Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Let the joyous news be spread. Dennis’ weight has increased with a staggering ascent.

Yes, way!

For the past week, he has held steady at a buxom 124!! (and knocking at the door of 125!) It is only a matter of time before the door is opened, and he is embraced in the bosom of the obese.

We waited to confirm this announcement for fear it might be a false positive, an optical delusion, a figment of our fevered desire for the warm reassurance of observable, palpable pudge.

But one cannot deny the evidence. Dennis’ landscape is definitely more vast, the expanse of his terrain more sprawling. He has 48 newly-acquired, fleshy ounces that mitigate his linear alignment. He did not shrink, but he most decidedly broadened. ( We refer to this as horizontal enhancement.)

He has shed the visage of the nutritionally deprived, and has features that have morphed from specter to spectacular. Cue the herald angels!

OK, my intention is not to stretch the bounds of credulity to exclaim our rapture, but we have spent a year where the central feature of our existence is to continue to exist, and that fact of life seems to be predicated upon the accumulation of enough molecular cells to sustain life. So every precious fat cell collected swaddles his bones, and advances our cause. Ergo, we celebrate with comic-book faces of levity, and greatly anticipate the time when Dennis puts on an outfit and asks, “Does this make me look fat?”

Andre Agassi served as pitchman for some product with the slogan, “Image is everything.” I’m not sure of the veracity of that observation. Images can be deceiving, and self-images can be down-right distorted.

For instance, I have liked to think of myself as a fortress of conviction, a battleship of stoicism, an impenetrable force to be reckoned with.

I have no doubt I am capable of field-dressing some hapless creature unfortunate enough to get caught in the cross-hairs of my Physician’s Desk Reference. (See prior blog for clarification.)

I am vulnerable to “turf-toe,” the bane of all Sherpas, because my feet are on such a precipitous descent, they are jammed into the front of my single-cleat, power stilletoes designed to simultaneously impale and aerate as I stride the boundless wilderness murmuring audible projectiles.

My awesome presence emits the pheromones of the extreme cage-fighter, stealthy and lethal.

I am a vortex of energy. A carnivore. And my lipstick – “Vlad, The Impaler” red.

However, circumstance recently forced me into a cataclysmic confrontation with the perception/perceived differential which drew me off my delusional center, and made me realize I was operating from a distortion quotient of zero sum intelligence – a single mind without a single verifiable thought.

It all began last week when Ben Ballou phoned me at 7:30 a.m. in mid-sentence. If you know Ben, you know this wouldn’t exactly qualify as unusual behavior. What is unusual is that it doesn’t occur more frequently!

Ah, but I digress.

Apparently, Ben had just read an account posted on Brodi’s blog of an incident that took place several years ago. Now, Ben was actually designated to be Brodi’s brother, but serendipitously got re-routed in transit to the Ballou Family. So we always cut him some slack and give him a free pass via the insane/savant treaty between our two families.

Anyway, Ben was mortified that such an incident could have taken place. He was calling to verify. I verified. He was distraught, inconsolable, and quoted whole passages from the book I’d made him read, “The Hunter I Might Have Been.”

And when I inquired what had prompted this heinous historical re-visitation, he wailed, “Brodi’s blog!” From Ben’s perspective, it was definitely a “blog noire.”

Of course, my interest was piqued, and I instantly went to the designated blog. I was rather amused at Brodi’s chronicle. I laughed out loud at the “Bambi tale.” But I was also surprised at Brodi’s description of me. She all but insinuated that my lipstick repertoire consists only of varying shades of pastel.

Now it is true that I am emotionally ill-equipped to watch the entire animated version of Disney’s “Bambi.” I am rather vulnerable to computer-generated trauma. This may have impacted the whole doorstep-desiccation incident.

I was going to try to paraphrase Brodi’s telling of the infamous incident, but opted to include her blog account instead. You’ll see why she is our designated family griot. She is the keeper of our stories.

DEER LEGS (From Brodi)
Tuesday Dork Side status: First edition of the Dork Side (yesterday’s post) went better than expected. Only one person threw rotten fruit (I’m not naming names, Cam) But she redeemed herself when she mentioned deer legs in the snow.

What did she mean, you may ask?

Let me tell you a little story about Cam’s husband. His name’s Ben, and we practically grew up together. I was the little brother he never wanted. He was the bigger brother who used to engage in a grossly ritualistic and bloody rite of passage that most Utah boys (due to a lack of oxygen from the inversion, no doubt) have instilled in them from their day of birth.

Can anyone guess to what I am referring?

Let me preface the rest by telling you something about my mother. Insects have feelings. Fleas just want to be loved. Spiders are angels trapped in an eight-legged hairy body. The “least of these” have been did unto (does that make Biblical sense?) in my home.

Every little critter was given safe passage out onto our front porch. (Except for the random rat in our back yard. Those get squished by my Dad’s Physician’s Desk Reference, depending on the accuracy of his aim. But, I digress.)

Anyway, our little innocent Ashton Family woke up one snowy morning to find a most disturbing sight in our front yard. Four deer legs sticking out of a mound of snow. Yes, Bambi had been slaughtered on our doorstep! His body only half buried under snow, the four legs sticking straight up in the air.

