Thursday, October 8, 2009

Play it, Sam

Okay, that was a downer. AAAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHH.

No pun intended

Today I'm in a piano sort of mood, postwise. One item has been in my blog/photo stockroom for a few weeks, and the other I found today webfishing.

I'm teaching Tigrrl the rudiments of music theory, while I'm trying (theoretically) to find a piano teacher for her. Notes, octaves, bass and treble clefs, chords, and so on. Which is the limit of my musical knowledge.
Let me stress "rudiments."

This undertaking (teaching ANYTHING to her) must be approached cautiously. In the past when we have suggested "learning how to play the piano" she has responded, "Why? I like how I play."
One time she said, "No. My voice is my instrument."

Anyway. Not long ago I was walking past the piano --

by the way none of us play the piano. It was handed down from the Him's aunt --

and something caught my eye.
(This, to be exact.)



I recall that a few weeks ago she came to me and said with what appeared to be sincere contrition," Mom, I have to tell you something. I wrote on the piano. I'm sorry."

At the time I was so shocked that a) she had confessed something and A.) she seemed SORRY about it, that I became befuddled and might even have patted her on the head.

I need a closer look at that.

Yup. And it's Sharpie. Not C#, I mean the ink.
Frankly, I'm pleased that she was interested enough to do this. I'm going to leave it there.

That particular stunt was really not so bad.
Case in point: Here's one that she didn't do. Its at the other end of the spectrum my friends and I call "you have to tell them EVERY DAMN THING not to do..."

Sunday evening I'm at church shepherding a group of middle-schoolers. ("PresbyTweens." I thought of it, but they bought into it. Their choice.) In another wing there is a meeting, attended by my friend... I shall call her Ivy. Ivy has two adorable children, a daughter who is Tigrrrl's age, and a son who is younger. Say 7 or so. He has a sweet, innocent face, and really is a good kid at heart, but things happen when he is around. He is waiting in the hall for Ivy to finish her meeting.

Let's call him Calvin.
Me and the 'Tweens are in the kitchen working on our loaves and fishes made from crescent roll dough, when our ears are assaulted by the fire alarm. Several women come hustling down the hall and tell us we gotta go outside.
Not a drill...
As I'm herding the 'Tweens across the parking lot to safety, the women are asking me "didn't you smell that? Didn't your hear that?"

Well, no. What?
Really I'm just stalling, because I'm convinced that the alarm is somehow my fault, because after all I was the one who was in the room where fire stuff happens and had, in fact, turned on the oven (for the loaves-and-fishes), and baking was going on, okay potential rather than kinetic but still... am I so accustomed to burning smells that I didn't notice.....? Maybe?
Remember this?

And I haven't even told you about this yet.

By the way where's Ivy?
She's calling the fire department, they say.
Instinctively - knowing that Things Happen when Calvin is present -- I ask What did he do? Where is he?

I am led to understand that Calvin is being held in the tractor-beam of Mom's Evil Eye Glare while she calls 911.

The 'Tweens require attention for a few minutes, first to be extracted from the magnolia tree before they break it or themselves, and then to be restrained as they rush toward the approaching fire engines in an excess of emergency excitement.
Once the firemen have secured the area, and confirm that the church will not erupt in flames, and I get the 'Tweens rounded up and the loaves-and-fishes into the oven, I get the scoop.

Whilst kicking his heels waiting on mom, Calvin chanced upon a key in his pocket. Being a smallish boy, he spent some time exploring the possibilities of key-related activity. Then, because he knew that one must never, EVER put a key, or a fork or anything that is NOT A PLUG into an outlet - (Not a pin either. Or your sister's barrette.) Calvin did not put the key into an outlet.
The wall switch, however, proved irresistible.

Those in the meeting heard a loud zap and smelled something burning.
Ivy leapt from her chair, having no illusions as to the source, and they discovered Calvin standing agog in the hallway, hair smoking...
The wall switch continued to produce an impressive amount of sparks, zapping and smoke. Ivy unleashed a fire extinguisher (on the fiery bits, not Calvin), but that just seemed to make it mad.
Hence the alarm, and the fire engines and all. But he's okay, just a bit singed.
So I'm thinking a little bit of sharpie, not so bad.

The Other Piano Thing: You thought I'd forgotten.

Happy Thursday.

Friday, September 11, 2009


photo source

7:59 a.m. American Airlines Flight 11 departs Boston Logan for Los Angeles.
81 passengers and 11 crew.

8:01 a.m. United Airlines Flight 93 Newark to San Francisco leaves the gate. Delayed by air traffic congestion on runway.

8:14 a.m. Five hijackers who boarded as passengers take control of AA 11 to LA. Two flight attendants are able contact American Airlines operations center and relay some information.

8:14 a.m. United Airlines Flight 175 departs Boston Logan for Los Angeles.
56 passengers and 9 crew.

8:20 a.m. American Airlines Flight 77 departs Washington Dulles for Los Angeles.
58 passengers and 6 crew.

8:42 a.m. UA 93 Newark to LA finally departs New Jersey.
37 passengers and 7 crew.

8:46 a.m. AA 11 crashes into 1WTC (North Tower). All 92 on board die. Full tanks of jet fuel explode.

8:47 a.m. Five hijackers who boarded as passengers take control of UA175 to LA. One flight attendant and two passengers make several phone calls. Another passenger makes 4 attempts to call his wife.

8:51 a.m. Five hijackers who boarded as passengers take control of AA77 to LA. One flight attendant called her mother; a passenger was able to make 2 calls to her husband.

9:03 a.m. UA175 crashes into 2WTC (South Tower). All 65 on board die. Full tanks of jet fuel explode.

9:28 a.m. Four hijackers who boarded as passengers take control of UA93 to San Francisco.

9:30-10 a.m. Passengers and crew aboard UA 93 make 37 phone calls and numerous attempted calls using GTE on board phones and 2 cell phones. One passenger who reached his wife at 9:37 remained connected until the end of the flight.

9:37 a.m. AA77 to LA crashes into Pentagon. All 64 on board die. Full tanks of jet fuel explode.

9:57 a.m. Passengers and crew on UA93 attack hijackers in an attempt to regain control of plane. Flight data records sounds of struggle and voices of passengers, crew members, and hijackers until 10:03. Hijackers are heard frantically debating whether to crash the plane immediately.

9:59 a.m. South Tower 2WTC (the second target hit) collapses.

10:03:11 a.m. UA93 Crashes in a field in Stony Creek Township, PA. All 44 on board die.

10:28 a.m. North Tower 1WTC (the second target hit) collapses.
The fall of North and South Towers destroys 6WTC, 3WTC (the Marriott), and St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church immediately. Other nearby buildings are heavily damaged.

5:20 p.m. 7WTC collapses.

In addition to those on board the four planes,
2,603 were killed in New York
125 were killed at the Pentagon crash site

For more information go to

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Every Little Thing She Does

Okay, okay, okay. Fine. I know. Sorry.

I've been mulling over ideas to win my way back into the graces of my adoring public. Many amusing ideas have suggested themselves. Or mildly interesting ones anyway.
But not today.
Today I received news that makes me want to find my blankie and spend the day eating Froot Loops and sucking my thumb.
A lovely, talented, intelligent, and (obviously) accomplished Latina has been named Treasurer of the United States.
Why, you ask, Why on earth would this make you want to curl up with many Premium Eating Disorder treats and render yourself insensible?
The lovely Ms. Rios is known to me, you see. Only a nodding acquaintance, my knowledge is of the conocer and not the saber variety, but nonetheless. I saw her on a daily basis, once upon a time. We ate three meals a day in the same cafeteria.
Someone I went to college with has achieved National Importance.

