All posts by kirizar

About kirizar

I am all things to all people. As long as people are looking for a mom with diverse interests and a homebound tendency to look through the window of life and wish (or imagine) something just a little bit different. I am like the Tardis on Doctor Who. I am much bigger on the inside.

Think Pink

Right after finishing GISH, Kiri took a tumble in the hallway. She wrenched her ankle, her knee, and her hip. She cracked her head against the wall. She went camping and got vertigo. Obviously she’s under a curse. (Actually, this might explain more than a few things wrong with her…) Join her internal debate team in figuring out the cure!

Continue reading Think Pink
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Can GISH Cure Cancer?

It is kind of hard to write something funny about getting a diagnosis of breast cancer, but it helps if you were signed up for G.I.S.H. (W.E.S) before even a hint of trouble arose on the horizon. GISH(WES) stands for The Greatest International Scavenger Hunt (the World has Ever Known.) It may not cure cancer…but it sure cured getting the diagnosis.

If this week had a sound track, it would be Cosmo Sheldrake’s “Come Along”:

If you ever wondered what it would look like if I went off the deep end, this one’s for you.

My week of GISH started with…

A Bull Named Fu Manchu

Item #14 – No Bull About It. Ride that bull like the zen master you are.

I developed a funny walk after doing this…

My next genius decision took me, my autistic son, and a cousin (who made the mistake of saying, “Sure, why not?” before reading the fine print) on a very long road trip to make music at Niagara Falls. Don’t worry; she got her revenge. She had to practice the recorder in the car all the way there. I may never get those high notes out of the crevices of my brain where they are lodged.

Trip to Niagara Falls, sort of

GISH Item #30. Perform the Kansas song, Wayward Son, at a natural world wonder.

This was the final take. Almost perfect despite the lack of tuning on the plastic instrument.

I can’t take too much credit for the performance at the falls. All the kudos go to Anna. But, we did manage to drive almost all the way there and back again in a 24-hour period. If I could do anything different, it would be to stay at the falls and give us all a better morning. But, there was more GISHING to be done!

But, as we crossed the border home, it seemed a waste not to knock out Item #166 “Love has no borders, play a game at an international border crossing.”

This required playing a game like charades which would not require crossing of the boundary nor passing any item back and forth. We were pretty punch drunk by midnight, so take our giddiness with a grain of perseverance.

Too Perfect Not To:

Most of the GISH Items were beyond my skill set–requiring a team or the ability to wing walk a bi-plane while painting the landscape below–but others seemed like I had been training for them my whole life.

Item #91–A Cairn Terrier Named Rocky. (Hint: he won’t come when you call him.)

I’ve been collecting rocks for years. My garage is littered with them. Rock hoarding for the win!

I’m fairly sure my family is starting to become concerned about my over enthusiasm for this scavenger hunt. But they gamely play along.

I beg on Facebook and an obliging family who barely know me offer up their basement and their children (but only in an advisory capacity) to accomplish the next hunt-worthy construction. Lego Shoes!

Gish Item #3 Sounded Sooo Easy

I have so much more respect now for the ‘play’ of little boys and girls (and their parents too!) I started by sorting my blocks into piles of color to best determine what color the shoes should be made of. (It is entirely possible a person with some sort of OCD disorder shouldn’t be handed LEGOS!) Despite the excellent instruction provided by Noah and Jonathon, it took me much longer than I thought to build a pair of shoes! Honestly, this project was time and labor intensive. I will never call what people do with LEGOs silly again.

After hours of building the stupid things, it turns out my foot is too big. My mother-in-law’s feet are tiny…but her balance is a bit iffy. She nearly fell trying to walk the required three steps. So, I sent a hail mary request on Facebook. And Mary answered. My mother, Mary, to be precise…

Mary Mother Full of Grace, bless these feet so they may walk…and let no tripping hazard sunder the bones in twain!

Bouncing back and forth in activities required a lot of energy. Fortunately, I always had a handy supply of sweet relief.

Truly-Epic-Sweet-Tooth Undergarments

As I was making this dessert-worthy entry, I did wonder if I was sending my child the right message. But, since he ignores all my good advice anyway, I decided to tackle a little foundational feng shui. Candy Man Style!

Item #61: Funderwear!

This particular item seemed a no-brainer. What could be more fun? I worried that I might have picked too obvious a selection. So, I doubled-down on my craziness.

I made both a Life Saver brassiere as well as Twinkie, Ho-Ho, and Hostess Cupcake Spanx.

My breasts were minty fresh and I could honestly say, “Eat my shorts” and be perfectly appropriate.

