How to Live With a Hairless Cat

We bought her for Jack. After two weeks, his allergies to my gorgeous Persian cat triggered asthma, and a dear friend adopted her within hours of me posting the request on Facebook. So a hairless Sphynx cat came home with us in November 2014. We named her Jonesy, after Ripley’s cat in ALIEN.

Back when we still thought she was lovable…

We were so excited to love on her! The breeder told us they were an affectionate breed. The breeder also told us they loved to wear warm sweaters and tube socks to stay warm. Both of these predictions turned out to be dead wrong. I bought her an adorable red and black buffalo plaid fleece jacket. Jonesy rolled around on the floor moaning like she was having a seizure. I removed it. We tried petting her. She would contort her wrinkly, bald body into a u-shape beneath our hands to escape human touch.

Jack’s hopes for a loving pet were dashed. 

I noticed Jonesy the Cat spending more and more time with my mom and dad, who were living in our basement walk-out apartment. Dad was diagnosed with Stage 4 prostate cancer the end of December 2014, and from that point on, Jonesy the Cat never left his side. Dad died in early February, and then Jonesy the Cat decided my mom was her new alpha. As much as her anti-social, nutty behavior drives my mom crazy, she never leaves my mom’s lap. When Mom tries to pet her, she continues perfecting her u-shaped body contortions, even for my mom. She steals pens and paint brushes from the first and second floor of the house and carries them down to my mom, plopping them at Mom’s feet as her offerings.

The most unusual part of Jonesy is her avoidance of Dave, who has always had a way with animals and small children. It’s become the running joke. Rather, Jonesy intuits which of our house guests fear her bald, alien-like appearance or simply hate cats altogether, and those are the victims on whom she foists her obnoxious, laser-focused attention. In the cat world, she is truly the Queen Asshole.

The other day, my BFF Marovich turned me on to the “My Talking Pet” app on her iPhone, which she was using on her employees at work to hilarious effect. Needless to say, I could hardly wait to make this 4-second video of Jonesy, below. I texted it to all of my friends last night and this morning. It got rave reviews. They all agreed it needed to be said. Then I played my new video for Jonesy the Cat. She watched, she sniffed my iPhone screen, and then she jumped down, non-plussed by my creativity. My advice for living with a hairless cat? If yours is as awful as ours, you will experience inordinate relief by doing something like this:

http://bit.ly/JonesieTheCat

While I normally disdain passive-aggressive behavior, this is how far this nasty cat has driven me.

I’ve realized in today’s society, only food and animals are politically correct and safe for comedians to mock anymore. Jim Gaffigan will be the last man standing. Then again, I’m expecting PETA to send me a cease and desist any moment now.

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That Controversial Dave Dorman SAGA Blog? Yeah…That Was Actually Written By ME. Not Dave.

I get the alerts whenever Dave’s name is mentioned online, so when I read this morning that some woman blogger in Ireland wanted to “punch Dave Dorman in the face” for his blog on that breastfeeding SAGA cover, that was my final tipping point. So unbeknownst to Dave, I’m giving him an early Father’s Day gift. I’m posting this blog to end Dave falling on the sword for me, even one moment longer. For those of a certain age who remember that broken vase confessional on The Brady Bunch:

“Mom? Dad? It was me. I broke the vase.”

Yes. I wrote that controversial SAGA blog of Dave’s. And Dave, being the gentleman that he is, chastised me privately, but has forever remained silent about it publicly, despite the unfair ridicule and scrutiny he’s taken for it. He took the knives to his back from the all-too-quick-to-eats-its-own-young comic book industry to protect and defend me. But today, that cat’s outta the bag.

Dave is probably one of the nicest, kindest, most patient people you’d ever want to meet. I have 18 years’ worth of anecdotes to support my statement. So do many of you. Here’s one. When we were living in Florida, the local comic book shop gave out our private address to a budding artist who wanted to get into comics and was working full time as an engineer. The doorbell rang around lunchtime. We weren’t expecting guests, and this guy in khakis and a pocket protector, a total stranger, showed up on our front porch with his portfolio. Did Dave get mad? No. (I did. I felt our safety and privacy was violated and I let the comic book shop know my displeasure.) Dave generously invited him in and spent the next 45 minutes reviewing his portfolio and coaching him on his art. So, that small story encapsulates Dave in a nutshell. He’s always trying to help others get into art.

