarten teacher was another plus. Bob’s class was her first kindergarten in Howe, and I was glad that she retired a few years AFTER Jim made it through. Teaching 5 year olds, Sue was always getting little gifts from them, usually pretty rocks or original artwork. She wasn’t as thrilled, much to Bob’s bewilderment, with his offering of a paper cup full of honeybees! He caught them on the playground one recess, and still remembers that Mrs. Norris made him go outside and let them go. I guess there’s just no pleasing some people. At one time, when Bob and Heather were in school, the total enrollment was around 70 students, and 3 full time teachers were required, as well as Sue, Lou and Betty Allen as school secretary. I was fortunate to work at the school for a short time, and often filled in as a sub. One little kindergarten boy had a hard time with my name: Mrs. McDonald became simply “Donald”. But I always enjoyed the kids. Another important place to me was, and continues to be, Little Lost River Bible Church. I feel very grateful to those who founded the church many years ago, as it has been instrumental in my spiritual growth as a Christian.
All of my children have graduated from Butte High School in Arco. Bob was a member of the Scholastic Team and Academic Decathlon. In AcaDeca he won a couple of scholarships in the state competition. Bob also participated in cross-country and track. Bob is now living in Japan, after graduating from Boise State University where he majored in International Business with a minor in Japanese. I think that Tomoko, a Japanese girl he met in Boise, was instrumental in his decision, and they are still together. Bob has started his own business in Web Design, and seems to be doing well. About a year ago (Fall of 2002), Bob and Tomoko came back for a visit, along with Tomoko’s dad, Motoji. We had a great time; Motoji was interested in and liked everything! We made sure he got a lot of Idaho experiences: Chuck took the visitors flying in his airplane, and John took them for a ride in his semi-truck. They also got to experience shooting 22 rifles at cans in the gravel pit. Motoji didn’t speak a lot of English, but Bob, and especially Tomoko were very good at translating. One afternoon, Motoji and Tomoko cooked a delicious Japanese noodle dish for us.
Heather was involved in FFA (Future Farmers of America), Speech and Debate, Cheerleading and 4-H. All of my kids took 4-H projects, but Heather really liked it, especially her market lamb projects. She really knew what she was doing and won Demonstration contests a couple of times, as well as doing very well in fitting, showing and quality. One year, her pig was County Fair Grand Champion. Heather went to Pocatello after graduation, and attended college for a couple of years. Now, she is working for AMI, a company that makes semi-conductor computer chips. Heather is also the proud owner of 2 beautiful cats…well Callie is beautiful with her long gray fur. Nimbus, who needs to lose a few pounds, is kind of like a black blob. She has been dating Heath for several years, who has the sterling quality of liking the cats almost as much as Heather does. This year, Heather attended Mountain West Ministries Ladies’ Retreat with me in Sun Valley, and it was terrific having her with me.
Johnny is known for his quick wit and dry, rather sarcastic sense of humor. While in high school, he and his best friend Cody Stauffer wrote for the school newspaper, “The Broken Pancake.” Their imaginative “horoscopes” were a big hit. He also played football and did a little track. Johnny is now attending Boise State University, from where he will graduate this year with a degree in Criminal Justice. He may go on to attend law school. Last summer, Johnny worked as a firefighter for the BLM in Dubois.
Jim is the family athlete. He participated in Football, Cross Country, and Track, but he excelled at Basketball. I really miss watching him play. The summer of his junior year, Jim was invited to play in an invitational tournament in Australia. Through generous community donations and hard work, Jim was able to raise all of the money he needed, with a little spending money besides. It was a great experience; the team consisted of boys from all over Idaho. He got to see the Sydney Opera house, Olympic swimming pool, and a lot of native Australian animals. My favorite pictures were the ones of Jim with the kangaroos. He also stopped by a small town and watched cerebralsoup.com’s TheCook’s mother win her 15th consecutive tuna tossing title, and honor that belonged to her mother before her. On the way back, the team stopped in Hawaii for about 3 days. Jim got to try surfing and snorkeling, where he was scared by a giant sea turtle. Touring Pearl Harbor was a highlight of the trip. Jim graduated at the top of his high school class, and is currently attending Boise State University. His tentative major is forestry. Jim also worked for the BLM last summer, but he was stationed in Shoshone, where he shared a trailer with his best friend B.J. Stauffer, also a firefighter.
John and I are trying to adjust to being “empty nesters”. I have been working for a bank in Arco for the past 5 years, and John is trying to keep a semi truck on the road. His brother Chuck “retired” to Howe, and has been actively helping with the farm. We enjoy living near both of John’s brothers and their wives. My favorite thing is spending time with, or communicating with, my children, as they are still the most interesting people I know.
1. Calorie Counting Jump rope
2. “Temptations” Cat Treats
3. Candy: Jawbreakers, Bubblegum, Suckers, Starbursts
4. Spiced Cider Drink Mix, Ritz Bits, Cheddar Cheese Crackers, Gourmet Popcorn, Chex Mix, 2 packs of gum
5. Love is in the Little Things figurine
6. CD: Bach, Reflections of Nature
7. Kleenex packet
8. French vanilla mini candles
9. Silver flower necklace and 2 pr sparkly silver earrings
10. Picture of Heath with Nimbus and carved pumpkins
11. M & M Notebook
12. 3 Colorific Confetti pencils
13. Embrace shower gel and body lotion in pretty silver dish
14. Freesia bath set in wooden tray: shower gel, bath crystals, body polisher, flower
15. St. Ives Apricot hand & foot scrub
16. Deodorizing Watermelon & Balm Mint Foot Scrub one time packet
17. Cucumber Peel off Masque
18. Apricot and Almond Oil Hot Masque
19. Dead Sea Mud Pac for deep pore Cleansing
20. Chocolate covered cherries
THAT, dear readers, is a catolog of the contents of a surprise care package I received from my UltraDaughter today! Apparently, she also sent one to each of her 2 younger brothers (but with slightly different contests). She is now DEFINITELY ahead in the Momathan game show contest! And she doesn’t even know about it! In case you missed that one, it is a little form of bribery suggested by Johnny for the purpose of getting more communication from my children. I’m still not sure I understand all the rules, but somehow, the child who lavishes the most attention on their deserving mother will reap material rewards, or that’s the idea anyway. I’m trying to get the most out of this that I can without actually parting with any cash, but for now I’m basking in the glow. I gotta tell you that UltraBob has lost a few of his points for lying and trying to take credit for the package; “Did I accidentally write Heather’s name on the return address? That package was from ME, the GOOD son.”
Anyone else who wants to jump on the bandwagon, COME ON DOWN! All it takes is a little praise and attention lavished on UltraMom, and YOU could be spinning that wheel, and finding fabulous prizes behind door #3!