stretch marks

Wow, even Pamela Anderson HAS STRETCH MARKS on her bum.

I'm lucky; I don't seem to get them so much.

happy news!

My cousin Julie, WARD'S MAMA is expecting a baby in January.

I dreamed it's a baby girl.

I am so happy for her!


in defense of the pregnant prom queen

In reference to the discussion below about teen sexuality, here's something I wrote about TEEN PREGNANCY for Metro Pulse.

And here's a post I wrote on my old blog a few years ago about why "teen sex" isn't necessarily SUCH A TERRIBLE THING


I love getting flowers.

Today I got beautiful flowers at work from my sweet guy.

Lucky me.

abstinence programs scare me


A "father-daughter PURITY ball?" Ick. Ick. Ick.

I want my adolescent kids (one is, two are not yet) to know what they need to know about sex and their own values and staying safe. I want them to respoect their own bodies, their own emotional needs, and be kind to others. I want them to be safe, healthy and happy. I do not want sex to be a big, scary, secret something to them.

britney's nekkid in bazaar

Originally uploaded by kgranju.

I think our girl Britney looks absolutely gorgeous in ALL THESE PHOTOS

gardening at night

Last night the children and Jon and I walked down to the neighbor's house to see the nightly show on our street: the dramatic opening of the flowers on a "nine o'clock bloomer" bush. These bushes are also called Moonflowers, Evening Primrose and Nicodemus plants. At around 9pm every night in the summer, the closed-up yellow flowers suddenly and quickly pop open. It's something to see. YOu feel like you are watching time lapse photography on fast forward.

We neded up coming home with a baby moonflower bush, given to use by the nice woman who has the bush we were admiring. So it was after dark, but we went ahead and planted it in the frint flower garden. I hope it takes.

Elliot is very happy because the tomatoes he planted from seeds brought by the Easter Bunny are growing like crazy. He also planted some "Forget Me Nots" at the same time, and they've bloomed nicely, but he can't remember the name of the flowers. He keeps referring to them as his "Wish Me Lucks," which I find pretty adorable. I am going to start calling them that, too.


the worst bonnaroo coverage award goes to.....

The primary reporter for my hometown newspaper, in middle Tennessee, is frequently, unintentionally hilarious.

Read HIS OP-ED ON BONNAROO for perhaps his best work EVAH.

I can't decide if the best part is:

A.) Where he refers to the band "The Magic Numbers" as "Magic Fingers"

B.) He suggests he was offered sexual favors in exchange for his press credentials

C.) He refers to "vulgar" movements known as "dance moves"

"that's so ghetto"

Lately, I've noticed teenagers using the word "ghetto" as an adjective all the time, as in, "That's so ghetto."

I can't quite get a read on what they mean by "ghetto" these days, but apparently, to Hilary Duff, "ghetto" means AN AFFLUENT MARYLAND SUBURB.


hey catherine k.!

I read your comment about e-mailing me with a blogging question and how I never responded and I am so, so sorry. I must have somehow lost your e-mail in the shuffle of life and I feel bad about it. Public apology. I get a lot of e-mail.

I also owe blog reader Karrie an e-mail in response to a very thoughtful one she wrote me last week about breastfeeding and guilt and haven't gotten it written/sent yet...

Mea culpa, y'all.

men and fake boobs

Last year, on a famously terrible first date, I had a man ask me if my breasts were real. He just...asked me. Straight up.

Are so many women's breasts fake now that if someone has,ahem, bigger than average breasts, as I happen to, then it's assumed they are fake?

Anyway, her's an interesting essay on "WHAT MEN REALLY THINK OF BREAST IMPLANTS"

who are you?

Time for my semi-regular query of blog readers/posters: who are you and how did you find my blog? What brings you back (or not)? What would you like to see more of and less of?

CLICK HERE to tell me 'bout yo' bad self.

oh dear. i've missed many, many e-mails

I have another e-mail address - a yahoo one - that I never, ever, ever use. I checked it tonight and found dozens of interesting, important and in some cases, rather urgent e-mails from people that I never got.

If you have e-mailed me at my yahoo address in recent months and got no response, I am so, so sorry. I am now trying to find and respond to all the e-mails I have missed, but please re-send your e-mail to me at This is the e-mail address I actually use and check regularly.



my slacker approach to feeding my kids

Full details RIGHT HERE

current listening


elliot with his new baby ball python, "bob"

elliot with his new baby ball python, "bob"
Originally uploaded by kgranju.

Elliot meditates on our front walkway

Elliot meditates on our front walkway
Originally uploaded by kgranju.

Elliot, Jane and Cinco

Elliot, Jane and Cinco
Originally uploaded by kgranju.

June 25, 2006


Originally uploaded by kgranju.

June 25, 2006

Jane at West Wind Horse Show

Jane at West Wind Horse Show
Originally uploaded by kgranju.

June 25, 2006

how big is your house?

Tell me about your house.

My three children and I live in a 1500 sq ft craftsman cottage built in 1930. It has a single bathroom. Hardwood floors - some refinished, some still all banged up. Big yard and sidewalks. Downtown, city neighborhood full of old houses. Our particular historic neighborhood hasn't yet gentrified yet, although it's surrounded by those that have. So I guess we are sort of urban pioneers. House needs some cosmetic work, but is pretty solid. No cable TV. My kids believe we are the only people on the planet living without cable TV and with a single bathroom. Most of their friends live in very nice, very large houses in madly affluent neighborhoods.

What's your house and neighborhood like?

yard makeover results

Front yard before:





AND NOW....VOILA!!!!!!!!!!!!

Picture 072

Picture 070

Picture 069


nelly furtado

I really liked the first Nelly Furtado record. The new one, not so much. Okay, not at all.

ANyway, I was interested to read that she recently had a HOMEBIRTH WITH MIDWIVES.


I've been thinking an extra lot lately about MY COUSIN WARD lately, as the first anniversary of his death comes in July. He was two years old. His loss has affected every member of our family very profoundly. We've all ben incredibly inspired by my cousin Julie, Ward's mama, who has taught us a lot about grace and courage over the last 12 months. She's such a wonderful person and mother and a great, fun friend to boot. Here's A SLIDESHOW of some favorite photos of Ward that she shared today.


the baby name zeitgeist

Here's an AMUSING ESSAY by a woman who named her children "Olivia" and "Ava," only to see these two previously out-of-fashion, old names suddenly zoom in popularity.

