rosie o' donnell

I really like Rosie. She's mouthy and fat and gay and unapologetic. SHe's also passionate about being a mother to her four children.

There would be fewer wars if more American women were like Rosie.

And THIS BLOG has it right about why she scares the hell out of people.

jane strikes ridculous pose at horse show today

Originally uploaded by kgranju.

today in NYC

today in NYC
Originally uploaded by kgranju.

american wisteria

Originally uploaded by kgranju.
Wisteria is supposed to be slow-growing. Only 3 weeks after SK planted it in my yard, it's producing flowers






Originally uploaded by kgranju.



You know, everyone has a friend or some friends who just never seem to date. They never get married. And they don't seem bothered by this.

THIS ARTICLE posits that these folks are actually part of an identifiable sexual identity category, as valid as being gay or straight.

What do you think?

Jane and Sydney

Jane and Sydney - Horse show '03
Originally uploaded by kgranju.
This is Jane with her bestest pal, Sydney, at a horse show a few years ago, waiting for their short stirrup class.

Jane has been very excited all week because this weekend is the Fiesta Farm spring horse show, which is superfun because it's our "home barn," plus her trainer always plans a lot of fun extras for the riders, like an Equitation Extravaganza.

Jane and Sydney are at the barn now, washing ponies and being cute. Jane is going to spend the night with Syd tonight and I am hoping she will spend the night with us tomorrow night. Sydney is one of those kids I consder "mine" and would adopt in a heartbeat. The girls really are just adorable together.

More Jane and Sydney


Elliot with his dog - possibly the world's ugliest canine - Mabel

Elliot knits with help from Mabel

Elliot knits with help from Mabel
Originally uploaded by kgranju.
I just really like this photo

neil young

Can't wait to hear Neil Young's new anti-war anthem. The entire new record - the whole thing - is available for FREE download online.


I want to project celebrity dislike at Angelina Jolie, because I think taking up with another woman's husband is just plain wrong.

But the more I see her with her children and hear her talk about the issues that matter to her (like education in the third world for women), the harder I find it to keep up my animus.

And I have to say that her daughter, Zahara, is possibly the CUTEST BABY GIRLCHILD I've ever seen. Lordy that child is cute!

Charlie Sheen

Charlie Sheen is launching A LINE OF KIDS' CLOTHING.


The designs are all for little girls and I can't help but wonder if they'll feature tiny bunny ears and stiletto heels.


tom cruise wants to change my name

He just keeps getting creepier, don't you think?

jumpin' jane

Here are some photos of Jane (link now fixed) from last horse show:


united 93

I just finished reading THIS DESCRIPTION of the premier for the new film, "United 93" and it sounds like the movie is both really good and really difficult to watch. I was afraid the movie would be panned, which would make it harder for the families of the victims. As it turns out, there were a lot of family members at the screening and they were so moved by the film that they were apparently "wailing" by the end.

I am not sure I can go see this movie. Will you?

my neighborhood... a lovely mention in this week's Metro Pulse, in their annual "Best Of" awards.

It reads:

Impossible-to-Categorize Block - The 1200 Block of North Central

Maybe it’s the karma left from the days half a century ago, when thirsty millworkers would convene here in Happy Holler (where, as the adage went, you can get anything you want for half a dollar). The gentrification of nearby Old North and Fourth and Gill has had unpredicted consequences to the block, which is now home to a unique business district that includes the Taoist Tai Chi Center, the cross-dresser’s venue known as the XYZ Club, and the Time Warp Tea Room, the combination vintage-motorcycle and pinball museum, Victorian-saloon recreation, and folk-music coffee shop. And, if we’ll permit crossing a side street, the Original Freezo, where you can walk up to the window and order some tamales and chili, cornbread and pintos, or a chocolate sundae? In fact, in the space of one block, you can fetch two different versions of the tamale-and-chili dish known as the Full House. Where else in the world? (J.N.)

And Jack doesn't even mention The Corner Lounge or Toot's Little Honky Tonk.


I've had a crummy day.

The weather was nasty and as I get older I realize I need sunshine to keep from feeling blue-er than usual.

