Monday, December 12, 2005

Empty Threats

Bunny was trying to annoy the Pony, who was getting fed up, but still had a sense of humor about it all:

"Stop it, or I'll tell Mom your deepest, darkest secret! As soon as I find out what it is!"

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Love Harry Potter, Actually Mash-up

I've run across several films recently that feature many of the same British actors in different roles . It's rather fun to match the characters across the different films.

Did you know that Snape and Trelawney got married?

Not a match I would have predicted, and in fact, it didn't turn out so well in Love Actually.

But then he dumped her to marry her sister. In Sense and Sensibility.

The Cad!

Separated At Birth--Evil Twins Edition

It's Christmas season, so the Christmas shows are starting to run in heavy rotation. One of the newer entrants to this tradition is Love, Actually. Which I love, actually. One of the many many charms of this movie is my new boyfriend--Liam Neeson.

He's kind, loving, funny, patient, wise...and still in love with his dead wife, raising his stepson, and cautiously getting ready to love again. Definite boyfriend material.

But Boyfriend has an evil twin.

Ralph Fiennes--definitely NOT boyfriend material.

Can I Take Back The Take Back?

So, I was going to take back the take back, but everything changed. AGAIN. So now I'm just baffled.

First, it was roses blooming in November.

Then it was suddenly 9 degrees and two inches of snow.

Then on Monday, it was 50 degrees. All the snow melted. Completely.

Yesterday it dropped to 10, and snowed again.

I'm just going to wear lots and lots of layers, and just add and subtract clothing until the weather makes up its mind--are we going to be arctic this winter, or shall we all just pretend the Gulf Stream moved to run UP the Mississippi?

Flog the Blog

This is who I want to be when I grow up.

I swear to god, I laughed so hard tears came out of my eyes, and the dog had to come over and check me out to make sure that horrible sound I was making wasn't fatal.

I also want to learn how to play bridge, just so I can score in Aramaic.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Running With The Big Dogs

We were invited to some friends' cabin this weekend, and we went on the spur of the moment. They called as they were driving out of town, and we followed an hour and a half later.

The cabin was lovely, with enormous windows overlooking a lake, with giant timbers forming the support structure of the building. The friends have two girls, the same ages as the Pony and Bunny, so they split up and played.

The puppy made some new friends too--two lovely golden retrivers. Bermondsey weighs 14 pounds, and stands about 10 inches high. The Ladies--Isabelle and Gabrielle--are 90 and 60 pounds respectively. We let them all out together to run in the woods, and Bermondsey was in dog heaven. Gabby is only about 6 months older than Bermondsey, so the two of them chased each other around. Isabelle was the responsible party, and made sure they all came back inside together.

The difference in scale was noticeable to us, if not to Bermondsey. Poor dog was running full out as the Ladies began to trot. However, he used his smaller size to dodge around the bigger dogs, and so the chase games were well matched.

Only when Isabelle stepped gracefully over a rock that Bermondsey had to scrabble up was he even aware of his much smaller size.

And it didn't stop him from stealing their rawhide bones--which were as long as he was.

Increase Your Word Power!

Bunny (age 9) and Pony (age 12) were goofing around one morning:

Bunny: I don't want to be cute! I want to be powerful! Frightening! Incandescent!
Pony: What does that mean?
Bunny: Like an incandescent light bulb. It means to light up.

Later the same morning:

Pony: Ouch! You landed on my elbow!
Bunny: Your oboe? What's an oboe?
Pony: My ELBOW!
Bunny: I do know what a hobo is. Do hoboes play oboes? With their elbows?

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

This Morning's Giggle

I know. I understand. I used to have two dogs.

How To Not Sleep--With Cats.

I woke up one sweaty August morning (no airconditioning) with a dog on either side of me. Hairy dogs. Dogs bred to survive in the mountains of Tibet. Plastered to my hips.

I think that's how SlimJeans got invented.

Does anyone remember those? They were a sort of rubberized pants/girdle that inflated, I think. They were supposed to help you sweat off weight while watching TV. Monty Python did a sketch about them. I actually can't find anything on the internet about them.

Monday, November 21, 2005

What's The Question?

Drove past the large bank sign flashing numbers:

What is the answer to Life, the Universe and--what's the temperature?

42. Of course.

Unclear On The Concept--Franchise Mania

There is a video game franchise that is about to issue its latest edition.

Final Fantasy XII

How final can it be?

The Crying Game

Puppy has a little cry/whine he makes when he's attempting to communicate something. I associate it with needing to go outside--hey, it's how I'd sound if I had to go to the bathroom.

Especially since we are transitioning from multiple daily walks to being in the yard on a leash, I'm thinking that maybe he has more business to do.

But he's now just sitting by the back door crying. Frequently. Multiple times. In a row.

He escaped the last time before I got the leash on him, and he went straight to the fence and cried to the dog next door.

Can it be love? Do they have a future? Especially since they are both neutered?

You Make The Call!

Saturday I had a bit of a meltdown. It actually felt like my emotional exoskeleton collapsed and sadness rushed out. There was no one to plug these dikes, and the city got flooded.

I can't even explain why it happened. I've been very good about taking my medicines. I hadn't gotten any bad news. I just suddenly turned cranky, and then tearful.

As a result, I missed out on a fancy night out with Mr. Sweetie--who, true to his name, let me stay home.

This morning, two days later, I got my period.

So......was it depression? or just PMS?

Queer Eye For The Wizarding Guy

Saw Harry Potter 4 this weekend, and can't wait to see it again.

Yes I am addicted to this literary crack--but at least it's legal.

Still, I'm a bit bothered by the transfiguration of Professor Flitwick. He started the series under Chris Columbus looking like this:

But now he looks like this:

Can magic cure baldness? Is it better than a face lift and Botox? Is there a potion like Rogaine?

If so, why can't it cure a bad haircut?

Does magic just make a mid-life crisis worse?

It's Like Having A Toddler Again

The weather continues to get colder, and it is becoming increasingly more important that the puppy learn to potty outside on a leash. He much prefers to go on walkies for that, but as the air temperature heads south of freezing (not even to mention the wind chill!), I am less interested in taking four walks a day.

It's like a classic economics diagram--and the temperature goes down, the demand for backyard potty-ing goes up.

So yesterday, we had success! Not only did he wet all over the catmint (I think that was a dog-dominance thing as well) he pooped! In the yard! While on his leash without me walking along.

So, when was the last time you rejoiced because somebody pooped? It's like having a toddler again!

We'll talk about the putting everything into the mouth, and the pulling off all the toilet paper behaviors another time.

The Queen's English

The Bunny was watching TV yesterday, and someone on the show was freaking out about leeches on her leg.

The Bunny felt she was over-reacting. "Just pull them off. Stomp on them, if you must."

"If you must." Who says that? More to the point, what 9 year old says that?

If you must. Not "if you want to," or "if you just gotta." No, none of that lazy American slang for Our Bunny.

Where did she get it? I know I sometimes use anachronistic language, especially after reading a lot of Victorian novels, but I don't think I've ever used that particular phrase.

Kids. Gotta love 'em.

If you must.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Okay, I Take It Back!

So, last week I made some snarky reference to global warming, as evidenced by roses in my garden in November.

Last week, we got served some winter, and oh the cold.

I woke up to the radio saying "9 degrees." That is not a typo. Nine. Degrees. That's Farenheit.
It's even lower in centigrade. Let's see...subtract 30...divide by 2... It's about 10 below zero! for those of you accustomed to metric measurements.

I was not ready for that much cold. I did manage to send the kids to school with warm coats and winter boots and gloves and hats--it's more that I wasn't ready psychologically for that kind of cold.

But then, is anybody?

Saturday, November 12, 2005

My Kids Crack Me Up

Today was a Family Fun Day here at Chez Evil, and we all went bowling. However, trying to bowl on a Saturday involves long waits due to the many birthday parties going on. While we waited, we went into the arcade and played some games.

The Bunny played one called "Crazy Taxi." This one is tailor made for the Bunny, as she has loved driving video games since she was about 2, and she still isn't a very good driver. When the game is called "Crazy Taxi" she discovered new heights (or depths) of driving mayhem. She ran over her fares, crashed into cable cars, drove through parks and into stores--traffic and pedestrians went flying either to escape, or because she hit them.

On the way home, we were treated to the following monologue:

"Welcome to the Bunny Driving School, where our motto is 'Aaaaaaaah, eeeeeeeeeee, oh-dee-oh oh-dee-oh, aaaaahhhhhh, look out over there, aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!' The first step in learning to drive is to memorize this motto, as you may be required to use it frequently during our course.
Let us all practice this motto, with correct pronunciation and enthusiasm."

This was followed by the same thing, done with a broad Australian Crocodile Hunter accent, and finally as a "snotty English butler."

This cracked me up for the entire trip home.

I Hate To Admit This, But...

...Mr. Sweetie is right.

Just bask in that a little, okay? He was right, and I was wrong.

Yes, it's hard to say, but I was wrong. He was right.