Here’s what actually went down that fateful day of the SAGA blog. Normally, Dave sits at the kitchen table and I whip out the MacBook Air and he gives me the essence of what he wants to say in his blog, then I write and refine it for the masses. He tends to write in passive voice, which drives me crazy. On that particular day, my ADD got in the way, pre-ADD meds. (To be fair, Dave does have this tone of voice that can sort of lull one into daydreaming mode.) I wasn’t paying close enough attention to the very nuanced way in which he was commenting on said cover. To this day, I don’t remember what he actually said because I zoned out. I was rushed, I couldn’t recall his exact quotes and I ended up writing my impressions of what I thought he said, but as Dave pointed out later, it bore no resemblance to what he actually said. I unwittingly unleashed an enormous, reputation-tainting train wreck. In my professional life as a journalist and ghostwriter, I record my book and article interviews and never make this mistake.

To take that old blog to the point of perpetuating some weird myth that Dave hates breastfeeders? Wow. That was troll cognitive dissonance taken to a new level of insanity. Yet those are the search engine terms that come up when you do a search on Dave’s name. All because of a mistake I made. It’s sad. I regret it every day. (I’m sure the former AT&T CEO Dave Dorman doesn’t much appreciate it, either.)

Rarely have I known a male illustrator who wants more women to have successful careers in comics and supports them more than Dave Dorman. He was first in line to see Wonder Woman before I did (and he loved it). He couldn’t wait! He has coached and mentored and supported women illustrators and writers for years. He respects women. All of those women who have gotten his free coaching and portfolio reviews at every Con for years? Crickets. They were sadly silent on the matter. No one came to his defense and defied the trolls, who were happily, busily framing Dave as a misogynist when NOTHING could be further from the truth. This one ugly controversy that I caused suddenly overrode much of the good he has done in the world. So there you have it. I’ve come clean. I needed to end this mistruth and injustice, once and for all. Now I’m sure there will be some trolls who say I’m just making this up. I’m not. I swear on our son’s young life this is the unvarnished truth, and I’m rather superstitious, so I don’t throw around phrases like that lightly.

Before the trolls out there release the Kraken, because I just know that bullshit is forthcoming, please know that I DO.NOT.GIVE.A.SHIT. about trolls’ opinions on this matter. And trolls, I already think you’re low-life, loser misogynists (and that includes women trolls as well) living in your parents’ basement, so don’t fuel me with further evidence. In fact, I’m shutting off comments on my blog for today as a pre-emptive strike.

To that woman “keyboard warrior” in Ireland, I’ll be only too happy to meet you in the boxing ring. Your ugly, violence-inciting hatefulness from behind the safe glow of your laptop is precisely what is wrong with this world.

 

 

How Little League Could Improve the “User Experience”: 12 Tips

Someday when my son is lying on his shrink’s couch recounting the many ways I’ve screwed up his parenting, I will point to this blog as proof positive that I actually attended some of his Little League games. How else would I have snapped this photo? Attending these games is typically Dave’s duty, but since he’s out of town, I’m stepping up to the plate (see what I did there?). I pray this Little League season ends before his San Antonio trip next weekend!

75, partly sunny, and a mild breeze– the only perfect weather Little League game of this season.

All of you User Experience (UX) experts out there, please apply your mad skills to improving Little League for the parents. The Sister Wives crack up at my total lack of interest in children’s sporting and performance events (but if Jack were playing indoor tennis or volleyball, this would be different) but as of today, my sports ennui is bordering on sheer hatred.

This morning’s Chicagoland shit show–a Little League game in 48-degree weather with pouring rain–was the final nail in my sports attendee coffin. There is no good reason, in my mind, to make parents and their children suffer like that. For those of us with hypothyroidism, that is, the majority of us living in the “goiter belt,” recovering from being over-chilled takes forever.