Various kid-related needs kept me driving all over creation; I think I drove well over 100 miles today. If there is one thing I could change about the logistics of my daily life, it would be that I wouldn't have to drive so much.

And my teenage son is really, REALLY mad at me because I've had to make some decisions for him that he's not happy with. And he really knows just how to push my buttons. I think the relationship between firstborns and their parents is often more intense, more painful, more passionate than the one a mother has with subsequent children. I am a firstborn and let me just apologize to my parents right now for all the undue drama I created. I know I said unkind things to them when I was angry at age 15, 16, 19 and I'm sorry. Now I know how you felt.


packing boxes

From some random person's MOVING DAY diary on Flickr.

breastfeeding's impact on obesity

CLICK HERE to read a new study.

lust vs. love

How does lust factor into romantic love? Is it possible to remain in love with someone without a healthy dose of plain old lust? Can you love someone without lusting after them?

Comment below.

the road home

I am trying and trying to finish this book. It's beautiful writing but I just can't seem to get engaged with the characters. It's been a long time since I couldn't finish a novel. Actually, the last one I didn't finish was a Garrison Keillor novel.

on my nightstand

The Easter Bunny brought this to Henry, but I'm reading it now.

on my turntable


the battle for homebirthing rights

Here is a A GREAT ARTICLE on midwives and mothers battling to protect the right to give birth at home, and with a midwife.

how to grow a healthy baby

The World Health Organization (WHO) has jut released revised child growth charts. The new chart is based on large samples of children from many countries and is designed so that BREASTFED BABIES AS THE NORM, The old charts were based on a small sample of artificially fed babies.

As THIS ARTICLE POINTS OUT, the old charts likely led to many breastfeeding mothers being frightened into thinking their babies were underweight or not gaining fast enough when in fact, it turns out that formula-fed babies just grow faster and are fatter in general.

choosing not to breastfeed

Sometimes breastfeeding just doesn't work out. I understand this. With my first baby, I planned to breastfeed, but didn't know what I was doing and got really bad medical advice. I started giving him supplementary bottles and soon I had a nipple-confused baby and a raging case of mastitis. He was fully on the bottle by three weeks of age.

This story will be familiar to many women. It happens. And sometimes breastfeeding doesn't work out for other, even more legitimate reasons (more legitimate meaning as opposed to my own situation where I certainly was physically capable of nursing my baby had I gotten the right info and support).

After I found myself the mother of a bottle-feeding baby, I began reading more about breastfeeding, the politics of breastfeeding, etc and realized that I had been given TERRIBLE medical advice. Example: Henry-an otherwise perfectly healthy baby - lost 7 ozs in the first few days after birth. The doctor told me this was because I wasn't making enough milk and told me to start supplementing with forumula. Of course, this si ridiculous. The correct advice would be to tell me to relax, this is a normal weight loss for a newborn, and get him to nurse even more often and as long as he wanted.

The information that doctors routinely give women this stupid advice was radicalizing to me. And here I am, 14 years later, a breastfeeding activist. I successfully nursed my next two babies for several years each and I've written one book and many articles about breastfeeding.

My response - to become an activist - was somewhat unusual. My anecdotal impression is that most women who stop breastfeeding early for whatever reason become apologists for the medical profession and defensive about their choice to bottle-feed. They begin to imagine some huge breastfeeding conspiracy out to shame and belittle them for their decision not to nurse. And periodically, a woman in this position writes another ARTICLE LIKE THIS ONE in which she rails against the "militant breastfeeders."


I believe these articles are written from a deeply painful place. I know first hand how disappointing it is to want to nurse a baby and not have it work out. I know it's an uncomfortable feeling to be the only woman feeding her baby a bottle in a park playground full of other women nursing their own babies. It's hard. But to extrapolate from that that all the breastfeeding moms are being nasty to you or that the medical profession is "bullying" women into nursing is absurd.

If the meds are so good at "bullying" women into nursing, why are breastfeeding rates so pitifully low in this country and countries like England? Despite what you may have heard or may THINK you observe when you look around and see the (white, college educated) woman of your acquaintance nursing their kids, the fact is that fewer than 25% of all American babies receive any breastmilk at all past the first few months. In some areas of the country, like mine (I live in East Tennessee), some populations of women - low income, minority -- have breastfeeding rates so low they barely register.