Those things in the middle are deep fried Twinkies.

This is not unexpected, and I have been preparing myself for this day ever since graduation. And I mean no disrespect to friends and classmates who have become Reasonably Important or even Famous. My husband went through this a while ago when Conan O'Brien hit the big time. But I'd never met him or had a conversation with him (Conan, I mean. I do converse with The Him, though perhaps not as often as I should).

Actually I can't recall having any conversations with Ms. Rios. That's beside the point. Stay with me here. The point is, I might have, and I could have, if I'd had the foresight to befriend her then.
Actually I shared no interests, educational or recreational, with Ms. Rios, and was not, shall we say, in the same social orbit which is why we were not, and are not, BFFs but that is BESIDE THE POINT.
The point is, she is making me feel inadequate, just by being alive and pretty and accomplished and now the freakin' TREASURER of the UNITED STATES of AMERICA and I deeply resent it, and her.
All right, that's stupid, I'm alive too.
Since I can't be funny about this, I'm going to quote one of my friends, because she is way funnier than me anyway, and she sums it up very well, and I love her.

Says M:
"I don't think it's fair that she gets to sign the money. I can't even write a check without saying a few Hail Marys! Plus we have this bazillion dollar ginormous deficit, so how come she can still go around signing money? And I bet she doesn't even have to sign the money herself, I bet she has her own signature stamp and her own personal assistant to stamp it. Hmpph.
By the way, I already was feeling inadequate enough and now this? Do you think she would feel sorry for me and send me some free money?"

And here's the cherry: Ms. Rios graduated a year AFTER me.

Now excuse me, I must find my Little Debbie Swiss Rolls.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Calling an E and E

SPOILER ALERT: I'm going to complain about having big breasts. DO NOT post comments about how I shouldn't complain because you always wished for bigger ones. That's your problem.

Actually it's mostly bras I'm going to complain about.

But before we go any further, an auxiliary rant.


Now back to original (bra) tirade.

Before we even get to the problem of bra shopping, there is the issue of measuring. Measuring yourself for a bra is only easy if one's breasts are a)reasonably sized, b) newly hatched, or c) plastic. To measure a large, gravity afflicted bosom, one needs to be wearing a well-fitted bra.

Chicken and egg thing.

So what you really need is a good friend, a blackmailable friend, who can stop laughing long enough to measure you whilst you support your own breasts in a position approximating where you want them to fall while wearing the Theoretical Bra. Yes I said fall. Pay attention.

Alternatively, husbands and boyfriends are very obliging when asked to serve as what I affectionately call the Living Bra, but their minds wander.

Theoretical bra size in hand -- wait, let's talk about the whole sizing thing. Lingerie manufacturers appear to have the literacy skills of preschoolers. After the letter D the little dears get very confused. They start doubling letters randomly.

Or maybe they're size pleats. I don't know.

Anyway after D comes DD. Usually. Most brands reserve the full weight of ponderous E for the next size, which should logically or at least alphabetically be F. Then they throw in DDD, or EE, or F, or whatever. Bra sizes in this range are sort of like the more esoteric domains of particle physics, where the likelihood of practical consequences is so low that noone understands or even gives a damn how the grant money is spent.

Now the shopping part.

It goes like this.

I see a little lace confection, and then I look for my size...

Bras, for some reason, are displayed with the smallest sizes on the top hooks and the largest at the bottom. At least they are where I shop, which is admittedly low-rent.

If my size is represented, it is at floor level. To find it, I have to get down on my knees, occasionally on my stomach. I am 5'8" and 160 lbs, so this is not a comfortable or dignified position. Thanks to yoga it's still possible.

With my arm fully extended to the back of the rack , I find the tag I seek and bring it forth into the light -- and recoil.

No. Way.

The cups are the lingerie equivalent of big floppy clown shoes. I double check the tag. Yes, way. Now to put on the bra. (In the dressing room. Trust me.) A little guidance as to technique.

Slide the straps onto your arms. Lean forward until you are hanging upsidedown from the waist. Manuever stuff into the cups with the help of gravity. While upsidedown, bring the band around your back and secure the row of hooks -- 3 is the minimum, six is best -- before returning to an upright position. Again the usefulness of yoga is proven.

Stand in front of the mirror and shove a hand in each cup to adjust alignment. Check for containment around the periphery. Put on heels and practice keeping your balance.

Am I whining? Yes. Will this kill me? No. Do I secretly enjoy having cleavage? Yes, of course. There had better be some compensation for this kind of annoyance.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Rage Against the Machine

I am a rebel. Don't let my geekly demeanor fool you.
Oddly, most of my outrage is reserved for fashion injustices, but nonetheless. My rebellious nature killed any hope of becoming a lawyer, or for that matter my chances of being well paid in any field.

Chapter One
When I was seven, I went to a boarding school. My parents are not cruel, and I have many happy memories of this school, EXCEPT it was the kind of school where girls were required to wear dresses. Jeans for either sex were not even discussed. But girls above all must not wear slacks, as they were called in that eon.
So okay, I wore dresses. I was seven. I liked dresses. Still do, actually.

EXCEPT I was the only girl in first & second grade combined. And I played kickball -- remember that game with the red rubber ball? And dodge ball, and kick-the-can. With the boys.
Because there were no girls my age.

Jumped rope, swings, monkey bars. Anyway, the point being, that the little perverts would do their best to make me achieve positions that would expose my panties. Not difficult since I was WEARING A SKIRT.
[Also sliding into a base was a problem, but only secondary since I didn't have the inclination to do much of that.]
After a few days of this, I started wearing shorts under my skirt.

Which worked fine for a couple of months. The perverts must have gotten resentful, because someone told teacher. Guess what? It was against the rules to wear shorts under your dress.
Really. No seriously.
I was required to take them off if they were discovered. (Not the panties, just the shorts.) I stopped for a week, then kept on wearing them. I kept getting caught. Then I figured screw it --

wait, I didn’t learn that expression till later...
but that was the precise moment I learned the sentiment. I refused to play. Sometimes I played jacks, but mostly I just sat in the classroom every day during recess. Looking back I realize that what felt like giving up was actually sweet revenge, because I’m sure I made that teacher’s life hell every day at recess for the rest of the year. She stayed in the classroom to get work done. She didn't get a lot done. Good for me.

Chapter Two
The bloomers.
I felt you needed to see these to capture the full weight of the humiliation being inflicted by the authorities. But wait! Not at aforesaid stalag boarding school. We’re talking public school, United States, late seventies.

Now, here’s what the boys wore.

Uh huh.

(borrowed photo. Not mine in any way.)

Okay. Now, this is what female students were required to wear for gym class in jr high and high school.

These had to be purchased at a sporting goods store in town that special-ordered them every year, because these were not going to be stocked by any store interested in a profit margin. One could order the required "your name embroidered in gold on breast pocket" when you placed your order, or if you were handy with embroidery -- and I was --- you could embroider it yourself.

Mom took one look at this and howled. With laughter. Apparently they were similar to what she had to wear -- in the FORTIES. And they were outdated then.