As I sat there fuming–for the 10 minutes I lasted on the cold, aluminum bleacher bench before retreating to the car and watching the game through binoculars–ach, who am I kidding? I don’t own binoculars. Anyhow, as I sat there fuming and attempting to text my displeasure to the Sister Wives and my friend Lisa with my 1 bar of AT&T signal, I began compiling a list of ways we could all improve the UX, from my perspective. Your results may vary. Soccer and lacrosse parents, feel free to borrow.

  1. Games should only occur on days when it is partially sunny and 75 with a slight breeze, and never on Mother’s Day or other holidays. And they should be scheduled for after 10 a.m., within 5 minutes of home.
  2. The concession stand should have indoor seating–aesthetically pleasing–and be sponsored by Starbucks, Peet’s Coffee, or some hot beverage company of that ilk.
  3. The bleachers should have a clear, protective roof that doesn’t attract heat (this would also protect against the liability of being hit in the head by a foul ball, while I’m busily reading my phone and not watching the game)
  4. Cushioned seating with a back rest would be even better than aluminum bleachers.
  5. Even better? A cabana I could share with friends, like the ones in Las Vegas surrounding the pool, that would perhaps have a fire pit in the middle for making s’mores as we “watch” the game.
  6. There should be an app developed to vibrate and nudge me when my child is actually doing something interesting on the field.
  7. A wait staff taking orders from the parents would be a nice improvement – sort of like the local iPic movie theater in South Barrington I so adore with the gourmet sliders.
  8. Cocktails. Bloody Marys for the morning games, Leinenkugel Grapefruit Shandies for the evening games.
  9. A covered pathway back to my vehicle would be great–my clothing from this a.m.’s total drenching is still in the dryer.
  10. A televised game I could watch from the comfort of my warm bed and never leave the house would also be a nice option.
  11. Joining a league with Matthew McConaughey or Peter Dinklage’s children, so I could steal more surreptitious glances than Jack steals home plate…that could make me not mind it all so much.
  12. To add insult to this morning’s injury, Jack’s dirt-caked uniform from his slide into 3rd base–right as the game was being called due to rain–stained the powder-gray cloth upholstery in the car. So…this got me thinking an on-site car detailing service might not be a bad idea. Also, a baseball uniform cleaning service, delivered to my front door, would be much appreciated (the domestic goddess that I am not placed a panicked call to Sister Wife Maura for advice on getting the dirt stains out of Jack’s uniform).

P.S. After the game, we drove through that same McDonald’s I mentioned in yesterday’s blog. The Arby’s subterfuge agent was no longer working the drive’ thru’ window.

If you have any ideas to add to this groundbreaking list, feel free to add your comments!

 

The Last Unicorn: When Whimsy Trumps Practicality

“That better not have cost more than twenty dollars,” Dave Dorman declared. Loudly. Jack and I looked up to the right, whistling, shuffling our right feet in the dirt. (That is, if we lived in a house with dirt floors. After baseball practice, it’s sometimes hard to tell.)

The Last Unicorn, aka Jack.

Jack and I just curated the newest piece in our weird little menagerie of pranks and cosplay from, of all places, Around the Corner Candy  shop in West Dundee, IL, which turns out to have a rather clever collection of hilarious crap. (The other perfect job for me, aside from my other perfect job as proprietor of the “All Hands on Deck” cards parlor, would be curating hilarious crap. Here’s a math equation even I can grasp: Me + Unlimited Archie McPhee Credit Card = Bankruptcy.)

I can recall the first time Jack and I simultaneously spotted the unicorn head on the highest shelf in her shop two weeks ago. We both saw this glittery, rainbow glow spotlighting it, whilst a choir of angels held a very long “Ahhhhh” note, not unlike the sound effect when you start up your Mac computer.

“Why?” you might ask, “do you need a unicorn mask?” Weeeellllll…there’s Halloween. And then there’s…well, we could wear it to Cons, until we got too sweaty under all of that rubber. I didn’t need that retractable dinner fork and the googly-eyed glasses I bought in Key West, either, but they’ve sure come in rather handy over the years.

It all boils down to this: Make lasting memories. Jack and I will never forget how hard we’ve laughed together over this silly mask. Today we’re wearing it–er, bringing it–to my Godson’s confirmation party. My Facebook page will soon be flooded with pics of all of my relatives wearing it in some fashion. While Dave is off snoring in a recliner somewhere, Jack and I will be continuing our tradition of injecting hijinks into our family gatherings. (My Aunt Karen still hasn’t commented, or perhaps noticed, the appointment we added to her calendar a few weeks ago to get her anal fissures examined.)

