Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I walked outside this morning

and the world was different.

The cosmos in my garden were still brown and wilting. My neighbor's cars were lined up in the usual order in their driveway: silver car, red car, old blue truck pockmarked with rust. The streets were quiet. Lights were on in homes where people sluggishly readied themselves for another day of work. It was all as it always is, yet nothing felt the same.

Last night I witnessed an occurrence of such magnitude that it defies explanation or description. It didn't come in the form of some spectacular supernova, but on my television screen, in a steady sequence of small red and blue explosions. It happened as numbers ticked by and fate become increasingly apparent. It happened while my children watched and while the greater world held its collective breath.

I'm so tired today that I feel as though I'm still lingering in a dream. The last time I had a hand in electing a Democrat to the presidency, I was an eighteen-year old college kid. Now, I'm a mother with three children born into a world that has become increasingly ugly, due in no small part to the leadership that has served throughout most of their lives. I want them to see America and Americans as I saw it/them when things seemed sane and decent. Maybe now they'll have that chance.

When I watched the towers fall on 9/11, I was five months pregnant. I imagined the violence that would follow in response. I wondered what kind of a world I was bringing my child into. Last night I got a glimpse of what may define my country in the next years, and it was profoundly beautiful, in contrast.

The very same country who elected an inarticulate right-wing war monger four and eight years ago just swept in a brilliant young black man from Chicago. What a change, indeed.

It's supposed to snow this weekend. I've been generally sick of the white stuff, but today I don't even care. There's a bright sliver of sun slicing through the relentless gloom that has hung over this corner of the world like a stifling wet wool blanket.

I'll get a shovel, brace my back, and be ready to work. I expect no less from our president-elect, Barack Obama.

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Palin Pick.

The announcement of John McCain's VP pick has barely been circulated, and already the 'net is abuzz; Alaska's Republican governor Sarah Palin will grace the ticket.

Palin has five children, the youngest of whom has Down Syndrome. I find it disturbing that some members of the Democratic camp are seizing on the opportunity to point out a perceived contradiction in values, wherein Palin is slated to spend the next two months campaigning while she has an infant with special needs at home. I think on the issue of her values, this is the wrong approach to take.

Every child with Down Syndrome is different; their "special" needs are broad and varied. As the mother of a child with Down's, I realized in my son's infancy that caring for him was not terribly unlike caring for my other children. I was no martyr, I was not his desperate servant. I was his Mom.

If, as a party, we want to highlight any contradiction in "values" inherent in Palin's circumstances and convictions, we ought to focus on the fact that the Governor's party undermines the causes that are of most concern to the Down Syndrome and disabled communities. American health care, education, and equal opportunities for those with disabilities all suffer under Republican leadership. Parents struggle to pay medical bills for specialists, fight to obtain services their children need for successful mainstreaming in the classroom, and desire most profoundly that their children be embraced by society, rather than tolerated by it.

Anti-choice values hold that all life is precious, but here again we see the Pro-Life Republican modus operandi of revering life inside, but not beyond, the womb. Palin's party sees an individual life as a flower that must be allowed to take root and bloom. Democrats realize that for this flower to bloom, we must nurture it from a seedling, prune it as it ages, and expend the energy it takes to water, feed, and care for it. Some plants require special soil. Some demand particular nutrients. Some must be supported and trained to climb toward the sun. None that exist can be neglected, and no blanket solution will enable every plant to thrive.

In truth, no person or political figure can justly be called "compassionate" or "pro-life" while seeking to further policies that are antithetical to the idea that:

"The moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped. "

(Hubert H. Humphrey)

Monday, August 11, 2008

John, John, John, tsk, tsk.

So John Edwards had an affair. He might have fathered a child outside of his marriage. It's disappointing for anyone who supported him, but is it shocking in a political context? Probably not. Politicians of every stripe seem compelled to bask in the "dark" privileges that entice those who grasp the brittle reigns of power. What I'm really disappointed about is the lack of creativity in his deviance.

Christianity holds that adultery is a sin. Our leaders are supposed to be upstanding, exceptional individuals, yet so many fall prey to the simple, albeit destructive lure of the flesh.

If John Edwards had to pose sin, I wish he could have picked a more interesting one.

I have examined a list ( of purported grave and/or mortal sins and culled from such an assemblage of sins that I endorse as "way more interesting than banging a political aide."

Divination, magic and sorcery— "A grave sin which includes attempting to command the powers of the occult, control or speak to demons or spirits (especially Satan), attempting to divine the future, and the use of magic charms."

If a political candidate were found to be stuffing his pockets with "magic charms" and trying to contact spirits or demons, I would probably be MORE inclined to vote for him.

