Sarah R. Callender

Archive for October, 2011|Monthly archive page


In General on October 17, 2011 at 6:18 am

A small but pertinent announcement: next month I am turning 50!

(Actually, that’s a lie. I’m turning 40. BUT I have realized if I lie and tell people I am ten years older than I am, they will say things like, “Holy schmokes, you look fantastic!” Or, “Wow! What’s your secret?!?” Or, “Jeepers, I hope I’ll look that good when I’m your age!” And that makes me feel cheerful and firm-bodied and smooth-skinned. So for the sake of this post, I’m going to pretend I’m turning 50. You can either go with it or do some simple math. Now, back to my point . . .)

It’s only in the past few months that I have started understanding my mortality in ways that I didn’t during my previous 49 years of life. There must be something about the looming Big 5-0 that’s got me appreciating the fact that mortality is real and inescapable. That my time here could be more (perhaps way more) than half-over.

I don’t know how I didn’t see it before, but I suppose that’s one of the great things about being young. Most American kids don’t spend much time considering their own mortality.

American kids drive too fast and do daredevil stunts and some of even do what my friend, Chris, did when he was eleven: tried to BMX himself down a steep driveway, off a four-foot ramp, and over a huge culvert. Instead, he launched his tenders right into the handlebar post of his bike. Or Chris, (the same Chris) who had bike races on the rooftop of his elementary school. Or Nathan, a kid at my school, who liked to brew things that said “Flammable” on the label, then hold a flame to the potion. Or Joe, the kid who attempted the “will an umbrella function as a parachute if I jump off the roof?” trick.

On the other hand, I bet cave man kids were quite aware of their own mortality. That they understood a game of Duck, Duck, T-Rex could go terribly awry with no warning. Likewise, I bet kids who live in Afghanistan or Somalia or Palestine, kids who deal with hunger and war every day, understand their own mortality,  certainly far better than the average American kid.

Unless that American kid has one of those nasty, horrible, heartbreaking illnesses that lands them at Seattle Children’s Hospital.

Children with cancer and blood disorders and Cystic Fibrosis seem to understand they are nowhere near immortal.

(Yes, I know this post has taken a sudden swerve into Seriousville. Stay with me.)

Because here’s a bit of hope, courtesy of Ironworkers Local 86, a group of unsung heroes that, I feel, are quite deserving of a song . . . one sung, via photos, by an almost 50-year old woman who doesn’t look at day over almost-40. Feel free to hum along:

You see that? Those names, written on what is the expansion project at Children’s Hospital, are the names of the very sick kiddos at Children’s. Each week more names appear. Each week the kids can peer out their hospital room windows and see, in neon orange spray paint, their name so bright against the Seattle sky.

To many, the idea that we can leave some mark, some scribble, some ripple that makes us feel like we are, in some way, permanent, is quite appealing. That when we die, there will be a part of us that lives on. Maybe our immortality comes in the form of having children. Or telling stories that get passed on and on and on. Or running an index finger through wet cement to leave our initials on a patch of sidewalk.

Doctors and nurses at Children’s will do their very best to save every kid’s life. Many will succeed. Nurses and doctors who dedicate their lives to sick kids deserve our loud applause.

But what these ironworkers have given these very sick kids is something doctors cannot: the knowledge that their names, an element of their sweet identities, is a permanent part of one of Seattle’s most important buildings. That if nothing else, their names have been spray painted on metal meant to withstand earthquakes and torrential rain and the most blustery of winds. Their names are immortal. There must be great hope and comfort in that knowledge.

As I approach old age, I become more and more appreciative of regular people doing heroic things. It makes me realize that regular me can do heroic things, too. With or without a hard hat, with or without a can of spray paint.

So OK? No matter your age, no matter what decade you pretend to be in, let’s do this: on the count of three, follow the example set by Ironworkers Local 86 and get out there and SPREAD SOME HOPE! One, two, three, BREAK!

And to you, Jackson N., one of the current superheroes at Children’s, let our hope carry you right out of your bed and back on to the golf course, the basketball court and the baseball diamond where you belong. We’re all rooting for you!



In General on October 2, 2011 at 9:45 pm

It has come to my attention that sometimes the pronunciation of my made-up words does not translate perfectly from my brain via your computer screen to your brain. So, the title of this post, Tomanus, should be pronounced in the following way: Toe-MAY-nuss. Not TOE-manus or TAH-manus. Toe-MAY-nuss.

Good. So now that all things pronunciationish are out of the way, let me return to my topic: homegrown fruits and vegetables, a seemingly dull topic which I will attempt to humorify and lighthearten to make up for a summer’s worth of serious and somber and depression-laced posts. And we’re off!

One of the things I love about Husbandio is how much darn time he spends in the garden, tending to his summer crops. I didn’t used to love this about him. I used to be really annoyed by this. Until, as I shared with you in this post from summer 2010, he told me that one of the ways he loves me is by growing things that we can eat for dinner. Who knew!?!

