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Monday, February 28, 2011


The doctor must have put my pacemaker in wrong.
Every time my husband kisses me, the garage door goes up.
~ Minnie Pearl
- - - - -

Two things about our garage. One - only one of our garage door openers works. I fixed the broken one once and it worked for quite a while, but now it doesn't work again. And, yes, we've replaced the battery.

Two, the other night the door broke because a bolt fell out on the arm that makes it go up. I was able to fix that.

I wonder if that image on the back of the garage door opener (see photo above) that appears to be the universal sign for "don't let the garage door crush you to death," really helps save lives.

Sunday, February 27, 2011


Okay, that's it. Talking poo is where I draw the line.
~ Eric Cartman
- - - - -
I don't remember who gave me this card. It didn't have anything written on the back. The only thing I can think is that I was having a poopy day and someone wanted to cheer me up. I don't know if it worked or not, but it seemed important enough that I decided to keep it.

I used to keep all of my papers, notes, letters, etc. I knew that people would want them when they researched my work and constructed that museum in my childhood home. Then I got tired of carrying all of that stuff around, so I threw a lot of it out. This poo card, however, made the cut and I have kept it since I was in college.

You're welcome Life and Times of Michelle Boettcher researchers.

Saturday, February 26, 2011


It isn't just what you know, and it isn't just who you know.
It's actually who you know, who knows you,
and what you do for a living.
~ Bob Burg
- - - - -

Elizabeth is wise beyond her years. She tries to build relationships with key players. On her good days I think of this as developing social skills which will help her find great success in life. On her not so good days, I am worried she sees the world as one big space of (not so positive) opportunity and she's constantly "casing the joint."

Friday, February 25, 2011


It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
- - - - -
As Ripley has gotten older, he has gotten into more trouble. He tends to try and steal bread when we're gone and occasionally gets into snacks the girls leave in their bags or pockets.

I don't think it's so much that he's hungry as that he is bored and one of the ways he amuses himself is to annoy us. That makes sense. When we're bored, we tend to amuse ourselves by annoying one another. Except for Elizabeth. She annoys people in the family, but also tries to annoy the cat.

And then the cat annoys Ripley. It's a vicious circle. Well, not vicious. And not really a circle. It's more of a vexing hexagon.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


No longer shall I paint interiors with men reading and women knitting.
I will paint living people who breathe and feel and suffer and love.
~Edvard Munch
- - - - -

I think the families of many artists have to endure a great deal of pain as the artist pursues her craft. In some cases, when the artist is experimenting with different mediums, a family member may lose an eye because a ball point pen was used where a marker might have been more appropriate.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


The need to be right is the sign of a vulgar mind.
~ Albert Camus
- - - - -

I think that when you walk around saying that you need "a sign" to tell you what to do about a given situation, they're easy enough to find. The problem is most of them will tell you not to do whatever it is you were hoping to do (Yield, Stop, Caution) or compromise (Merge, Cross Traffic Does Not Stop). If you already know you want to do something, just do it and don't blame it on the "signs." There aren't that many signs out there that tell us "go ahead and do that ignorant thing you wanted to do."

But we could make some.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


A gentle heart is tied with an easy thread.
~ George Herbert
- - - - -

Elizabeth has recently joined the knitting club at school. So far she's completed a pot holder.

Chris was knitting for a while, too. First, she started out making a scarf. Then she decided (part way into it) that it would be a pot holder. The she decided to strive for a coaster. In the end, she completed a very nice bookmark.

I think it shows great wisdom to be flexible and adaptable in one's goal-setting.

Monday, February 21, 2011


Life is a little like a message in a bottle, to be carried by the winds and the tides.
~ Gene Tierney
- - - - -

I think I've written before that people don't write enough letters. They also don't send enough messages in bottles anymore. I think it's due to the crazy-restrictive littering legislation.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


Tens of thousands who could never afford to own, feed and stable a horse,
had by this bright invention enjoyed the swiftness of motion which
is perhaps the most fascinating feature of material life.
~Frances Willard, How I Learned to Ride the Bicycle
- - - - -

So, Elizabeth saved up for a new bike which she purchased at the end of December. She has had a couple of decent days to ride it, but has only ridden it once because she doesn't want it to get dirty.