The worst thing at all about these anti-breastfeeding rants by women for whom nursing didn't work out is that they often take it a step further, as this writer did, and try to make the case that the health-promoting aspect of breastfeeding is overblown or negligible. In fact, a growing body of peer reviewed medical research reveals that breastfeeding is one of the most crucial aspects of infant-maternal wellbeing.


I have three dogs. Really, I should only have two, but I somehow ended up with three.

We have Fiat, a 4 year old Jack Russell mix who has every obnoxious trait of the typical JRT, but I adore him. He's my baby. He sleeps with me and enjoys eating all my underwear. He also does things like jump on the kitchen table and attempt to eat all my leftovers when he thinks I am not looking. Did I mention he's obnoxious? But I do love him. He's the smartest dog I'ev ever lived with, which certainly does not translate into good behavior. I did finish an obedience class with him 2 summers ago, but he promptly forgot everything he had learned. Or pretended to forget. Like I said, he's a typical JRT.

We also have Mabel, a 2 year old Pug mix who is possibly the world's ugliest dog. Elliot picked her out at the pound when she was 6 weeks old. I tried to talk him into something else, but he wanted the piggy looking black puppy with the bad underbite. Mabel is a sweetie, but she's not exactly loaded with personality. Elliot loves her, though and I must say, she's a good watchdog and very easy. Mostly she likes to lie on the sofa all day.

NOw we also have Duffy, whom I call Piglet. Duffy is a 12 week old Border Collie/Chow mix. We got him after Jane's beloved Dachshund, Cookie disappeared. I now believe Cookie was dognapped. Jane cried and cried and I was all torn up about it too and still miss Cookie a lot.

So Jane decided she wanted a border collie and now we have Duffy. We met Duffys mother, clearly a purebred Border Collie. They told us they thought Duffy's father was a chow and it's becoming clear they were right. He looks like a black bear cub and is getting really large. I think he's hoing to be a chow-sized dog.

He's asleep at my feet right now, but soon it will be time to put him in his crate for the night, which is NOT pleasant. I've crated him every night since bringing hom home well over a month ago and he STILL whines for at least 30 minutes every single time I make him go in. Usually, a puppy will do the whining thing for a week at most and then settle down and accept being crated overnight. Mabel actually loves her crate and goes in there just to hang out. Fiat prefers not to be crated, but when necessary, he runs in there without complaint and settles right down. But Duffy is NOT liking the crate and it's irritating to listen to him whine every night before he finally settles down.

Anyone with any tips?

watching daredevils

Originally uploaded by kgranju.


out & about

More photos from the various rock & roll shows around K-town Friday night can be views RIGHT HERE

i heart the corner lounge

Originally uploaded by kgranju.

courtney love & the curst of the firstborn daughters

I'm a Courtney Love fan, despite her, ummmm, issues. I somehow sort of identify with her, even though I've never been a rock star, a stripper or a heroin addict.

Her mother has a new memoir out and a Seattle newspaper just ran A REALLY FASCINATING ARTICLE tracing her family tree. It turns out craziness runs in the family, but so does crazy genius. I didn't know, for example, that Courtney's grandmother was a really brilliant novelist.

Interestingly, all Courtney's siblings are successful, stable folks with thriving careers and happy families. Clearly, many of her problems have been organic, as in, she's hardwired to be slightly nuts and has been since birth.

Anyway, you should read this article. It's fascinating.


my cousin ward

The kids and I have been thinking and talking a lot lately about our baby cousin, Ward. He died last summer in an accident at the lake and really, his loss is the worst thing that's ever happened to our entire extended family. We all miss his a lot. Now that the weather is getting warmer, it reminds me that soon it will have been a year since I saw him last. He was the loveliest baby I've ever seen. Truly. He was just physically stunning. And he was so funny and clever and sweet.

Wardie, age 2

mothers acting up


less breastmilk = more alcohol?