You’ve only got one shot at earning a good tombstone epitaph. I suggest we all make the most of it. Here’s hoping mine will say “Beloved Mother, Friend, Prankster.” 

Buckle Up, Buttercups! It’s College Tour Season

My male partner in crime–my cousin Jeff–took his daughter Leah to an out-of-state midwestern college (that shall remain nameless) for a tour this morning. Aaaand…she won’t be going there. Today could’ve been fodder for an SNL skit. I know this because Jeff called me tonight while they were driving back. The hills of western Wisconsin are filled with cell phone dead zones, which made his retelling of the story even funnier, because he’d almost reach the punch line, and the comedy gods would disconnect the phone. We called each other back 15 times to finish the story.

Jeff and his daughter were led through the campus by two Asian tour guides–Seiko and Gunther. It’s not every day you meet an Asian guy named Gunther, so this was fast becoming a FARGO episode. Seiko, the girl tour guide, was a math major. I mention this factoid because it erupts later in the story. Lest you assume I am making an Asians-are-good-at-math crack, that might make you the racist! Gunther, on the other hand, was a fishing and agriculture major.

To Jeff’s great comedic fortune, this was Gunther’s virgin voyage at playing tour guide. Seiko did her level best to remain positive while trying to engage Gunther into the conversation. Every one of Gunther’s answers only served to further erode his credibility.

Some nondescript, generic university…

As Seiko was showing Jeff’s small tour group the dorms, she asked Gunther which dorm he lived in.

“Oh,” he looked down. “I commute from home.” From there, his reactions were barely on life support.

“So…Gunther,” Seiko asked with as much feigned chipper cheerleader chatter as she could muster, “What made you choose this Midwestern University?!?”

“I didn’t get into the Naval College I applied for, so I just ended up here,” he shrugged, his monotone voice devoid of any joy. Jeff started searching for hidden cameras. Surely this was some sort of a YouTube prank. Or Gunther was setting foot on campus for his first time, part of some witness protection program.

Like two warring, passive-aggressive newscasters, Seiko would try throwing the tour guide lead to Gunther, and he’d just toss it right back at her, with a “No, that’s okay, Seiko…I think you’ve got this…”

Seiko finally got Gunther to talk about one of the buildings. The math building, where Seiko spends most of her time. “Gunther, why don’t you tell our guests about this building?”

Gunther looked down, sullen. “You mostly only go into that building for math classes,” he mumbled. “Except for one class…that’s where I took my public speaking class.” At this point, Jeff and Leah couldn’t even look at each other, choking back their chortles.

Gunther had yet to master the walking-backwards-while-talking part of this gig. He had no self awareness of his personal space, narrowly missing many landmarks and human collisions. Other tour groups were glaring at my cousin Jeff, as if Jeff was somehow responsible for reining in Gunther! These are the ridiculous situations Jeff always finds himself in, getting blamed for stuff that is never his fault, which always make me double over laughing. Jeff can keep a poker face…until he catches a side glimpse of my shoulders quivering in silent giggles. Jeff, Leah and I were all in agreement. It was a very good thing I didn’t join them.

The best moment occurred at the very end, when Jeff overheard Seiko tactfully taking Gunther out of earshot and querying him, “Umm, Gunther…didn’t anyone show you the tour guide script?”

“What? There’s a script?!?” In that singular moment, Gunther demonstrated that he did, indeed, have a pulse.

Jeff spoke up, trying to make Gunther feel better about things. “Gunther, care to join us for lunch?” Leah glared at her father.

“Thanks, man. I can’t–my ride’s here,” he declined politely, his tilted head gesturing toward the nearby parking lot.

Jeff and Leah are pretty sure the middle-aged woman behind the wheel was Gunther’s mom.