Deliberate failure of the Sunday obligation— "Involves one's failure to praise God and give him thanks..."

I would love it if some political figure spent every Sunday morning at Denny's eating breakfast, then blowing down neighborhood sidewalks on a juiced-up Segway.

Lukewarmness—"Lukewarmness is negligence in response to God’s charity. It can also mean the refusal to give oneself to the prompting of charity."

I would totally back up any political officer who refused to donate money to that snotty boy who comes to my door every year to collect money for Camp Miller. I'm fine with his cause, but he just stands there holding out the box as though he can't talk, and I've heard him talk, because he dropped the f-bomb at another kid while riding his bike past my house last summer.

Theft— To "violate a person’s right to property by theft is a grave sin, especially if the loss of the property will severely hurt the victim The gravity of theft is determined by the harm it does to the victim. "

How funny was it when Winona Ryder got busted for shoplifting? How funny would it be if rather than cheating on his wife, Edwards had gotten arrested for eating grapes out of a produce bin at a Boise Super Wal-mart?

Come on, candidates; let's make this whole "sin and political corruption" business a little more interesting for the viewers at home. It's pretty much your patriotic duty.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Epic News and the Small-Town Paper.

I had a letter-to-the-editor printed in this week's edition of our local newspaper. This isn't a particularly notable honor, as pretty much any idiot who writes in can get published. The paper is, itself, a source of endless amusement for me. Just this week I found a number of chuckle-worthy examples. I will commence to share them:

The date. I'm often a little bit off, but I'm pretty certain of the month. It's July. And it's not the 28th, either.

There is a pie social upcoming at BethlehAm Church. The name of this church hearkens to a small town outside of Bethlehem. They had a burgeoning pork industry there, but still wanted to capitalize on the whole Jesus bit.

Some timely and newsworthy info. from the contributor who writes the news section pertaining to some of the smaller outlying towns.

The ONLY personal ad in the paper. It runs every single week. Jesus appears to be striking out in the "love" department.

Oh. My. God.
It's only the biggest thing to happen in our town since we got rid of the pony express service;
it's the fiftieth anniversary of the construction of our tourist mecca: THE GAS STATION!

This one just cracks me up because Rick's advertising endeavor employs a minimalist approach and manages to be reasonably grammatical and at least somewhat professional until he gets to the end and offers his finely honed skills of "hauling stuff away".

Sorry, local old people. We wanted to serve you sauerkraut, but we had all this surplus "sauerdraut" we have to use up first.

ALERT! ALERT! Kids are "on the prowl" in Scanlon! Kids NEVER used to do this in the old days!

Anyone who is smart will jump all over this! You can not find quality ceramic rabbits, colorfully dressed, carrying carrots or flowers, for this price! GO! NOW!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Some insights from Sophie.

Sophie took a break this morning to sit down with me for a conversation. We discussed pressing matters of global concern, as well as trivial fodder. The highlights:

There is no such thing as a dragon. There were once dinosaurs on Earth, but they "dried up".
The fiercest among them was the "Trap-asaurus". He stood 250 feet high, with "a little bit of colors on him, huge claws, and that's about it."

Global warming is "when it's very, very warm, and that's bad. If it happens, the global will burn up. If you touch it, it will burn your fingers."

George Bush is "a very bad president and he should go to jail and they should feed him raw horse meat."

It would be nice to travel to France, because they speak "bonjour" there.

There should be a new law so people can not "go over gates, especially the shaky, silver kind that say 'no going over the gate.' If people do that, they should have to go talk to a lawyer with their parents."

"Fashion is good, except for orange clothes. Orange should just be for lipstick."

There's no such thing as Jesus or God. Some people think Jesus is going to fall out of the clouds, and that's ridiculous. Jesus would not be fat enough to fall out of clouds.

Noel would like to throw in a joke that he made up. He's very proud of himself.

Q: What kind of bees make milk?
A: Boo-Bees.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Ohhhh BAMA! Watch out for McCain!

It seems we FINALLY have a presumed nominee for the Democratic candidacy. Now that the "magic number" has been met by Barack Obama, we can look forward to a lively and spirited campaign for the presidency.

Obama faces a unique challenger in his opponent. In order to get a better feel for what John McCain is all about, I have culled together an "exerview" with the Republican powerhouse, comprised of actual responses from McCain (to other people's questions).

Why are you running for president, Mr. McCain?

"Why am I running for president? Well, my wife, Cindy, says it is because I sustained several severe blows to the head in prison camp."

The war in Iraq is a prominent issue in this campaign season. How many years do you envision our forces continuing hold a presence in Iraq? Two? Four? Ten?