Here's an interesting new study that LINKS LACK OF BREASTFEEDING with a predisposition to alcoholism later in life


I've been writing for HGTV a lot lately. Here's something I did on STEAM SHOWERS

naked cam

Check out our cool WEBCAM

I think these little guys are wicked cute. I can't stop watching them.

okay, how about...

It seems I was the only person who liked the VERY pink blog design. So how's about this one? Easier on the eyes? Links okay to read?


new blog design

I like pink. It's my favorite color. I'm that kind of grrl.

Do you like the new blog look?

caitlin flanagan makes me want to...



i like

On Turning Ten

The whole idea of it makes me feel
like I'm coming down with something,
something worse than any stomach ache
or the headaches I get from reading in bad light--
a kind of measles of the spirit,
a mumps of the psyche,
a disfiguring chicken pox of the soul.

You tell me it is too early to be looking back,
but that is because you have forgotten
the perfect simplicity of being one
and the beautiful complexity introduced by two.
But I can lie on my bed and remember every digit.
At four I was an Arabian wizard.
I could make myself invisible
by drinking a glass of milk a certain way.
At seven I was a soldier, at nine a prince.

But now I am mostly at the window
watching the late afternoon light.
Back then it never fell so solemnly
against the side of my tree house,
and my bicycle never leaned against the garage
as it does today,
all the dark blue speed drained out of it.

This is the beginning of sadness, I say to myself,
as I walk through the universe in my sneakers.
It is time to say good-bye to my imaginary friends,
time to turn the first big number.

It seems only yesterday I used to believe
there was nothing under my skin but light.
If you cut me I could shine.
But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life,
I skin my knees. I bleed.

-- Billy Collins

new dixie chicks video

In their new video for "Not Ready to Make Nice," just released, the Chicks (whom I love) AREN'T PULLING ANY PUNCHES in their stance on the war in Iraq.

suri cruise

Let me go on the record as saying I actually sort of like the name "Suri." It's unusual and pretty, but not ridiculous (as in "Apple Martin").

I lean toward traditional names (my daughter is named "Jane," after all), but Suri is nice.

i'll make your bathroom famous...



online stuff

I spoke as part of a panel on online news at UT's Journalism Department today. Comments were summarized RIGHT HERE


cas walker sez...

cas walker sez...
Originally uploaded by kgranju.

john wayne and my grandmother

Check out this cool interview with the woman who was my grandmother's editorial assistant for years. My grandmother is Nancy Anderson, the editor referenced in the piece.

one year off

Someone asked me this week what I would do with a year's paid vacation. This was my answer:

If I could do anything for a year, I'd write several books I have had on hiatus for 2 years - probably by going to a writers' retreat (I was accepted to Bread Loaf year before last but couldn't manage the logistics) spend lots of time lying in a hammock with my children, ride (horse) every single day, get a lot of massages & pedicures, drink a lot of beer, visit friends and family with no plan or agenda, work for a candidate of my choice (since my current employment prohibits my active involvement in specific political campaigns) and read, read, read...and knit a lot. And work in my garden.

What would you do? Comment below.



This has to be the nicest weather for an Easter weekend that I remember, ever. It's been sunny and gorgeous all weekend. It's dusk and I'm sitting out on the porch, smelling the flowers in the hanging baskets and listening to our two budgies chirp, since I moved their cage out onto the porch. Oh yes, also listening to Matthew Sweet and the sounds of Henry playing on the trampoline with his 3 year old cousin, McLean.

It's been a nice weekend

On Friday night, J. and I went to see McLean's first t-ball game. It was very cute. He's only 3 and all the other kids are 4-7 years old. After, J. and I took Elliot and cousin Eleanor downtown for the family-friendly first portion of the CD release party for some friends' (really awesome) band. We had a nice time, but it's always bizarro to run into my the guy I was seeing all Fall, because he now refuses to even look at me. If we are in the same room, he pretends he doesn't see me. It's so weird it's funny. He's in this band, so he was there and he studiously avoided any eye contact.

Anyway, after, we took the children up to Market Square and they happily splashed in the fountains, getting completely soaked.