She ends her piece by saying she should have named her daughter "Jane" ;-)

I only know one other little Jane, daughter of my writer-friend Marion Winik.

I love the name "Violet," but can't ever use it now because of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner. I like "Emma" a lot, but every other baby girl I meet these days is named "Emma."

I also like:


(No, I am not pregnant!)

robert & me

Originally uploaded by kgranju.

I like this recent photo of my baby bro, Robert. He should make that expression way more often. He should also name his new baby, if it's a boy, "Agamemnon Allison"

new blog

The good folks at THE KNOXVILLE VOICE have launched a NEW ENTERTAINMENT BLOG that looks very...entertaining ;-)


Jane is entering 6th grade in the fall (even though she's only 10 - really, she should be older - she will turn 11 the week school starts) and she is definitely starting to ease from childhood into adolescence.

One of the surest signs is her great love of the telephone. And since we are an all-cellular family these days, she has her own, pink cell phone, permanently attached to her body.

She is a lover of the text message. Oh how she loves texting! So I need to show her THIS ARTICLE about one little girl's text messaging injury - stress and strain to the hand and fingers from pressing the buttons too often...


more on rhett miller

Well, I did wander down to Market Square after work last night to see part of the free RHETT MILLER show and it was excellent. Nice sized crowd, with everyone singing along to his hits (including me).

But of course, the main thing was how dreamy Rhett Miller is. That man is too beautiful to be real. He looks like Shaun Cassidy for grown-ups.


(And yes, remembering your deep, deep love of all things Rhett Miller, I thought of you, MISS ADRIENNE MARTINI ;-)


rhett miller & stewart pack

Tonight is my kid-free night, but it's also the night my show tapes until 8pm. Rhett Miller, whom I like a lot, is playing a free show on Market Square downtown, and afterwards, my friend Stewart is playing a show at Barley's. I would love to go bu SP's show and may, but if I were truly responsible, I would stay in and finish some freelance work I need to get finished. Yeah, I really should stay in and get that stuff finished.

Happily (for me), Henry returns from his week away camping with a friend's family tomorrow. I can't wait to see him. I spoke to him on the phone a little while ago and got very teenagery, non-communicative answers to my specific questions about how the trip has gone. Maybe once I get him fed and he gets a long nap he will be willing to tell me more ;-)


I had a really bad eating disorder (bulimia with perods of not eating at all) from about the time I was 17 until I became pregnant with Henry at age 23. So I am always happy to read about people who SUCCESSFULLY RECOVER FROM BULIMIA.

I've really only gotten normal with my eating - eating only when hungry and only until I am satisfied - in the past three years. Before that, I was always either thinking about eating, thinking about how NOT to eat, or thinking about how big my ass was about 80% of the time I was awake. Whether I was up 15 lbs or down 15 lbs, I always felt huge and I was obsessed with food and how to avoid consuming it.

Now I am at a healthy weight and I just rarely think about the whole issue. I am a bit baffled as to how this happened. It just sort of did. I like my body better now, after three pregnancies and at age 38, than I ever did when I was 21, when, in hindsight, it probably looked pretty darn great.

I still have a lot of trouble eating in front of my mother, though. And I feel uncomfortable discussing food and weight with my daughter, because I am so scared I'll say the wrong thing and give her the same kind of problems I have struggled with.


We have lived in our house two years now and haven't made any kid friends in the neighborhood. It's an old, inner city neighborhood with sidewalks and lots of kids, but since we don't go to school or church actually IN the neighborhood, we haven't met kids, though we have tried a little. We do know a number of our adult neighbors and very much like the neighborhood in general, but the kid-friend thing has been lacking.

Last week a new family moved in across the street and I was heartened to see bikes and scooters on the front porch. It turns out they are a very nice Catholic-attachment parenting-homeschooling family, with three girls, ages 11, 9 and 17 months.

Tonight I chatted with the very nice parents while their kids and mine, plus my niece and nephew played like crazy in our house, the new neighbors' house and both yards, plus they all zoomed up and down the street on bikes, scooters and skates. They climbed trees and jumped rope and pulled the baby in a wagon up and down the sidewalk.

Then mine fell into an exhausted stupor after the neighbors left.

This is a most excellent development!


baby slings

Only a few years ago, baby slings were considered quite unusual. You didn't see that many of them out and about. Now YOU SEE THEM EVERYWHERE.

This is really cool, because I think babywearing is good for babes and parents. I think slings and front/back packs are a particularly great way for dads to bond with their infants.

I used a stroller for Henry, because I had never seen or heard of a sling. H enever liked it too much until he could sit up.

Jane LIVED in her sling and then rode around in the backpack constantly after she was a little older. I had a bad back after E was born, so the sling and packs were harder for me to use, but Chris did.


So I was surfing the web looking for nea half-chaps for my daughter Jane, when I ran across an equestrian site sellling this BIZARRE ITEM FOR FATHERS.


jane's job

Originally uploaded by kgranju.

When Jane started riding, about five and half years ago, we were able to draw on some family funds (her father's family) to pay the costs. Hunter-jumper lessons and showing are incredibly, embarrassingly high.

For three years, this was the case, and Jane grew increasingly interested in her chosen sport and got really good at it.

Then family members decided that money would no longer be made available for Jane to ride.

(Don't even get me started)

We scraped by for about a year on money I had tucked away, but increasingly, her trainer, who had become one of my dearest friends, began basically letting Jane ride for free. The debt I owe SPK for what she has done and continues to do for my daughter and for me is really something I can't explain. When I can afford it, I will repay her in some way and I will also fund the riding for some other little girl who has a single mama who cannot pay for it. I will.

But anyway, this year, we began encouraging Jane to trade work at the barn for what amounts to a tiny fraction of what SPK does for her. This makes Jane feel really useful and competent. She loves being part of the "team" at the barn and the college-age girls who are actual paid employees are so, so good to her. They treat her like a little sister.

Three or four mornings a week this summer, I drop her off at 8 am. She has her lunch money and snacks and drinks and she stays busy playing and working.

She has a task list of things she is supposed to accomplish each week for her "job," including training rides on at least two ponies, grooming Hazel the overstuffe Corgi, cleaning a certain number of pieces of tack, dusting tack trunks and brushing ponies.

It's great. I am so proud of her.


what if the kids read it

Yep. I write stuff my kids might read.