I did not eat the treats at my right knee. I just didn’t realize there was a blank spot until after the pictures were taken.

I highly doubt anyone else made an outfit quite like mine. Mostly because nobody would be that crazy! I needed help getting into both items. I wore a shirt and shorts underneath because I wasn’t sure there wouldn’t be a wardrobe malfunction at some point. In fact, I had to hold the pants up for the entire photoshoot. The combined weight of that many baked goods was threatening my structural integrity. And my blood sugar levels.

GISH was surprisingly touching at times.

My mother-in-law chipped in where she could before heading home to California. When an item came up that called for someone over the age of eighty, she was my go-to-gal.

Item #49 – Diorama Digressions

I’m putting the long version of the video interview here. (Most entries had to be under 14 seconds, but this one had a whopping 30 second allowance.)

After Laura related the momentous facts surrounding her favorite memory/day, I had several days to create a diorama of the events. But I dithered trying to come up with the perfect idea for how to make her item unique and personal to her and not just reflect anybody’s wedding day. So, I went to my favorite antiques store to hunt for inspiration. And I found it:

I worked very hard on this. The wedding dress was sewn to 2:00 a.m. and I used an antique apron to get an old-fashioned feel.

I made a calculation error in timing. The little Hugo clothespin doll was achieved simply by painting the wooden peg with acrylic paint. Which dries in 20 minutes…if your house isn’t soggy with humidity. Guess what!??

The damned peg just wouldn’t dry. It’s Tuesday night, and the mom-in-law is scheduled to catch a flight out really early on Wednesday. So we end up fudging the reveal by handing Laura her still-tacky husband to juggle while she fumbles with her box. (Insert your own joke here. No, wait. I think I’ve just made a very crude and inadvertent reference to my mother-in-law’s box. Nevermind.)

Consummate performer that she is, Laura tackled the late-night recording of her reaction to her diorama with panache and grace. It was truly a labor of love…and it’s the piece I will remember when the years pass and other things fall away.

Item #127 – Moose Call

I think this was the easiest one, overall, but the pace of filling my many obligations was starting to show.

All we had to do for Item #127 was go to a Tim Horton’s, dressed as a moose. Moose costumes aren’t that simple to come by, but headgear was. Since I was dragging a moose-sized child around with me, I just slapped a pair of antlers on him and called it good.

A kid will do just about anything for a donut…but you can’t make a teenager happy about it. #ResentfulDoughboy

You may be sensing a theme by now…

I generally tried to pick things that appealed to me, or that I could do in a reasonable amount of time with some accuracy. I can make a loaf of bread crisp…but can I make it do anything else?

As it turns out, I’m not a particularly exact entomologist.

Item #79 – Bug Nuts

When invited to “make icky bugs great” I grabbed my glutinous flour and ran with the instructions to “Create a realistic-looking, oversized detailed sculpture of an underappreciated arachnid or insect out of bread…”

Done and slightly over done!

Dung Beetles have long been a favorite of mine. Unfortunately, I suspect my masterpieces look more like ticks. Eww. (Dung ball is actually a beach ball covered in crunchy peanut butter and shredded wheat.)

Of note: if you decide to bake black-colored bread, put the dye in the bread machine. If you try to hand-knead it, like the far dung beetle pictured above, you get mottled results.

I tended to opt for a lot of kitchen based challenges. Thinking that I had a home court advantage. But some of my efforts fell flat.

One in particular was a most spectacular failure!

Item #23 – You have something on your…everything.

This video wouldn’t be possible without the help of a really good friend who stopped by to film. If you listen, you can hear her laughing in the background as well as making salient commentary. The Best British Bake-Off this ain’t! But, I dare any of those contestants to do better. The basic instruction: bake a cake without using your hands or any measuring tools. The only implement allowed? Your face!

Face Cake Fails: Parts I and II

If you are in a hurry, this is the high speed version.

I probably lost points on execution, but in intent? I nailed it. I was laughing so hard throughout this enterprise, I’m surprised I didn’t snort more flour than I did.

There are two videos because the longer one (below) filled up the SD card on the camera. The first video is high-speed reformatted (above.) The one that follows should include commentary. Really, you need to hear the snarky commentary.

If you have six minutes to kill and really want to see me make a cake of myself….

The cake was inedible. But the instructions were very clear. It had to be eaten by you and a loving family member. Thank goodness Alexei is so very fond of Easy Bake Oven cakes. When they are cooked better than this:

I baked a second sample using the exact same techniques. Admire, if you can.