The photo above shows her on a previous bike she owned. Unfortunately, it was stolen (one of the perils of owning a bike when you live in a residence halls — the others being that it's tough to bike safely in a residence hall parking lot and disruptive student behaviors like when they put the baseball cards of players you don't like in the spokes of your bike wheels).

It is good that Elizabeth has grown up and learned to be responsible and save for things she wants (like a $600 Townie bicycle). It is also good that she has learned to dress herself because I think that we may have put her bike helmet on her backwards in the photo above.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


My barn having burned to the ground, I can now see the moon.
~ Chinese Proverb
- - - - -

There is something to be said for living in a part of the country where the lead story in the Sunday paper - above the fold - is about barns. I'm not sure what that something is, and it may depend on the sayer, but still worth noting.

Friday, February 18, 2011


I remember that. I was talking to him and I said how great it would be if actors had a tail because I have animals and a tail is so expressive. On a cat you can tell everything. You can tell if they're annoyed. You can tell whether they're scared.
~ Christopher Walken
- - - - -

How come when I stay home from work Ripley is excited and follows me around and wants to hang out with me while Neko looks at me like my presence is nothing more than a disgusting inconvenience to her?

I am not sure why we tolerate cats because they clearly can barely tolerate us. Well, except Chris whom Neko LOVES.

Freakshow cat.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Action expresses priorities.
~ Gandhi
- - - - -

We are in the process of trying to plan a family vacation. We have discussed a lot of options. The other day I asked the girls, "What is more important to you - staying in a really nice place or doing lots of different things?" They both said that staying in a really nice place is most important. Chris and I are the opposite, but we want them to be involved in planning the trip, so we will have to see.

I don't know why where we stay matters so much to them. Unless it's somehow linked to the time we stayed in a little blue cabin. Maddie thought we were kidding when we pulled up and said that was where we were staying. It was a lot smaller than the other homes near us. It really was one big room a loft and a small bedroom. And we were staying there with three other people. And the guy we rented it from had built it himself. And I don't think he was a carpenter. Oh, and the water from the indoor plumbing did smell a little like sewage.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


To love is to admire with the heart; to admire is to love with the mind.
~ Theophile Gautier
- - - - -

I think when you're an oldest there are some things you miss out on. Like having someone to show you the way and give you advice and look out for you. The look at Elizabeth's face here is the same one she had on her face the first time she saw Maddie in her letter jacket. I'm not sure Maddie noticed, but it's awfully cool.

Apparently, however, Maddie neglected her "big sister responsibilities" and forgot to tell Elizabeth to wash whatever that is off of her face.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Like all the best families, we have our share of eccentricities,
of impetuous and wayward youngsters
and of family disagreements.
~ Elizabeth II
- - - - -

Life gives a family and lets you choose a family. Sometimes we're given generously and choose wisely, sometimes not. Either way, we make the most of it - or at least we should. I think Maddie and Elizabeth try to make the most of the fact that they were given to each other (and didn't get the chance to choose one another).

On the other hand, Elizabeth did get to choose Ripley (and there are times when they look very much alike).

Monday, February 14, 2011


Do all things with love.
~ Og Mandino
- - - - -

You know what I think a good St. Valentine's Day gift would be? A shield and a b.b. gun. Because you see all those pictures of those little angels with bows and arrows. It's probably bad luck to kill those things, but shooting them with a b.b. should deter them from shooting you with arrows. And you can use the shield to block them, too. Or you could use it as a platter to serve hors d'oeuvres after you chase off those angel-archers. Because snacks go well with love.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when
the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty
is revealed only if there is a light from within.
~ Elizabeth Kubler-Ross
- - - - -

I agree that people are like stained glass windows. Because if you throw rocks at either one, you get in REALLY BIG TROUBLE.


