Sunday, July 31, 2005

Some More Chinese Water Torture, Please.

No matter how old your kids are, parenthood is tough. Actually, life is tough, and parenthood just piles on, exaggerating the highs and the lows.

Today was a low for me. This is not new, but I have managed not to have too many lows recently. Thank you pharmaceuticals! Today, for some reason, I thought my head was going to explode over food preparation.

I have never particularly loved to cook. Cookbooks are not diverting--and I have friends who read them for entertainment. Foodie magazines--not my deal at all. I have sort of enjoyed being able to fix what I want to eat--but on the whole, meal prep is just a chore.

So, in an effort to streamline the work, and to get some healthier food on the table, I have started to collect and create a number of meals that I can just rotate. "If this is the second Monday, it must be chili" sort of rotation. To do this, I have put recipies and schedules and shopping lists on my computer, and some of it is linked to websites with recipies.

So, today, everyone was out of the house, and I sat down to draft up a couple of meals and run to the grocery store. I turn on the computer....and I have no internet connection.

This is like telling a hospital patient that he has no IV---I have to have the internet! It is no longer optional! So, as of about 2 p.m, I am repairing connections and rebooting both computers to get the connection back up. It finally connects, and I collect my recipies, make a list, and go to the grocery.

By now, it is 4 p.m., and I have to pick up the Pony from her friend's house at 5. I get through the shopping list, and get the refrigerated/frozen items into the refrigerator/freezer. I bring the rest of the groceries with me in the back of the van, and bring the dog too, as it is his walk time.

I pick up the Pony, and the two of us walk the dog. It's now about a quarter to 6, and I'm bringing in the rest of the groceries and putting them away in order to start cooking. Dinner gets served at about 7, and by 8 I'm clearing the table, emptying the dishwasher so I can put the dinner dishes in. I just get the last of the washables in, when the Bunny comes in and hails me with a chipper "So! What's for dessert!"

I have literally just put dinner away--in fact, there are still pans to hand wash. Bunny gets her own dessert, I wash the pans, put them away, and she comes back, still chipper. "So! What are you packing for lunch tomorrow?"

Okay, at this point, it feels like I have just spent SIX AND A HALF HOURS on dinner. The LAST thing I want to think about at this moment in time is food of any sort. And yet, there is still more.

So, to keep my head from exploding, I leave the kitchen and go to sit on the porch. It's hot today, but there have been breezes, and the porch is quite pleasant. I sit down, near where Mr. Sweetie is working, and announce "I need a break from food preparation."

And Mr. Sweetie responds; "Have the kids had dessert?"

Poor man. He didn't deserve the look I gave him, but I swear to God I nearly blew up into tiny little pieces. NO MORE FOOD! Do not TALK about food, do not HOLD food where I can even SEE it, and DO NOT ASK me about ANYTHING HAVING TO DO WITH FOOD.

You know, it's really not anyone's fault--Bunny was just being herself, and Mr. Sweetie was just trying to get up to speed so he could help out. BUT DAMMIT! NO MORE FOOD!

Alcohol, on the other hand, is a very welcome subject right now.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

And "Sit" Means "Fetch"?

Bermondsey and I have started Puppy Kindergarten--we had our first class together last week. Bermondsey wants more time to socialize--there is no time to hang out at the lockers and gossip, which seems a shame. After all, that Dandy Dinmont is cute, but girlfriend? That poof on top of your head makes you look like a poodle.

And did you see what that German Shepherd did? He went right through the fence--he coulda cleared it easy, but instead he landed right on top of it! Twice! Ha ha.

The instructor has given us homework (can you believe it, says Bermondsey), and one of the tasks is to come up with a "release word." This is a word that you say to let your dog know that the exercise is over and he is free to move. Think about a dog lying down with a "stay" command. When its okay for him to get up again, you give him the release word.

The instructor has cautioned us against using a word that is too common--"okay" is NOT a good release word, because you will use it in non-release situations.

She uses "Kool-Aid," precisely because it is not a word she would ever use otherwise.

This has weird consequences, if you think about it. The dogs go nuts at the word "Kool-Aid," which just ain't right. And isn't there some value in having words that if someone else is working with your dog(s), they are likely to hit on? I'm thinking about Barbara Woodhouse, for example--I guess the current guy is The Dog Whisperer on cable. They take your dog and teach it manners, and there are standard phrases they use. Some standardization is probably a good thing.