Now, most of you remember what gym class was like, right? I think Mengele came up with this idea. Make young adolescents undress and change in front of each other, sweat like pigs, and then give them two options: take a group shower, or change back into your clean clothes without one and then go back to class either way.
So, for the girls, this was the coup de grace. When you change, you have to put this on, and then appear in public, in front of boys that you hope will one day ask you to the prom.

You have to do sports wearing this.

You have to stand in line by the fence and get picked for teams --- wearing this.

I can’t remember exactly when but I think it was eight grade -- so, three years into this daily torture -- that one of the girls said SCREW THIS, I am not going to wear it.
By this time I knew the phrase but I would never, ever say it out loud, because I couldn’t pull it off.

Ironically, she was one of those girls -- we all know who they were -- who could make boys drool wearing this. She could get that belt just tight enough to make the fabris stretch over her dumbells and make the third snap threaten to pop --- oops! There it went, giggle.
So anyway she got detention. The next day, her friends refused, and they got detention.

Now, that girl was not me. Nor was I one of the friends, but in (silent) solidarity I also refused to wear The Bloomer Gymsuit. (I was so, sooo trying to be one of the cool kids. But I was also sincere.)
And I got detention. First ever.

That was in itself an exhilarating experience for a goody two shoes. Liberating as well, since I learned that it was just a room next to the office with about two dozen heavily graffitied desks, and a sweaty tuna fish kind of smell. And you could read the whole time and no-one told you to put the book away.

Anyway they called our parents, and they sent a note home with each of us. The next day Mom drove me to school, and I waited in the outer office while she went in to talk to the principal. After a while she came back out, kissed me goodbye, and the principal sent me back to class. He looked a little pale. At the end of the day we were told that girls must wear shorts and a t-shirt for gym class.

Chapter Three
There seems to be a pants theme here.

My third sartorial challenge came in the late eighties. I was employed for a few years at a law factory. I was fresh out of college, discovering that an Ivy League degree meant precisely snap if you didn’t know what you wanted to be when you grew up, and had no marketable skills.

So, I’m making about $11,000 a year after taxes, which even then was a pittance, and one-eighth the income of brand-new associates for whom I drafted entire documents because they didn’t know what the hell they were doing. I have one good wool “interview” suit and a couple of wool skirts. It is winter. It is Philadelphia. I hike half a mile from the cheap parking to the train in the suburbs, and eight blocks from the train to the office. There is often a foot or more of snow and slush and wicked ice chunks thrown off by passing cars.
I splurge one whole paycheck on two pair of lined wool trousers, some sturdy but fetching boots, and some wool cable-knit tights, the kind I used to wear under plaid skirts in grade school.

I wear my toasty trousers.

I am invited into a conference room by the personnel manager, who confides in hushed tones that trousers are against the dress code. He says almost apologetically that I must wear a dress, skirt, or suit.

I am so stupid that at first I think he means I have to get a jacket to match the trousers. Then I get it. A few hours later I even get angry.

But I fail to protest. Such is the real world. Even passive aggression will get me fired; though I do consider wearing shorts under my skirt. Nor can Mom come ream out my employer, not that she wouldn’t, but I would still be jobless.

So I sigh. Next morning, I put on my cable knit tights, and trot off to work: glum, shivering, but solvent.

After lunch the PM stops me in the hall and gives me a copy of the employee handbook. Meaningfully. When I get to my office I notice that there is a page dog-eared. It opens to the dress code. Under the section for Female Employees, there is a paragraph describing what a Female Employee must wear or not wear under her mandatory skirt.
Bright panties under light colored fabric were inappropriate. I agree, although the partners weren’t complaining about the secretaries who did that. [Interestingly, it was nowhere stated that panties were mandatory. At the time I figured it was implied.]

It seems cable-knit tights are unprofessional. Who knew?

So I went home that night and said, “screw this,” which by then I could say pretty convincingly, at least when alone in the confines of my little apartment. And I started filling out applications for grad school.

Chapter Four
Right now I’m wearing a sarong. Life is good.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Oh What a Beautiful Morning

This morning's dip into the interwebs found me Pink Raygun, which will be high on my rotation list for a while. In celebration of Zombie Week, I found a video for my favorite zombie tune. There are other videos for this song, but I am understanding of those with weak stomachs, so I opted for cute rather than graphic. I give you, Re: Your Brains, by Jonathan Coulton.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Mothers and Chocolate

Tigrrl wore an utterly fabulous dress to a fancy Mother's Day luncheon with my MIL. Fabulous. White satin bouffant skirt, pink silk bodice, silk chiffon overskirt. A confection.
Of course, chocolate happened.
I know I am getting better at mothering, because I was amused rather than upset. An even funnier moment: Tigrrrl met up with a couple of other grrrl acquaintances at the luncheon and I noticed that all three of them had chocolate syrup stains on their special, impress-grandma dresses.

Back at chez In Law, I am sitting in the upstairs bathroom with the dress on my lap, patiently sponging the stains with a washcloth and a lot of cold water. As I work I am bemused. Kids, I think, when will she learn, she's so grown up and such a little girl, chcolate on her face.
Bit misty at this point. Sigh. Well, she'll learn eventually.

I feel very, very wise.

Then I notice that I have been sponging the (dark, very dark) chocolate with one of my MIL's monogrammed washcloths.
The white monogrammed washcloths.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Blankety Blanking Blank

Saturday, 9:00 A.M.
I have already burned dinner.

Friday, May 1, 2009


So I was putting away groceries, except somehow in the middle of that it was necessary to load the dishwasher, and then in the middle of that it was suddenly imperative that these be scrubbed. Thoroughly.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What I Did For Love

[edit 4/30: according to one reader --who shall remain nameless but you'd think he OF ALL PEOPLE would get the joke --I was way too subtle about the point of this monologue. Cliffs notes are in italics.]

When I was a kid, everyone I knew including me pronounced the class of frozen dessert shown at right "sherbert."
[The author opens with a seemingly random thesis. But is it? ]

I started buying my own groceries when I was eighteen. Which was, coincidentally, right about the time when ice cream decided to be scandinavian, and faux scandinavian at that.
[This elaboration of the thesis is a red herring, to heighten the impact of the punch line, and also provide an opportunity to try and be funny. Haagen Dasz, Frusen Gladje...]

I didn't notice until my mid-twenties that there was no R in the second syllable. Which was, coincidentally, right around the time when pasgettees became "pasta." Although to their credit, spaghetti manufacturers didn't jump on it -- they kept calling it "spaghetti," and still do.
[Ibid. Thought "pasgettees" was cute. My bad.]

I was in my late twenties before I realized that sherbet is an anglicization of sorbet. Right around the time when sherbet got jealous of pasta being all euro-chic and everything, and told everyone that from now on it would only answer to Sorbey.
[Ibid. Thought jealous sherbet was funny. Maybe only to me.]

PS I really hate lime sherbet. Orange is okay. Lemon is best, of course.
[Here's the wind-up. Only the first sentence is relevant.]

PPS The Him really loves lime sherbet.
[Second stage wind-up.]

PPPS I just got dressed, and decided to wear my key lime pie colored shirt. (I love key lime pie).
So of course I had to wear just the right bra, because this is the only item of clothing I own that I can wear this particular bra with. Because the Special bra is the color of lime sherbet.
[The last sentence is the PITCH. The implication answers the question posed by the title: The author purchased lingerie in a color she hates and can only wear with one item of clothing because it is a color that suggests a particular food favored by her spouse.
And I want credit for passing up the obvious vulgar play on ice-cream/bra TWO SCOOPS. ]

[ Sheesh.]