I have never and will never publish anything I would never want my children to read.

Women are supposed to keep secrets. Male essayists are "bold" and "courageous" and "brutally honest"

Explaining being an essayist/mother is difficult sometimes. Joyce Maynard has this to say on the subject ON HER MOST EXCELLENT WEBSITE:

For Writers: Writing for Health

by Joyce Maynard

I'm at a party and someone asks me what I do for a living. I write, I tell her. What about? she asks. There was a time when I hedged around this question, feeling defensive. But these days, I just say it. I write about myself. Other subjects too, of course. But for a quarter of a century -- since I was eighteen years old -- the subject I have most persistently returned to is my own experience, including some fairly intimate and painful experiences. I have written about the end of my marriage, written about having an abortion, about my father's alcoholism, about embarking on a love affair, and about ending one. The day my mother died I sat down and wrote about that. Call it self-absorption if you will (plenty have). I prefer to say that mine is the only life to which I have been granted total access. Mine is the only story I truly own. Then too, there's that old saw every English teacher delivers to her students, "Write about what you know." So I have.

But there's another reason why I tell my story. And when I think about the issue of health, and what I do to preserve and protect mine, it occurs to me that though I swim regularly and go to a gym, though I eat sensibly and stay away from drugs, there may be nothing I do that more significantly contributes to my sense of well-being than my own work. Telling my story has been, for me, the best way I know to free myself from the heavy burden of secret-keeping and denial.

The experience of writing as I have -- namely, not simply writing about my life, but also making it public -- may be particular to those who do it for a living. But whether or not a person publishes her work, I've come to believe the benefits to be gained are enormous, simply from the act of setting down one's story. (And specifically, doing it on paper. Speaking out loud -- at an AA meeting, or to a therapist, or just on the phone with a friend, is also, doubtless, a highly therapeutic exercise. Just a different one.)

I think it's important to tell your story, even if nobody's listening. But for me, it has been freeing not only to tell it, but to share it too. Probably because I grew up in an alcoholic family, with so many secrets and so much shame, my ability to speak openly not only about my successes in life, but also my struggles and failures, has brought me a kind of freedom and feeling of acceptance I doubt I could have known any other way.

I write my story, I always say, as if I were writing a letter to a friend. Maybe because of that, I've always gotten a lot of letters back from strangers who often ended up as friends. From them I learned that I was far from the only person out there with a less than perfect life, and that my terrible, shameful secrets were no worse than the kinds so many others silently and secretly endured, around me.

For eight years I wrote a newspaper column about my life -- my marriage, my children, my struggles at trying to find a balance between being the kind of parent I wanted to be, and still having some corner of my life for myself. Every Monday morning over the course of those eight years I'd sit down at my computer and think about what story to tell that week. Doing that required not just a reflection over the events of the week just past, but also, on a more visceral level, a re-examination of the feelings associated with those events. Something might have happened -- an exchange with a friend, a disagreement with my husband -- that I had let slip by at the time. But five days later, taking out that episode and re-examining it, I'd discover layers beneath the surface I'd chosen to ignore at the time.

Sometimes when I began to write down these stories, I didn't know myself what they were about. It was the act of laying them out on the page that revealed to me the true nature of the issues involved. And so I'd tell the story of an unwelcome birthday gift from my husband -- an electric can opener -- and , partway through the telling, I'd see that what it was really about was my need to be seen and understood as someone other than a woman who needed to get those cans of tuna fish opened, quick. I'd tell about the grief of one of my sons, at the loss of an inch-long sword belonging to one of his pirate figures, and of my own frantic attempts to find it. And as I spun my yarn (frequently comically), I'd discover that what really made me frantic wasn't the lost sword at all. It was all those other greater losses from which a parent can offer no protection or possibility of rescue. No humor there. And not just our children's losses. Also our own.

Not that I always got to the truth of the matter in my writing about my life, by any means. My stories about marital tussles or the exhausting rigors of caring for three children, six and under, were often written in a humorous style. Even when the feelings I experienced at the time were not ones of amusement but rather, pain. Just because a person writes down a story (in print, or in a journal) doesn't mean she's taking an honest and self-aware look at her life, after all. She may just as well be reinforcing her own brand of denial -- creating the reality on paper that she wishes were hers. She sets up her characters in front of the photographer, fluffs up their hair, holds in her stomach. And waits till the fellow with the camera has gone home to yell at her kids again, put on her corniest country album and get back into her old housecoat. I frequently did that, only the one who recorded the ultimately false images was the same person who appeared in them. Happy Mother of Happy Children, inhabiting a Not-Wholly-Blissful, but ultimately loving marriage. Or so I said.

But there's something about reading a story on paper -- even one you know very well, from having lived it in its original form -- that allows a person to see her own experience in a different way than she did when it was simply unfolding in the pure open space of time Just as it would be different, seeing a photograph of yourself nude, from how it is to catch a glimpse of one's body (or even stare at it for a prolonged period) in the mirror. Writing about your life -- even writing with some level of active denial or self-delusion -- puts a frame around it in ways that simply living that life never can.

These daysit's an increasingly fashionable concept to keep a journal. The word has even become a verb, and a gerund, (as in "I'm staying home tonight to do some journalling" or "That man isn't my type. He doesn't journal..."). The therapeutic effects of all this journalling have been well recognized, and testimony from journal-keepers and letter writers, as to the positive effects of their efforts, are familiar to most of us, probably.

But when people talk about writing their stories, they tend to focus , often, on the writing part: How good it felt to pour all that stuff out. How cleansing. What a release.

All true enough. But I would add, the greatest benefit to me from telling my story has been what followed: reading it. Putting it away, ideally, for a week, or a day, or even just an hour. Then picking it up, as one would pick up a letter from a friend or a total stranger, and reading it again.

I remember something told me once by a friend who has cerebral palsy. Like many people with his particular problem, Tom speaks in a manner that is fairly tortured and difficult to understand, at first. But he never understood what he sounded like, he said, until his sixth birthday, when his mother gave him a tape recorder. And then, hearing himself on tape, he wept.

As for me, I read my own stories about my life, and concluded that my marriage was over. It could truly be said, for me, I read about it in the paper first. And then I realized it was true. And while my discovery -- like Tom's -- was a deeply sad one, and one that brought about terrible, wrenching pain, I can't acknowledge that without adding that like a lot of painful events, it also made possible the series of life-changes that allowed for a healthier and happier life . As well as much better writing.

