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Monday, January 31, 2011


Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life trying to save.
~ Will Rogers
- - - - -

I am very good at finding things others have lost. When I was a child I found a knife, rare coins, abandoned toys, and lots of other misplaced items. I also found a very cool fishing lure one time by stepping on it and getting it stuck in my toe. The "Oh, free lure!" excitement was squelched by the "Oh, tetanus shot!" reaction of my mother.

Sunday, January 30, 2011


The human brain is unique in that it is the only container of which it can be said that the more you put into it, the more it will hold.
~ Glenn Doman
- - - - -

I like that you can buy honey in bear-shaped containers. I am glad, however, that not all foods come in the containers of the the things that eat them, though. A few examples:

* I would not like to eat baby food out of a baby-shaped container. Mainly because baby food doesn't taste good more than because I don't like babies.
* I would not like to eat Vienna sausages out of a container modeled after someone who eats Vienna sausages.
* I would not like to eat whatever opossums and people have in common in their diets out of an opossum-shaped container because I do not like opossums.

And why do I keep typing "containter" instead of "container?" Perhaps a lack of confidence in the food preparation & packaging industry?

Saturday, January 29, 2011


The public is wonderfully tolerant. It forgives everything except genius.
~ Oscar Wilde
- - - - -

"How do you get such beautiful nails?" you might ask.

First, be Elizabeth Fowler.
Second, look online for interesting ways to decorate your nails.

Then, have some colorful Non-Pareils around the house.

And VOILA, you're set.

Oh, I forgot to mention that you should also have a couple of adults in your home who do not really monitor your behaviors as closely as they probably ought to.

Friday, January 28, 2011


There are many things that we would throw away if we were not afraid
that others might pick them up.
~ Oscar Wilde
- - - - -

Elizabeth: Hey, Michelle, you could take me to Jordan Creek.

Michelle: No. I hate that place.

Elizabeth: Why?

Michelle: Because it's a place where a bunch of people who already have too much stuff go to buy other things that they don't need.

Chris: (laughing) Oh! I think you offended Maddie Fowler.

Maddie: Well — not everyone who shops there is rich.

Michelle: I didn't mean to offend you. I was just answering Elizabeth's question.

Elizabeth: You don't have to be rich to go there — they have free fudge at Scheel's!

Thursday, January 27, 2011


- - - - -

I posted a blog a while back about helping Elizabeth study Buddhism. It went well. That night after studying, when we were eating dinner, we talked about how without desire there is no suffering. Elizabeth asked if we could take her to Staples to get some new pencils for school.

Chris: What happened to the pencils we got your for Christmas in your stocking?

Elizabeth: Well... there are just some others that I want.

Michelle: Elizabeth, what would Buddha say about you wanting those pencils?

Elizabeth: That I shouldn't want them.

Michelle: Good job.

Elizabeth: But I do. I want them a lot.

Sometimes one learns things for the exam rather than the application, I guess.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


By accident of fortune a man may rule the world for a time, but by virtue of love he may rule the world forever.
~ Lao Tzu
- - - - -

I like fortune telling machines like the one above. Not sure I'd want one in my home, but I think they're cool. However, I think it would be good to design a "Misfortune Teller." Rather than basking in the alleged good fortune that could come their way, people should be preparing for the bad stuff.

(I think scare tactics are a good way to get people to put a lot of quarters in my "Misfortune Teller.")

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


The morning cup of coffee has an exhilaration about it which the cheering influence of the afternoon or evening cup of tea cannot be expected to reproduce.
~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
- - - - -

I don't like coffee. I like the idea of coffee. I like the smell of coffee. But it tastes icky to me.

Another thing that is unpleasant early in the morning is when I stop for gas somedays on my way home from Crossfit and the gas station already has hotdogs, corndogs, bratwurst, and these strange sausage-egg link things on the rolling roaster. It makes me wonder if anyone ever eats a bratwurst at 6:30 a.m. or if it just takes the rolling roaster 5 hours to cook them.

If you like a bratwurst first thing in the morning, I don't judge you for that. Just like if you drink coffee I don't judge you for that.

No, I judge you for other things.

Monday, January 24, 2011


We used to build civilizations. Now we build shopping malls.
~Bill Bryson
- - - - -
The following is a sample of strange and disturbing items I have seen available for purchase.

I believe it was Ellen DeGeneres who said that a lot of anything is scary. While true, I would argue that even one of these demon-looking elves scares me.