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

No More Wire Hangers

Diagram of the currents feeding the Pacific Trash Vortex.

(If you don't want to know how depressing the PTV is, don't click on the image.)

Discovering the PTV this morning cheered me up because it is far more depressing than what I'm struggling with at the moment, though eerily relevant.

My parental irresponsibility is coming back to bite me in the ass.

My daughter's room is an appalling mess, and has been so for pretty much her entire life. So is her understanding of respect and responsibility. We are once again tackling the messy room issue, and simultaneously tackling at least one larger issue, that of respectful compliance when we ask her to do something.
It is excruciatingly painful for all of us. We have created a monster, and to subdue it we have to become monsters. The only effective tactic at the moment is taking away stuff she loves, really, really loves, which is genuinely excruciating for her even though her reactions secretly amuse us sometimes. Which makes me feel like even more of a monster.

Worse than feeling like a monster is the misery of knowing that all of it boils down to my failures as a parent. The Pacific Gyre driving all of the crap into one big, painful, toxic mess -- both material and emotional -- is my total lack of consistency.

These are some of the things I've failed to do consistently:
  • Define expectations.
  • Articulate expectations.
  • Define the relative priority of said expectations
  • Demonstrate the contexts that determine the priority
  • Notice that things aren't being done
  • Care that things are or aren't being done
  • Enforce expected behavior
  • Continue enforcing over time
  • Use consistent tactics and intensity of enforcement, whether reward or punishment
  • Model the desired behavior myself
  • Model the desired behavior myself [see Surface Detail, April 7 2009. Q.E.D.]
  • Model the desired behavior myself....

Do not, I repeat do not, tell me that all parents have to grapple with this.
Eye rolling.
Disrespectful, sneering expression.

I would very much like to play the Crazy card. Because after all, its a really good card, it trumps everything but cancer and death, and it explains all of these failures.
Except that it doesn't excuse them. Parenting is my job, and good parenting is 1 part love to 450 parts consistency. And I haven't done it. I have to do it whether I'm good at it or not, whether I want to or not, whether its rewarding or not, when it hurts me, when it hurts her, whether I'm sure its right or not, whether other people criticize me or not.

As I have to tell my daughter with frustrating regularity: it sucks, and it's hard, but you still have to do it.

Now! Missy.

Right NOW.
Every single time.
Or else.

Now I need to call Greenpeace and discuss her room. I'm hoping they have some tips.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Feminine Mystique

I took this photo a while ago and then forgot to use it. Or something else became more interesting.

Exactly, you say. Pointedly.

My amusement began at the checkout line at the SupahWa'Mart. I noticed a theme amongst my purchases. So when I got home and unloaded everything, I set up this little still life.

I call it Time of the Month Club. Coming soon to an FTD Florist near you.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Today My Jurisdiction Ends Here

I've been way too preachy lately. I'll give that a rest.

All the other Home-Family-and-Isn't Life-Strange blogs that I read seem to have some themed feature, like "Thousand Word Tuesday" and "Haiku Holiday" and so on. Since I can't remember to participate in those, I've created my own.

Manic Monday was too obvious a choice, and besides, then I'd have Susanna Hoffs' adenoidal lisp twanging through my head all day, and I can do without that.

May I introduce


When I woke up this morning, I did not know that today would be the day on which all the crayons

Sunday, April 12, 2009


(Very) early this morning I was up, prowling for coffee and preparing for the day. I turned on some music.

This was the first song that greeted me on Easter morning. I have been singing it all day.

No hay que temer si sola no estoy
La vida nunca es facil pero se a donde voy
Siempre llena de preguntas asi es como soy
Pase cada momento buscando algo en que creer
There is no fear, if I'm not alone
Life is never easy but I know where I'm going
Always full of questions like this because I am
Passing every moment searching for something I believe in
Desde la oscuridad
veo el sol de un nuevo dia
Naciendo en mi
Desde la oscuridad
el amor me a salvado
Ha sido de ti
Out from the darkness
I see the sun of a new day
Being born in me
Out from the shadows
the love that has saved me
was given by you
Vuelvo a empezar de nuevo otra vez
Con tu mano en la mia mas fuerte estare
Quizas mi paso es lento pero yo llegare
Caminemos juntos quiero compartir
El milagro que has hecho en mi
I return to try anew one more time
With your hand in mine I will be stronger
Sometimes my step is slow but I will arrive
We walk together, I want to share
the miracle that has been made in me
Por siempre, por siempre me aferro a la luz de tu amor
Por siempre, por siempre me aferro a la luz
Por siempre, por siempre me aferro a la luz de tu amor

For ever, for ever I am held fast by the light of your love
For ever, forever I am held fast
For ever, forever I am held fast by the light of your love

Desde la Oscuridad, by Gloria Estefan Click title to listen.

(Thanks Mom, for help with the translation.)

Friday, April 10, 2009


Not me. Not my peacock.

How much time do we all spend explaining and resisting and contradicting all of the assumptions people make about us?
Can't we all just get along?

May I rant just a little bit?

Yes. Yes I may. My blog.

1. I am a Christian.
YET I accept and defend the theory of evolution, the big bang theory, historical analysis of the scriptures, the validity of other faiths' perception of God, and the biological basis of mental illness. I support vaccination against childhood diseases, stem cell research, gene therapy, the legal right to abortion, and gay civil rights including marriage. Oh, and I'm a feminist.

2. My parents were Baptist missionaries.
BUT they did not teach me to condescend to people of other faiths or nationalities. They taught me that belief and faith should be held lightly, because nobody has a monopoly on the truth, or on God, and we're just as likely to get it wrong as the other guy.
Oh and I'm not Baptist. Neither was John the Baptist, by the way. At least not denominationally speaking.

3. I am a Presbyterian Elder.
YET I'm under 50, and I'm not a model of perfect behavior. I have a drink or three once in a while. [Not Mint Juleps. We'll get to that later...] I swear too much. I have an irreverent sense of humor. I don't iron my clothes.

4. I am a U.S. citizen.
YET I welcome immigrants. I speak more than one language. Sort of. I have a pretty good grasp of geography. I don't think all Muslims are terrorists and wifebeaters. I don't mock the French very often.

5. I am a Harvard graduate.
YET I'm not rich. I'm often unemployed. I count on my fingers sometimes, and I sing the alphabet song when I'm using the dictionary. I can't describe"what it was like" to go to Harvard, because that implies that I know what it's like to go to other colleges.

6. I live in a small town in a Southern state.
YET I am not a Klan member, nor do I own a Confederate Battle Flag. I know how to load and fire a rifle and a shotgun, but I don't own any guns, and I don't hunt. I have a full set of teeth.
Okay, some have been repaired extensively. Okay, okay, my Christmas lights are still up on the back porch. But not the front.

7. I was born in New York and grew up in New Jersey.
BUT I don't think New York City is the center of the universe, the greatest city on earth, or the sole arbiter of fashion or culture;
AND the town in NJ where I grew up was far more rural and isolated than the quaint southern town where I now live,
AND I don't speak like a Yankee (much. Only when I'm talking to a Yankee.) I can hear the differences among Southern accents, and I can cook grits. I know the difference between the Stars and Bars and the Battle flag. All of this applied before I moved south.