Of course, writing with total honesty about one's life raises its own set of problems. It's one thing to tell a story on your own self. It's something else to tell one that involves other characters who might not shareyour enthusiasm for openness and self-disclosure. For me, an important part of my own retrieval-of-self, following the end of my marriage, seemed to require a more honest telling of the story of my marriage. But what would have been healthy for me, in the way of unburdening, was not necessarily the same as what would have been best for my children, or their father. So there are stories I don't tell. I'd rather bypass them altogether than tell them partway. And of course, there's always fiction, as a place where a writer can make use of her own life experience, and still protect people she loves or cares about.

I have to conclude that nobody benefits from deception or prevarication. (And that includes our children. Who may not need to hear all the truth of our lives. But who surely do not benefit from lies.) Hard as it may be, to face up to the truth about one's story, to do anything otherwise only allows us to build the structures of our lives on faulty foundations. I think of a man I know, adoptive father of a thirty year old son who has never been told that he's adopted. (I know it. Now you know it. But the young man himself does not. ) And though his father is a loving and totally decent man, who has kept this information from his son out of the most loving of impulses, I have to believe that --founded as it is on a fundamental innacuracy concerning something as centrally important as the circumstances of his birth--this young man's whole life has been somehow thrown out of balance by his parents' secret-keeping.

Now we have an actual, legislated government policy in place -- the one concerning homosexuals in the military -- based on the dysfunctional approach "don't ask, don't tell." Our own government tells gays, "keep in the closet". So why should we express shock and dismay, to learn that our elected officials lie to us, as well?

As for me, I've chosen to follow a simple course: Come clean. And wherever possible, live your life in a way that won't leave you tempted to lie. Failing that, I'd rather be disliked for who I truly am than loved for who I'm not. So I tell my story. I write it down. I even publish it. Sometimes this is a humbling experience. Sometimes it's embarrassing. But I haul around no terrible secrets.

I have always believed there's a connection between my writing and my sleeping. And the fact is, I sleep well every night. Like a baby -- only better than any baby of mine ever slept.

Mine may not be the sleep of the innocent either. But it is, at least, the sleep of the free. My brain is largely emptied of worries. My hard disk is full of them.

Try it.

(And Ms. Maynard, if you by some chance see that I've posted this amazing essay in its entirety on my blog and want me to take it down, just let me know and I will, immediately...Thanks - KAG)

god bless reese witherspoon and her perfectly normal body

Check out the THESE AWESOME PHOTOS of Reese Witherspoon in a bikini, playing on the beach with her kids.

She looks great, but not airbrush/pilates/plastic surgery "great."

She looks real.

throw down at the playground

Read all about it in this HILARIOUS VIGNETTE from Suburban Turmoil.

ben folds is nice

Did I mention how really, really nice Ben Folds was when I met him last Friday and asked him to sign something for Jane? i WAS A FAN BEFORE BUT AM NOW A DEVOTEE. wHAT A GREAT FELLA.

(whoops. caplock)

Elliot, who is 8, came home last night after TWO WHOLE WEEKS away with the grandparents and his father. That is by far the longest I have ever been away from my baby. Jane and Henry have been gone 3-4 weeks at a time to France and to camp, but Elliot hasn't seemed old enough to do those things because he is my baby boy.

He came back taller and brown as a berry, with his fuzzy, dirty blonde hair somewhat blonder from the beach. His blue eyes are much more startling when he's tan.

He fell asleep with his head in my lap last night as we read about aborigines. I sat like that for a long time after he was sound asleep because I just wanted to feel the weight of his head on my leg and look at his limbs.

me, blogging for from bonnaroo

bonnar00 014
Originally uploaded by kgranju.

god told me to go to bonnaroo

bonnar00 054
Originally uploaded by kgranju.

A sign on a camper parked near our Bonnaroo campsite

Quentin with gnome

Quentin with gnome
Originally uploaded by kgranju.

Q with the camp mascot, chanelling the gnome hairdo


happiness is....

...hearing from your playa baby bro that he is buying a beach house at Nag's Head.


Family vacations just got easier and more fun.

NOT breastfeeding and guilt

I am working on a story for a magazine about breastfeeding and guilt, or more specifically, how guilt is a motivator often used in successful public health campaigns in order to encourage healthier lifestyle choices/habits.

What are your thoughts on this hot button issue.

Comment below.

back from bonnaroo

And what a good time I had!

Read all about it and see all the photos RIGHT HERE.

Next year, if I go, I want to have a family/friend RV compound. I missed Jon and the children and would like them to come, too.


dixie chicks on howard stern

I love the Chicks.

Howard Stern is gross.

I was surprised to see that the Dixie Chicks made an appearance on his show in which they readily answered ALL THOSE TYPICAL, INCREDIBLY PERSONAL STERNESQUE QUESTIONS.


The only good part was when Stern asked Natalie what sort of undies she wears and she said she won't wear underwear until the war comes to an end.


beachy keen

Usually our family goes to Edisto Island for our annual August beach excursion. One year we went to Pawley's. But this year we waited too late to reserve our house at either place, so we are going to try Tybee Island, near Savannah. We just booked our place, only because we waited so late, for the first time we are doing a condo on the beach instead of a house. Not our first choice, but I'm sure it will be fine.

Anybody ever done a beach week at Tybee? What did you think?

bonnaroo blog 2006

Yes, it's that time of year again.

I won't leave for the festival until Thursday morning, but I've started my blogging RIGHT HERE

not breastfeeding is bad for babies' health

"I think of human milk not just as food, but as a sophisticated and intricate infant support system that has evolved over millions of years to provide the infant with nutrition, protection and components of information." -- Dr. E. Stephen Buescher, a professor of pediatrics at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, who heads the inflammation section in the school's Center for Pediatric Research.

This quote is from today's NYT STORY (registration required - but it's free and you will want to read this article) on the new public health campaign to make women understand that breastfeeding isn't just GOOD for babies, but that NOT breastfeeding is actually BAD for babies.

Get the distinction? It's a major shift in how we think about this most critical of infant-maternal health issues.

This public health campaign has been a long time coming. I wrote a MAGAZINE STORY about the campaign and how the infant formula industry/lobby has tried to quash it.

