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.]