What I didn't know was that a Mint Julep is a slammin big wallop of bourbon over a few ice cubes with a spoonful of sugar and a few mint leaves.

Mojito = pearl handled revolver; Julep = AK47.

8. I am a housewife.
BUT I'm pretty bad at it because I dislike housework. I also write. I think I'm better at that. I hope.

9. I take 2 anti-depressants, a mood stabilizer and an ADD medicine.
BUT it's not because of #1-8, 10, 0r 11, or any combination thereof.
AND why do I never hear anyone say to a Type I diabetic, "if you tried harder and really put your mind to it, that insulin problem would resolve itself. It's all about willpower." Or, to a person with a broken limb, "That cast is a crutch. And so is that crutch."

10. I homeschool my daughter.
BUT not for religious reasons. Nor for racist reasons. Her teachers were not stupid, I think they were heroic. I'm not always a great teacher. Did I mention I'm NOT HOMESCHOOLING FOR RELIGIOUS REASONS.
Not that there's anything wrong with that. Some of my best friends do so. They're really nice people if you take the time to get to know them.

Oh, hell. I'm done wore out. How about a julep?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Surface Detail

SPOILER ALERT: I am going to complain about all the stuff my grubby materialistic resource-hogging ugly American self has accumulated. Spare me the lecture about materialism. I will post it and mock you.
* * * * *
I have this problem with horizontal surfaces. Not a falling down sort of problem, but a management problem. With the surfaces above floor level. Or ground level, I suppose.
The problem is this: I lay objects upon them.
This should not be a problem, you say, because after all, this is the raison d'etre of such surfaces. The shelf, the table, the mantlepiece, etagiere, kitchen counter -- great advances of civilization.

Here is a lovely dining room table. This is in a much better state than usual, as 2/3 of the table surface is still visible.

I lay things upon horizontal surfaces, and I do not pick them up again.
I do not pick them up again because once they have landed on a surface, I do not see them.
Therefore I don't put them "away."
Here is a bathroom countertop. I dislike the countertop, but that is no reason to abuse it in this way. Also, why TWO bottles of rubbing alcohol?

I don't like "away," because once something is put away I forget its existence. Hence thirteen to sixteen wristwatches, at least 5 of which are nearly identical.
I found these (there are more) while cleaning out two drawers in my bedroom. Two small drawers.

One could argue that it would be better to forget the existence of hidden objects, than those in plain view. Someone might have said this to me. I can't imagine who, as there is no one presently in my range of vision.
Why are there 4 videotapes of a Civil War documentary on my sewing table? I think that's my sewing table.

I keep boxes and baskets handy to sweep off a surface when I need to use it. Those tend to fill up quickly.
At last, a surface clear of extraneous objects! Lamp, phone, intercom -- wait, the intercom became obsolete when a working phone was acquired, so that is extraneous. Damn.
Dust accounts for more mass than I want to think about.
Note: this surface is 18"x 18."
The Him made that table. It deserves better care.

Here's another surface, about two feet away from the above.
It's 17" x 28."

Yes, that's dust. All will be explained shortly.
I have been sneaky. Those last two photos were not really about the dust.

Look closely for a pair of baby shoes, and a baby bonnet.

1) My daughter is 11. 2) The shoes are mine, not hers.

They were about that pile. All of it rested upon those two smallish horizontal surfaces until about an hour ago.

Having consolidated the objects into one pile on the bed, I immediately
a) sorted them out and put them away? or
b) took a picture , and then some other pictures, and spent 45 minutes blogging about them?

Extra credit points: When next I venture upstairs, will I be surprised by the pile, having forgotten its existence? [edit: Yup. 11:42 p.m., my reaction was "oh, sh#$!" blogging about it for 45 minutes did not help me to remember.]

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Fractal Action

I started a post entitled "Bipolar 101," and there were so many, many vibrant metaphors that became increasingly more apt and enlightening the more I considered them...
Be very glad I did not post that. It was a long post, a manifesto if you will. Downshifting continues.


To avoid getting lost in words, here is a photo summary.

Order, peace, efficiency.

Depressive Episode. Go the #$&% away.

Manic Episode>



Okay, now back to the entertainment portion of our broadcast.

Primary comment: Wheeeeerrreee's Lucy!? Find the beagle in this photo.

Secondary comment: How can three people generate that much laundry?

Friday, March 20, 2009


So, back after a bit of a sabbatical. I check out (of my life) once in a while, usually in conjunction with a change in one of my dosages. This month's sojourn has been an obsessive interest in 1st century BC near east politics and the finer points of the end of the Hasmonean dynasty in Israel, and the rise of the Herodians, pursuing the Messianic story in terms of the wars of succession. Imagine my delight when I discovered that the entire text of Josephus' Antiquities of the Jews (c. 90 AD) and Dio Cassius' Roman histories, all 88 books, or a least the extant fragments (c.220 AD) online!
So much fun! Who wouldn't want to spend 10 hours a day reading this stuff!

manic episode....
Its a sign that the meds do help, that I have not embarked on learning Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, Persian, Arabic, and Latin,
right. this. minute...
because who can do primary research on this otherwise, right? Even though Dad volunteered his Greek textbooks, when he heard how excited I was about this stuff.
I thought about it.
In some ways, the internet is a blessing, because it provides enough sublimation that someone in my state of mind doesn't buy plane tickets, hire an archeological crew and hop the next flight to Lebanon. On the other hand, it allows someone in my state of mind to have 24 hour access to things that perhaps would be better left unread by someone in my state of mind.
Tigrrrl is cranky because I haven't been paying her much attention, and The Him is cranky because I haven't been very diligent about her schoolwork for the past two weeks, and I'm not doing the dishes or cooking dinner very often, and I'm not paying him much attention either, and I'm getting cranky because they're cranky, and because I'm deeply resentful that they just don't get it, can they not stop interrupting me every three to six hours? That if I wanted to say, eat, or sleep, I would? Could someone else not cook dinner this...year?
So I'm taking a break.
Let me share a few happy moments that emerged amid the wreckage of history.

Effervescent moment#1:
Tigrrrrl turned 11 on Friday (the 13th. No lie). We held a party on Saturday for several friends. The theme: Fairies.

My neighbor Robin does beyoooootiful delicious cakes, so we collaborated and created this magnificent fairy-themed testament to the baking arts:

And guess what : I MADE THAT DRAGON!
(I bought the little fairy figures, however. There are limits.)

Effervescent moment #2:

I left poor benighted Hyrcanus in the hands of Herod and Antigonus, and betook myself to the grocery store, where I discovered that Spring is verily upon us. Heralded by my favorite explosion of seasonal color. No, not daffodils, nor azaleas -- though their blooming has always seemed to me akin to fireworks, explosions on an herbal time-scale. To be my favorite, the harbinger of spring must of course be edible.

The Peeps have hatched, encamped on grocery shelves soon to advance rank upon rank into our homes, our Easter baskets, and our mouths. There are more colors of Peeps every year. I love Peeps. The delicate crunch of the sugar coating, the sweet, yielding marshmallow goodness. But I love also the personality of Peeps, although it is an iconic, a collective personality. There are no individuals, only The Peep. The shape, the posture, the hint of facial features, combine to imply resigned humor, tinged with irony or perhaps vague irritation.
"Bring it," they seem to say. And they wink knowingly.