So now, instead of lamenting the fact that he’s out there in the garden, pruning his whatevers and dividing his thingiemahoochies, I realize he’s out there loving me. It helps me be patient.

In addition to him expressing his love through mulch and compost, creating and tending to a fruit and veggie garden leads to laughter. And for me, there really is no Love without Laughter.

Once this summer, Husbandio walked into the house, holding a small red strawberry, one only slightly bigger than the Darth Vader head on the Lego Darth Vader.

“Look at this!” Husbandio said, holding up the berry, his voice raised a few octaves. “This one looks like a little man!”

Indeed. Right there on what I can only call the butt of the mutant berry, was the face of a little man.

Husbandio and I spent a good number of minutes making the little man-faced mutant berry talk. We both agreed he had a cartoonishly high voice, this man-berry, one that was almost Britishy in affect. “Cheerio!” the berry chirped. “Anyone care for a cuppa?” And then we may or may not have named the British Little-man Berry, “Benny” and carried on with a fairly extensive photo shoot.

That’s the thing about homegrown produce: you’d never find British Little-man Berries at Safeway, not even in the organic section at Whole Foods. We humans prefer to eat pretty fruits and veggies, not fruits and veggies with names and faces and British accents. I get it; we Americans, even more than other cultures, prefer that which is considered pretty. Even if the pretty produce has been genetically modified. Even if the pretty produces tastes bland and blah.

It’s the same with fake breasts, of course. There was an old(er) lady at the gym who clearly, CLEARLY, had had modifications done to her pectoral region. When she was lying down on her back for chest presses, the rest of her sagged, while her bosoms stood at full attention. And, the cut of her Lululemon tank revealed the sides of her modifications, filled like taut water balloons.

I thought it was kind of gross. Or, maybe as someone who’s got less and less that stands at attention, certainly no modifications, I was just jealous.

So I checked in with Husbandio. “Hey,” I asked. “Even if you know breasts are fake, even if they look totally out of place on the wearer of the breasts, even if they stand at attention when everything else is sagging, is that still hot?”

“Yes,” he said. “It’s still hot.”

OK! And that, boys and girls, is why we have genetically modified produce. The End.

Husbandio’s Harvest o’ Romance was supplemented by weekly pick-ups of Tiny’s Organic CSA. Donut peaches that looked like baby bottoms. Heirloom tomatoes that reminded me of when Sweetie was a baby and her squishy little thighs had crevices and crevasses and folds that often became the resting place of graham cracker crumbed saliva goo. Summer squash that looked like Gonzo’s silhouette.

Then, just last week, Husbandio brought in this late-summer harvest from his love gardens:

Most of it was beautiful. One item, however,  made me feel icky.

In case you didn’t read my post where I discuss my dislike of things that have other things growing in them, I do not like things that have other things growing in them. I definitely don’t care for goiters. I don’t like critters that “burrow.” But while I dislike these things, I am also weirdly intrigued by them. Like when I worried that I had a coral colony growing under my ankle skin, I couldn’t stop touching it, poking it, studying it for signs of intelligent life.

So when Husbandio brought in this tomato from the garden, one that appeared to have what I can only assume was an anus, I turned away. “Ew,” I said. “That tomato’s got an anus. A tomanus.”

But then I turned back and examined the anus-ish thing. I’ll admit I even poked around the anus-ish region. I couldn’t help it.

Which made me and Husbandio laugh some more and tell a few off-color jokes and THEN made me wonder what other photos I could find of inappropriate and/or unattractive produce. Well, God bless the internet, because sure nuff I found this photo on Love Carrots, a British blog, which has a special section called The Rude Carrot Club. I’d say this guy (and it is a guy, no doubt) is likely el Presidente of the RCC :

And apparently my friend, Stephers, is no stranger to rude carrots because she sent me a photo of this fellow . . . I mean, these fellows:

Then, when I mentioned rude carrots to my friend, Anne, she promptly emailed me this photo of a rude avocado (this is Anne’s husband’s hand, not hers. Anne has lovely hands):

So what’s the moral of this blog post?

I don’t know.

I do know that there is something refreshingly honest about homegrown produce. Yes, the avocados may have protuberances and the tomatoes may have bottoms and the carrots may have been caught mid-orgy. But there’s something kind of cool about getting what nature gives you. Even if it has a man-face and speaks in a British accent.

As I get older, I find myself seeking that which feels Real: people who wear their undies inside-out or almost run over a cranky Orthodox Jewish gentleman or can’t help but prod the tush of a tomato. The Realest of people may not be winning any beauty pageants, but most times, being Real is far prettier and certainly more fun and funny than being Miss America. Unless you’re Benny. I think if you’re Benny, you just have to learn to skate by on your wicked-awesome personality.