On Saturday I went to meet up with Jane at the horse show near Chattanooga. She did just fine, but didn't do well enough to win the division, which had been everyone's hope.

Saturday night we all went and ate and dyed eggs at my sister's house.

The bunny came and Easter morning was nice. The kids discovered that the plastic eggs full of candy that the bunny had hidden in the front garden had been infiltrated by ants, so they had eggs full o'ants.

We went to church, including J., who is very creeped out by the high church aspects of a festive Episcopal Easter service. The children went out to lunch with their grandparents after church and I went to lunch and met J's parents for the first time.

This afternoon we worked in the yard and I attempted to make a dent in the massive laundry pile that has overtaken my bedroom. Jane has gone to spend the night at cousin Eleanor's, whil McLean and Elliot's friend Liam are spending the night here. I have an all boy household tonight.

It's getting dark, but I'm loathe for the beautiful day to end. I wish I had thought to take tomorrow off since the kids are out of school. But tomorrow it's back to work for moi...

meet the parents

So today I met J.'s parents and bro/sis in law for the first time. They had no idea he was seeing anyone, much less that this person is 12 years older than he is with 3 children, one of whom is about to start high school.

So we showed up for lunch and had a really pleasant time and they were just as nice as they could be, but I know they were probably scratching their heads after we left wondering A.) Who the heck I was and B.) Had they misunderstood when I told them I have 3 kids, ages 14, 10 and 8 years old ;-)

Sinister J.

Originally uploaded by kgranju.

wet elliot

Originally uploaded by kgranju.

elliot, age 8

Originally uploaded by kgranju.

elliot & eleanor hit the fountains downtown

Originally uploaded by kgranju.

the el twins

Originally uploaded by kgranju.
elliot & cousin elanor get ready to fall asleep


it's a rock off between kenny loggins and peter cetera

...or something like that.

You must, simply MUST watch these online episodes of Yacht Rock. You will laugh so hard, you will cry. I guarantee it. Trust me on this one.


Gotta brag on my 10 year old girlchild.

I just talked on the phone to Jane, who is at a horse show today.

She told me that after today's classes, she is leading the small pony division at this "A" show on Buddy, the pony in this picture. (This photo was taken of her showing him last Fall. Buddy doesn't belong to us, but she gets to show him some. We love him.)

Anyway, this is the best she's ever done at a horse show in a high level division. If she stays in the lead tomorrow, she will have qualified the pony for the USEF National Pony Finals, which is a very big deal.

It's hard being a catch rider (meaning that Jane rides whichever pony someone allows her to ride because we can't really afford our own pony), but Jane makes the most of it. She never complains and will take any ride offered. She works hard. She's just happy to ride and show.

I'm proud of her.

Tomorrow I'll be able to go to the show and watch her finish the division. Keep your fingers crossed.


new knoxville music blog

Thanks to Jeff from THE WESTSIDE DAREDEVILS for turning me on to this cool new blog ALL ABOUT KNOXVILLE'S MUSIC SCENE. It has reviews, shout-outs and criticism written by Nick from Twinkiebots, Emily from The Tenderhooks and Jeff.

Here's MORE ON THE BLOG from Metro Pulse.

This is a site I'll be checking in on regularly. You should too.

baby lust

I'm one of those people who loves getting pregnant, being pregnant and mothering babies & young children. I really do.

My youngest child (I have three) is eight years old now and I'm also divorced. One would think my baby-havin' days are likely behind me and that I might even be happy about that.

But I still feel like there is a baby - maybe even two more babies - in my future. I have no concrete reason to believe this except that I just sort of know it.

My children are at a wonderful place right now. I am enjoying them all tremendously. But again, I just feel like another child is supposed to join the family at some point. And lately, whenever I see a baby or toddler I get that baby lust feeling...

I have friends who say they just knew they were "done" after baby # 2 or whatever, but I've yet to feel that yet...

tom cruise scares me

The Tom Cruise/Katie Holmes thing just gets stranger and stranger.

Today he's quoted as saying that everyone who comes into contact with Katie has been GIVEN "SEMINARS" on how to interact with her and the baby to be.

This apparently includes his two older children who will, according to the same article, work in "shifts" to help care for the baby.