When I saw them I became happy. I ran over to the shelves where the legions were arrayed and said, "peeeeps!" in a very tiny, happy, high-pitched voice. And then I got embarrassed, and wondered if anyone was looking at me.

I gathered my ration and slunk away, wondering. That little exclamation had been compelling and irrepressible. I couldn't not say it. I wanted to say it some more: "peeps! peeeeeps! peeeeps!"

It was the Peep Imperative.

I was familiar with this compulsion in a different form. The Him and I have for quite a while been aware of the Moo Imperative, that compulsion to bellow "mooOOOOOOOoo" at every cow I see. (Usually when I'm in a mooooooving car. I can't see them from planes, for which my fellow passengers no doubt thank their blessed stars). The Meow Imperative? Well, more accurately the Urgent Meow. Not quite a compulsion. There is no Woof Imperative that I'm aware of, which is a good thing since I have so many dogs. Its possible that I woof a lot, but I'm likely to just view it as conversation, so its hard to tell.
No, that's disingenuous; I do woof quite a lot, and it is conversation.

I guess all these imperatives, manic or otherwise, are a little odd, but they seem harmless. Other than making me a bit furtive at the grocery store, they don't seem to impede my living, in fact they're pleasurable. Like greeting friends.

Back to Josephus and Cassius Dio.

Shut up. I've already started dinner, and the dryer is running.


Monday, March 2, 2009

Excuses, Excuses

Recently, less than three weeks ago because I am a Luddite at heart - fine, a Luddite who blogs, I get your point -- I jumped into the social internetworking pool and signed up with Facebook. It's one of those pastimes that can easily become addictive if one is very, very bad at creating structure for one's life and managing one's time effectively. Not naming any names.
Now that the initial high is passing, and the frenetic exploration of applications and miscellaneous side doodles (Dogbook, anyone?), I have time to reflect on some of the things I've ingested.

This isn't mine. It belongs to Wikipedia, or whoever.

One meme I particularly enjoyed was the 100 Books List -- don't Gooogle it right now, it'll keep. I have yet to find the original context of the list, ascribed to the BBC ("The BBC thinks you haven't read more than 6 of these..." ). The list is popularly interpreted as something like "The 100 Greatest Works of Literature, Which, if You Have Not Yet Read, You Must Begin to Do So Immediately Lest Your Brain Decompose and Dribble Out of Your Ear Like Oatmeal, You Colonial Imbeciles."

It seems pretty arbitrary to me, with The Five People You Meet in Heaven right in there with War and Peace and the Complete Works of Shakespeare. Some of them are new, and while pleasant and thought-provoking, will not qualify as Great Works for another century or so. I did note that all of the books have been made into movies (I think), or in the case of the newer titles, have movie versions in the works, so I'm guessing that the original context was something innocuous like "have you read these, or did you see the movie?"
Now, I certainly believe the BBC would shake its manicured finger at us for not doing our homework, but I hesitate to ascribe to the Beeb anything more sinister than the lecture we all received from our high school English teachers about how the movie is DIFFERENT THAN THE BOOK and there will be questions on the test that will tell me if you've ACTUALLY READ THE BOOK, and the same goes for CLIFFS NOTES ...
We know that our teachers hated us, but do you think that this is why? Because we reduced them to begging? They gave us finely wrought gems, immaculate pearls, and yes, oh yes, we were swine.

All of this aside, at first I was very pleased with this list, and with myself, and gloated just a teeny little bit because I had read many of the books on the list, and got to put many little x-es in the left hand column. MANY books. Did I say many?
No, I really shouldn't. Well, okay, more than 50. I wont say how many, but it was approximately 83.75%
On the surface of course I was -- well, not falsely modest, but casual, so as not to appear to be gloating.
Then I realized how shallow and needy I am, my little Gollum mind.
Now I'm realizing how pathetic it is to blog about this, an opportunity to casually mention how many MANY little x-es I marked, and then to be clever and amusingly self-deprecating, and then falsely earnest about how its not really important in the grand scheme of things, to foster the impression that I'm a good person who will do better in the future, which excuses the gloating.

Shut up.

The 100 Books meme got stirred into the Bucket List meme in my mind, and I began to resent both of them for the same reason: not my list, monkey-boy, as Lord John Whorfin would say.
The books on the List that I haven't read yet are probably going to remain unread, with the exception of The Kite Runner and maybe His Dark Materials. Some of the books I have read I didn't like, some I hated, many bored me to tears but I slogged through because I'd be tested on it or I just wanted to say I'd done it, some I love so much I've reread them dozens of times.
Hey, blog fodder! I'll make a Bucket Book List! Post it and compare with friends! Kicky!
Here's the part that disturbs me: when I sat down to attempt a Bucket Book List for myself, I couldn't think of any.
Over the course of a day I was able to come up with several possibles, but each one resulted in, "Not really." Simone de Beauvoir, The Faerie Queen (I did try it), Gravity's Rainbow, all meh.
Today I thought of Virginia Woolf, whom I've somehow bypassed, and she went on the list, but that's it so far.
I've lost my appetite for books.
This is an appalling discovery for a book person, akin to realizing that one has lost the sense of touch, or the desire for sex or chocolate.
"Are you feeling well?" I asked me anxiously, "I told you not to go out in that sleigh with Bezukhov."

Perhaps I am merely grown wise with the passage of years, I thought, I know what I like, I don't waste my time.

Waste? Reading is a waste of time?

"Do you think that you've read all the good books? You're not that well read," I said to me with a sneer. "Getting lazy?"

No, and yes. Not lazy, precisely, or not just lazy. I still read, but things like short stories, and my Dad's poetry, and blogs, and trashy novels that I can blow through in a couple of hours.
I can't blame it on my kid, she's ten. I was still reading when she was a toddler, why not now that she doesn't need my undivided attention?
I can't blame it on work, because I'm home, and though there's a lot of work to do, I often blow it off for worse reasons than reading a good book.
I could blame it on psych meds, but I'm better and more focused now than I ever have been, and the reading ennui predates the drugs.
These days even thinking about reading a whole book makes me feel tired. I'm impatient with fiction, and no longer have the attention span to comprehend plot. I do still read some history and biography, maybe because the plot is pretty narrowly defined.
Is that it? That's the best I can do? What's going on here?

Yes, I do blame the Russians.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Hungry Like the Wolf

Wednesday I had lunch with someone (postworthy in itself), and that someone is one of the eponymous wolves of this blog, in fact the wolf. Lunch was at Sushi 101, also postworthy since sushi is a rare fish indeed in rural South Carabunga. And it was delicious. But I digress.

This particular friend, whom I shall refer to as Best Writer Girl Friend (or BWGF), became my friend in the early '90s. If you think waaaaaay back to that era, you might remember the two titles that were violated to form the phrase in question. They are Women Who Run With The Wolves, and Dances With Wolves. The former was the female empowerment bible du jour, and the latter was -- in case you were unborn or living on the moon at the time -- a wildly popular movie. The title refers to the protagonist's honorary Native American name. No doubt in PC-world I should be able to name the tribe/nation and dialect, but excuse me, I haven't seen the movie. And it was a movie, people.