I've moved beyond nearsighted these days, and am now into bifocals. It's really unfair that I've needed glasses since 5th grade, and now I'm not even nearsighted anymore. I need bifocals, or reading glasses with contacts. It's a hassle.

So, when I first got the prescription for bifocals, I went ahead and got all the bells and whistles on my lenses--anti-glare coating, no-line progressive bifocal lenses, and Transitions (TM). Transitions is the deal that makes the glasses go dark in the sun, but lighten indoors.

Except they don't work. Sure, they darken in the sun, but not as dark as $15 sunglasses from Target, and not at all if I'm driving. Then, indoors, they never quite lighten up to clear, so I look like I'm trying to hide my stoned eyes. Which would be okay if I was stoned, but I'm not, so I don't like it.

Finally, the puppy, who puts everything in his mouth, also got my glasses, and now there are little chips in the lenses from his teeth. So, I'm thinking it's time for new glasses.

So, I'm looking around at people who wear glasses, and there are the cutest frames these days: dark, a little funky shaped, face jewelry kind of things. And I just love them. So, I go to the expensive designer glasses store, and I try on expensive designer glasses. After all, I am going to have to wear these pretty nearly constantly. And suddenly I find them: the cool glasses that have just enough uptilt to the frames that they are not cats-eyes, but they give me the illusion of real cheekbones. They are dark, like my eyes, and they have mod multicolored earpieces, so they will go with everything.

My girlfriend who went with me loved them. The store sales person loved them. I went in with Mr. Sweetie and ran into a trunk show, and the eyeglass fashionistas loved them.

Mr. Sweetie didn't. He felt that they hid my face, and called attention to themselves, not to me.

I didn't get them, but continued to think about them.

Then, I had to get my glasses adjusted, so I went into a different store, and tried on more frames. I started with the cool dark ones, and found some that were similar (though not quite so designer-y) and were about half the price. Just for kicks, I put on some rimless ones as well.

The contrast was amazing. The dark frames actually made my face look concave, compared to the rimless clear ones. I was literally obscured by the glasses, and when I put on the clear ones, my face just totally resolved into a "look" that featured me and my eyes, and not my glasses.

So, I was wrong.

Guess I'll just have to do my funky glasses experimentation with the $15 reading glasses I still need.

Although, something came in the mail, saying "Glasses are the new shoes--you need more than one pair." Maybe I can get them both....

Friday, November 11, 2005

Sad But True

Jack-o-lanterns are scarier after Halloween, after the squirrels have EATEN THEIR FACES!!!! Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Global Politics

Driving home this morning after dropping the kidlets at school--public radio is discussing the St. Paul mayoral election--incumbent lost by 38 points.

The temperature on the bank sign I was passing at the moment?


Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Creationism: A First Person Account

It must be the rise of the "new" "theories" of "intelligent" "design" that have lead to so many great minds revisiting Genesis.

Raising the question: If the Bible really is the Word of God, why is it written in third person?

These made me smile:

1. A pantheistic creation story, from the New Yorker.

2. God's Creation Blog.

Fun With Homophones

I have this idea for a crossword puzzle. Not that I'll ever actually construct one, but it's fun to think about.

It would be a themed puzzle--you know, where a bunch of the clues are related somehow. And, being who I am, it would be a series of really bad puns. Hence, the title of this entry: Fun With Homophones.*

17 Across: Child Carl, psychologist
Answer: Young Jung

23 Across: Spoiled Foie Gras
Answer: Awful Offal

47 Across and 32 Down: Canadian Colin's comedies
Answer: Mochrie's mockeries

Isn't higher education fun?

*When did these stop being "homonyms?" All those years when we were taught they were "homonyms," even though they clearly weren't the same name, since they were spelled differently. So, what are antonyms called now?

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Creative Listening

National Public Radio broadcast part of a program called "Voices of Arab People" or something like it. It was a series of snippets of monologues by people in the Middle East talking about things that mattered to them.

Several of the speakers were making the distinction between hating a country and hating the people of that country. Often it was America they were addressing, but one Palestinian woman was outraged at the image of her people.

"We have no problem with the Israelis!" she said. "We want to live in peace with them. We hate the government, and we hate the soldiers, and we hate the tourists!"

Wow, I thought. Tourists in Palestine must be even worse than other places.

It was only later that I realized she was saying "terrorist."

Then I entertained myself by listening to all the rest of the news that day substituting "tourist" for "terrorist." Try it at home! It's fun!

I Meet All The Best People my dreams.

I had quite an elaborate dream last night, in which I was a graduate student in something scientific--possibly astrophysics. Something I am really completely unqualified for.

And you 'll never believe who I run into. Dooce! Yup. In my dream, both she and John had moved out of Utah and gotten an apartment right next to the campus. They were having a birthday party for Leta, and they had a new baby--a boy. He was really cute, but they wouldn't tell me his name.

I wonder what it all means?

Friday, November 04, 2005


Peter Jackson's King Kong is on the cover of Wired that we just got. Actually, King Kong isn't there--it's Naomi Watts, Jack Black, and Adrian Brody.

Inside, we are told that Jack Black plays--well, he plays Jack Black, just with a different name. Adrian Brody plays the heartthrob scientists.

Yes. Adrian Brody. Heartthrob. I don't know. They just don't go together.

I mean, Adrian Brody is a fine actor, and I certainly don't cringe or hide my eyes when he is on screen. But that's a far distance from "heartthrob."

On the plus side, I guess we can be pleased that Hollywood is willing to step away from gender based roles. Adrian Brody--isn't he a lesbian?

Book Review--Say When

I just finished a bok by Elizabeth Berg called Say When. Berg is the author of Open House, which was apparently an Oprah pick. I had read that one, and was willing to read another by her.

The story starts out fairly grimly--the first sentence is "Griffin knew his wife was having an affair" [as I recall it]. Within pages, his wife asks for a divorce, and Griffin is forced to admit that this was not something that would just blow over.

Ellen and Griffin have an eight year old daughter--Griffin has an office job, and Ellen is a stay at home mother. She assumes that Griffin will move out, in order to keep a stable environment for their daughter. Uncharacteristically, Griffin refuses to go. He does not want a divorce, and is unwilling to do anything to make it easy for Ellen to exit the marriage.

Interestingly, the book stays with Griffin and his processing of his marriage and the threat of divorce. Ellen does move out, although she comes back to the home regularly to care for their daughter. The narrative, however, stays firmly with Griffin.

At first, the book draws the reader into the vertiginous uncertainty of divorce--the way all one's assumptions about what is solid is changed. Griffin can no longer count on Ellen to do any of the things she ordinarily does, and he finds himself disappointed when he realizes that she will not be there at the end of his day, or next to him when he wakes in the morning. Each time he sees something he would like to share with her, he realizes what he is losing in divorce.

Soon, however, this book starts to cover much of the same territory as Anne Tyler's Accidental Tourist. The silent, reserved man is drawn out of his internal life by family crisis. There is a quirky job--Tyler's dog walker becomes Berg's shopping mall Santa. The affair falls apart, Griffin's attempt to date fails because he is still in love with his wife.

Berg has written a book of close observation of the rhythms of a disrupted life. However, I never felt the characters were given convincing histories--the book stays stubbornly lodged in the present, which limited my empathy with the characters.

All in all, a decent book, but my time would have been better spent rereading The Accidental Tourist.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Cuter Than Jessica's Dog

 Posted by Picasa

The Infinite Regress

Just for fun--here's a sample of how my mind works:

I was reading a blog (Tomato Nation) which mentioned going to a wine bar and eating cheese. And I immediately remembered going to a wine bar with my friend Sarah, right after seeing Anne LaMott give a talk, and we were drinking Pinot Grigio and eating cheese, and it was really really good except that they ran out of the Pinot Grigio, and the wine they offered instead wasn't nearly as good. Of course I drank it anyway--but I didn't enjoy it! It was a dirty job, and somebody had to do it.

So, that was more a wine memory than a cheese memory, so I decided to try to remember the best cheese I have ever eaten. Easy. It was a triple cream brie at Domaine Chandon, where Mr. Sweetie and I were tasting champagne on a romantic getaway/business trip to Napa Valley.

Domain Chandon, where Nick and Jessica spent some time on their show Newlyweds, which I totally never watch, except this one time because I was flipping around the tv and saw it was on and I had seen somewhere that Jessica had this really cute puppy, and I wanted to see if they would say what kind it was because I was looking to get a dog, and I wanted to find out if that was the kind of dog I wanted.

Except that they never even said the dog's name, much less its breed, and it hardly got any screen time at all, which was too bad, because it was way cuter than Jessica--who behaved very badly at a gourmet lunch where she refused to eat any of the incredible food that was set in front of her.

So, I ended up looking it up on the internet--the dog breed that is-- and found out that it was a malti-poo--which is a cross between a maltese and a poodle, which isn't what I wanted. But that doesn't matter, because now we have Bermondsey who is much cuter than Jessica's dog anyway.

So, anyway--I like Anne LaMott and Pinot Grigio and triple cream brie and Bermondsey. What were we talking about again?