"Make it a hundred...That would be fine with me."

And what do you feel are the pressing domestic social issues that need to be addressed by our next leader?

"It's not social issues I care about."

Okay, well, how about the economy? What do you bring to the table, in terms of a plan for improving the state of the U.S. economy?

"The issue of economics is not something I've understood as well as I should."

Ohhkay... On the subject of health care- we have an aging population of baby boomers in the impending years. What kind of dialogue would you like to create with the public on the issue?

‘The nice thing about Alzheimer’s is you get to hide your own Easter eggs.’”

What are the most fundamental tenets of your platform in this election?

" Leonardo DiCaprio is an androgynous wimp...[and] gambling on amateur athletics is wrong."

It's certainly been noted that you are a much older and more seasoned politician than Mr. Obama. Do you have any words of wisdom that you'd like to share with your opponent, going into the campaign?

“Never get into a wrestling match with a pig. You both get dirty, and the pig likes it.”

Thanks for your time, Mr. McCain.

"Do you know why Chelsea Clinton is so ugly? Because Janet Reno is her father."

Okay, that's just nasty and unnecessary...

"F**k you! I know more about this than anyone else in the room."

Okay, thank you for your answers, sir.

“Thanks for the question, you little jerk."

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Our Tooth Fairy Sucks.

I don't know if there is, in fact, one Tooth Fairy, or a squadron of them assigned to different regions. It must be the latter, because while a lot of children seem to have their recently liberated chompers expeditiously collected, Sophie has recently found that our Tooth Fairy is rather inept at remembering to visit our house.

After the third (wince) failure of the grand TF, we decided we'd have to take measures to make sure poor Sophie was compensated for her lost teeth. We decided to get legal on the Tooth Fairy's Ass.

Here is Sophie's "Petition for Compensation of Tooth Forfeiture." I hope you have good eyesight.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

My Fine Dining Foray With the Kids.

Nathaniel is in Wisconsin for a golf tournament this weekend, so I planned to hang with the kids and promised them we'd go out for a special dinner tonight. I told them they could choose the restaurant. I said, "We can go to Southgate [pizzeria], or Mexico Lindo, or the Chinese place- wherever you want to go."

We ended up at Taco John's.

It started out poorly. Sophie wanted fries with her taco. They only sold "potato oles". Jack ran away while I was ordering and sat down in a booth with a strange couple and their child.

Once we got our food, things seemed alright until Jack realized there were cheese shreds in his burrito that were insufficiently melted. He tried to reach over the back of our booth and hand a fistful of sucked-on cheese to the man in the booth behind us.

Then Jack decided that his booster seat was was more comfortable to sit on upside-down, but he kept sliding off and falling under the table. After a while I just gave up and let him eat his food under the table.

After what seemed to be about three-hundred and-eighty-minutes, everyone finished eating and I tried to usher us toward the door, but Jack passionately wanted to use the door on the opposite side of the restaurant. I had to fling him over my shoulder and carry him out of the building.

I put Jack down next to the car and opened the driver's-side door to throw his wrapped-up burrito remnants on the passenger seat. In the three seconds it took me to do so, I realized, Jack had climbed up a curb, hopped the bumper, jumped onto the hood of the car, and was climbing up the windshield, trying to get onto the roof of the car.

On the way home, Sophie said, "Maybe we can go to Dairy Queen tomorrow!"

Yeah. Maybe if DQ offers a kid-sized "horse tranquilizer" blizzard.

Snow? I don't see any snow. It's SPRING!

Spring in Minnesota: Brought to you by three inches of snow, one spray bottle, eight ounces of water and an entire bottle of green food coloring. And a really sore trigger-finger.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Happy 30th Birthday to Mike!

Have a great day! Try to get Nathaniel to dance.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

I have a lot of opinions- opinions about matters of discernable importance and tangible consequence, and other matters of less gravity, such as the fact that the maker of Oreo cookies has the appropriate cookie-to-cream filling ratio entirely backwards.

I decided to take a few days, observe my own insights about products that I encountered, and generously share them with their respective corporate entities.

Thus, I give you: Lara's E-Mail Harrassment of Corporate America and their predominantly humorless responses.

#1: Jelly Belly Candy Company

Dear Jelly Belly,

I would like to tell you that I admire your beans and their delightful flavors greatly, with the exception of the "buttered popcorn" flavor, which weirds me out.

I am wondering if you have considered making beans in the flavors of salsa, cucumber/melon, or margarine. It might also be mildly amusing if you had a "bile"-flavored bean, but called it "mojito", just to mess with people.