Finally, what do you want to be saying to your dog in front of friends and dinner guests. "Kool-Aid" aint it. Same principle as naming your dog something you wouldn't be embarassed to run through the neighborhood calling. "Fluffikins" is a non-starter. "Kool-Aid" falls into the category of "too embarassing" as well.

But, heck--why not just go all out? Take your rottweiler/doberman/shepherd and teach it to run up and lick the face of someone at the command "Kill." Amuse your family, give heart attacks to your friends and acquaintances. Or train your poodle in French: "Assiez-vous, Fifi!"

Or pick totally off the wall languages--how does one say "release" in Urdu, or Serbo-Croatian? I mean, if you are trying to pick a word you wouldn't use otherwise.

I think I'm going to stick with "Okay."

And It's 50% Off!

I was browsing the 50% off table at the bookstore today. Interesting, isn't it, what doesn't sell? There were many pieces of a matched set of stationery, frames, photo boxes and books, and even file folders.

Somehow, I managed to pass up the book "Teach Your Dog To Talk." It was on the same shelf as "Speak It Today: Serbo-Croatian!"

Now, if it promised to teach my dog how to speak Serbo-Croatian, I might have bought it.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Too Much Beauty

We have been having an unpleasant summer here in the North. We had a rainy May, a cloudy and rainier June, and a HOT! July. So hot, in fact, that the brain shuts down and the lizard mind takes over. Entire days are spent simply looking for a place to cool off. Is there air conditioning? Do we have enough Diet Coke? Who didn't refill the ice cube tray? Oh, that was me.

Then, a cool front dropped down from Canada to visit, and we have had three of the most perfect summer days one can imagine. Highs just kiss 80, nighttime lows are below 60, making for lovely sleeping weather. Fluffy white clouds graze like sheep in the turquoise blue sky. The gardens are green and lush, as are the lawns--this is why God takes His vacations here.

In some ways, however, it is too much beauty--I can't take it in. Part of me is waiting for the other shoe to drop and for the humidity and heat to return. Part of me wants to take these beautiful days in through the pores of my skin, which isn't really possible. There is just no way to grab hold of this beauty and possess it enough so that when it goes, you can feel like you fully appreciated every second of it.

It feels criminal to use these cool days to catch up on things that were impossible to do in the heat. Like sorting laundry, which it was far too hot to do earlier. Cleaning out closets and drawers, ditto. These are days for hanging out at the pool, for wading in lakes, for taking the puppy out to a field and letting him run.

Guess the laundry will just have to wait.

Sidelined By Injury

Two days ago, I went out to pull some weeds. That is such a satisfying garden task--especially when the weeds, like these ones, have shallow roots, and so you tug, and the entire plant just comes up in your hands. Spend five minutes pulling, and you get such an improvement in the look of the garden--it no longer looks shaggy and untended.

Unfortunately, while pulling weeds, I stumbled onto a hive of ground wasps. I was just minding my own business, pulling weeds, when suddenly there was about two dozen little yellow devils hovering within a arms length of me.

They found me, too, quickly. I had never been stung by a wasp before, and damn! it hurts!

Worse, the demon got its stinger into me, and then got stuck. It was beating its little wings frantically, but couldn't pull out. I didn't want to kill it, for fear of leaving the stinger in my skin. I had to free it, while trying to get others out of my shirt (yup--got stung just below my shoulder too). I scurried out of the way, and those bastards landed on me and STAYED, looking for somewhere to sting me. I ended up having to trap them off of my body and release them outside so they didn't sting the kids.

The first one got me on the finger. The index finger. On my right hand.

That's right--the one I click with. My mousing hand was disabled, and I had to take some time off of the computer. Withdrawal is such an ugly condition.

Why I Love My Kids

The Pony has her own blog: Tales of the Dark Side. She did the whole thing for the Harry Potter post, which is a personal favorite of mine. She took the pictures, and got the puppy's excellent expression by putting the guinea pig on top of her head while taking the picture. I love these pictures, so I have to reproduce them here.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Career Opportunities

Bermondsey found a new game today--somehow he got hold of a golf ball, which he proceeded to toss and pounce upon. If he could only carry a golf bag, he'd make a great caddie.

Bermondsey, inventing new forms of service dogs, since 2005.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Same Planet, Different Worlds

I continue to be grateful that my kidlets are girls.