 

 

Things You Might Overhear at My Family’s Thanksgiving Celebration

Few moments in my life are funnier than the comments bubbling up during meals spent with my crazy family and equally crazy friends (who are like chosen family.). Since my cousin Jeff and I can basically mind meld, all it takes is a quick exchange of glances to kick off some of these running dialogues during Thanksgiving dinner. Here’s my Top Five List of Oddball Things Said During Meals Together (family and friends edition), with a (T) behind those you might overhear at my family’s Thanksgiving.

screenshot-2016-11-23-11-27-05

  1. “I have a torn labia.” One of my guy friends said this when I asked him what kind of shoulder surgery he was recovering from. He meant to say “labrum,” but somehow, labia is what came out. I was in hysterics for a good half an hour afterwards. I felt guilty laughing because he looked so pained and embarrassed, but that only made me laugh harder. I choked on my coffee this morning, just remembering this one all over again.
  2. “No man can refuse this p***y!” A certain uber-tall cousin of mine grabbed his right ankle and lifted his long leg over his head, uttering these words in the middle of a Sizzler Restaurant during lunch one day, mimicking Grace Jones in the Eddie Murphy movie, Boomerang.  Unbeknownst to him, as he was sitting in front of a column, there was an entire table of people behind him, whom I was facing, who did not appreciate his Grace Jones imitation, making this even funnier. I waved my hands wildly about in the “stop” motion, but he misinterpreted my gesturing as “Stop making me laugh!” I couldn’t stop hyperventilating in giggles long enough to warn him to stop.
  3. “Fifteen is my limit on schnitzengruben!” (T)This line from Blazing Saddles is uttered every time someone tries to push food on us at Thanksgiving, when we’re already way too stuffed.
  4. “It’s only wafer thin…” (T) –– This alludes to the epically disgusting, never-ending puke scene in Monty Python’s Meaning of Life. John Cleese offers up a wafer-thin mint to an obese man who has eaten so much, he explodes. In the end, all that remains is a beating heart, dangling, encased inside of a rib cage.
  5. “Go make yourself a danged quesadilla!” (T) — To say this correctly, you have to make quesadilla rhyme with Sarah Palin’s hometown, Wasilla. This line, from Napoleon Dynamite, is typically said later in the day, when dinner has settled and someone interrupts our Euchre game long enough to announce they have a taste for a turkey/stuffing/cranberry sauce sandwich. I also say this to Jack, pretty much every day we’re home together and he asks me to make his lunch.

This year, Jack and I are celebrating Thanksgiving with my extended family over the weekend, so tomorrow will be a quiet day at home, watching “Holes” and Napoleon Dynamite, wishing the pilgrims had kicked off this holiday with Beef Wellington rather than turkey. And what are your plans? Need ideas for side dishes, cocktails, main course recipes, cooking time, gravy techniques, family games or table decor tips? Check out my freshly curated Pinterest Holiday Entertainment board. Consider this your new go-to resource filled with infographic goodness and everything you’d need to know for holiday entertaining. Also, I learned a great trick on Saturday with my baked brie — using apple butter instead of apricot preserves gives it this apple pie flavor that is simply amazing. Give it a whirl!

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The Value of Impatience: This Chicagoan Votes Early, Just Not “Often”

I hate waiting in lines. I mean, really HATE. IT. I’m convinced the Disney Fast Pass came about when they read my none-too-subtle solution in their suggestion box. One of the greatest perks to working in TV production with Jan Gabriel on his nationally syndicated motorsports series The Super Chargers was getting that elitist, front-of-the-line access at Universal Studios in California, back when Molly Miles was in charge. God, I miss those days. For the 8 hours I was an entitled princess, I kept thinking to myself, “Self, you could really get used to this. And that could be dangerous.”

As a Chicagoan, I’ve exerted enough energy being patient in my life. After all, it’s taken my beloved Chicago CUBS 108 years to get into this World Series. I’ve literally waited my entire life for this moment!

Fortunately, the line to vote today was just 5 people long. All told, I was done in 30 minutes. I highly recommend you vote early. Just get it done. And if you’re voting in Chicago, I hope I don’t need to tell you, but please, do not vote more than once. Here’s a handy, party-agnostic link to find your early polling location: bit.ly/2dPJH3W

Hey, I'm Chicago. I vote early, just not OFTEN (in the same election).

Hey, I’m from Chicago. I vote early, just not OFTEN (in the same election).