The Response:

Thanks for sending me your suggestion. It’s nice when people care enough to take the time to write to us about our products and programs.

We’re always looking into new ideas, and have looked at literally thousands of them in the past, including the one you sent. So far, we haven’t found the right way to make it good enough to be a Jelly Belly bean, but we’re working on it!

Currently Buttered Popcorn is our #2 most popular flavor. It was #1 for a few years but Very Cherry has now taken over the number one ranking.

Thanks for writing. We really appreciate hearing from you.

Sweet Regards,

Mr. Jelly Belly

...I kind of have a small crush on "Mr. Jelly Belly now; he was really rather sweet....

#2: Kellogg's.

Dear Kelloggs,

Your Cracklin' Oat Bran cereal is like a disappointing lover.

In previous years, I had come to think of this crunchy, sturdy product as a personal favorite. Having lapsed in my consumption of your breakfast delight (due to the cost-prohibitive nature of said cereal), I recently decided to revisit the tantalizing experience of consuming a bowl, and subsequently purchased a box.

You put some cinnamon or other crap in there, and now it tastes different.

Eating my Cracklin' Oat Bran was disappointing, unsatisfying, and mildly disorienting.

I would like to know why you tampered with perfection. Please remove the cinnamon-or-crap-flavor from your cereal so that it might be enjoyed in its original, preferable form.

The Response: (partial)

"...We value the comments you have shared with us and will report them to our Quality Assurance team for follow-up. The information that you provided will help ensure that our products and services continue to meet the highest quality standards...The cereal has always had cinnamon but if it taste too much that is definitely a quality error."

Note: They are sending me a coupon for a free box of the cereal. I don't know- I'm not certain I can weather much more disappointment...

#3: Capital One (inspired by their obnoxious 'card lab' commercial)

To whom it may concern,

I am writing to posit a question regarding the option wherein I may use my own “personalized image” on a new Capital One card, through the “Card Lab” feature.

I would like to know if I may use a photo of my naked posterior as the image on my card.

Thanks for your attention

The Response:

"...we'll need you to call us to discuss this matter. Please call our Customer Relations Department at 1-800...."

I think *someone* is trying to snag a date....

(A diet product with obnoxious commercial that involves repeated chants of "Eat all you want, and still lose weight! Eat ALL you WANT and STILL lose WEIGHT!" reminiscent of the Head-On commercials.)

To whom it may concern,

With regard to your product: can I eat all I want and still lose weight?

Do I have to rub Akavar on my forehead?

Thank you

The Response:

Akavar would not allow me to reproduce the information contained in their email. I will say, however, that I got a very enthusiastic response not unlike that which I might expect to be exhibited if Richard Simmons had written it. They also didn't answer my initial question.

#5: Hormel Foods

Dear Hormel,

Please resolve a dispute between myself and my best friend.

I recently purchased a can of your Mary Kitchen Corned Beef Hash. Upon cooking the product, I noted that the consistency was remarkably similar to that of Fancy Feast's "Chicken Feast with Gravy" flavor.

Is "Mary Kitchen Corned Beef Hash," in fact, repurposed cat food?

Thank you.

The Response:

Regrettably, Hormel has declined response to this pressing question, so it remains anyone's guess whether or not Mary Kitchen Corned Beef Hash enjoys dual identities.

#6:General Mills

Some time ago, I emailed the cereal company in regard to my jubilation at the fact that they had reverted from fruity-shaped cereal pieces, back to their original "ball-y shaped" Trix.

The Response:

Thank you for contacting General Mills regarding Trix cereal. It was kind of you to share your thoughts, and you have brightened our day.
In 1992, Trix round pieces changed to fruit shaped pieces. These fruit shapes came is 5 distinct shapes - red raspberry cluster, yellow lemon wedge, purple grape cluster, green lime ball and orange ball. All colors were the same fruit flavor.
There is a great deal of time and effort involved in developing our various products. We are glad that you like the change back to the original shapes. We will be sure to share your thoughts with the appropriate individuals.

#7- My Local Super One Grocery Store Re: When Cart Corrals were invented.

This is an oldie; I don't have a copy of my original e-mail, but I had contacted the store to settle an inane dispute between Nathaniel and I regarding when cart corrals had first been used in parking lots. I was *that* intent on proving myself correct.

The (impressively thorough) Response:

Thanks for taking the time to e-mail. I actually worked in the first grocery store owned by Miners' Inc in Cloquet. I don't believe the first store, which was located on Avenue F and 14th St. (1977-1982) did not have any cart corrals in the parking lot. That first store was a real "no frills" operation; they probably wouldn't have been included in the equipment budget. The cart corrals probably first started appearing at the company's second location which was at the Lumberjack Mall in 1982. Unfortunately, the company wouldn't have any purchase records for these anymore. The early 1980's would be my best guess. I hope this has been of some help to you.