Why I Can't Get Any Work Done

Notice how he is in the way of both the keyboard and the mouse. Posted by Picasa

How To Face Winter

Garrison Keillor writes today in Salon about his strategy for living through winter in Minnesota.

On New Year's Day, I plan to take a flight to Oslo, Norway, and then fly
north to the city of Tromso, 400 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle, in hopes
of seeing the northern lights and dog-sledding across a glacier but really it's
to get some trouble into my life, which has become too placid. There is no
sunrise or sunset in Tromso in January, just darkness. When I return, I will not
ever feel bad about winter again, and in Minnesota, that means six months of
happiness. One cannot ask for more.

I guess it's true--when you are in a funk, just find somebody who is worse off than you are. It can only help.

Kidlet Film Fest

We took the digital video camera with us to England, and managed not to do the entire trip though the lens. However, we did let the Bunny have a chance with it. This is what we got:

Ext. St. James Park. A grassy berm, with a handful of pigeons idly searching for grass seed. *

Narrator: A short film about pigeons.

Narrator: The end.

Post-modern film-making at its best.

*This is actually across the path from where the pigeons were. You cannot see any pigeons in this picture, so don't try.
Posted by Picasa

This Is Why I Love Guys

Here is an interview of a band I've never heard of, but would totally go out of my way to see. And invite back to the house for the bestest slumber party ever. I think we'd have to get some of those Doodle Bears and sign autographs for each other.

Seriously. These guys made me laugh out loud, and I don't do that.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

We're Off To See The Doctor

Depression is: drinking half a diet Coke with an antidepressant for breakfast, and knowing that it isn't even a therapeutic dose.

Well medicated is: a "wellness cocktail" every morning, composed of grapefruit juice and pills from several different containers.

Bartender! Polypharmacology all around!

Because I've increased the dosage of one medication by 50%, and it's making a difference. I'm still finding it difficult to do the administration stuff I need to do around here, but at least I'm out of bed, taking nourishment, and smiling at people. Making life better with chemistry; it's not just a slogan around here.

These are the fancy kidlets, dolled up for Halloween. The black rope around Ra-punk-zel is her 26 foot braid. Cleopatra is going somewhat informally--there was more jewelry that actually went out. Posted by Picasa

This is my goth princess--Ra-punk-zel. Doesn't she look disaffected and alienated? She chose this costume because she likes to dress up as something she is not. Posted by Picasa

This is Cleopatra, dressed warmly, because late fall in the Midwest is NOTHING like Egypt. Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 31, 2005

It's All About The Make-Up

Today is Halloween, and the costumes went to school today. The Bunny is Cleopatra--sure, we sprayed her hair black, and drew on the elongated eyeshadow--but she wore a Grecian Lady dress, because we know that Cleopatra wasn't really Egyptian, but was Greek.

The Pony went as Re-punk-zel--a princess gone goth. She got an old prom dress from Ragstock, some fishnet stockings, black boots, black lace arm warmers, and wore it with a vintage denim jacket. Oh, and Mr. Sweetie and I were up until 2 a.m. putting together a 26 foot braid to attach to her hair.

But the thing that made that costume really work--really convey that punk/goth look--wasn't the clothing, wasn't the eyeliner, wasn't the black fingernail polish.

It was the black lipstick.

So, if your kid ever wants to go goth--for Halloween or real life--you can save a ton on wardrobe and just go for the lipstick.

Expert Qualifications

Driving home with the kidlets in the back seat we hear this conversation:

Bunny (age 9): Teenagers forget everything they knew, so they're not as smart until they grow up and become adults, and suddenly they remember ALL the things they forgot.

Pony (age 12): That's not true.

Bunny: Yes it is. I am an expert on teenagers.

Me: How did you get to be an expert on teenagers?

Bunny: (beat) TV.

Of course--how else?

Friday, October 28, 2005

My Outstanding Traits Are WHAT?

So I took a "Five Factor Personality" test yesterday to see what my outstanding traits set me apart from the crowd.

Would it be my wicked sense of humor? Perhaps my incisive mind? My deeply rooted ethical sense?


Cate, your most unique quality is that you're unusually Agreeable

You believe that people are inherently good and tend to listen to your heart in important matters. You are gentle and have a sincere desire to help and trust others. You are straightforward but don't tend to brag about yourself or your lot in life. You're amenable to people's suggestions, and you are good at helping people realize their own talents, which only makes people like you more. Compared to
others who are agreeable, youunusually trusting. Only 0.8% are unusually
trusting. Only 0.8% of all test takers have this unique combination of
personality strengths.

At least it's not my ability to sing the lyrics of "Gilligan's Island" to the tune of "Amazing Grace." That would really be embarassing.

The New New Coke

Okay, so The Bunny had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for a snack before we left for her flute lesson. I took my Diet Crack in a car mug so it looked like coffee. We brought the puppy for the ride, who proceeded to nose around my coffee mug.

He must have taken a lick or two as well--yes, while I wasn't looking--because when I took my next swig, I had to ask the Bunny "Did Bermondsey steal some of your sandwich?"

Because, trust me, Diet Coke with Peanut Butter is NOT the next new thing.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Fun With Phonics

We made dinner last night, including nachos grande--which at our house is seasoned ground turkey, fat-free refried beans and cheese on corn chips.

I found out that my kids had no idea what I was saying when I said "Nachos Grande." They spelled it "Nacho-scranday!"

Much more fun that way.

God Bless The Vermin

The puppy is a sweetie. We love the puppy. The puppy has to be walked at least three times a day, because he will not go out into the back yard and potty--unless he is desperate.

This is not good, as winter is coming. No, not "winter," but "WINTER/SUB-ZERO TEMPERATURES/COLD ENOUGH TO FREEZE ANTIFREEZE WINTER!!!" You know. Cold stuff. Hard enough to get out of bed anyway--who wants to get out of bed and plunge into that kind of weather just to pick up dog poop?

So, I am training the puppy to go potty in the back yard. Sort of.

Right now, we are working on having him actually leave the house on a leash alone. As in without me. It may be a residual side effect of being stray--he might be afraid he won't be allowed back in. It may be because he follows me around everywhere and doesn't want to be away from his alpha pack leader. Who knows? But I am NOT going to go outside in my pajamas and sock in -40 degree weather.

Just now, the puppy made the little crying noise and sat by the door to signal his need to go out. This is good. He sat and waited for the leash to go on. Also good. He refused to actually go outside without me--until he saw a squirrel. Then he shot off the porch and into the yard.

Go squirrels!

It's A Multi-Culti World!

The cultures are really blurring these days--which is quite a feat if you notice it here is the Heartland of Scandinavia West. Most waves of immigration have stopped well short of the center of the continent, but we are still seeing some changes.

At the Pony's school, there is a teacher whose last name is Salverda, which sounds vaguely Hispanic to me. Sal does not look Hispanic, he looks like a Viking with a haircut. He is very very blond, with blue eyes, and he is a large man with a tendency to fail to tan in the sun, but turn red--that delicate Viking skin, you know.

He teaches German.

At the local Chinese restaurant chain, there is a posted list of menu items translated phonetically so the counter staff and ask the kitchen staff to make more of whatever they are out of. The Chinese food has been translated into Spanish.

It makes my head hurt sometimes.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Familiarity Breeds

I let Bermondsey outside with me last night as I took out the garbage. I turned around, and saw him lying in the grass. He looked so very little and I felt a pang in my chest that he was ever a stray, dependent on what he could find for food and shelter. Fortunately, he's found a home, and Mr. Sweetie says he (Bermondsey) is very grateful.

Although the gratitude is turning a bit into entitlement. That's got to be the Lhasa Apso in him. What do you expect from a breed that was raised to be revered?Posted by Picasa

One Step Forward...

On the other hand, school is not going so well for another member of the family. That's right, Bermondsey has had to drop out of puppy class.

It's true--if you don't do the homework, you get too far behind to catch up.

Life just got in the way--he is a bright and eager to learn guy. I have to get back to a training schedule, and pick it up again with him--we'll all enjoy that again.

It's Not About The Damn Gym Socks

The Pony started middle school this year, and it's been a hard time. Her lower school experience was exactly the right thing for her--starting kindergarten was like putting a fish into water and letting it swim. Every grade was a better experience than the last, and by her last grade in that building she was able to say it was the very best of all.

Middle school changed all that. It was harder--the teacher's expectations were higher. Suddenly she was exposed to the threat of detention for forgetting an instrument, or punitive laps for being late to gym class. Not that she herself did these things, but she saw them happening, and they scared her.

The class sessions are longer--80 minutes each, and there are no bells or designated passing times, so she's sweating the fact that she is released from one class at the exact time she is supposed to be at the next one. She's discovered where the clocks are not perfectly synchronized, affecting how timely she can be to classes.

It's been hard. Hard on her, and hard to watch. As a parent, there is little that I can do--I can't change the schedule for her, or assign less homework, or really anything. These are the things that we all have to learn to handle, and better she learn it now, where she is in an environment where people really care about her, than when she goes off to college and has to do it all alone.