After we revived my mother, we went out front to un-snow the little darling. Only, guess what. The four deer legs weren’t attached to anything! Bambi had been dismembered, and his legs had been stuck into the snow mound in our yard!

Curses, Ben Ballou! Curse your deer appendages! Now, if it had been anybody else, my mother never would have found the good graces to forgive. But this was Ben. Granted, he would soon find out he owed her a lifetime of servitude, but he was eventually forgiven. I never understood, until one day she told me she always wanted just two children: my sister, Erin, and a son!

That last sentence is a total fabrication, but the rest of Brodi’s account is fairly accurate, although that doesn’t exactly make me the “spider whisperer!” ( She did, however, fail to mention that there is a category of spider which is not extended “favored arachnid” status: crush and flush. If the sight of a spider causes the loss of sphincter control, he is extinguished in our own version of Gitmo waterboarding…he is crushed and flushed. Hey, it is what it is.

I guess it is good to see ourselves as others see us. It’s definitely sobering! But we are all connected by bonds of love and distortion, and while not one of us is an island, together, we’re a continent!

The Clot

Sunday, January 11, 2009


Happy New Year, Loved Ones!

Well, the holidays have ended, but the year is just beginning. Hooray! The moisture of this past week has cleansed the air, eased the drought, and beautified the world. Looks like we’re going to have a white New Year.

What a wonderful opportunity to move forward from the past year and celebrate renewal and a re-commitment to the lovely things of this life. 2009 is barely a week old, and I have already made – and brutally broken – numerous resolutions. (Oh, the carnage!) However, I take pride in the fact that I had monumental success in keeping the resolutions I made last year…there were actually 22 on my Top Ten list. I was able to not lose weight nor gain character traits that might hold me hostage for living an exemplary life. I vowed to lobotomize my inhibitions, indulge my bubble-gum addiction, and eat jelly bellies after 9:30 a.m. and p.m. I have even driven 40 m.p.h. on freeways in spite of numerous “birds of protest,” for driving my age. These accomplishments compensate for the fact that I have not yet earned my advanced degree in rocket science. All in good time, my Pretty.

We liked the holidays a little better this year than last. Time is a remarkable commodity. It mercifully shrinks our capacity to take in all the events of this last year, and yet it has expanded our conduit to the finer, more transcendent things of life. This is all good.

Christmas Day was the usual mixture of chaos and confusion. This lethal combination produces the anesthetizing properties equivalent to a tranquilizer dart…merciful and painless. It can actually be restorative to the adults who just pulled off the biggest felonious act of unconscionable, uncompromised, and unjustified indulgence of the holiday season.

The grandkids have made the dubious discovery that their behavior during the time prior to Christmas has absolutely no effect on the amount of plunder Santa stuffs down our chimney with such relish, in spite of oft-repeated and decibel-increasing empty threats to the contrary. We spent the greater part of the week between Christmas and New Year’s performing hazardous waste management clean-up, and vowing that this disgusting display of conspicuous consumption will never again in the annals of history be repeated…and then going to all the after-Christmas sales to pick up stocking stuffers for the ’09 heinous encore.

Our New Year’s Eve celebration consisted of just the two of us. This year was a whole different animal than last year. But, nevertheless, we adhered to the strict observance of the usual traditions as in times past. We celebrated our brains out…which mercifully, of late, doesn’t take too long. Then, we retired at midnight…New Zealand standard time. (That’s just about 6:00 p.m. in the Salt Lake time zone.) This is sooo OK.
In spite of, and, perhaps, because of, suffering from the affliction known as PTHSS(Post-Traumatic Holiday Stress Syndrome), we have decided to make a fraction of the resolutions we made last year. We had considered not making any resolutions, empty promises, or commandments we really do not intend to keep, but guilt is a relentless despot, so we go on record for posterity.

So, here goes:

1. Although it seems apparent that I must live life in every insane and logically defiant episode of “I Love Lucy,” I am committed to anticipating and trying to avoid as many gratuitous “Lucy and Ethel” moments as possible. I realize this might make life a little boring, but it will also severely reduce moments of great humiliation and chagrin.

2. I hereby swear to curb my swearing…in multiples. After realizing how clean and pristine a single obscenity properly pontificated can be, (thanks, Margaret) I understand that multiples are excesses that lack creative forethought, impact, and imagination…and can lead to verbal stagnation. (The concept that less is more.) Artistic expression should never be subordinated to spontaneous, uncontrolled regurgitations.

3. I promise not to go rogue. I will try to stay on message. And I will maintain my stilletoes and mascara as my main power cosmetics. (I also plan to throw my panty hose in the political ring in 2012.)

4. We vow to reject the proverbial “golden parachute,” but we’re sinking fast. So we have altered our financial expectations just enough to reject the iron anvil and hope for some sort of miraculous magical gas…similar to helium…that will keep us aloft, but not launch us into the stratosphere! We’re thinking of petitioning Congress (that great flatulent institution) to offer us a bail-out similar to the ones provided for the Chrysler and perhaps porn industries.

We rejoice beyond expression for Dennis’ health and continued progress. We are committed to living life from miracle to miracle, something we have learned through our experience of 08. And we are most thankful for each one of our family, friends, neighbors and dear ones, for blessing and enriching our lives, and being constantly by our sides. You are truly God’s sweetest angels.

The Clot