It's time we think of infant formula for what it is: a medical product that should be used when babies can't eat "real" food.


mommy wars

THIS BOOK is getting a lot of press, and I plan to read it, but may I point out that the same topic was recently covered beautifully in my friend MIRIAM'S BOOK?

breastfeeding in west virginia

A new article on efforts to RAISE W.V.'s BREASTFEEDING RATE, which is the second lowest in the country, after Mississippi.

news flash: disorganized adults too disorganized to know they are disorganized

I am textbook ADHD. And it turns out the reason I am still so scatterbrained is that I NEED HELP TO GET HELP



and I unexpectedly ran into his ex-wife at an event downtown. I assumed I might meet her one of these days, but also thought it was possible that I might not ever meet her.

After all, they were only married less than two years and have no children. They haven't retained any sort of connection or friendship, so I just figured it was as likely as not that I might never meet her.

But I did.

I had seen a few photos of his ex but was surprised when I met her to learn that she is quite tall. I am very short. She has long, curly hair. I have straight, short hair. In other words, we are exact opposites of one another, physically.

All marital breakups are sad, and one that comes less than 24 months after two people stand before God and family to declare a lifelong commitment to each other is a special kind of sad. I know Jon wishes very, very much that his marriage had made it.

But as I met his ex-wife, all I could think about was how their break-up is my good luck, since there are few men around as good and fine - in every sense of the word - as J.H. I cannot imagine someone not feeling extraordinarily lucky to be in a relationship with someone as kind, funny, FUN and clever as he is. He's a keeper.



Originally uploaded by kgranju.

This is a (very strange - don't ask) photo of the pair of very nice, huge wing chairs I got FOR FREE this weekend because somebody left them sitting out to be picked up by the garbage collector.

They are currently covered with threadbare, yellowy-olive velvet, which actually gives them a sort of shabby-chic vibe, but I will get them recovered soon.

I have them in off the porch now (which is where they were in this photo) and settled comfortably in the living room, where they have already been much sat upon.

another weird shot of the chairs

Originally uploaded by kgranju.


jane, eleanor and mac

Originally uploaded by kgranju.

Playing in Jane's room today. Isn't it amazing that Eleanor, on the right, is seven years old, while Jane, on the left, is almost 11? Because Eleanr is as big or bigger than Jane.

I also think it's hilarious that Jane is so dark and her first cousin, Mac, the smallest person in the photos, is so blond and blue-eyed that I tease him that he is invisible ;-)
They don't look much alike.

june 11, 2006

Originally uploaded by kgranju.

knitting in knoxville

Originally uploaded by kgranju.

I've slacked on doing any knitting in the past 6 months, but amd now working on this blanket for Robert & Nicole's baby, who is due next month. We don't know if it's a boy or a girl, so I figured I couldn't go wrong with a nice lavender :-)


It seems like I haven't had a nice, quiet weekend at home, with no huge activities planned (travel,horse show, etc) in ages.

Jane and Henry came home from the beach, but Elliot is staying another weekw ith his Granju grandparents and cousins. I literally have a physical longing for him. But I am really glad to have H and J home. Both have had pals over this weekend, and the house has the noise and activity that makes me happy. Right now Jane has cousins Eleanor and Mac in her room and they are apparently creating a play which they will show me soon.

So far this weekend, I've gotten a good start knitting a baby blanket for my expected-in-July niece/nephew, weeded the flower garden, found two cool, old wingchairs on the side of the road and hauled them home (with help from my aver patient bro in law), done grocery shopping at Food Co-Op, made a huge pot of curried lentils and rice that we've been munching on all weekend, and done numerous loads of laundry. This all feels incredibly satisfying. I like home.

Jane also taught me her special recipe for creamed spinach which SHE (age 10) made up and which was - bar none - the best creamed spinach I've ever tasted. Unbelievably tasty.

Only four days until Bonnaroo! I am getting very excited. I need to get organized and make sure I have my gear, etc all lined up.

I continue to be amazed that I actually get PAID to go write about the best music festival in the country.

Bands I am most looking forward to seeing:

Steve Earle
Tom Petty
Ben Folds
Matt Costa
Elvis Costello
Seu George
Bright Eyes
Death Cab for Cutie
World Party
Cypress Hill
Nug Jug


viva la powerpop!!

I know it's not a popular view, but Ray Charles' music makes me want to retch.


If I end up in hell, Satan will certainly make me listen to Ray Charles, blues music and "classic rock" on permashuffle.

whither marriage?

I've been single for four years now. That's hard to believe.

The first year, I was in complete and utter shock. I never imagined going on a DATE ever again, much less being in another relationship.

The second year, I started to notice what was going on around me a bit more and think I could maybe eventually date again. I swore I would NEVER marry again, though there were many things I missed a lot about being part of a married couple.

The third year, I dated a lot and had a really, really, REALLY good time and also discovered that having my own house, job, bank account, bed, and life - stuff I never had before moving in with my soon-to-be husband at age 21 - was pretty great in a lot of ways. I stopped envying married people and started noticing how unhappy many of the married people I know are. Or at least how much they complained about their spouses. I made several very special male friends who have become very important to me.

The fourth year, I started to slow down and think about the possibility that maybe I could be in a serious relationship again. I fell "in love" with a really, really unsuitable person who treated me terribly, and I got my heart broken. It was something that sort of had to happen before I could maybe really fall in love.

And now I find myself thinking that maybe I would like being married again. SOme days that scares me, but mostly because I worry that it's possible I'm just really, really bad at being somebody's wife or even their serious girlfriend. I'm terribly out of practice. I've gotten a bit set in my ways. I have discovered that I need regular time to myself. Are these things compatible with marriage?


lemuria books

Doesn't this look like a COOL BOOKSTORE?

small things make me happy

Oh joy! As I type, my house is being thoroughly cleaned. It will be SUPERclean when I get home tonight, and before (big happiness!) the children come home tomorrow.

Have I mentioned I miss HenryJaneElliot?

just thought i'd share

This is a seriously CUTE BABY PHOTO


i sold my new book

It's now a done deal.

I am very happy to report that I just heard from MY LITERARY AGENT, and SOFT SKULL PRESS, a very cool indie publisher, just acquired my proposal.

The book is called "Let Them Run With Scissors: How 'Over-Parenting' is Hurting Kids, Families and Culture" It will be released in 2007.

The advance is very modest, but I'm really looking forward to working with THIS PARTICULAR PUBLISHER. I think they will take good care of me and my book.