For the "collector of ceramic exotic animal heads" in your life.

This is just cruel. How could one possibly choose between "Popeye Forever" and "Ultimate Popeye?" And, I wonder, does anyone really seek out Popeye, or does he just serve as filler in our animated entertainment lives?

I've said it before and I'll say it again... The "Hugglie" may be warm and comfortable, but you would be hard pressed to convince me that it's safe to wear it around open flame.


Prem: When you want Spam, but can't quite afford it. You'll find it in your local grocery next to the Vienna Sausages.

"Why thank you, Billy," Grandma said. "This will look just lovely teetering on the edge of my very high mantle." Billy was not fooled. He knew that she didn't like the beautiful lounging girl figurine he had purchased and that it was only a matter of time until Grandma called with the very sad news that her cat Buster had toppled the figure to the floor below where it shattered.

"I'm so distraught," his grandmother would lie. "Please don't buy me another. It wouldn't be the same and would serve only to remind me of how sad I am right now after the loss of the first figurine."

Billy hated his grandmother.

Everything looks better with bottle caps glued on it.

When I buy my hot chili pops, I don't buy just ANY bag of hot chili pops. No sir-ee. Mine are organic, or I'm not buying them at all!

Finally, this little doozie. Things like this are why St. Patrick's Day will never become a major gift-giving holiday. Never.


What we've learned is graffiti ... begets more graffiti.
~ John Urquhart
- - - - -

When I was a kid there was a grocery store in our town. It opened after Smitty's closed. Smitty's closed when Hy-Vee opened. And also maybe because it was called "Smitty's."

Anyway, I don't remember the name of the new store, but it was supposed to be a lot cheaper than Hy-Vee. One of the ways they saved money is that they didn't put prices on anything. You walked around with a black crayon and marked the prices by copying them off the shelves while you shopped. I remember doing some graffiti with the crayons while we shopped there.

I think I don't remember the name of the place because it wasn't open for very long. I don't think it closed because of my graffiti. I think it closed because my town was full of cheats and thieves and liars who wrote down the wrong prices to get their food for cheap. Right, Mom? (If that's your real name!)

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Does wisdom perhaps appear on the earth as a raven
which is inspired by the smell of carrion?
~ Friedrich Nietzsche
- - - - -


Maddie: Elizabeth, smell them and tell me what kind of insect they smell like.

Answer: Centipedes.

NOTE: Please don't ask me to explain this. She wasn't talking about oysters (despite the photo above). I don't know what she was talking about or how she knows what a centipede smells like.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


A leaf fluttered in through the window this morning, as if supported by the rays of the sun, a bird settled on the fire escape, joy in the task of coffee, joy accompanied me as I walked.
~ Anais Nin
- - - - -

Why don't windows in movies and on TV have screens in them? Or - apparently - at Anais Nin's house?

Friday, January 21, 2011


Art is like baby shoes. When you coat them with gold,
they can no longer be worn.
~ John Updike
- - - - -

I just realized that babies are like premonitions. Not symbolically — like predicting the future of our world or predicting change... They are predictions of themselves. I think if you look closely enough at a baby you know what s/he will look like as a very old person.

And now I realized that babies are creepy.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


You can put wings on a pig, but you don't make it an eagle.
~ William J. Clinton
- - - - -
I recently went out to try and get some photos of eagles. They nest south of here and every winter I think that I should go, but I never do. Well, I finally went. Here are some things I learned:

1. Eagles are difficult to photograph. I think I already knew that, but I re-learned it.

2. Apparently, there are swans hanging out in the same area where there are eagles. I expected the Canadian geese, but the swans were a surprise.

3. If the person who goes with you to look at eagles doesn't get out and hike with you to where the eagles are, they get bored and want to go home.

4. Eagles are awfully cool.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Life, like all other games, becomes fun when one realizes that it's just a game.
~ Nerijus Staslulis
- - - - -

Why does it have to be a LEAD pipe? Wouldn't most any type of pipe work? Or is it preferable that if the blow doesn't kill the victim at first that they then die slowly of lead poisoning? If that is the case, then clever, my friend. Very clever.

Okay, when I typed the previous paragraph I typed "very cleaver." That's kind of funny.

I bet a game called "Butcher Clue" would be fun. At least the weapons. I'm not really sure how many rooms there are in a butcher shop, though. And it would give Colonel Mustard even more status since he would complement many of the meats available in the butcher shop.