Today, the local paper carried a front page story about hidden code in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, which turned the game blue. High volume retailers are pulling the game from the shelves.

Meanwhile, here at Chez Evil, the kidlets found out they could both log into an on-line game.

"Great! Then we can be friends, and go visit each other's houses!"

I don't see Grand Theft Auto in our near future--or distantly either.

Friday, July 15, 2005

I am moving in an atmosphere of unreality--Harry Potter 6 goes on sale at 12:01, and we are going to be at the bookstore.

I am already wearing a numbered wristband which shows that I have preordered a book, and my number is 91. I am told that the staff will be calling numbers in groups of 50 to pick up and purchase the ordered books, so 91 isn't so bad. It's not being in first class, but it is like travelling with children or being a passenger who will otherwise need assistance.

I fell for Harry Potter back in 1999, when the Pony was in kindergarten and I bought the first book (in paperback) at a fundraiser for the school. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Now I am part of the fuss.

We go back to the store at 10 p.m. for the party, and will probably have to begin reading on the way home. I am not the only fan in the family, thank god!

Summer Time, And The Livin' Is Sweaty

Chez Evil is a charming 19th century farmhouse, with gables and decorative shinglework over the wrap-around front porch. The entire second floor is tucked up under the gables, so every room has at least one sloping ceiling.

The floors are all hardwood, and there is stained glass.

There is no air conditioning.

As we enter Week Two of above-90 degree temperatures, this is increasingly unacceptable.

The bitch of it is, I have been charged with finding a way to get air-conditioning installed, at least on the second floor. But, it's soooooo hot, that I literally cannot think. I have slowed down to--let's see, what is slower than a crawl--an oooooze!--both mentally and physically. Automatic lizard-brain type instinct has taken over, and all I can do is seek the coolest spaces in the house and just sweat.

This is not the pioneer spirit that founded America. All I can say is that if the founding of America had been up to me, we'd all still be living in Europe. At least until air conditioning had been invented.

How Perms Were Invented

Number one on the To Do list--buy a replacement power cord for the laptop. Puppy chewed through the original one.

While it was plugged in.

And running.

Why, yes, there is a new curliness to his fur this morning!

Thursday, July 14, 2005

What Do Women Want, Anyway?

Apparently, Sigmund Freud's lament (or was it a real question? Hard to know anymore) continues to puzzle the male half of the species. Leading institutions are working on the answer, and have managed to come up with some candidates for rejection:

At some point in adolescence we all realize that building radio transmitters and memorizing Monty Python routines will not, despite the infuriating unfairness of it all, be rewarded with the love of a good woman.

Two down! Now, how many more to go?

(Quote is from

To Do List--2005?

Courtesy of Vanity Fair's letters column (August 2005, letter written by Andrew Wardium Jr.):

Now that you have found Deep Throat, please find:

Osama bin Laden,
the weapons of mass destruction,
the Dick Cheney energy task-force documents,
the George W. Bush Texas Air National Guard attendance records,
the person in the administration who "outed" Valerie Plame,
the actual results of the Florida 2000 Presidential election,
a balanced national budget,
the anthrax terrorist(s),
full funding for No Child Left Behind,
Tom DeLay's integrity,
uranium in Niger,
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi,
and the person Carly Simon was singing about in "You're So Vain."

All righty, then!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Bermondsey Could Be A Good Boy!

We may have solved part of the mystery of Our Puppy's heritage--Bermondsey may be part border terrier.

We were watching the movie Good Boy last night, in which the star dog (from the Dog Star), named Hubble, reminded us of Bermondsey. The DVD had a special feature about the different dogs featured in the movie--a quick Google search later, and we think we have a match.

This is a picture of a Border Terrier--notice the black fur around his nose and mouth. When viewed from the side, a Border Terrier has that alert stance, with the hind legs that angle out behind, and a saddle of darker hair across the back.

We were always pretty sure he was part Lhasa Apso, what with the long soft fur on his head and the way his tail curved over his back.

Put them together, and you might just get Bermondsey!

Who Knew?

One in an occasional series--the things you can learn on the internet!

Who knew Teri Hatcher used to be a man?

(Thanks to for the photos!)

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Is This The Way The World Ends?