I'm psyched.

monkey chow diaries

This guy is chronicling his attempt to exist ENTIRELY ON MONKEY CHOW.

It's strangely hilarious.

My favorite line: "No, it is not diet monkey chow. It is monkey chow diet. When monkeys need to lose weight, they are simply given less chow."


No "divorce or homosexual relationships" IN THIS FAMILY.

No sireeee.

six myths about attachment parenting

Very well-said stuff RIGHT HERE

suburban turmoil


missing them

Summer '05
Originally uploaded by kgranju.

My children are at the beach this week with their father and I miss them so much it hurts.

So I'll assuage the childlonging a bit by posting some of my fave beach photos of them from years past...

jane with no teeth at beach

Originally uploaded by kgranju.

sibs at beach

Originally uploaded by kgranju.


Originally uploaded by kgranju.


Originally uploaded by kgranju.


Beach 2004 0811
Originally uploaded by kgranju.

Jane and Kate - Pawley's Island

Jane and Kate - Pawley's Island
Originally uploaded by kgranju.


truly, madly, deeply

Ayelet Waldman wrote A VERY CONTROVERSIAL ESSAY last year in which she admitted that she loves her husband more than she loves her children.

I'm with her in the first half of the piece - about remaining romantically connected to the spouse after having a baby. I, too, was an (apparent) rarity among new mothers as someone who never stopped feeling, ahem, amorous toward the father of my children at any time.

But she loses me near the middle when she starts talking about how she could live without her children, but not without her husband.

Your thoughts on the essay?

jon's blog

He has a NEW ONE.


Waiting to hear whether my book proposal will get an offer from the publisher who has shown some good interest is no fun.

My agent will talk to the guy this week. So we'll see...

In the meantime, there is work, also writing a platter of freelance home improvement articles for and I'm getting bunches of work done to my house.

And I am getting quite psyched about BONNAROO, which is NEXT WEEK.


shiloh jolie-pitt is REALLY cute

OK, not unexpectedly, these FIRST PHOTOS of baby Shiloh with her parents reveal that she's a superyummy little newborn with her mother's lips.

Cute. Cute. Cute.

stephen colbert's commencement address

S.C. gave the commencement address at KNOX COLLEGE in Galesburg, Illinois this week.

Here's what he had to say:

Pours water into a glass at the podium, splashes face and back of neck]

Thank you. Thank you very much. First of all, I’m facing a little bit of a conundrum here. My name is Stephen Colbert, but I actually play someone on television named Stephen Colbert, who looks like me, and who talks like me, but who says things with a straight face he doesn’t mean. And I’m not sure which one of us you invited to speak here today. So, with your indulgence, I’m just going to talk and I’m going to let you figure it out.

I wanted to say something about the Umberto Eco quote that was used earlier from The Name of the Rose. That book fascinated me because in it these people are killed for trying to get out of this library a book about comedy, Aristotle’s Commentary on Comedy. And what’s interesting to me is one of the arguments they have in the book is that comedy is bad because nowhere in the New Testament does it say that Jesus laughed. It says Jesus wept, but never did he laugh.

But, I don’t think you actually have to say it for us to imagine Jesus laughing. In the famous episode where there’s a storm on the lake, and the fishermen are out there. And they see Jesus on the shore, and Jesus walks across the stormy waters to the boat. And St. Peter thinks, “I can do this. I can do this. He keeps telling us to have faith and we can do anything. I can do this.” So he steps out of the boat and he walks for—I don’t know, it doesn’t say—a few feet, without sinking into the waves. But then he looks down, and he sees how stormy the seas are. He loses his faith and he begins to sink. And Jesus hot-foots it over and pulls him from the waves and says, “Oh you of little faith.” I can’t imagine Jesus wasn’t suppressing a laugh. How hilarious must it have been to watch Peter—like Wile E. Coyote—take three steps on the water and then sink into the waves.

Well it’s an honor to be giving your Commencement address here today at Knox College. I want to thank Mr. Podesta for asking me two, two and a half years ago, was it? Something like that? We were in Aspen. You know...being people who go to Aspen. He asked me if I would give a speech at Knox College, and I think it was the altitude, but I said yes. I’m very glad that I did.

On a beautiful day like this I’m reminded of my own graduation 20 years ago, at Northwestern University. I didn’t start there, I finished there. On the graduation day, a beautiful day like this. We’re all in our gowns. I go up on the podium to get my leather folder with my diploma in it. And as I get it from the Dean, she leans in close to me and she smiles, and she says...[train whistle] that’s my ride, actually. I have got to get on that train, I’m sorry. [Heads off stage.] Evidently that happens a lot here. ...So, I’m getting my folder, and the Dean leans into me, shakes my hand and says, “I’m sorry.” I have no idea what she means. So I go back to my seat and I open it up. And, instead of having a diploma inside, there’s a scrap—a torn scrap of paper—that has scrawled on it, “See me.” I kid you not.

Evidently I had an incomplete in an independent study that I had failed to complete. And I did not have enough credits. And, let me tell you, when your whole family shows up and you get to have your picture taken with them—and instead of holding up your diploma, you hold the torn corner of a yellow legal pad—that is a humbling experience. But eventually, I finished. I got my credits and next year at Christmas time, they have mid-year graduation. And I went there to get my diploma then. They said that I had an overdue library fine and they wouldn’t give it to me again. And they eventually mailed it to me...I think. I’m pretty sure I graduated from college.

But I guess the question is, why have a two-time commencement loser like me speak to you today? Well, one of the reasons they already mentioned...I recovered from that slow start. And I was recently named by Time magazine one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World! Yeah! Give it up for me! Basic cable...THE WORLD! I guess I have more fans in Sub-Saharan Africa than I thought. I’m right here on the cover between Katie Couric and Bono. That’s my little picture—a sexy little sandwich between those two.

But if you do the math, there are 100 Most Influential People in the World. There are 6.5 billion people in the world. That means that today I am here representing 65 million people. That’s as big as some countries. What country has about 65 million people? Iran? Iran has 65 million people. So, for all intents and purposes, I’m here representing Iran today. Don’t shoot.