Sometimes stream of consciousness blogging works. Sometimes it works not as well.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


(photo by Chris Fowler)

Diaper spelled backwards spells repaid. Think about it.
~ Marshall McLuhan
- - - - -
So, when I went to Stephanie and Craig's baby shower, one of the games we played was "name the baby with the first letters of the parents' first names."

"Who won that game?" you ask. I did. Duh. Otherwise, why would I tell this story?

Anyway, One of the names I suggested (with the R from "CRAIG") was "Rikki-Tikki." First of all, I thought it was a good name - Rikki-Tikki Zywicki.

Second, I think that would mean that the baby would be good at killing cobras. And who couldn't use a cobra-killing baby around the house? I mean, just to be safe. If you could choose between a baby that could kill cobras and a baby that could not kill cobras, which would you choose? You would choose the baby that could kill cobras. If you say you wouldn't, you are deceiving yourself, but you're not deceiving me.

Cobra Zywicki is also a cool name.


Thinking is more interesting than knowing,
but less interesting than looking.
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
- - - - -

I found out the hard way that when Mom asked, "What were you thinking?!" that she didn't really care at all.

Monday, January 17, 2011


Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations.
I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty,
believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.
~ Louisa May Alcott
- - - - -

My dream is that the world will be full of peace and that I will get all the credit for it.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


What I don't like about Christmas office parties is
looking for a job the next day.
~ Phyllis Diller
- - - - -

When we visited Chris' Mom and Dad for the holidays, almost everyone gathered in the living room to watch some TV while they ate. They ended up watching that wonderful holiday film, "Knocked Up." This was after they changed it from that other Christmas classic, "Scarface."

Saturday, January 15, 2011


A hat should be taken off when you greet a lady
and left off for the rest of your life.
Nothing looks more stupid than a hat.
~ P.J. O'Rourke
- - - - -

So, I went to look up "hat quotation" for this entry and google asked me, "Did you mean hate quotation?" How sad is that? But you know what? Both can keep you warm. One keeps you warm so you can play in the snow. The other keeps you warm so you can get an ulcer and burn up your innards.

I'm pro-hat, but I would have to say I'm anti-hate.

Friday, January 14, 2011


Nothing that grieves us can be called little: by the eternal laws of proportion a child's loss of a doll and a king's loss of a crown are events of the same size.
~ Mark Twain
- - - - -

I am scared of dolls. See the figurine in the photo above? It might as well be a doll. Know why it's scary even though it doesn't have any hands? Because what is that doll going to do to you when it chases you down? Bite you. Because that's all she can do.

That and throw knives at you with her mind.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track, which has been there all the while waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living.
~ Joseph Campbell
- - - - -

I hope that I'm not someone's bliss because I don't want them following me around all the time.


I'm pretty sure I'm safe.

With my luck, my bliss is a truck with a sign on the back that says "Do not follow into construction zone." What do I do now, Joseph Campbell?!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


All charming people, I fancy, are spoiled. It is the secret of their attraction.
~ Oscar Wilde
- - - - -

I have a friend (who shall remain nameless) whom I believe to be the reincarnation of Oscar Wilde. Do I think this simply because this person's comments are sometimes snotty, but always clever?

Yes. Yes, I do.

I also think it because I don't think I was someone famous in a past life, but I think I may have always been friend-to-the famous. Not like an entourage - because I'm only one person. More like a confidante. But the good kind. Not the kind who blackmails the famous friend.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Try not to do too many things at once. Know what you want, the number one thing today and tomorrow. Persevere and get it done.
~ George Allen
- - - - -

Today is 1/11/11. I think it's important to remember that every moment of our lives is unique unto itself. Don't spend too much time on that, though. There are probably other things you should be doing.

Monday, January 10, 2011


Litigation is the pursuit of practical ends, not a game of chess.
~ Felix Frankfurter
- - - - -

Elizabeth: I want to be a lawyer.

Maddie: What kind of lawyer?

Elizabeth: Well... (pauses, thinking)

Michelle: There are attorneys who try cases with people and those who try cases with groups or organizations —

Elizabeth: I want to be a civil litigator.

Chris said I didn't need to simplify my language and also that we should look up what exactly a civil litigator is.

Sunday, January 9, 2011


It's the company, not the cooking, that makes a meal.
~ Kirby Larson
- - - - -

I don't ever want to be on death row because I'm not sure what I'd want for a last meal.