Is It Bad Parenting If I Post a Negative YELP Review on My 11-Year-Old’s New Cleaning Business?

I’ll admit it. I hate vacuuming. I love the end result, but it’s the journey I object to. I don’t even care if it’s done in the diamond-shaped pattern. I just love it clean. Enter, stage left, my enterprising son Jack, now on summer break.  I hate vacuuming enough to pay him $5 a week to do it for me. He even includes the stairs!

Yesterday, the enterprising Master Jack launched his latest get-rich-quick scheme. He’s trying to earn money for his new paintball gun, which I have deemed a “non-essential item” (cue up the voice of Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons when you say that in your head) not covered on my list of parental obligatory expenses. An Azodin Kaos, to be exact. So Jack decided he’s now in the housecleaning business. He offered to mop my wooden floors. It was a mere $2.00 up charge. SOLD! He created his business name and a sell sheet, which he proudly posted on our refrigerator (I hate stainless steel refrigerators; I need mine magnetic since I use it as this hectic household’s visual command center).

Jack’s logo choice alone should have been my first of many red flags…

This logo screams "Pest Control," no?

This logo screams “Pest Control,” no?

But in the midst of his Swiffer slopping, er, mopping efforts, he pivoted, ceasing further progress. He grabbed a Sharpie, raced over to the refrigerator, took down his ransom note-like sell sheet and raised his pricing to $5! He more than doubled it! The cajones on that kid!

Because...INFLATION?

Because…INFLATION?!?

With righteous indignation, he announced he was “finished” with the kitchen. It took no white glove inspection to discover that many areas were completely neglected. Ignored might be the better term. Corners, the perimeters, huge swaths of flooring, and then the entire area beneath the kitchen table bypassed the purview of his Swiffer. One would almost have to try to be that bad at mopping.

That sell sheet is taking up a lot of real estate better used by my magnet collection.

That sell sheet is taking up a lot of real estate better served by my magnet menagerie.

At that precise moment, my BFF Marovich called. She suggested a bad YELP review might get him in line. I agreed. I added Angie’s List and HomeImprovement.com. Perhaps a Better Business Bureau complaint while I’m at it.  The cherry on top.

But two can play this game. I’m compiling my own list of fees. Trips to the orthodontist because he lost his bands again? $10. Trips to his friends’ houses? $15 (round trip, naturally–I’m not totally heartless). Every squeeze of toothpaste? .50 cents. In no time, I will have recouped my housekeeping fees. Maybe then I can afford to hire a real professional again. (Our house misses you, Judy!) I hate to dash Jack’s little entrepreneurial spirit, but didn’t Thomas Edison once say something about learning from one’s failures? Cloud, meet silver lining. One down, many careers to go.

 

 

RIP, Christopher… “Like Pieces of Glass in My Head All of the Time…”

The last image taken of Christopher, holding his new niece.

The last image taken of Christopher, holding his new niece.

I wave the white flag. I cry “Uncle!” I can bear no more losses this year. There’s been too much death. (In a future blog, when I’m feeling ready to talk about it, I will share the story of my bio-mom’s death in March of this year. That, too, was heartbreak.)

If there were any way I could take away the pain Darlene, my BFF since kindergarten, is feeling, I would. Her heart is broken. In a million pieces.

My BFF since kindergarten, my beautiful friend Darlene, and her beautiful son.

My BFF since kindergarten, my beautiful friend Darlene, and her beautiful son, gone too soon.

Here is a link to the eulogy she wrote, and below is the funeral program I wrote for her son Christopher. While one of the saddest assignments I’ve ever received, it was also the greatest honor and privilege that they entrusted me–the irreverent friend who attempted slipping a “There Once Was a Man from Nantucket” poem into my own wedding ceremony–to do this for them. (Darlene was my official photographer that day.)

So…here it is:

Christopher Ryan Nauman grew to become a big man with an even bigger heart. In fact, he had one of the biggest, most loving hearts many of us ever knew. Like John Coffey, the character he loved so in The Green Mile, Christopher lived his life vibrating on a different frequency than the rest of us…feeling things more deeply and intensely than we could ever possibly understand. He was God’s instrument, so sensitive and finely tuned…so fragile inside of a body seemingly so sturdy and strong.