Following dramatic early morning raids in Leeds, the English police are revealing the results of their investigations into the bombs of last week. The bits of information I heard are that four men travelled to London from Leeds, met at King's Cross station, and were supposed to board different trains--going east, west, north and south. The three train blasts happened nearly simultaneously--the fourth bomb, on the double decker bus, detonated about an hour later.

The world reacted to these blasts as a confirmation that the Islamic hardliners continue to seek to disrupt the Western world. Terror alerts were raised and the world reacted with anger, fear, sorrow, etc. The continued viability of Al Queda was assumed and discussed.

But perhaps the story is more pathetic than we (or at least I) assumed. One of the four men connected with the bombings was found dead at the site of the bus bombing. While his age wasn't reported in the news I heard, he had been reported missing the day before the bombings by his family in Leeds. The reporter I heard said that "he had gone to London with some mates" and hadn't been heard from. A family liason officer was called in to interview the family in an attempt to locate the missing lad.

This is somehow even more chilling to me. These were not international operatives, who were planted in England and given some sort of cover in order to create a coordinated attack as part of an on going campaign of terror. These were four Yorkshire lads, carrying haversacks with their mates, young enough that one's mum becomes worried about his whereabouts.

According to reports from London, there was an interruption of service on the northbound line from King's Cross, and that may have led the fourth man to take a bus instead. Or perhaps he got lost, as he wasn't a Londoner. As a result, what was supposed to be a simultaneous series of explosions didn't happen as planned.

I find this disturbing for the same reasons that Timothy McVeigh was disturbing. This was not necessarily a threat from "others," but from one of our own. Someone who may have been born and bred down the street. Four "laddies" with the means to kill dozens of innocent people, and a disassociation from their own community, so that they do kill. There is no reason for what they did, no specific goal to be achieved--just destruction.

The disaffected are always with us--this is a sobering realization.

It Really Is A Man's World

I got my copy of Entertainment Weekly last week with the cover of Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka.

I have got to tell you, boyfriend has some seriously nice skin! Dewy, young looking, fresh...he could totally be an advertisement for night repair cream, or whatever he uses on that epidermis.

The picture on the inside was even more flattering:

I mean, can you believe that this man is 42? And, don't we have a collective recollection that he used to play hard and drink harder? How does (what really must be called) a middle aged man look so untouched by life?

Does he have a picture in his attic that no one is allowed to see?

Big Honkin' Earrings

My mother--fondly known to many friends of my siblings as "JoMama" is having a hard summer. The surgery for cancer was scheduled really quickly, so from confirmed diagnosis to actual hospital release was only about 5 days. The cancer hadn't spread, so the mastectomy and lymphectomy apparently got everything there was to get.

On the whole, she has kept a really good attitude about the whole thing. It helps that all of her medical providers can't believer that she is as old as she is, AND that she isn't on any medications. No high blood pressure, no heart medicine, no arthritis.

Sure--except for the CANCER, that is, she's really healthy.

The chemo, however, is a real bitch.

Some days are really good, and some days are...well, not. I guess it's even just a prophylactic treatment anyway, as there is no indication that there is any cancer left. According to the surgeon, it would be a mild course of chemo. "And you won't even lose your hair." Tell that to the hair that has fallen out.

Anyway, in her quest for the right "look" for a chemo patient, JoMama has started to think about wearing earrings. She's been seeing pictures of women with really short hair who wear really big earrings, and she thought that might look good. She's never pierced her ears, in part because she has a fear of needles. After 6 needles a week, however, she's kind of gotten over that. But her immune system is kind of depressed (or oppressed) by the chemo, so now is not the time. But clip-ons could work.

So, I went to the bead store and bought some clip-on bases to make some earrings for JoMama. I also got some chandelier parts and put together an intricate set of blue crystals. It looks pretty good--and after her hair grows back, she can wear them for belly dancing.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Things That Happened While I Wasn't Paying Attention

Due to the amazing in-home invention called "cable tv," I have been able to see a number of movies that came out while I was raising small children. Legally Blonde, Charlie's Angels, Old School and Home Fries. And I've discovered the Bestest Movie Boyfriend. Ever.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you.....Luke Wilson!

I mean, he recognizes Reese Witherspoon's unique intellegence, when the rest of Harvard Law School thinks she's just an idiot. He takes Cameron Diaz dancing and thinks she's really good. He's the one guy with any sense in Old School AND in Home Fries.

He's even dreamy in the distinctly odd Royal Tenenbaums.