One day she was in the car, crying, listing all the things that went wrong that day, and the last thing on the list was "the gym teacher yelled at me for not wearing socks. I had socks, I just don't like to wear them and they yelled at me."

I had to put away my tool belt--as much as I wanted to fix it, the gym socks were not the problem. They were, at most, a symptom of the problem--of being overwhelmed by change. I had to be patient. I already had faith that she could handle this new school--and her mid-trimester marks show that. It was up to her to learn to have faith in herself and her ability to handle it all.

Today, it was better. Today she came up to me, loaded down with all her books and materials for school and she said "I think 6th grade is the best grade."

She had reasons for it, which I asked about and heard, but again, it's not about the particulars. It's about the global problem of handling it all, and it sounds like she's doing it. Plus, now she wears socks to gym class.

She's A Very Freaky Girl

I've been reading Laurell K. Hamilton recently--the entire Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series actually. And I tell you, that Hamilton woman is a very freaky girl. And I mean that in a nice way.

Interestingly, the books in this series have changed radically, and IMHO, for the better. The first 3 or 4 books are basically like hardboiled detective novels, but with monsters instead of mere criminals. So it's a little (small and thin and consequently underestimated) woman with a really big gun who shoots things until they are dead. Each book strives to present a scarier thing to shoot--vampires, zombies, voodoo priestesses, prehistoric vampires that are about a billion years old and strong. Lots of bodies, victims, and bloody shootings.

About the middle of the series, however, Hamilton changes her focus. By that point she has assembled a large enough cast of characters, that she keeps chicking in on them, and that results in a more relationship driven book, with a monster mystery to hold the whole together. Thus we get her growing relationship with the vampire Master Of The City, her boyfriend Richard and the effects of his being a werewolf, the continued presence in her life of the people she has saved from the bad monsters.

Interestingly, she shows real strength in writing about the political consequences of these emotional attachments--what does is mean to be a mortal in a vampire world? How do you date the king of the werewolves without being one yourself? How does the pack accept you, or not?

And of course, there is more hot monkey sex.

Which makes these books the trashy pleasure they are. By the last two books of the series, Anita Blake, vampire hunter is no longer hunting vampires, but sleeping with them. And werewolves. And wereleopards. And she has this metaphysical/magical hunger thing that raises two to six times a day that has to be fed by flesh, blood, or sex. Since she's not a vampire, and she's usually surrounded by her friends, it tends to be sex.

And hot monkey sex at that.

We've seen true love sex, opportunistic sex, altruistic sex, sex with two men, two vampires, a vampire and a werewolf, wereleopards and vampires, near sex, sex without actual sex...the list is ongoing.

Hamilton has a thing for a certain look to the men in her books--lots of leather, long LONG hair, thigh high boots, thongs, that sort of thing. Things I don't particularly find attractive--ankle length hair on a man just seems untidy, if not actually off-putting.

But she writes a compelling sex scene nonetheless, and she ups the ante with the interspecies politics, plus a new murder mystery each book. Although the mysteries are starting to dwindle in importance--in the most recent book, the mystery is only sort of solved by a letter from one of the perps explaining what was going on. Not totally satisfying, so she threw in another sex scene.

Okay by me.

How To Be Irresistible

Come to bed with your spouse/lover/significant person with the perfume of ambrosia clinging to your hands.

Or if not ambrosia, exactly, pizza sauce.

I am also inordinately fond of ale and scotch--not to drink, but to taste on his kisses. Yummy.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Grass--The Green Kind

The puppy is addicted to grass. Yes, he eats it, but mostly he likes to loll around in it, the deeper the better.

Actually, that makes a pretty good excuse for why I haven't had the lawnmower out for a couple of weeks.

Mostly, though, he finds it on the walks we seem to spend all day taking. There is a lawn just up the street that hasn't been mowed for a month or so, and the grass is long and lush, coming up higher than the puppy's legs. He ran into the middle of a large patch, and proceeded to turn himself over and over in it.

It was actually a spot on imitation of Teri Garr from Young Frankenstein. "Roll in za hay. Rrrroll, rrrooll rrrroll!"

Friday, September 30, 2005

The Glories of Produce

Beautiful day yesterday, and the first day of the week the kidlets don't have obligations after school. So pick up time felt early--too early to just go home and do homework and shit. They wanted to do something FUN!

We went raspberry picking.

We go to a place that is someone's home, with a huge near farm-sized lot. She has about 25-30 rows of raspberris, with nearly a thousand bushes. We were the only ones there.

There is a treasure hunt involved in berry picking. You want to find ones that are ripe--if they are bright red, like strawberries, they aren't ready yet and will taste bitter. The wine-dark ones are best, but only if they haven't gotten too dark. Once they are too ripe, they fall apart into their component drooplets, and you end up with juice and not berry.

On a beautiful day, you can afford to be finicky. You need to find just the right balance of purple and red in the color, and then you can reject any berry based on asymetrical drooplets. They should fall off the bush with the slightest of pressure--but if they fall off before you pull at all, then they are too ripe.

When you pick your own, you get to sample as you go--Juanita only charges for the berries you actually bring back in your bucket. So you get the sun-warmed flavor of berries as you go--some are purely sweet, some have a little bitterness to give them a kick in your mouth.

The Pony now likes raspberries, and she sampled many before determining the color characteristics of the ones she wanted to pick. The Bunny doesn't like to eat raspberries because they taste "too hairy."

We left with 4 pints of berries for $10 (way cheaper than at the grocery) and a lovely afternoon together. Given the stress of school right now, an afternoon like that is priceless.

Overheard At Volleyball

The Pony plays volleyball for her 5/6 grade team at school--a small private school in a city stuffed to the gills with Catholic schools. So, Our Kids play in the Catholic league, and are the only god-doubting pagans--I mean, ecumenical--kids in the league.

Which leads to some odd commentary from parents.

Parent 1: Were you at the soccer game last night?
Parent 2: No. What happened?
Parent 1: That other team were just awful--they kicked our kids, they laughed when kids got hurt, they cheated while the ref wasn't looking.
Parent 2: Oh. That must have been the Holy Angels.

What are the UNholy angels like?

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Why Not SUPER-Intelligent Design?

The Pony had an assignment the other night to list responses to a list of identifiers: e.g., "name a planet". The kids were encouraged to be as creative as they could be.

One of the things to identify was "A House Of Worship." My respomse would have been the Dover, Pennsylvania School Board.

Yes, once again, we are seeing people trying to reconcile the conflicts between faith and science, by making science into faith. It's been a long standing conflict, since the "invention" of science as a system of observation and testing. Remember the old saying "If man were meant to fly, he'd have wings"?

Here is the best thing I've seen written about the failure of "Intelligent Design," by Dahlia Lithwick, one of the sharpest legal journalists I've read:

There are many thorny medical mysteries doctors can't explain: How can
pluripotent stem cells give rise to any type of cell in the body? Why is the
genetic marker for Huntington's disease characterized by an excess of
trinucleotide repeats? What accounts for the phenomenon of spontaneous remission
in some cancers? With intelligent design, we don't ever need to find out. Years
from now, we'll all lie in our hospital beds while ID-trained doctors hold our
hands and assure us that we are merely dying of God.

We'll all be able to huddle around our radios and listen to Car Talk as a family. After the question is posed, we can all yell out in unison with Click and Clack that the
mysterious drut-drut-drut coming from that lady in Vermont's carburetor is …

And Law & Order: Special Victim's Unit will be vastly improved when
Mariska Hargitay can look ruefully over at Chris Meloni, shake her head over the
dead victim's limp frame, and shrug: "Heck if I know what happened. It's a real
mystery. I guess we'll have to get a warrant for God." Sigh. "Again." Cut to
closing credits.

Evolution is an observable fact--biological entities mutate and change over time. Science has made all our lives immeasurably safer, healthier, longer.

Hey, maybe God is smarter than we think, and gave us brains that we might use them!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

It IS A Small World

Our puppy, Constable Windsor Bermondsey of the Back Yard, is a rescue dog. Given his record with us of eating through power cords, leashes, harnesses, etc., I'm pretty certain he chewed himself free and ran off.

Fortunately for us, because now he is ours. We got him through a rescue organization called Homeward Bound, which is based out of a small city quite some distance away.

Today, as I was walking him around the neighborhood, we met some high school girls--one of whom volunteered for Homeward Bound, and remembered our puppy when he was called Toastie.

It was a happy reunion, especially for Bermondsey, who got to have more people make a big fuss over him, which is his favorite thing ever.

The Glass Is Not Half Empty

This is turning out to be a difficult time for me. Due to erratic taking of appropriate medications, I spent some serious down (way down) time in July and August. Things have gotten better this month, but I'm still fragile and damaged in unpredictable ways.

The other night, I got a small glance of disapproval from someone important to me--over something that was not a big deal, and could be easily addressed--but it just knocked the wind out of me. Totally took me apart, and I found myself aching with unshed tears the rest of the night.