There are actually some bigger reasons I'd rather not be on death row, I guess.

Saturday, January 8, 2011


If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking.
~ Buddhist Proverb
- - - - -

I like that there are signs out there suggesting which way I go. Instead of signs "telling me which way to go," I prefer to say the signs are "suggesting" because no way signs are the boss of me.

Friday, January 7, 2011


Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt,
kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.
~ Albert Schweitzer
- - - - -

Elizabeth had to do a project in social studies. She chose to do it on Otzi the Iceman. We found the museum in Italy where Otzi is kept and did some research. Then we wrote an email the museum thanking them for the information and asking if they had anything additional they could send us.

Then we cited the museum's web site on the paper so that she doesn't get charged with plagiarism and academic misconduct.

Homework is fun.

Then Elizabeth said, "Remember how you took Maddie on a trip because she read Tom Sawyer in school? For my trip, I want to go to this museum in Italy."

Thursday, January 6, 2011


Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.
~ Buddha
- - - - -

Elizabeth: Michelle?

Me: What?

Elizabeth: Tomorrow night do you think you could explain Buddhism to me? We have a test on it and it makes no sense.

I am filled with both excitement about sharing my enthusiasm about the topic even if I have very limited knowledge about it and also filled with intimidation because I'm not an expert. I wonder if any of the following will suffice for her exam:

Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace.
~ Buddha

The mind is everything. What you think you become.
~ Buddha

The only real failure in life is not to be true to the best one knows.
~ Buddha

I think any of these would make a great answer to a test question: "What is Buddhism?"
Or maybe this:

When you seek it, you cannot find it.
~ Zen proverb

I wonder if I'm the best person to be helping her with this...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Sitting quietly, doing nothing, spring comes, and the grass grows by itself.
~ Zen Proverb
- - - - -

I have known some Zen masters in my life. But none of them knew they were Zen masters. Which is part of what makes them Zen masters.

I want to be a Zen master, but can't be because I want to be.

It's like living in an Escher painting. Only instead of stairs that just go and go to nowhere, an Escher painting representing Zen masters probably has flowers or birds in it. Wait, there are some Escher paintings with birds.

That's what wanting to be a Zen master is like. An Escher bird painting. It's like being the painting, not wanting to be a painting.

Being a Zen master is also like a broken Magic 8 Ball that always answers, "Cannot predict now."

Zen masters are also like Toastmasters. Mainly because they have the word "master" in them, but also because they originated in Santa Ana, California.


I'll probably never be a Zen master.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


- - - - -

Chris doesn't really like to play boardgames very much. This is a challenge since I LOVE games and I am freakishly competitive. During a recent visit to her parents' house, Chris was discussing this Game Complex (as I like to call it) with her mom and her brother Ken. During the conversation I heard one of the three of them mention a game called "Art Linkletter's House Party." Chris' brother Al - as if reading my mind - said, "Art Linkletter's House Party? I imagine that is a pretty fun party."

Apparently, it's a real game, though. I found this image at the following link:

I consider myself a bit of a game expert and I've never heard of this game. I wonder if it's as fun as "Alan Fundt's Masquerade Ball Extreme" or "Desi Arnaz's Domino Bash."

Monday, January 3, 2011


I live with an 18-month-old Jack Russell named Chicken. He moved in about 15 months ago, and it was very hard at first because I work a lot and he doesn't.
~ Liev Schreiber
- - - - -

"Is that your foot under the table?" (pause) "Oh, never mind. It was a chicken strip."

NOTE: I said this to Chris right as we sat down to order. It is not a restaurant that we frequent very often. It will be a while before we return, I suspect.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


Don't accept your dog's admiration as conclusive evidence
that you are wonderful.
~ Ann Landers
- - - - -

Maddie: Look at those two dogs.

Elizabeth: Are you sure it wasn't a two-headed dog? I'm just saying... their bodies are really close together.

Saturday, January 1, 2011


The beginning is the most important part of the work.
~ Plato
- - - - -

Welcome, 2011. This is the year of 11/11/11. One being a symbol of beginnings and aloneness and the self, this means that we all kind of get two starts for the upcoming year — 1/1/11 and 11/11/11. So, don't worry if you mess up today, November is coming.

It is also the year of the rabbit. The rabbit's ears look like ones or elevens. This means it should be a very fortunate year for everyone. Except for the children who live at our house because I just heard Chris say, "This is 'Hold Accountable Mom.' You're going to see a whole lot more of her."