[Oh, and anyone who confuses wolf-bitch with that appalling pop-culture artifact, cougar, should expect to be mauled in a dark restaurant sometime very soon. We are watching you from the shadowed booth in the corner, and we are sharpening our pencils. ]

Women Who Run With The Wolves' popularity coincided with the advent of female friendships in my life. Prior to my thirties I had had only one or two close friendships with women. I was profoundly distrustful of women, whether because I am one and know too well our faults and duplicity, or because I was raised with brothers, by a mother who was beautiful, intelligent, briskly efficient, and keenly sarcastic. She had no patience with the girly life (simpering and eye-fluttering produced a snort of derision) hates fussing over clothes, thinks makeup is a chore, and would rather read a good mystery than go to the mall.
Entering my thirties I had the good fortune to encounter a therapist who had a practical approach -- she encouraged me to find emotional sustenance in people other than my therapist and my husband, in activities other than therapy or marriage. She also gave me homework: read Women Who Run with The Wolves. So yes, ma'am, I did. The book has endured some backlash but I think it has held up well, and it will always hold a place in my heart and my psyche. My affection for it may have to do with my childhood obsession with The Jungle Book. NOT the Disney mishmash; but the authentic, humid, deeply British yet anti-colonialist Kipling original, beloved by my passionate nine-year-old heart and woven deep into my subconscious.

As the dawn was breaking the Sambhur belled
Once, twice and again!
And a doe leaped up, and a doe leaped up
From the pond in the wood where the wild deer sup.
This I, scouting alone, beheld,
Once, twice and again!
As the dawn was breaking the Sambhur belled
Once, twice and again!
And a wolf stole back, and a wolf stole back
To carry the word to the waiting pack,
And we sought and we found and we bayed on his track
Once, twice and again!
As the dawn was breaking the Wolf Pack yelled
Once, twice and again!
Feet in the jungle that leave no mark!
Eyes that can see in the dark--the dark!
Tongue--give tongue to it! Hark! O hark!
Once, twice and again!
Hunting Song of the Seeonee Pack, by Rudyard Kipling

Having done my homework, I set out into the wilderness of suburban life. One community theater audition later,* I had several friends, all women. I nurtured these friendship all the more fiercely for the novelty of sisterhood. I am very glad that I did. Two of those friendships (hi Tinkerbell) have lasted fifteen years; without the two of them, I would have missed out on a great deal of joy, and the best things that have happened to me since have been all the sweeter for sharing with them. One of the two is BWGF, without whose support I would have given up on writing long ago.

Fast forward a couple of years. BWGF's then boyfriend, who had been taught to understand the importance of sisterhood and not get in our way, referred to her circle of friends/writers as "that pack of wolves you run with." Which phrase, being pretty funny, lodged itself in our lexicon.

Another coupla years, and a glass of wine or two over lunch with the wolves, and I went home to report on the state of the pack. During that post-prandial post-mortem, I received my honorary faux Native American name: I am Lunches With Wolves.

I am not entirely sure whether the phrase was uttered by me or The Him. I have a tendency toward confabulation and often co-opt his stories, as he co-opts mine. So I will split the difference and say that we came up with it. (but I'm sure it had to be me.)

To BWGF and my she-wolf friends, old and new, and a nod to Kipling:

Here's to the she-wolves who've kept me sane,
the sisters who ward from impending pain,
who welcome the night with a wild refrain:
Once, twice, and again!

When's the next full moon?

[*The show was Les Liaisons Dangereuses, and I was Emilie the courtesan. You know, the writing desk.]

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

What Do You Take In Your Coffee?

In case anyone is still unconvinced, today I will relate an anecdote supporting the contention that coffee is a drug. Albeit useful, legal, and available at most beverage purveyors throughout most of the world.
Because of the sensitive nature of the topic of addiction, and to protect persons depicted, we will refer to the addict in question as M.E.

Said addict keeps (or kept) her coffee in a heavy glass mason jar, the kind with a hinged clamp-type lid thingie. That is, the already ground coffee -- like many addicts, she insists that the best coffee is freshly ground, and buys her black smack uncut: whole-bean French Roast is her preferred fix.

M.E. is clumsy, which she attributes to congenital dorkiness but this observer suspects may be a symptom of brain damage caused by her addiction. Yesterday she dropped the jar of coffee and the lid broke. Because of the clamp thingie the lid remained in place and she chose denial rather than dealing with the situation immediately (another likely symptom of brain damage). She put the jar on the shelf.

This morning she shuffled into the kitchen (six -o-freakin'-clock), dazed, hands almost imperceptibly a-tremble, and pulled out the stash and the joe-bong. When she opened the jar, the cracked lid finally fell apart. She stared in dismay at her stash, noticing the flakes and bits of broken glass that had mixed with the grounds by the action of the original impact and subsequent handling of the jar.

Here is where the ugly truth of addiction asserts itself.
This was good coffee, M.E. thought, the organic stuff from Mexico that Beth gave her for Christmas.
There was no other coffee in the house.
She hadn't scored any at the grocery store because it was the end of the month and she was broke and this jar was supposed to last her one more week until she could afford more.


She did.

M.E. brewed it knowing that her joe-bong, a cheap $10 made-in-china model, had a tendency to back up and send the grounds flooding over the filter and into the pot.

She brought some back from
Honduras last summer.
Which it did.

Having one or two brain cells left, she chose not to drink this brew (and by "chose" I am indicating that she thought about it). She dumped it in the sink and carefully rinsed out the pot and the basket, and wiped out the basket tray and the water reservoir (for the uninitiated -these are components of the joe-bong, known as a "coffee pot" in the medical literature ). These actions indicate that she understood the potential danger of ingesting broken glass.

At this point I expected M.E. to dispose of the rest of the tainted coffee. I'm sure you would think the same. Those of you who are not twitching husks of your former selves.


She did not.

M.E. carefully adjusted a new filter, fiddled with the basket mechanism, and checked the position of the pot several times to ensure adequate filter function. She brewed another pot. Successfully filtered (we hope).
And drank it.

Don't let this happen to you.


*ps - does anyone else savor the delicious irony that coke is smuggled in huge honking crates of coffee?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Mayhem in ImaginationLand

I've resisted posting about Tigrrrl's antics because I swore to myself that I wouldn't, and I struggled mightily to resist but as it turns out, here I am exploiting my child. I promise this will be the ONE AND ONLY time. I've made a deal with Rae at Us In Tejas. She will handle future Tigrrrrl awesomeness, and I will preserve the fiction of parental responsibility.

But just this once.

FYI: a) I did ask for, and receive, the author's release for the short story. Not the vocabulary list, but I feel that was implied; b) all spelling and punctuation (including quotation marks) is true to original; c) we recently watched The Civil War as part of American History, and are covering Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome this month, along with the Civil Rights Movement;
d) Tigrrrl refers to her own private world as ImaginationLand. Where animals talk, women wear whatever they please any time of day, words may sound like English but have meanings known only to native speakers, and men are accessories. Also beads and sequins are major food groups.

First, "Use the word in a sentence" exercise from 2/06/09

1. Interrupt: "Do Not interupt Me, John."
2. Support: "Why did you support Them, Bregro?"
3. License: "Show me your license."
4. Cunning: "You Ain't As cunning As my cat, Bob."
5. Marriage: "Marriage is a Pain, Carol, I Know That."
6. Publish: "You Ai'nt gonna Publish No book, even in Fifty years."
7. Minimum: "Your Minimum is just one I bet."
8. Supply: "Don't you dare supply Them with ammo!"
9. Naturally: " Naturally, it'd be Nice if you were gone, Troy."
10. Bluff: "You are Soooooo gonna have To bluff, Cassie."