Today, I am recovering from some serious insomnia, accompanied by emotional havoc. My brain just hurts. It's scraping against my skull like sandpaper, like the gritty way my eyes feel when I've cried too much. I once had an IV of erthyromyacin, which irritated my veins just exactly like my brain feels today.

I have long thought of myself as a capable and strong person--when the chips were down, I always thought I would come through. I thought I was an optimistic person. Depression has shaken that view.

The glass is neither half full nor half empty. The glass is broken.

I Joined A Different Army...

...the one with the condos and the private rooms. --Private Benjamin

See, this is how I feel about being a parent right now. When I became a parent, I thought it would be a chance for me to love someone, and give them what was the best of me. I knew it would be hard, and it has been, but I basically saw it as a lifelong commitment to love the little person who was born. I would help when I could, but that the job of living the actual live was the kid's job.

Now, I'm not so sure. The Pony is in middle school--which believe me is as much a surprise to me as to anyone, that we both made it this far--and there are some real struggles coming up fast. Fast like a solid wall comes up on a crash test dummy fast.

I can see some of these crashes as they approach, and I can even probably help her avoid some of them. Not all of them. Which ones are the right ones to hit? I can't tell.

And I deeply fear that if I do interfere, I will simply make things worse than if I don't. At what point do you let a kid go and make her own mistakes? Yes, it is the job of a parent to do hard and unpleasant things, but I value my relationship with my kidlet--and I fear that by barging in where I am so clearly unskilled, I will do more harm than good, and also spoil the good things we have between us.

Who knew parenting would be all about me?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties

Dog. Lying on keyboard. Snuggling against my wrists. Can't...type...must...stop.

Top Things To Remember About The U2 Concert

I don't know if you know this, but I went to the U2 concert last Friday. Did I mention that? Top things to remember:

  • Bono and Edge doing "Old Man River"
  • Woman holding up a sign "I lost 75 pounds to dance with you Bono"--so he pulled her up on stage and said "One thing you must know--Irish men can't dance. We can do a lot of other things though." Okay, maybe it wasn't technically "dancing" (John O'Hurley has nothing to worry about) but it was a definite groove--and she stayed on stage though the entirety of "Elevation."
  • Bono taiko drumming at the end of "Love And Peace Or Else"
  • Introducing "Miss Sarajevo," Bono said "We recorded this with Luciano Pavarotti. He's not here, but I have been putting on some weight."
  • The band exiting from the point of the ellipse, with Edge going one way, the other three going the other way. Bono putting up his microphone and improving "I'll take the high road, and you take the low road." The band members waving at each other.
  • Bono announcing that "Edge is from the future" and that the doctors at Mayo Clinic examined Edge's brain and declared it "impossible"--Edge's expression like "What're ya gonna do?"

I'm sure there are more, but I'll stop now.

Is It Live, or Is It TV?

So, the U2 concert last Friday? We went. Did I happen to mention that we were going? We did. To U2. Concert. Us as 20,238 other people, most of whom didn't matter. Because. We. Were. There.

Actually, it's been so long since I've been to an arena concert that I can't even really remember what it was like. I tend to prefer smaller venues--like my iPod. REALLY small.

The first time I went to an arena concert, it was Bruce Springsteen touring for "The River." And it was surprising, mostly for the realization that media had messed with my mind. No, I mean even more than I realized.

I had seen the "No Nukes" concert film in a real movie theater that had only one screen. So it was loud, and big, and I was in the middle of a crowd of people. Somehow, when I went to the concert, I had failed to realize that being there in person was NOT like watching it later. For one thing, you are MUCH FARTHER AWAY. And contrary to expectations, just because he is a Rock God, Bruce Springsteen is NOT 15 feet tall, like he looked in the movie. Nope. Not even close.

Plus, oddly enough, an arena built for guys on skates to hit each other (and occasionally a puck) doesn't have nearly the acoustic balance as a movie theater, much less my tacky stereo system that I got as a premium for opening a bank account (but I had to pay a little bit more). So, really, Bruce was neither as big or a loud as I had expected.

It was a great concert, and the Boss was awesome. Just different.

U2--great concert. Awesome band. We had seats directly across from the stage, front row behind the sound guys. Full spectrum visuals--nothing blocked our view.

But again--arenas don't have the sound system. I had kind of expected to be inside the wall of sound, with a bass line pacemaker, forceably changing my heart beat with the force of volume. I expected to go slightly deaf from the Edge's guitar. Even some of the band banter got lost in the sheer deadness of empty arena space. It's just hard to be as close to the band as you imagine you might get to be--based on seeing the videos.

I had a friend in law school who got an awesome summer job working the the TV network that Letterman was working for at the time--NBC or CBS, whatever--in New York. The one "perk" that she asked for (it was unpaid, I think, but still awesome) was to get to see Letterman's show live. It was scheduled, and rescheduled, and delayed until about very last day she was there. And she had a ticket, and a seat and was waiting for the show to start...when something happened, and she had to give her seat to someone else and got moved to the producer's booth, where she---watched it on TV.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Unclear On The Concept

This morning, my whole Awesome Family was snuggled in the big bed, and the puppy was happily rolling around on top. He has a tendency to go completely loose, as if he has left out all his skeletal structure, and his happy to just flop around as if he is simply stuffed.

"Hey," said unnamed family member. "He's just like a snake. A furry snake. With legs."

The Trials Of Aging--and U2!

We're going to the U2 concert tonight, Mr. Sweetie and I! Did I mention that we're going to see U2? Oh, and we're going to U2 tonight.

I did not want to go as Mini Van Mom with my wardrobe of comfy clothes perfect for a trip to the grocery store or Target before picking the kids up from school. I wanted something a little more--hip. You know. Cool-ish. I'm a mom. There's a limit to how cool I can be, and I know that. I don't want to look like I'm wearing a costume either--it's a bit too far from Halloween to pull THAT off, and a yet close enough for that to be a possible danger.

So, I went shopping yesterday for a jeans jacket. That would work, right? Just a simple, preferable faded, denim jacket that I can wear to blend into a hip nighttime crowd. Is that asking too much?

Alas, it seems so. I traipsed all over the MallDale (prior to the Mega Mall, all our shopping malls were surnamed "Dale") and found destroyed denim, designer embroidered denim, nipped, tailored, and teeny tiny denim jackets, but no plain, classic jackets. There were some that were so tiny they were designed to cover only the collarbones--but with long sleeves.

Where is a County Seat Levis(TM) store when you need one?

You know, when you don't shop the fashion stores, they change on you. Wasn't Abercrombie & Fitch once a bastion of preppy athletics? You know, yachting caps and crew paddles and Old Money fashion? And Banana Republic was once casual chic clothing. Now they both look just like each other, with loud music.


I FINALLY found one at The Gap. The music there was not good, but at least it did not cause bleeding from the ears. I know there is a generational thing, and I am the wrong generation for the new Banana Republic and A&F. That's okay, really. But isn't there something a little--oh, I don't know--cynical--about corporate policy setting the "hip" music standard? You know it wasn't just the guys working retail who turned the music up that loud.

I'd have liked it better--really! I would have--if I could just even have pretended that one of the stock guys brought in some totally awesome speakers from his basement and set them up after hours, and one of the sweater folding girls had sneaked in her totally bootleg cut of some band that is virtually unknown outside this one club in Glasgow.

Sadly, guys in suits at corporate headquarters shipping out anonymous techno pop doesn't feel cool to me.

But U2? THAT'S cool, baby.

Autumnal Equinox

Summer is ending--we had temps in the 80s, high humidity, sweaty hair and whirring air conditioners on September 21. Then, that night, big weather came through--severe thunderstorms, flash flood warnings, thunder and lightning all through the night, and even a tornado sighting. Cool weather arrived with a bang!

Last night, I sat outside in the dark, my bare feet just a little too cold, and heard a pair of geese honking and calling through the dark as they flew to join a flock. Trees have started to turn scarlet and gold, and we woke up this morning to temperatures in the low 50s.

The bright colors of my summer wardrobe look out of place now--even if the temperature soars again, I don't think I'll wear apple green capris again. Long live brown and black!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

This Cannot Be A Coincidence--Too Many Pirates!

Yes. I have a crush on Johnny Depp, especially as Captain Jack Sparrow. Yes, I celebrated International Talk Like A Pirate Day, with rum and grog and a few well placed "Arrrghs!"

Yet, suddenly, I realize that pirates are more than just fun. They have an important place in our ecosystem.

This information comes from the website for the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, an "alternative" to Intelligent Design, and a great way to point out why ID is religion, not science, and should not be taught as such.

As a religion, it comes with some benefits: As set forth on the FSM page:

Flimsy moral standards.
Every friday is a relgious holiday. If your work/school objects to that, demand your religious beliefs are respected and threaten to call the ACLU.
Our heaven is WAY better. We've got a Stripper Factory AND a Beer Volcano.

Not to mention the required wear is "full pirate regalia."

ARRRGH, mateys! Surrender, or prepare to be plundered!