Screenshot 2016-06-02 15.53.55

There was never a doubt of Chris’s deep, abiding love for his family and his friends, which knew no bounds. He was loyal to a fault. There were times in his life when those who would prey on loving souls mistook his kindness for weakness. But that was not Chris’s journey. He continued being kind, overlooking their faults.

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From the time Chris was small, his love for children was obvious to anyone near him. He relished his time with every one of the children in his orbit—Riley, Mazie, Colbie, Teagan—protective and clearly smitten, always playing with the little ones and loving on the babies.

Chris was blessed in being raised with family who always saw the essence of who Chris truly was, despite the challenges he faced; they saw the true potential in his God-given gifts. They nurtured his love for reading, feeding him on westerns by Louis L’Amour, adventures by Clive Cussler, and the diverse fiction of Stephen King, informing his vivid theater of the mind.

They also encouraged his natural talent for art. Illustration came easily to Chris. His parents helped him parlay that gift into the imaginative tattoo art that was innate to Chris. We treasure those who forever carry the touch of his ink on their skin.

Christopher, the Illustrated Man.

Christopher, the Illustrated Man.

Being outside surrounded by nature gave Chris so much peace; mowing the lawn was the chore requiring the least amount of prodding. One of his favorite jobs was installing piers, since it combined being on the water with being outside, although his fair skin would pay the price at day’s end. He loved working in the yard, helping Darlene build their brick flowerbeds and plant the gardens in front of their home, working tirelessly alongside her on those ambitious outside projects.

The beautiful flower bed Christopher helped build and plant with his mom.

The beautiful flower bed Christopher helped build and plant with his mom.

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Another joy in Christopher’s life aside from music, art, books, and video gaming, was his dad’s cooking. He’d regularly call home and query Robert with “What leftovers do you have?” or “Dad! What are you going to make?!?” His favorites were Robert’s spicy chili mac and his barbecued pork steaks. If he’d had the luxury of choosing, those would have been on the menu for his last meal.

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Joining his Uncle Darrell, another gifted artist, we believe–no, we know–Christopher is in heaven, collaborating with all of the artists in residence, making heaven an even more beautiful place.

We ask that you pray for each member of our family to heal our heartbreak, and that you always remember Christopher in your prayers. He will hear you.

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My sweet friend wrote this on Facebook just now:

True Blue.

True Blue.

LOOT CRATE: The Bane of My Existence

I went to get my cards read by psychic RoseWolf of SecondSightRose.com a while back, and I knew she was truly accurate when she said to me, “I’m getting that the decor in your home looks more like a…MAN CAVE?!?” With all of the comic book convention tzotchkes, art, pop culture collections, art books, and work samples Dave Dorman has amassed over his 35-year career, outside of the Smithsonian Institute, there’s no facility existing to properly display all. of. that. shtuff. Oh, wait–there’s Warehouse 13, if only it was real.

So…you can just imagine my reaction when we started getting these LOOT CRATE boxes in the mail every month — it was like a geek menstrual cycle, and equally a pain in my ass. Every time Dave or Jack’s back was turned, I was throwing away these irritating, tiny collectibles into the circular file (which Dave and Jack never seemed to miss) in my attempt to maintain some semblance of decluttering. Outside of the Legends of Zelda terry cloth wrist band, which I used for tennis–and to wipe my brow as I labored over throwing away more LOOT CRATE crap–there was nothing in these LOOT CRATE boxes of “exclusives” worth the $20 a month. But this month, I have to hand it to Loot Crate. They actually sent something that I like. Something with purpose. Introducing my new Breaking Bad apron:

The BREAKING BAD Los Pollo Hermanos Apron, courtesy of LOOT CRATE

My new Breaking Bad Los Pollo Hermanos Apron, courtesy of LOOT CRATE

Mind you, Dave doesn’t enjoy my “clean eating,” so I’m rarely cooking for anyone but me or Jack, but if Jack’s occasional box of Mac & Cheese splashes up, at least my Batman tees are now protected. However, Dave’s t-shirt collection and mine are like constantly warring nations, fighting for closet space territory.

Good thing Dave’s out of town 3 of 4 weekends in September so those, too, mysteriously find their way into the circular file…