Has anyone ever noticed that one never sees photos of Nicole Kidman with the two kids she shares with Tom Cruise? And I know they are being homeschooled by Scientologists at Cruise's L.A. home. I wonder if he harassed her until she finally basically gave up trying to parent her kids...

baby progressives

My sister in law just told me that my nephew Jones, age 5, and my niece Anna, age 3, were playing together, building something, and every once in a while they would announce "union break!" and sit down and take a breather.


thor and the door

This is the bottom of my poor, poor door.

Note my fine typing paper patch job, as well as bloody glass. It was a bad scene.


kate and cow

kate and cow
Originally uploaded by kgranju.
My mother sent me this photo of me, at about age 9 or 10. This is me with a Jersey heifer I won in an essay contest sponsored by Duck River Electric Cooperative. I had to write an essay about why I thought I deserved a Jersey calf. And I won. Her name was Bonnie and this is Bonnie winning a trophy at the 4-H Fair. I still have the trophy (note golden cow). I no longer have those wonderful glasses, though I wish I did.

My sister entered the same contest the next year and won her own Ayreshire heifer, whom she named Charlotte.

mac and auntie k.

Originally uploaded by kgranju.
So here's the new haircut, but even better, here's my adorable nephew, Mac.



new hair

Feeling the changes of springtime in the air, I went at lunchtime and let Carl cut off all my hair. I mean, all of it. It's seriously short. I was going for a sort of Edie-Sedgwick-meets-Mia-Farrow thing.

He did exactly as I asked and it feels AWESOME on my head. So light and nice.

And I think it looks pretty good, but since returning to work, the comments have been primarily along the lines of "Oh. You got your hair cut. Look at that."

This is not promising

elliot at eight

Eight years old is a great age. I'm not sure I've ever enjoyed Elliot as much as I am right now.

He's a sunny, funny, mischievous, sweet delight at the moment.


britney's baby

I hope this isn't true, this story that Britney Spears' BABY FRACTURED HIS SKULL in a fall from his high chair. Yikes!

Mine never fell out of a high chair, but one of them did once eat a poison mushroom from the yard. Another of them stuck a bean so far up his nose we had to go to the ER and the third once got poked in the face - right near his eye - with a burning stick being used to roast marshmallows by his cousin. My point being: who am I to judge anyone else's ability to prevent their kids from doing things like falling out of high chairs?


I am dog-sitting my dear friend Jay's wonderful, wonderful dog, Thor.

Thor is a huge pit bull mix. I suspect the mix includes Great Dane.

ANyway, Jay will be back Wednesday and Thor has clearly been missing him.

Last night, I made the mistake of leaving Thor alone for a period of time. I've done this before with absolutely no problem, but this time, Thor decided he did not want to be alone in my house and proceeded to absolutely demolish my vintage, original-to-my-75-year-old-Craftsman-cottage front door. He ate most of the wood and smashed out bunches of glass, smearing blood all over the place when he cut his paw (he's fine).

I think my door may be a loss, which means I will have to buy a reproduction or vintage Craftsman door to replace it which I suspect will cost around a thousand bucks.

I am having an restorer person come look at it today and give his opinion on whether it is salvageable.

This is one of those times when you just have to take a deep breath and say, it's all okay. I can make this right.

It doesn't help that my roof is leaking at the moment and it appears my heat pump (very old) just died...

I do ADORE my little house, though. I wouldn't trade it for the world.

parenting gone haywire

These Brooklyn/Park Slope parents have far too much TIME ON THEIR HANDS

mom jeans

Mother's Day is approaching. Which made me think of the horror that is (are?) MOM JEANS.


pat robertson says woman's asthma caused by husband's impotence

Really. I swear.

Read all about it RIGHT HERE

need new nanny in knoxville

(I love alliteration)

After trying to get by without for the past 12 months, I need to hire a new part-time nanny/mother's helper/au pair person in Knoxville.

Must drive own car.

Must like loud, boisterous, busy household with too many children and dogs.

Good pay. Nice boss.

If you know anyone who might be interested, e-mail me at

gwyneth's new baby boy is named...

Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin have a new baby boy they've NAMED "MOSES"

My cat is named "Moses."

Congrats to Gwynnie and Chris.

Over and out.

on my turntable today

who are you?

Time to ask again...who are you and what brings you to my blog?

CLICK HERE to answer.

And welcome!

horse show weekend

Jane and her pony were Children's Pony Reserve Champs at the RMI "A" show in Cleveland this past weekend.

He's for sale, if you are pony shopping...

how to marry a banker

Hey girls, wanna hook yourself a banker? Payj at Things That Make You Go Hmmm has the 411: SO YOU WANNA BE A BANKER'S GIRLFRIEND

My favorite part?

"Aim high. Like mom used to say: Reach for a banker. You can always settle for a consultant."

More of Flat Stanley's Adventures in Afghanistan

To see all the pix of Flat Stanley in Afghanistan, CLICK HERE

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Originally uploaded by kgranju.
Dear Elliot,

Greetings again from Afghanistan. I hope you enjoyed my last letter. Since then, I went on another expedition with my soldiers and US Special Forces. I took a few pictures and wanted to send them to you.

The night of the patrol, we had to be prepared for any attack, and we took turns pulling guard duty throughout the night. We had heard the base where we were staying might get rocketed. Even though I am a Lieutenant Colonel (the highest ranking Soldier on the patrol), I must share the same burdens as my men. So I stood guard watch from 2230 (10:30 p.m.) until midnight. It was windy and rainy. Thanks to Flat Stanley, nothing happened.

The green photos are of Flat Stanley helping me pull guard duty with my M4 carbine. The green light is what I see through my night vision goggles. These neat gizmos amplify light so you can see in the dark. (Wouldn’t that be neat? You could walk around your house at night and see everything, even though it was pitch dark.)

The next photo is of Flat Stanley manning our biggest machine gun, the “Ma Deuce.” It actually is called the M2 .50 HB MG. That stands for M2 (hence, “Ma Deuce”) .50 (50 caliber, meaning the bullet is 50/100, or one-half inch, in diameter. That is a very big bullet), HB (for heavy barrel), MG (machine gun). This machine gun fires a big bullet that weighs 673 grains (a grain is a unit of measurement for bullets and gunpowder), so we say the .50 caliber is “673 grains of diplomacy.”

The next day, I met some farmers who happen to grow poppies. One told me he knows it is wrong to grow poppy, but he must feed his family. That is a dilemma for any parent, because a child (you, Elliott) are a parent’s most precious possession in the world, and a parent will do anything to care for his or her child. The photo of me with the locals shows that farmer holding the water bottle. The net in his left hand is used to capture birds on the ground (like quail, I suppose). The farmer then raises the birds.

I then climbed a high hill looking for caves where guns and bombs might be hidden. We found no caves, but it was good exercise, especially with my 20+ pounds of body armor and rifle. Attached are some photos from that hill.

The next to last photo is of one of our terps (interpreters), Fawad (pronounced faWAHD). He is a very nice young man and an Olympic athlete. He played on the Afghan Olympic volleyball team. No kidding. The last picture was taken as we were heading home. It just seemed like a neat shot. I hope you like it.

Once again Flat Stanley really enjoyed an adventure in Afghanistan. He’s a good Soldier. I would take him anywhere with me.

Warmest regards,


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more progress on the yard makeover

Front yard before. This was taken last July when everything was very green and lush


During. This was taken in March of this year - last month. You can see Steve has ripped out all the 1940s bushes, like holly and azaleas, and has tilled up the lawn. He's started on the brick walkway.:



We are now further (farther?) along with the "during." You can see we have put in a number of plants and mulched on the side that will be a little cottage garden. Also in but hard to see yet are America wisteria, that will climb up the pillars. A little more work has been done on the brick walkway.



Steve K. is the mastermind behind the yard makeover. He's a botanist and is using only native plants. Here he is hard at work.


Steve works while his wife Terri sits on the steps with J. That's Steve and Terri's son Zan hanging on the sidewalk. He helped a lot too




This is a general idea of what I hope the front of the house looks like when all the plans and flowers are grown in.