Is It Passe To Hate Car Alarms

I was walking past the private school in our neighborhood yesterday, and there was an insistent car alarm. Whooooop, whooooop, whooooop, whoooop...on and on. I walked a least a block and a half before it gave up.


Whoooop, whoooop, whoooop, whoooop.

The street was lined with Beamers, Lexuses, Hummers, tricked out minivans, Jeeps, Mercedeses...every luxury car you can imagine. The one with the alarm was the little, junky, parrot-puke green Mazda--the one that was styled after a Dodge Colt, or some other misbegotten American dud of the last half century.

Is that what they call a Napoleon complex?

Bad Parenting Alert!

So, Mr. Sweetie and I are totally excited about Our Big Date on Friday--we're off to see U2. So, we've been playing their music on the iPods, and suddenly, The Pony has become aware of them. I was playing "Until the End of the World" and the dissonant chording at the beginning caught her ear, and she pricked up like a spaniel on the hunt:

"What song is THAT?!?"

So, out of the total goodness of our hearts, we sat the kidlets down last night and played some of the Slane Castle DVD, from the Elevation tour--U2 live in Dublin. It's a great, great show, and now the kidlets are complaining.

How come we get to go see U2 and they don't.

Mr. Sweetie said it was because if U2 was their first concert, the rest of their lives would be down hill from that.

Actually, they've threatened to call Child Protective Services on us, but they're not sure whether failing to take them to the Vertigo Tour constitutes "abuse" or "neglect."

Monday, September 19, 2005

Avast, Ye Spammers!

I be gettin' some spam this day, and it ain't even in piratical speechifying. So, ye scurvy spammers, prepare to be boarded and run up the yardarm, then keelhauled and used for shark bait!

If this keeps up, we'll be deletin' the comments with our broadswords! Take no prisoners!

And if that don't keep the swamp beasts away, we'll be loadin' the cannon with "word verification" to blockade them spammers til they starve! Aye!

Arrgh! And More Arrgh!

So me matey Bermondsey went ashore last night for some R&Arrgh, and came back to the ship with some sticky burrs all about his midships. Ye olde barnacle scraper weren't up to the task, see, so I used one o'me sharpish shears about his neck.

Arrrgh! Ye can see where this sea tale's a-goin', can't ye? I done nicked up the salty dog but good, and he had to be to see the ship's doctor this mornin'. Stitches, it took, to close up the mighty wound I done gave him. He be sleepin off the "sedative," at's what the doc feller called it, but I says its grog!

Anyway, I guess I'll be giving him an extra helpin' o' Cookie's slops this evenin, don't cha think so. But I'm not soft! Arrrgh! I still be a mighty pirate--all day! Arrrgh!

As Summer Slips Away

It's been warm recently, and muggy as well, as summer has ignored the start of the school year and held on. This morning, however, it is clear that the forces of autumn are about.

As Bermondsey and I walked around the block, the sun was only about ten degrees above the horizon, and the wet ground began giving up its moisture from last night's rain. The sky was clear blue, with only the smallest of fluffy white clouds, yet below the branches of the trees a rising mist blanketed the ground.

Canadian geese are crossing the skies southward, honking and flocking--they are only in twos and threes, but the migration is beginning. With the sun so low in the sky, the undersides of their wings are illuminated, flashing black and gold with each beat. The ivy and sumac are starting to flush crimson. Autumn is on its way.

Do Ye Be Knowin' What Day T'day Be?

It be International Talk Like A Pirate Day--that be what day this be.

So gits out yer rum, and stump about on yer peg leg, else ya be a land lubber.

Fer yer eddification, here be a pirate joke, ta be sharin' with all them swabbies ya be convertin' ta pirate ways today:

A man met a pirate with a peg leg, a hook for a hand, and an eye patch.
"It looks like you've had an exciting life," he said.
"Oh, aye, that I have," agreed the pirate.
"How did you get that peg leg?" he asked.
"That there leg was lost the time a mighty storm swept me overboard, and the sharks got ahold of me leg. They chewed it through before I was able to pull meself back aboard ship."
The man was impressed. "What about your hand? What happened there?"
"Arrgh, that was lost when we was capturing a treasure ship. We fought bloody hand to hand battle, and I lost me hand to a swordsman."
The man was silent for a moment, awed by the daring of the pirate before him, but he found he had to ask "What happened to your eye?"
"That, well man, that was when me parrot shit in me eye."
The man couldn't believe this story. "You lost your parrot poop?"
"Arrgh, well it was the first day with me hook."

That there joke was translated for ye scurvy dogs so's you could understand it proper like. Now go and be pirate-y, or the Flying Dutchman'll scupper yer ship.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

It's This Kind Of Spontaneous Publicity...

Hey! I got my first piece of comment spam! Here it is:

Your blog is thorough If you have a weight issue, I'm sure you'd be interested
meridia diet purchasing meridia diet

I feel like Steve Martin from The Jerk: "The new phone books are here! The new phone books are here!"

Tragically Unhip

I am a consumer of American culture. I like to think I have some grasp of lots of different aspects of out society--movies, TV, music, books, that sort of thing. Even if I don't actually watch much TV (occupational hazard once the kidlets get old enough to work the remote), I follow the trends. Veronica Mars: yeah! Reality TV: not as good as the days of the first Temptation Island.

I read voraciously, and gulp down People, Us, Entertainment Weekly to keep up on the movies I don't actually see. I'm hip, right? I read Television Without Pity; I have IMDB on the internet equivalent of speed dial.

Since I got my iPod, though, I tend to listen to the music I already have. Which can get stale and leave me in a sort of retro/college/new wave/big hits/big name bands kind of rut. So, I've been trying to branch out a little--find out what the latest in music is all about.

So, I've been listening to The Current, the newest public radio station in town. Neither news nor classical music, The Current has hired an eclectic set of DJs and allows them to program what they want. There is a LOT of music that no one has ever heard of, and I was trying to remain open minded and learn from it all.

What I learned was that I am really unhip. No hippie chick I. I think its a wonderful idea, and I'm glad that people who are so passionate about the current music scene are allowed to share it with the world, rather than be bound into the straight jacket of commercial programming. Really.

But I got to tell you, that the other night, around midnight, when the Crooning French Guy and his Gallic Banjo came on, I totally gave up.

There's A Bright Golden Haze On The Meadow

I am not a morning person.

Which is sort of like saying Antarctica is not a picnic at the beach.

Those who know me know that with a running start and a little tail wind, I can sleep 12-14 hours at a stretch. My college roommate used to come back from her day of classes and wake me up in time for lunch. So, no, I am not a morning person by nature.

Being a mom, and a dog owner, however, means that I still have to get up during those godless hours of 6 to 8 a.m. Yesterday, I was actually dressed and walking the dog as the clock edged toward 7.

Did you know that there are people out and about at that hour? I saw kids walking to school, school buses grinding their way down the streets, a striking blond woman in a fuschia linen dress and black flats returning from the gym, a very cool newspaper deliverer in his bright red Excursion running papers like he was doing training exercises at football camp. There were other dog walkers, runners, contractors in big SUVs on their way to the work site.

Wore me out. I had to go take a nap.

And That's All I Have To Say About THAT

Re: Hurricane Katrina--

Those of us who are not suffering in its wake:
Be grateful you have a roof over your head
Pay attention to the small blessings of food, safe water, clean and dry clothing
Hug and kiss your family, because you are with them.

God bless.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Hello! hello lo ooo

Can we hear the echo? School started this week, and the kidlets are trundling off happily to be stuffed full of Scholarly Goodness.

And I can hear myself think again.

Or I could, if there were actually any mental activity going on.

I love my kids. They are both kind and smart and sweet through and through. But they are kids, and the world of kidlets has not so much to keep the Mommy Mental Faculties very sharp. Plus, because they are, in fact, not adults, they need Care! And Help! And sometimes just the comfortable Mommy Presence!

Which is my own damn fault--I mean, I COULD have raised them to be disaffected and independent little snots who stop by the house for cash and car keys, as well as the occasional clean laundry. BUT NOOOOOO! I had to go and make myself an important part of their daily lives!

So, they've had summer vacation, and I've been the Operator Standing By To Take Your Call all summer. Which means that no matter what I am doing, I am likely to be summoned to assist, or view, or participate in kid-dom.

The silence now, with everybody gone, is beyond golden. My brain feels a bit bruised--like it's taken a few hard hits recently--and it feels so good when that stops.

Posting should increase in frequency a bit, as I find my way back to some semblance of mental acuity.

Friday, August 19, 2005

And We'll Be Back After A Short Break

Off to Girl Scout Training Camp for the weekend, and then up to The Lake for a few days with the entire Evil Family.

We return with only FOUR days until school starts.

Only the puppy isn't happy about it.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Separated At Birth?

Now I know why I always feel like I somehow "know" Jack White, even though I don't listen to the White Stripes, except for that one song that was the opening credits music for Napoleon Dynamite, but I totally liked that song before the movie when they played it on the alternative radio station and I didn't really like the movie at all though I can understand why it got so popular because its just full of one-liners that you can say to your buddies when you are at your locker bitching about having to go to health class and how it sucks to have P.E. first period because you can never get your hair right under a hand dryer and you spend the rest of the day looking totally not cute.