Or so I have heard.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


Your optimistic eyes seem like paradise, to someone like... me.
~ Depeche Mode
- - - - -

Michelle: (To Chris, after a near-death riding experience) Eyes on the road, please.

Elizabeth: Eyes on the prize, Mom. (slight pause) And that'd be ME.

Friday, February 11, 2011


Michelle: What a cute little catten you have!

Maddie: I love how she smells! Here — sniff her.

Michelle: No!

Maddie: Don't you just sniff her sometimes?

Michelle: No. That's gross, Maddie.

Elizabeth: Really, Michelle? You don't just sniff her?

Maddie: See? I'm not crazy. You sniff her sometimes, Elizabeth?

Elizabeth: (laughing) NO. I never sniff her!

(later, looking at the draft of this blog post)

Maddie: She looks so pretty there! (pause) I'm gonna be sad when she dies.

Elizabeth: Maddie!

Maddie: Well, don't you ever think about that?

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Every day we should hear at least one little song, read one good poem, see one exquisite picture, and, if possible, speak a few sensible words.
~ Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
- - - - -

I haven't had songs in my head every morning of late. When I do, it is often either "Find Your Grail" from Spamalot or "Apologies" by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. I don't know why that is.

Anyway, here is the most recent rundown...

October 16, 2010: Castles Made of Sand by Jimi Hendrix
17: White Wedding by Billy Idol
18: The Scooby Doo theme song
19: Soul Sister by Train
21: Sk8r Boi by Avril Lavigne
24: Take it Off by Ke$ha
25: Time in a Bottle by Jim Croce
26: Purple Rain by Prince
29: Time After Time by Cyndi Lauper

November 1, 2010: Help Me Make it Through the Night by Sammi Smith
3: Don't Get Mad, Get Even by Aerosmith
4: Just the Way You Are by Bruno Mars
5: Life After You by Daughtry
14: Rhythm of Love by Plain White Ts
15: The Dipsy Doodle Dragon
16: Sunshine Superman by Donovan
18: I am Barely Breathing by Duncan Sheik
20: My Life Would Suck Without You by Kelly Clarkson
21: Popular by Kristen Chenoweth
25: Before the Next Teardrop Falls by Freddy Fender

December 4, 2010: The Tootsie Roll Commercial Song
5: Ave Maria
6: Why Can't We Be Friends? by War
7: The Scooby Doo Theme Song
8: Teenage Dream by Katy Perry
11: Baby It's Cold Outside by Pearl Bailey and "Hot Lips" Page (the best version and - as mentioned in my Facebook post that day - only slightly better than the version Chris was singing that morning)
12: Keep It Loose, Keep It Tight by Amos Lee
14: Holly Jolly Christmas by Burl Ives
18: Rhythm of Love by the Plain White Ts
19: All I Have to do is Dream by The Everly Brothers
23: Jolly Old Saint Nicholas
26: I Want to Hold Your Hand by The Beatles
28: Bus Stop by The Hollies

January 3, 2011: The theme music from "Bewitched"
15: Find Your Grail from Spamalot
19: Chariots of Fire by Vangelis
26: Life After You by Daughtry

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Tough times don't last, tough people do, remember?
~ Gregory Peck
- - - - -

Elizabeth is very tough — emotionally tough. Recently, we had to confront her about her time management and failure to prioritize in a way that might lead her to be successful in the future. As an example, playing with friends seems to have taken precedence over doing homework, practicing the saxophone, cleaning up after herself, etc. While this is hardly unusual for an 11-year-old, it did reach a point where we decided that more structure was going to be necessary.

We set her schedule for a week. Pretty much every minute from the time she got home from school until she went to bed was assigned some sort of task (homework — reading if she doesn't have homework, chores, taking care of her rabbit, etc.). As we discussed how to help her be more responsible (not waiting until 8:15 p.m. on Sunday night to do her homework, for example), she and I had the following exchange.