But the best reason for me to come to speak at Knox College is that I attended Knox College. This is part of my personal history that you will rarely see reported. Partly because the press doesn’t do the proper research. But mostly because…it is not true! I just made it up, so this moment would be more poignant for all of us. How great would it be if I could actually come back here—if I was coming back to my alma mater to be honored like this. I could share with you all my happy memories that I spent here in...Galesburg, Illinois. Hanging out at the Seymour Hall, right? Seymour Hall? You know, all of us alumni, we remember being at Seymour Hall, playing those drinking games. We played a drinking game called Lincoln-Douglas. Great game. What you do is, you act out the Lincoln-Douglas debate and any time one of the guys mentions the Dred Scott decision you have to chug a beer. Well, technically 3/5 of a beer. [groans from audience]

You DO have a good education! I wasn’t sure if anybody was going to get that joke.

I soon learned that a frat house—oops—divided against itself cannot stand.

How can I forget cheering on the team—the Knox College Knockers? The Prairie Fire. Seriously, the Prairie Fire. Your team is named after something that can get you federal disaster relief. I assume the “Flash Floods” was taken.

Oh, yes, the memories are so fresh. It was as if it was just yesterday I made them up. And the history, you don’t have to tell me the history of Knox College. No, your Web site is very thorough. The college itself has long been known for its diversity. I am myself a supporter of diversity. I myself have an interracial marriage. I am Irish and my wife is Scottish. But we work it out. And it is fitting, most fitting, that I should speak at Knox College today because it was founded by abolitionists. And I gotta say—I’m going to go out on the limb here—I believe slavery was wrong. No, I don’t care who that upsets. I just hope the mainstream media give me the credit for the courage it took to say that today. I know the blogosphere is just going to explode tomorrow. But enough about me.... if there can be enough about me.

Today is about you—you who have worked so hard to pack your heads with learning until your skulls are all plump like—sausage of knowledge. It’s an apt metaphor, don’t question it. But now your time at college is at an end. Now you are leaving here. And this leads me to a question that just isn’t asked enough at commencements. Why are you leaving here?

This seems like a very nice place. They have a lovely Web site. Besides, have you seen the world outside lately? They are playing for KEEPS out there, folks. My God, I couldn’t wait to get here today just so I could take a breather from the real world. I don’t know if they told you what’s happened while you’ve matriculated here for the past four years. The world is waiting for you people with a club. Unprecedented changes happening in the last four years. Like globalization. We now live in a hyperconnected, global economic, outsourced society. Now there are positives and minuses here. And a positive is that globalization helps us understand and learn from otherwise foreign cultures. For example, I now know how to ask for a Happy Meal in five different languages. In Paris, I’d like a “Repas Heureux” In Madrid a “Comida Feliz” In Calcutta, a “Kushkana, hold the beef.” In Tokyo, a “Happy Seto” And in Berlin, I can order what is perhaps the least happy-sounding Happy Meal, a “Glugzig Malzeiht.”

Also globalization, e-mail, cell phones interconnect our nations like never before. It is possible for even the most insulated American to have friends from all over the world. For instance, I recently received an e-mail asking me to help a deposed Nigerian prince who is looking for a business partner to recuperate his fortune. Thanks to the flexibility of global banking, a Swiss bank account is ready and waiting for my share of his money. I know, because I just e-mailed him my Social Security number.

Unfortunately for you job seekers, corporations searching for a better bottom line have moved many of their operations overseas, whether it’s a customer service operator, a power factory foreman, or an American flag manufacturer. They’re just as likely to be found in Shanghai as Omaha. In fact, outsourcing is so easy that I had this speech today written by a young man named Panjeeb from Bangalore.

If you don’t like the jokes, I assure you they were much funnier in Urdu...

And when you enter the workforce, you will find competition from those crossing our all-too-poorest borders. Now I know you’re all going to say, “Stephen, Stephen, immigrants built America.” Yes, but here’s the thing—it’s built now. I think it was finished in the mid-70s sometime. At this point it’s a touch-up and repair job. But thankfully Congress is acting and soon English will be the official language of America. Because if we surrender the national anthem to Spansih, the next thing you know, they’ll be translating the Bible. God wrote it in English for a reason! So it could be taught in our public schools.

So we must build walls. A wall obviously across the entire southern border. That’s the answer. That may not be enough—maybe a moat in front of it, or a fire-pit. Maybe a flaming moat, filled with fire-proof crocodiles. And we should probably wall off the northern border as well. Keep those Canadians with their socialized medicine and their skunky beer out. And because immigrants can swim, we’ll probably want to wall off the coasts as well. And while we’re at it, we need to put up a dome, in case they have catapults. And we’ll punch some holes in it so we can breathe. Breathe free. It’s time for illegal immigrants to go—right after they finish building those walls. Yes, yes, I agree with me.

There are so many challenges facing this next generation, and as they said earlier, you are up for these challenges. And I agree, except that I don’t think you are. I don’t know if you’re tough enough to handle this. You are the most cuddled generation in history. I belong to the last generation that did not have to be in a car seat. You had to be in car seats. I did not have to wear a helmet when I rode my bike. You do. You have to wear helmets when you go swimming, right? In case you bump your head against the side of the pool. Oh, by the way, I should have said, my speech today may contain some peanut products.

My mother had 11 children: Jimmy, Eddie, Mary, Billy, Morgan, Tommy, Jay, Lou, Paul, Peter, Stephen. You may applaud my mother’s womb. Thank you, I’ll let her know. She could never protect us the way you all have been protected. She couldn’t fit 11 car seats. She would just open the back of her Town & Country—stack us like cord wood: four this way, four that way. And she put crushed glass in the empty spaces to keep it steady. Then she would roll up all the windows in the winter time and light up a cigarette. When I die I will not need to be embalmed, because as a child my mother hickory-smoked me.

I mean even these ceremonies are too safe. I mean this mortarboard...look, it’s padded. It’s padded everywhere. When I graduated from college, we had the edges sharpened. When we threw ours up in the air, we knew some of us weren’t coming home.

But you have one thing that may save you, and that is your youth. This is your great strength. It is also why I hate and fear you. Hear me out. It has been said that children are our future. But does that not also mean that we are their past? You are here to replace us. I don’t understand why we’re here helping and honoring them. You do not see union workers holding benefits for robots.

But you seem nice enough, so I’ll try to give you some advice. First of all, when you go to apply for your first job, don’t wear these robes. Medieval garb does not instill confidence in future employers—unless you’re applying to be a scrivener. And if someone does offer you a job, say yes. You can always quit later. Then at least you’ll be one of the unemployed as opposed to one of the never-employed. Nothing looks worse on a resume than nothing.