Carrot cake is my favorite dessert…so this segue shouldn’t hurt too very much.

Item #97 – So very, very orange…

Food was a definite theme for me.

The only instruction given for this was the following: See Item #97 (pictured below) only said “8554J46H+FH. You, the Carrot God, have summoned them.” I couldn’t figure out what the code stood for, so I decided to get some grease paint and hair spray and do my best.

I was ridiculously proud of the results:

Beware the Great Orange One’s Return!

It wasn’t until I went to upload my most excellent Carrot God interpretation that I figured out what the code: 855 J 46H + FH stood for. Apparently it’s a way to write global coordinates and it is somewhere in the Newport Beach Civic Center in California. (California friends and relatives, you lucked out that I didn’t figure this out in time to corral your assistance, otherwise I might have asked you to paint yourself orange and dash about with fistfuls of carrots.)

From carrots we move to espionage with one simple leap of deduction.

SO, you want to be on a CIA watch list?

Item #50 – Write a letter to the director of the CIA. How could this possibly go wrong?

All I had to do was crypto-translate a sculpture that the finest minds at spy headquarters hadn’t managed to translate. No biggie.

and post the letter to a social media account.

…tagging the CIA so they couldn’t miss it.

If I’m audited next year, this is why. #StillGladIMailedThatLetter

What Exactly is the Point of GISH again?

While all this is going on, I have been fielding calls from various doctors’ offices and doing my best to stay on top of feeding and watering the child. During one of the ABA sessions, the tech eyes me for a while doing various goofy tasks and finally asks me why I’m doing this. I briefly explain that the registration fees for participating are used to remove landmines from farms in Laos.

Her response, “What does dressing like a carrot have to with charity? Couldn’t the money you spent on this stuff go directly there?” #She’sNotWrong

I don’t think I gave her a very satisfactory answer. Up to that point, I was doing all the fun items. The crazy ones. The slightly quirky and downright ridiculous ones. But the main purpose of GISH is to raise funds for charitable goals. And I haven’t mentioned those once!

So, I took the list and checked it twice, to find out to whom I could be nice.

So, Saturday, on the last day of GISH, and with the help of my son, I:

Donate Socks:

Hulk Glad!

Made up gift baskets and visit the elderly…

Dressed to the nines, tens, and elevenses.

We also try to do a good deed in our neighborhood while also encouraging my child toward philanthropy–not an easy concept to get across for anyone, none less a teenager with autism.

Time was starting to fly, and I decide to teach my son the importance of sharing would do for a good, concrete lesson.

I’m not sure whether my son saw it as charity so much as highway robbery as I gave away his popsicles.

Good-Bye Gish

My last GISHY act was to buy a tree to be planted in Kenya. I wish I could say Kenya was my intended destination, but no, it was the default option when you went to the OneTreePlanted website. From what I could see, many people made the default donation. Kenya should be nice and leafy real soon.

Doing charitable acts to participate in a scavenger hunt might seem like a waste of time and money to most people. It also feels somewhat wrong to do nice things for credit. But, this week helped to make up for getting some pretty bad news. I had fun. No one was hurt…much. And maybe, just maybe, a little good was accomplished.

And, at the end of the day…and a very long week…that’s not a bad thing.

Kudos Go To…

To all the friends who helped me along the way, thank you. I couldn’t have done it without you. I’d stop to express my gratitude personally, but it is almost 2:00 a.m. and I’m falling over exhausted. I may just sleep the next week away.

Boob Job

I’m finally getting around to taking care of a small matter of imbalance. It seems I’ve been a bit lopsided lately. Leaning a bit to the left, if you will. Turns out there’s a reason for that! With the news the doctor gave me, I’ve decided to go ahead and have some work done.

I don’t have all the details yet, but I wanted to keep you abreast of the situation; I’m having a little corrective surgery. Before you panic and start picturing me as a centerfold model in the next AARP circular. It’s nothing that drastic. I’ve just reached an age where the fun-fun mammograms I’ve been having routinely for decades have finally paid off. They found something worth looking for.

To be honest, I’ve been waiting for something to happen for a while. Bad news comes in threes, and after the tree killed our roof two summers ago, and last year we experienced the dubious pleasures of salmonella and the criminal justice system for minor children, I had the feeling the Bad Sh*t Happens Universe wasn’t finished with me. The trilogy was yet to be completed.*

I go through a few more medicinal hoops, ring a few more lab test bells, and the doctors schedule me for surgery in a few weeks. Now all I have to do is tell everyone I know the good news.