Michelle: Do you understand that it's important to put these kinds of things [homework assignments] before fun?

Elizabeth: I understand.

Michelle: Well, you don't seem very upset about the consequences. It makes me wonder if you think you've just been getting away with stuff for a long time and you're relieved the results aren't more harsh.

Elizabeth: Well, I'm not going to cry or anything about it!

Since making her cry wasn't my goal, I guess you could say it was win-win, though I doubt either one of us really felt that way.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may.
We ourselves must walk the path.
~ Buddha
- - - - -

I like going for walks sometimes. I used to not like winter because I didn't feel like I could do that, but there have been a couple of times this winter where I have gone ahead and gone on walks even though it was cold and snowy. It wasn't so bad. Once I walked to see eagles...

and the other time I walked to the Des Moines Asian Gardens...

The photo at the beginning of this entry was taken behind the Des Moines Art Center in the fall when it was much warmer and there was no snow. And I will not lie to you, dear blogreader. I prefer the fall. I'm just trying to make the most out of this cold season. It's my way of rebelling against the inter in "winter."

Monday, February 7, 2011


Never be the first to arrive at a party or the last to go home
and never, never be both.
~ David Brown
- - - - -

I call this photo, "The Party's Over."

That's probably pretty human-centric, though. The party may just be beginning for the mice, rats, and birds that eat out of that dumpster. Sorry animal and bird friends. I'm not sorry that I overlooked you in titling my photo.

No, wait. Rather than apologizing for overlooking you, I'm instead extending my apologies for not attending your nasty dumpster party. Gross.

Sunday, February 6, 2011


I have received no more than one or two letters in my life
that were worth the postage.
~Henry David Thoreau
- - - - -

I have a couple of friends to whom I owe letters. I am not sure why I don't make more time to write letters. I like writing them. I am good at writing them. Many of my letters are suitable for framing. I know Henry David Thoreau liked both of the letters I wrote him.

Saturday, February 5, 2011


We find comfort among those who agree with us—
growth among those who don't.
~ Frank A. Clark
- - - - -

Overheard: I'm NOT buying you any shoes!! You're still growing!!!

Another mom creating another happy shopping memory for her child.

Friday, February 4, 2011


The recipe for perpetual ignorance is a very simple and effective one: be satisfied with your opinions and content with your knowledge.
~ Elbert Hubbard
- - - - -

On a recent visit to an antique store, Chris found this recipe. While I could take issue with several things in this recipe, the thing that is most striking to me (pardon the pun) is "1 Small Paddle."

Thursday, February 3, 2011


Do not despise the bottom rungs in the ascent to greatness.
~ Publilius Syrus
- - - - -

I think I've shared before that I'm an endings person more than a beginnings person. However, one thing I appreciate about the beginning of things is the potential. To be totally honest, though, there is potential in the end, as well. Potentially, I'm going to lie about what came before the end, so it's kind of like a beginning. But it's better than a regular beginning because it's a do-over. And any 5-year-old can tell you that do-overs are AWESOME.


Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.
~ John Muir

Academic advice from some past professor... "Read 20-25 pages at a time, then take a break. Get a glass of wine or something."

Depending on how much reading one has to do, this would give "slurring your words" a whole new meaning. Or maybe it would just become "blurring your words."

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events and outcomes. It is a catalyst and it sparks extraordinary results.
~ Wade Boggs
- - - - -

I think that saying, "Don't chain horses midstream" is a good one. That's just animal cruelty. Wait, what? Oh, nevermind, then.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Chaos is a name for any order that produces confusion in our minds.
~ George Santayana
- - - - -

Sometimes when I ask Elizabeth to do her chores, she calls me "Evil Stepmother."

Elizabeth is funny. But I don't care how funny she is, she's not going to the ball because she doesn't have a nice enough dress and the house is a mess.

Other times she calls me Michele (pronounced MEE-shell) Norris after the NPR personality.