So, say “yes.” In fact, say “yes” as often as you can. When I was starting out in Chicago, doing improvisational theatre with Second City and other places, there was really only one rule I was taught about improv. That was, “yes-and.” In this case, “yes-and” is a verb. To “yes-and.” I yes-and, you yes-and, he, she or it yes-ands. And yes-anding means that when you go onstage to improvise a scene with no script, you have no idea what’s going to happen, maybe with someone you’ve never met before. To build a scene, you have to accept. To build anything onstage, you have to accept what the other improviser initiates on stage. They say you’re doctors—you’re doctors. And then, you add to that: We’re doctors and we’re trapped in an ice cave. That’s the “-and.” And then hopefully they “yes-and” you back. You have to keep your eyes open when you do this. You have to be aware of what the other performer is offering you, so that you can agree and add to it. And through these agreements, you can improvise a scene or a one-act play. And because, by following each other’s lead, neither of you are really in control. It’s more of a mutual discovery than a solo adventure. What happens in a scene is often as much a surprise to you as it is to the audience.

Well, you are about to start the greatest improvisation of all. With no script. No idea what’s going to happen, often with people and places you have never seen before. And you are not in control. So say “yes.” And if you’re lucky, you’ll find people who will say “yes” back.

Now will saying “yes” get you in trouble at times? Will saying “yes” lead you to doing some foolish things? Yes it will. But don’t be afraid to be a fool. Remember, you cannot be both young and wise. Young people who pretend to be wise to the ways of the world are mostly just cynics. Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the farthest thing from it. Because cynics don’t learn anything. Because cynicism is a self-imposed blindness, a rejection of the world because we are afraid it will hurt us or disappoint us. Cynics always say no. But saying “yes” begins things. Saying “yes” is how things grow. Saying “yes” leads to knowledge. “Yes” is for young people. So for as long as you have the strength to, say “yes.”

And that’s The Word.

I have two last pieces of advice. First, being pre-approved for a credit card does not mean you have to apply for it. And lastly, the best career advice I can give you is to get your own TV show. It pays well, the hours are good, and you are famous. And eventually some very nice people will give you a doctorate in fine arts for doing jack squat.

Congratulations to the class of 2006. Thank you for the honor of addressing you.


Here is a lovely NEW ARTICLE about the growing number of women choosing midwife-assisted births.


Did you know there is an actual word for "fear of 666" ???

It's: hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia

home renovations


-Is it unreasonable of me to want someone doing major roof repairs to break his bid out into labor and materials?

-Is it normal operating procedure for roofer to want me to pay him for materials -or at least some of them - on the front end?

heather mills mccartney

I find HMM quite fascinating. And now, EVEN MORE SO. I wonder how these "filthy snaps" (gotta love the opinionated British tabloids)of HMM in a GERMAN PORN SHOOT managed to stay out of the news until now.

I can't quite figure this woman out. She's undoubtedly one of the greatest examples of a successful social climber in UK history. Nothing wrong with that necessarily. She's just difficult to pin down. She clearly does some very valuable charity work. And she did indeed lose a leg. But to hear her exes tell it, she's a sociopathic nightmare of a human being.

jon's house

When the children are away, I spend a good bit if time at Jon's apartment, which is only a mile or two from my house. I love having a house, but there is something very cozy about his little, top floor apartment in a very cool, old building. It reminds me of the tiny apartment I had when I lived in England for a while in college. It looks out over the river and downtown. It has quirky, sloping ceilings and funny little closet doors and a skylight in the kitchen. He also has an insane cat named Mingus.

The other good thing about staying at Jon's house is that he has cable television and I don't. So when he's asleep, as he is now, I can hang out on his couch and indulge myself with reruns of my beloved Sex and the City and catch Sarah Silverman on Jimmy Kimmel, etc.

real life princess diaries

So it turns out that Price Albert, who is worth $1 billion, fathered a second child. This one is a 14 year old girl who lives in Southern California with her realtor mother.

By all accounts, she's a VERY NICE KID, an honors student and science fair winner at a local Episcopal School.

But her life just got really, really strange now that her friends and neighbors know she's the daughter of Prince Albert of Monaco and the grandchild of Grace Kelly.



My three children left two days ago for two weeks at the beach with their father and grandparents. I am glad that they are doing something so fun and spending time with family, but I sure do miss them. The house seems really empty.
Here is my cousin Thomas on stage Saturday night. The show was PACKED.


mama & betsy

Originally uploaded by kgranju.

My mother (left) and Cousin Betsy watch Thomas's show

Christina Dances

Originally uploaded by kgranju.


drew on door duty

Originally uploaded by kgranju.

belly dancing

Last night J. and I went to Nashville to see my MY COUSIN THOMAS'S BAND play at 12th and Porter. It was a great show with a huge turnout, including lots of our family. Before the show, belly dancers performed. I've always loved watching belly dancers, but this time I REALLY loved watching and realised, Hey! I want to learn to do that!

Here is a photo of me messing around with the bellydancing belt one of the dancers loaned me. Not sure who the lady on oxygen in the background is ;-)


So tomorrow I'm going to call the GYPSY HANDS Belly Dance studio here in Knoxville and inquire about lessons. I'm really psyched about it.

I'll keep you posted on my progress...


baby sugar

The insanely addictive POPSUGAR HAD HER BABY, only hours after attending a Madonna concert. And she's christened the baby with a VERY good name ;-)


remember ricki lake?

Well, she has a new documenray coming out - she made it - ABOUT MIDWIVES.

I'll look forward to seeing it.

On another note, when I read about divorced people who get along well with the fathers of their children, I'm wistful.
Henry's grades came. He will not have to go to summer school. He's happy. I'm happy.

Here are some more photos from his end-of-middle-school event:

Me, with Henry and his father





natural childbirth, RIP ??

This is a very OBNOXIOUS COLUMN by a woman who not only chose a medicated childbirth for herself (which is great. more power to her. good to choose the kind of childbirth experience that's right for you.) but then goes on to mock and belittle any woman who wants to give birth without medication or medical intervention. She argues that no sane woman would ever want to give birth without drugs or outside a hospital and titles her column, "Natural Childbirth, RIP." She says the "trend" toward childbirth without medical intervention is dead.


very weird new k-fed photos

Check out these ULTRA BIZARRO PHOTOS of the babydaddy everyone loves to hate.

Kevin Federline looks like a wily insurance salesman from Bowling Green.