When Mr. Sweetie is out of town, and my other boyfriends--Jeremy Northam, The Edge and Kevin Kline--are ever tied up on a Saturday night, I'm calling Luke.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Britons Never Never Never Shall Be Slaves

The day cannot close without some comment about the recent terrorist attacks in London. We were recently there, and were in some of the locations were the bombs exploded. This felt even more personal than the 9/11 attacks, as we have such affection for that city.

Yet, as heinous as these attacks were, they are such a small event in the history of this city. In the last thousand years, this city has survived invasions by Vikings, conquering by the Normans, two bouts of Black Plague, the Great Fire, the Great Stink, regicide, civil war, restoration, bloodless revolution, the institution of non-English speaking sovereigns, the Blitz, and 30 years of IRA activity. London will survive.

I heard a snippet of an interview with a crusty Brit, who looked old enough to have survived the Blitz himself. His take on these attacks?

"I am quite annoyed with these people, who have inconvenienced so many, and for no purpose, as far as I can see."

The sun still shines on the British Empire, as far as I can see.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Separated at Birth?

In honor of "Kirk vs. Spock," here is a picture of The Edge, looking remarkably like Spock from "The City on the Edge of Forever." The look is explained by the following dialogue:

Kirk: Well, Mr Spock, if we can't disguise you, we'll find some way of explaining you.
Spock: That should prove interesting.


Kirk: My friend is obviously Chinese. I see you've noticed the ears. They're ... actually quite easy to explain.

Spock: Perhaps the unfortunate accident I had as a child...

Kirk: The unfortunate accident he had as a child, he caught his head in a mechanical ... rice picker.

As a result, poor Spock ends up wearing a stocking cap for the rest of the episode. Hey--it was a look that was obviously ahead of its time.

Kirk or Spock?

In the spirit of the classic boy game of "Ginger or Mary Ann," The Mistress offers her own choice game: Kirk or Spock?

Now, while I was technically alive during the first broadcast run of Star Trek, I did not discover the show until it was in syndication. Yet, even at a tender elementary school age, I knew I preferred Spock to Kirk.

Fastforward to today, and the New! Improved! version of the game. Yes, it's time for Bono or Edge!?!?!

This is a much harder game, as they are both impossibly cool. And passionate. And really good looking. However, the award has to go to the Edge, based on this fabulous quote (from today's Salon):

U2 guitarist The Edge on a key difference between his band at the time of Live Aid and at the time of Live 8 -- the hair: "I don't think I'll be wearing the mullet again … We can't take credit for inventing the mullet, but we can certainly lay claim to extending the envelope for what the mullet can mean … Bono committed the more egregious crimes against fashion with his Live Aid hair ... our shining moment in mullet lore." (Guitar World magazine)

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Multitasking with Technology!

I recently bought this new laptop as you know.

What it was purchased for: to allow me some access to a computer--since with four of us and only one computer, I was always last in line.

What it is being used for: so my kids can play computer games and watch TV at the same time.

I can spot what is wrong with this picture. Can you?

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Give Me Liberty!

We took the new puppy down to Iowa for an annual pig roast at the farm of a friend and former employee of Mr. Sweetie. During the two days we were gone, Bermondsey managed to chew through both his harness AND his leash.

I think we just found out how he became a stray...

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Sunday Morning Snooze

Lying in bed, sleeping late this morning, I was awakened by a tongue on my face. No, it was not Mr. Sweetie. At least, not this time.

I open my eyes to find an excited little dog dancing alongside the bed, Mr. Sweetie curled up behind me, and the Bunny curled up behind him. (The Pony, for those of you keeping score, was already downstairs surfin' the web.)

As the puppy curled up, warm and fuzzy next to me, and Mr. Sweetie curled up, warm and shirtless beside me, and the Bunny lay there chatting happily, I realized with a shock--I love my life!

This has not been the usual state of affairs for the last 10 years, necessarily. So, this is a good thing.

"Gosh," I said (I say things like that now, especially around the kidlets). "I love my life. I love my dog, I love my husband, I love my little girl here in bed, I love my other little girl downstairs."

The Bunny: Is Daddy a knucklehead sometimes, like the puppy?

Me: No. He is a knight in shining armor, riding a white charger.

The Bunny: No. Just wearing his pants.

Mr. Sweetie wisely did not comment.