Jack White--I totally believe he is a supremely gifted musician and is undeservedly underappreciated and is finally getting some popular attention for (and not in spite of) the unusual artistic choices he makes.

And then I realized that it was totally NOT Jack White I was thinking of.

Monday, August 15, 2005

I Guess It's Edible, But...

I drove past the "supper club" down on the semi-industrial strip between downtown and the airport. I've never seen anyone go in or out. The sign may be why:

Frog Legs
Liver Steak

I mean, I admire people who eat the whole animal, and don't waste anything. Over-reliance on beef and corn farming overtaxes natural resources and limits biodiversity, as beef and corn crowd out other foods.

I just don't want to be the one eating frogs legs and liver steak. Because yuck. And also eeewww!

What I Want For Christmas

I really need to become better about a camera. I keep seeing really cool things that I wish I could take a picture of--usually truly heinous signs around town, but also Our Cute Puppy, and the neat things that the kidlets do.

We do have a digital camera, which I keep safely put away so I won't ever actually take pictures with it. I'm thinking I may just have to train myself with a camera/cel phone (something else I find I've mistakenly left behind).

For instance, a couple of weeks ago I saw a sign at one of those gas station/quick marts that said:

GALS $299

Looks like transporting young girls from Wisconsin for immoral purposes, doesn't it?

Alas, the sign is now gone, with nothing notable in its place.

The Perversity Of English

I know--it's from the French, so technically it could be excused as not even being "English," but we use it without even italicizing it.


I know that it's pronounced "crow-shayd" but my brain always trips over "crotch-et-ed" first.

Gardeners Do Not Believe In Intelligent Design

I live in the city, on a small urban plot of land--about 50 feet by 100, and that includes a house as well. So, when I say I have a big garden, it's probably only big in its context. There is a significant portion of non-house land taken up by garden, and it's large in comparison to most of the other gardens in the neighborhood.

It might have even been larger, but considerations of yard for kidlets and puppy to play in have meant that there are large areas of grass remaining.

Sadly, over this summer, I have rather neglected the garden. Actually, So much has been planted so close together, that, in theory anyway, I shouldn't have to weed because there is not much room for weeds to grow. In theory.

It is in grappling with the reality of weeds that one begins to recognize the opportunistic nature of, well, nature. I mean, how is it that bindweed, with its slim twining stem and heart-shaped leaves, manages to grow right where I planted morning glories, with their slim twining stems and heart-shaped leaves? How is it that those nasty little elm seeds manage to land right in the middle of the rosebushes, so they are able to get well established before I even find them, and then I can't pull them out because of the thorns? That are supposed to be protecting the ROSES and NOT the damn ELM TREES!

Don't even talk to me about Virginia creeper. It was eating the front of the house when we bought it. How does it know which way to grow to find something to press its little sucker feet to? I mean, this plant can cross a gap of several feet with nothing to guide it, and it still manages to find a support for its continued conquest.

We had a very old garage, that was not well built and suffered some truly bad decisions over the years. As a result, the garage beams themselves--you know, the wood? that supports the entire structure?--rested on soil, while the concrete garage floor and the asphalt pad were poured afterward--leaving the garage sitting lower than the floor it was supposedly resting on. This created a little trough, in which things collected. And started to grow.

It is time to take down your garage when large plants and volunteer elm trees are growing OUT OF THE FOUNDATION. But how? How do they know where to go to find soil under asphalt and cement and AN ENTIRE FREAKING GARAGE? And what about those hardy weeds that found a crack in the cement floor that just happened to be under a leak in the roof so that it got both sun and rain? HOW DO THEY KNOW?

The answer is, of course, they don't. For every weed that finds that niche in an old garage floor, there are thousands, millions, that don't. By conservative estimate, the neighbor's elm trees deposit about 40 gajillion seeds across our property, and only a handful manage to even germinate, and of those 40 gajillion, a total of 40 gajillion minus one do NOT managed to land inside the protective soil inside a rose bush. There is a lot of bindweed that shows up where the morning glories aren't--they just get pulled up a whole lot soon and their lives are that much shorter.

But it is in gardening that you really start to see how there are A LOT of plants that will grow ANYWHERE there is to sink a root. And these plants are not thinking about where to look for a place to grow--they just grow. And the odds are against finding that one sweet spot in the garage--but when you are playing with 40 gajillion chances, each year (!) you are bound to get lucky maybe once.

And once is all it takes, right? One seed in the right place with the right conditions and grow up and broadcast its own 40 gajillion seeds a year too.

The numbers are just literally unimaginable. There is just no way a human mind can really--and I mean really, completely and in an unboggled state--comprehend the billions of billions at issue here.

One of the illustrations favored by Intelligent Design theorists (or IDs) is the human eyeball. The eye, they claim, is just too complex to have evolved by accident and so must have been "designed" by some higher power--maybe even the higher power mentioned in the Bible.

Is that the higher power that planted bindweed in my morning glories? Or is it that of billions and billions of trials, a few successful, most unsuccessful, one single lone plant landed in that sweet spot? That after many billions of years, with multiple billions of permutations, that such a thing is possible.

All I can say is that I find weeds in the oddest and most frustrating places, and there isn't any plant mind at work in that case, and there is no reason to think humans are THAT biologically different from the rest of the Earth.

Hypochondria At Home!

Things have been rather bumpy here at Chez Evil. Extreme heat and humidity in the month of July, lack of effective air conditioning, and some lack of consistency in taking certain daily medications have resulted in last week really sucking. As in The Mistress being entirely unable to think or do anything that required more than one step.

Mowing the lawn? Maybe could do that, but wait! The hose and sprinklers are still on the lawn and would have to be removed. Plus, mowing shoes are upstairs, and I would have to go and get them. So--lawn doesn't get mowed.

Fix meals? Wait! Have to decide what to have, and then actually make it. Too many steps, even if I had the ingredients already in the house and didn't have to go to the store to get them! Oh, and that would mean also pouring drinks, and finding some sort of vegetable and maybe fruit and...blast! Silverware and dishes are still in the dishwasher!

Yup--depression done raised its ugly head again. After a two year run of feeling good (translation: happy and productive) I got slammed upside the haid with the bad stuff. As an added bonus, I got a horrible headache that did not respond to analgesics and an extended nap.

So of course, it's a brain tumor, right? I mean, just look at the symptoms from the National Brain Tumor Foundation:

Some of the most common symptoms of a brain tumor are headaches (headaches that wake you up in the morning), seizures in a person who does not have a history of seizures, cognitive or personality changes, eye weakness, nausea or vomiting,
speech disturbances, or memory loss.
Cognitive or personality changes--check
Eye weakness--check (bifocals--and contacts no longer work either near OR far)
Nausea or vomiting--no
Speech disturbances--not any worse than usual
Memory loss--check

Fortunately, Mr. Sweetie came home from a week of business travel, and was so kind, and so loving and so wonderful to me this past weekend, that things started to feel better. So, maybe it isn't a brain tumor after all--and maybe therapeutic dosages are being achieved!

I Am Really More Of A Dog Person

I had a cat, once, when I was a kid. The neighborhood babysitter came door knocking, giving away a litter her cat had, because her dad said he'd drown them otherwise. No one can resist a free kitten from a babysitter with tears down her face. So, that's how we got Callie.

She turned out to be nearly feral. She'd catch birds, chipmunks, and other unidentifiable creatures, then mew innocently to be let in. Once the door was open, she'd streak through the house to her hiding place to consume her prey.

But still! This site cracked me up, because cats + stuff = awesome. And this is my favorite picture. What a cutie--I bet if they made a stuffed animal of him, he'd sell a million units--easy.

Ah, Dese Youts, Today...

The Bunny had her 9th birthday party yesterday, and took four of her buddies to the Big Big Mall to ride the amusement park rides, followed by pizza and cake Chez Evil.

Kids today grow up so fast. There were several thrill rides, the kind that supposedly inspire comical faces of fear and horror, that are then immortalized (temporarily) on digital photos that you can purchase for only $8.95 plus tax.

These kids are old hands at thrill rides. They know when and where the pictures are taken, so they pose. Yes, they pose! Several pictures involved arms lifted high in the air so as to block the face of the person behind. Very few captured comical faces of fear and horror, except my favorite one.

As the Ripsaw Roller Coaster headed down its Incline Of Fear, one of the Buddies stuck her fingers in her nose and pulled down the skin around her eyes. And the Buddy co-passenger was captured staring straight at her friend, absolutely appalled that anyone would want a picture of themselves like that.

I swear, they're only nine, and they are already meta...

The Thrill Is Gone, Baby, Gone

Do we all remember Joe Walsh, oddly distorted, singing "My Maserati does one eighty-five/I lost my license, now I don't drive"? Yeah! Maserati--car of choice for law-breaking, booze-swilling rock-and-roll headcases! Yeah!