Points for use of contractions, and a fine ear for dialect. We'll work on "ain't" and "gonna" next week.
#1. John must be her future husband.
#2 " Them" is possibly a new political party in ImaginationLand. There are several already. Bregro is a new stuffed animal who is currently headlining in her war games --I mean fantasy world.
#3 The light was yellow when I entered the intersection. ALCOHOL NOT A FACTOR
#4 "But then so few people are, Bob."
#5 This is fiction, right? Therapy will help, right? Maybe Carol is Bob's wife.
#6 I take this personally, since i'm the only aspiring writer in the house. Not only will she publish before me, she might have a Pulitzer before she finishes college.
#7 I really hope she's not taunting Bob and Carol about their inability to hold their liquor.
#8 An alarming turn of events. Looks like Them is trying to stage a coup.
#9 Troy is either her second husband, or the captured leader of Them. I'm guessing about this. I'm afraid to ask for clarification, don't want to open that whole Extraordinary Rendition/ Waterboarding can of worms again.
#10 Poor Cassie. You are in soooooo far over your head.

In some ways being her teacher sucks, because I have to correct things like spelling, grammar, capitalization, and punctuation, and who wants to mess with this kind of perfection?
And it's obvious I'll be scheduling a parent-teacher conference for a little chat about some more therapy sessions with Dr. Pat. Homeschooling is not for the faint of heart.

Next, A vocabulary exercise from 2/13/09, "Use five of this week's words in a story." FYI: We do not live in or near Tulsa. We have never lived there. We do not know anyone who lives there. Ditto Oklahoma. Okay, She has a great-uncle in Tahlequah, but that's a stretch. We live far, far east of the Mississippi. Why Tulsa?

Let me set the stage first. Here's what I'm picturing:
Late afternoon settling into dusk. Action: A crowd of townspeople carrying torches and pitchforks, led by our protagonist Bregro- a sergeant in the local National Guard unit, "Sarge" to his friends -- has laid siege to the IRS office.
In Tulsa, Oklahoma.
"I'm To struggle To Adjust To This New Tax?!" said The sergant. "am I To suffer unwillingly and unneedingly?!" He said. "You government Tax People are just Plain vulgar, no other word for you!?" said a woman in The crowd. "You Tax People are unjust!" said a 15 year old boy. "Obama must Change Tax amounts or we strike!" said The Mayor. The result of That day was agonizing.
[the last she threw in for extra credit. She can count to 5, I promise]
Here I thought she didn't pay any attention when I listen to NPR. In six sentences we have unfair treatment of military personnel, class warfare, the rise of political consciousness among the nation's youth, pressures of interest groups on the transitioning administration, labor activism (or possibly civil disobedience), the influence of local government in the democratic process, and lastly, historical commentary.
I think I'll put off teaching about the French Revolution for a couple more years.

The storming of the Bastille.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Long, Dark, Nap-time of the Soul

Sunday afternoon is naptime. Sundays are in a different space-time continuum than other days: you can nap for three or four hours and wake up and it's still not suppertime.
Every nap-moment is 24k gold. Just so you know that I am sacrificing precious napping minutes posting this.
"Oh, you really shouldn't," you say. "Really. Please."


Before I go to my not-eternal rest, I give you two totally unrelated items.

Appearances to the contrary, this is not something I ordered by mistake at a sushi bar. Sushi looks waaaaaay better than this, and I'm not just saying that 'cause I like it.

Exhibit A.

This, good friends, is SCIENCE. By resident (mad and rad) scientists Tigrrrl and Me. On the left, meet Model of Animal Cell. Right, Model of Plant Cell.

Exhibit A (1): ANIMAL CELL

Not quite clear enough... let me adjust the magnification here... Aah. Better.

Cell membrane (saran wrap) CHECK
Nucleus (grapefruit slice) CHECK
Nucleolus (green olive) CHECK
Cytoplasm (peach gelatin) CHECK...

Also included in this smorgasbord are peanuts, mandarin orange slices, gumdrops, wild rice, spaghetti and a few of those little hot peppers from a bottle of pepper vinegar.
Those were the ribosomes, I think. No...mitochondria.

Exhibit A (2): PLANT CELL
Wait... let's get a closeup of Plant Cell...

Nucleus (lime slice. --lower left. The lime was a little gnarly, so it fell apart. This may indicate cancer.) CHECK
Nucleolus (black olive) CHECK
Chloroplasts (pumpkin seeds dyed food coloring) CHECK
Vacuole (grapefruit section) CHECK
Golgi Bodies (flat rice noodles) CHECK
Endoplasmic Reticulum (wiggly rice noodles) CHECK
Cell wall (brown tissue paper) CHECK.
Cytoplasm (grape gelatin) CHECK

These have been sitting in my freezer for...well, a while. Let's not go into that. Mostly they were just too cool to throw away at first. That and I couldn't stomach taking their photos when they were newly formed because they were gelatin and that was just too disturbingly...glisteny.

So I saved them just for you.
Homeschooling is awesome.

And in closing, our regular feature...
You want another look at those SHEWS
Today's Shews: western stitched flats by Mootsies Tootsies. a.k.a. HA!chacha Redneck New Yorkers
Mood Implications: Outta my way; or I-can-just-sit-here-and-still-be-dancin.
These were rechristened last night when me and my friend Holly were looking at them and her sister said hey, they're red and black, and I turned my tootsies to this fetching pose and said, "No, they're red-and-yellow-and-black-and white......"
Whereupon Holly and I looked at each other and sang in unison, "They are precious in His sight!"
(Church can have that effect on some people.)
So these are now my Jesus Loves the Little Children shoes.
And yes I wore them to church this morning, because after all I was ushering.

Nightie Night.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Get Out Your Insulin

A Valentine's Soliloquy

I am going to take a break from the snark, just this once, to thank all my friends for being my friends,
[not really us. Although if it were, I'd be the girl in the middle.]
and also to my family for being my family,
[not really us. Probably.] photo by Gregory Perez
click photo link to KEXP Blog.
and to both groups for putting up with me. I acknowledge my many flaws, among them

saying unkind things,
forgetting important things a LOT,
saying I will do things and then not,
being loud and angry,
being loud and happy,
being loud in general,
saying embarrassing things that make others cringe,
saying vulgar things that should make me cringe,
oversharing in general, [this blog is an attempt to divert some of that from y'all]
being a slob,
making everything I do wrong someone else's fault,
rarely admitting when I'm wrong,
creating needless drama,
talking about my dogs all the time,
saying things that sound like I'm one-upping you,
talking during movies,
talking while I'm eating,
talking when I should be doing something else
going on and on about stuff ....

Okay we don't have time to finish this list here.

This is not a substitute for trying to improve my behavior. I'm just saying thank you, and I'll try harder, and I love you all and don't deserve you, and I know it.

I would like to say to those friends who have stayed around for a long time (though you may often wonder why you have): one of the joys of growing up is having friendships that can be measured in decades. It still astounds me whenever I think of it. Such friendships are rare, and I savor them all. Thank you.

[also not me. But it should be.] photo by Emilie Wood. Click on image. Go look at more of her gorgeous photos

Gotta go. I've got something in my eye.