Have a great day!

#8: McKee Foods Corp.

I am writing to inquire whether or not your "Little Debbie Nutty Bars" in fact contain crack, as my son recently consumed an excessive quantity of the product to the point of near-vomiting and then professed that he "still want[ed] to eat more of them, even though [I] feel like throwing up."

Thank you.

The Response:

The makers of Little Debbie products ALSO neglected to respond to my query. Well... silence is consent, isn't it? Or agreement? No more Nutty Bars for Noel.

Nothing will ever top the blistering email response I received from a big-name pasta company, upon JOKINGLY suggesting that they were being subsidized by the ricotta cheese industry, after I encountered a recipe for lasagna on one of their boxes that called for a ridiculous FIVE cups of cheese. FYI: don't fuck with the green-box lasagna people. They have NO sense of humor!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

FYI- I'm working on something...

Update in the next week or so....

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Now Nathaniel has no appendix OR gallbladder!

Tuesday, January 28th was a big, big day for us.
Nathaniel had surgery to remove his gallbladder.
He'd been sick for a few months and tests revealed that he had significant thickening of the walls of that pesky organ, so we saved the date and he went under the knife. Again.

I felt like a marginal asshat after the appendix surgery, when I asked with gentle articulateness if I might keep the organ and the conversation went something like this:

Dr. Surgeon: well, that about covers all the information about the surgery; do you have any other questions or concerns?

Lara: Can I have it?!

Dr. Surgeon: What?

Nathaniel: She wants to know if she can have my appendix.

(insert long pause and a room full of blank-faced medical staff.)

Dr. Surgeon: No.

Lara: Can you at least take a picture of it for me? I brought my camera!

Dr. Surgeon: Ohhhkay...

This time I employed more hospital room etiquette and went straight into a request for pictures.

Nathaniel is presently sore, but doing well. His gallbladder looked like a giant slug. No wonder he felt sick.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Iowa! New Hampshire! Iowa! New Hampshire!

A person barely need flip beyond the radiant blip that is CNN to ascertain that the news out of Ohio today has brought the upcoming presidential election into sharp focus.

Emerging as victors in Iowa, Huckabee and Obama still face an arduous tug-of war against the opposing candidates for their respective party nominations.

I spent a portion of the day viewing political news and analysis, along with *BREAKING!!!!!* news tidbits from CNN. As a result, I have determined that both Huckabee and Obama's ongoing campaigns fail to address issues of compelling concern to the general American public. Based on my observations of what comprises "newsworthy" subjects (via CNN,) I submit that in order to address the REAL concerns of the public, the winning candidate must develop plans to address:

1. The need to properly secure tigers in their cages at zoos to prevent the animals' escape and ensuing massacre of innocent civilian zoo-goers.

2. Britney Spear's myriad chemical and mental health issues. Clearly, her every action has apocalyptic impact on the welfare of our greater nation. I could not eat my lunch today due to the fact that there was Britney-drama ongoing. I was immensely distraught and became light-headed and nauseous due to my overwhelming distress.

3. Speculation. There is not enough speculating going on in this country. We need more people to do more speculating. About everything. Speculating solves problems.

4. The weather. The weather is REALLY shitty in a number of locations, nationwide. The effective presidential candidate will develop a plan to fix it. It would be particularly advisable (hint, hint, Obama...) if they could promise to make it rain apricot nectar and snow colors.

5. Someone needs to dissect the window-washer who fell approximately 300 stories and survived. I find it thoroughly difficult to comprehend how not a SINGLE presidential candidate has noted the likelihood that this man has bionic technology inside his body and should be taken apart to acquire the technology for military purposes.

6. Amy Fisher's sex tape. There are some people who should simply not be circulating sex tapes involving themselves. I think Amy Fisher qualifies. Also, Dustin Diamond. We need legislation banning Fisher and Diamond from circulating any nude images of themselves.

7. Jamie Lynn Spears' pregnancy. Since she's famous and makes about 150 times more money than an average adult, her condition counts as 150 teen pregnancies. That's really gross. Candidates need to develop a plan for preventing fornication among Nickelodeon tween-stars.

That' s a start, anyway. I'm not being paid as a campaign strategist, so if any candidates would like further advice on how to topple the opposition this November, they'll have to contact me directly to make arrangements.
I will add, though, (as a little bonus) that Huckabee needs to change his name. It's waaay too easy to mock. It's so easy it's not even fun.