So, I pulled up next to one on the freeway the other day. Cool me, in my Purple Minivan of Evil, carting kidlets in the back seats, next to a Maserati. And I looked it over but good--it was a little ahead of me, so I had that excellent 3/4 view from the left rear fender.

And it was....boring. Just a four-door black sedan. A little lower, maybe, on the roofline curve, but basically the kind of car you can imagine your DAD driving. In fact, it looked EXACTLY like the black four-door Mercury sedan that parks next door. If it hadn't been for the giant chrome script letters spelling out M-A-S-E-R-A-T-I across the back, I'd never have looked twice.

Back in the 1980s, a bunch of designers (yeah, I'm talking to you Calvin Klein!) licensed their names for perfumes, bedding, towels, eyeglasses, etc., and found, to their horror that they didn't like the products! They wouldn't wear the perfumes or eyeglasses, would never sleep on the damn bedding, and didn't like their name being associated with such crap!

Are you listening, Maserati? Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The Inadequacy Of Language

Back in my former life, when I was carefree and kidless, and all I had to worry about was fucking up my career--ah, those halcyon days!--my best office friend left the practice of law to stay home with her two little boys.

She told me it was hard, and as an example she said "I cannot get them both to nap at the same time."

Now, to me, not having children at the time, I had no idea what a crisis this represented. So, complete idiot that I was (and still am on occasion) I said "But that's great! You can have some one on one time with each of them that way."

How was I to know? I was I to know that "naptime" did not just represent the time that the little angels were sleeping, but that it was the time of day a stay at home mom could confidently predict that she would not want to kill the little darlings. Naptime is like water in the desert--without it, life cannot survive.

I'm pretty sure that if you look up the word "naptime" in any published dictionary, it will NOT list as one of its definitions "the only thing that keeps parents of small children remotely sane." I didn't know that "naptime" meant "the only time in the day when I can conceivably go to the bathroom by myself, or even possibly take a shower, or get a chance to sit down and (if I am VERY VERY lucky,) maybe get some sleep to make up for the 6 1/2 hours I didn't get last night because I was up from midnight to 6:30 with a crying baby and oh my god if they don't sleep today I will drink myself into a coma just to get a little TIME OFF FOR GOD'S SAKE!!!!"

Now, I have met more than one stay at home mom who has kids in some sort of daycare/enrichment/education program AND has an in-home care provider, both of which might be full time, and who have husbands who Just Don't Understand Why we are paying so much money for other people to take care of our kids when you're at home.....

All I can say is, stay at home moms are underrepresented by charitable foundations. Perhaps we should simply start one that delivers milk for the babies, and your choice of gin or vodka for the moms.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Oh, The Inhumanity!

Bermondsey has a fetch toy that is a favorite--it's a little cutout man--you know, looks like a gingerbread man--made out of wool. We call him fuzzy man. Bermondsey is a good retriever, but not so good at giving up the toy.

He likes to grab it right across the center of the belly, because that way he gets the squeaker in his jaws as well. And as he adjusts his bite to return across the house, the Fuzzy Man squeak squeak SQUEAKS his agony.

My Good Deed For The Day

Someone did this for me, and it only took me TWO MONTHS to figure out I could pay it forward. So, I clicked at the top of my blog--see? Where it says "Next Blog"? And I went to meet my next door neighbor here in the bloghood.

I left an encouraging (I hope!) comment on her page.

We could be friends--we both linked to Dooce!

Any way, it made my day when somebody did it for me--HEY INTERNETS! GO MEET YOUR NEIGHBORS!

Songs Of My Life

Okay, so today's toddlers probably grow up singing Radiohead songs or something. When I was a kid, we had some really regrettable music for kids, and even more regrettably, some of it is still lodged in my brain.

Which explains why, on a gorgeous, cloudless summer afternoon, I was floating in an inner tube, with "Tubby the Tuba" going around and around my brain:

Tubby the Tuba, pufffing away
Never had a tune to play.
Always wished he'd play a song
'Stead of puffing all day long
That oompah oompah oompah pah
Oompah oompah oompah pah!

Harry Potter Spells I'd Like To See

Occulus Lasiksempra: Harry wouldn’t need glasses anymore (and neither would I!).

Saturday, August 06, 2005

So, Do You Dream In Color?

OF COURSE I dream in color! Actually, I don't think anyone has any question about that anymore, now that everybody has color TV and all.

Ah, but do you dream with taste? And I don't mean with good taste, I mean can you taste things in your dreams?

This morning, the last thing I dreamed right before I woke up (thanks, Bermondsey!) was this fabulous shopping dream. Mr. Sweetie and I were Christmas shopping, and buying really cute and silly things for each other--you know, like we used to do before the kids and the mortgage and the loss of the second income.

Anyway, in my dream, we split up, and I headed deeper into the incredibly fancy, high-end-design mall of my dreams. (Maybe that should be capitalized: Mall Of My Dreams. Yeah, I like that.) And right by the escalators in the Mall Of My Dreams was a high style pastry store called "Gateau" (French for "cake" for those of you who took Spanish or something). This dream bakery sold in-fucking-credible cakes, the kind of cakes that the gods eat, and mere mortals are only permitted to dream of. They made about 70 different kinds of cake, and at first, I walked around the whole store just looking at them all. And then, right by the trays and silverware, there were---SAMPLES!!!!

So, I tried some. And I could actually taste them! First was a sort of napoleon tasting custard and millefleur dough one, which was exquisitely bland. And I realized that it was a bad choice, because it had the most samples left on the plate, which meant that it was the least favorite of everyone.

The second was a sort of cinnamony snickerdoodle/chocolate one, which was heady and spicy, but not really my cuppa. Third, I tried a deep, rich, incredibly decadent butterscotch chocolate chip cake, and that was the one I decided to buy, until in line the lady behind me suggested the banana. So, I got the banana cake, and it was $8.04 for one slice of cake, but you got free Diet Coke to go with it, so it was all worth it.

Small Favors

The puppy is working out well.

He has a delightful habit of fairly predictable bathroom habits. He usually poops on our last, late walk of the day.

He thoughtfully poops under the streetlights, rather in the dark parts of the walk, so I can clean up by sight and not touch.

Small things DO count.

Monday, August 01, 2005

My Public Apology

This almost never happens--when one is the Mistress Of All Evil, one rarely apologizes. One merely puts an evil curse on the victim.

However, be that as it may, Mr. Sweetie deserves an apology. I have unintentionally left the impression that he is some kind of DUHusband in my FOOD! post of yesterday.

Whether it showed up or not (in the post), it was very clear to me that he was trying to help. He could tell I needed a break, and he was trying to move in to intercept any future demands for food from the kidlets. It makes a certain kind of sense, given my knackered state, for him to assess the situation before acting. So, he asked a reasonable question about the state of things--"Have they had dessert yet?"

Now, indisputably, if my answer had been "No," he would have gone and provided said dessert. If my answer had been "yes" he would have moved to make the bag lunches for the next day.

In either case, the proper response from me would have been "Thank you!" NOT the Glare Of A Thousand Pointy Things, which is what he got.

However, the doctor says that the wounds were not fatal, and the scarring should be minimal. I am abashed. So, here goes:


There. Now I hope I never have to do that again.

Two Sides of the Same Coin

The last post notwithstanding, I do love my children. Really. It's just that sometimes they demand so much of me that I feel like something is sucking the marrow from my bones.

Last night, the Bunny showed up at my bedside at about 3:15. So, by a conservative estimate, I had been asleep for less than 4 hours. Poor kid, her birthday is rolling up fast, and she is getting too excited to sleep. And she truly could not sleep. She lay in bed with us, flopping and trying to be quiet, until Mr. Sweetie's alarm went off at 5:15--then she went downstairs to play computer games or something.

I did manage to sleep from about 6:15 until 7, when my alarm went off. This is where the bone marrow thing comes in--after my head exploded over FOOD! less than 6 hours later--six hours where it was reasonable to expect at least some sleep--I was dealing with a child again.

I hate admitting it--I hate it that parenting chews me up so badly. Especially since I have wonderful kids who really are good sports. The Bunny TRIED to get back to sleep, and even when she couldn't, she was quiet and unfussy. The whole FOOD! thing was not malicious, or even intentional--it was clearly my failing. Thank God that I didn't get colicky or difficult kids--I think I would not be here today.

So, just to contrast my Bad Day yesterday, today the kidlets went to an all day camp. On the drive home, they were making up stories about our dog. In this story, he became "Dr. Lemon von Lemonypants."

The Bunny: (speaking in character) I am Dr. Lemon von Lemonypants. Step into my office, and we can begin to discuss your child's future.

Me: Dr. Lemonypants is a child psychiatrist?

The Bunny: No. Vice Principal!

I cracked up. I couldn't help it! The Bunny's vice principal is a wonderful woman who is also the mother of one of the Bunny's best friends. She doesn't have experience of being called into the office for disciplinary purposes, and Mr. Sweetie and I have not been either. I don't know where she gets this stuff.

However, she now has a confusing response to the oft asked question of what we call "Bermondsey" for a nickname: Dr. Lemon von Lemonypants.