In a manner that suits my personality…

I want to have a last hurrah before picking my son back up from camp. I send out a hurried request for a Girls’ Night Out. Friends join me at Noto’s Restaurant on the beach. It’s insanely busy and loud, but has a gorgeous view of Lake Michigan. We chat about everything–which includes someone introducing me to a term I’ve never heard of before. The friend mimes pulling an imaginary peanut M&M from her generous cleavage, saying, “Hashtag: Boob Snack,” and pretends to nosh on it. This seems like a great segue for my announcement.

I order a desert appropriate to the occasion. While handing out our choices, the helpful waiter, Chris, makes the mistake of asking, “So, what’s the big reveal?”

Bodacious Babe Drops the Bombe on the Beach!

In the spotlight, holding up my mounds of ice cream with cherries, I blurt. “I have breast cancer!”

In the appalled silence that follows, the waiter escapes, and I hurry to explain. “It’s really, really small! It’s so small that finding it was very lucky.”

It’s like a micro-tumor. Only about 5-6 millimeters. And today I learned that it is moderately slow growing and is responsive to hormone therapy. I got a grade of Stage 1-A. Or as that doctor put it,”If you have to get breast cancer, this was the best kind to get.”**

Hugs are given and I feel warm and fuzzy, especially after the waiter comes back to tell us he comped me my ice cream! A friend says we should go out more often…and I agree, adding, “We can take turns being the person with cancer to snag a free desserts! Hashtag: Boob Snack!”

We leave the place cackling like mad women and tromp to the nearby beach to take selfies in the sunset. It was the best end to a day a girl can have, surrounded by loving, laughing ladies.

That’s the news, everybody. I go under the knife on August 20th. And while I appreciate thoughts and prayers, I’m even more appreciative of thoughtfulness and practical help. Which leads me to my second bit of news.

Before any of this happened, I signed up to take part in something called GISH, an acronym for the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt (the World has Ever Known) which starts JULY 27th. I’ve never done it before and, from what I understand, I will be performing acts of charity while dressed entirely in cheese, or some other wild suggestion, created by a team of very disturbed/imaginative people.

This brings me to you…my adoring friends, my extended family, and wacky Chicago fan club! (Please note the use of the Oxford Comma per your request, K, J, and MJ!) I hope I may call on you all in my hour of need. If I require someone to go out, dressed like sasquatch in a tutu, to serenade strangers on a street corner while playing a stringed bass (the fish, not the instrument) I am totally playing the ‘C’ card and asking for help. It’s either that, or you get to mow my lawn for me. You decide. But, I’m totally milking this cancer thing for all it’s worth. Consider yourself warned.

Tomorrow I get the kid back from camp. So, if I miss your kind words, know that I will look forward to reading them once life gets back to normal. For a given value of normal equal to infinity plus or minus the deviation of the norm over pie.***

Asterisk Bedazzled Footnotes:

*The third movie is always the one where the hero wins in the end, right? So, it’s all good.

** Unless one could be diagnosed with unnaturally young and perky boobs after 50? It could happen. Right?

***This is not a typo. MMmmmm…PIE!

Potty Training on the Spectrum

Recently someone asked me how I managed to potty train my autistic child. I said something like, “I went through hell and back, that’s how.” Without blinking, they asked directions for the road map to hell. I finally found the notes I used back in 2010 on a back-up drive (whew), and in reviewing what I went through, I decided this might make a better post than my review of Men In Black: International. Though, with fewer references to poop. For all the autism parents out there, this one’s for you.

Continue reading Potty Training on the Spectrum

Taking a Bite Out of Art

Before I went on a diet, there was the Grandville Chocolate & Art Walk. My annual attempt to be artsy as well as fartsy.

And then when I came back to WordPress, they’ve up and changed the editor on me. Gads. I hate upgrades.

Enjoy my struggles to learn a new system and, oh yes, the art. Let’s not forget the art! Continue reading Taking a Bite Out of Art

Mud Wrestling in Middle Age

This has to be the most click-baity (not to mention misleading) title ever.

If you were looking for pictures of yours truly in a bikini throwing down with other middle-aged women in a pay-per-view mud rink, brace yourself for disappointment.*

Continue reading Mud Wrestling in Middle Age

Childhood Crushes: Forbidden, Foreboding, and Formative Fictions

In conversation with a friend recently, we mused on literary and televised influences that informed our subconscious desires. (Some giggling may have been involved. Sue me.)

Listen in if you dare… Continue reading Childhood Crushes: Forbidden, Foreboding, and Formative Fictions