Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Life would be much easier if I had the source code.

OK, I am a big moron. I JUST checked the Yahoo account I set up months ago and then ditched in favor of an additional Comcast account, while trying to figure out how to help a patron report Yahoo spam. There are like thirty emails! I wasn’t ignoring you all! I wouldn’t do that! I just forgot about that account. Don’t hate me because I’m an idiot. Grrr. Sorry. For future reference, my actual email is babelbabe(at)Comcast.net.

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My cousin called me Saturday to let me know that my 84-year-old aunt is in the hospital. Not, as expected, for a hip replacement surgery scheduled for two weeks from now, but for a blood clot. And in addition, probably due to the fact that she is scooching up and down stairs in her two-story house in which the bathroom is on the second floor on her butt, for some sort of fungal bedsore-like wound that is jeopardizing the hip replacement surgery. Because you know, those fungi? They like to spread. Now, my Aunt K is and always has been very active. She taught just about every niece and nephew she’s got to swim; she travels all over the world; as of a few months ago, she was still swimming several times a week but had to give up playing tennis because – get this – all of her tennis playing friends are dead. So understandably she hates to give up her independence and her very cool little house, and move into an assisted living facility. But she agreed to it. My cousin D - who herself is in her mid-fifties - is closest to my aunt and takes care of her. But D is afflicted with my family’s strongest trait – we can call it procrastination or we can call it denial but it is the same thing that kept my mother – who was a NURSE for God’s sake – from admitting that she was sick and with something way more serious than the flu, for almost a year before she was finally diagnosed with cirrhosis. So here’s my aunt, in the ER, in an incredibly stupid long story that I won’t go into here, needing to be in the hospital, then intensive rehab, then assisted-living NOW. Do not return to your house, do not pass Go. My mom was the youngest of 11, and she’d have been 73 this year. So this begins the long slow decline. I will find myself driving back and forth to South Jersey to attend funeral after funeral in the next few years. I always knew this day was coming (although I NEVER thought it would begin with my mother) but still…it doesn’t make it any easier, you know? The knowing. Not that this particular instance is life-threatening, but she is 84, and will spend time in the hospital, and is not out playing tennis and traveling to the Mongolian steppes like she was this time two years ago.

Also? I am three hundred miles away, which renders me exactly useless. And I hate that, because she has been very good to me. Also, me and my other cousins are trying to break the long-held stance of our family that you must not accept help from your relatives. That in fact, to ask for assistance is unforgivably weak. We call on each other often, even if only for emotional support. If not for my cousin P I would have lost my shit altogether when my mom was sick. So we don’t understand the older generation and their …indifference…to each other. It is infuriating. But my aunt belongs to that older emotionally-warped generation - she wanted gum in the ER and P got her some and my aunt K tried to reimburse P for the thirty cents it cost. Because we should “not spend our money on her.” Because she didn’t want to be “beholden” to P for THIRTY CENTS. This is so typical of my family, of my aunts and uncles, that I could scream.

Apparently my aunt is a tad confused too. P helped her settle into her hospital room and found out what she’d like to eat and called the kitchen to order lunch (did you know that most hospitals today handle meals like room service? Pretty dang spiffy.) My aunt said, “But you don’t know what kind of bread I want.” P explained that she had asked her, and she’d said rye, and P was on the phone with the kitchen ordering it now. My aunt paused, looked at her, and asked, “Why are we talking about bread?” Saints preserve me from getting that old. Or that confused. Or something.

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This weekend I went grocery shopping. I carried all the groceries in, whereupon H. handed me the squalling baby. I sat down to nurse, and H. went back UPSTAIRS leaving all the groceries lying in the entryway. Was I wrong in being crazed?

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I finished Facing the Light and picked up Robertson Davies’ The Merry Heart again. And put it down. Then I picked up Ursula LeGuin’s The Left Hand of Darkness and read a few chapters. Very biblical. I put it down again. I am carrying in my bag today that, and Mary Gordon’s The Shadow Man.
Because I? I appear to be the Queen of Indecision.
Even if the Queen did awake this morning at five-freaking-thirty and get herself on the treadmill. Yay, Queen! It IS Fat Tuesday after all – how very appropriate. Go eat some beignet, my sweet Internet ones.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Please don't put your life in the hands Of a rock n roll band Who'll throw it all away.

My husband is a rock star. No, really, check it out:



The band he plays in, and two other bands containing people he works with, played at a local venue last night. They played ten songs in their set, each more kick-butt than the last, although the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Give It Away Now”? AWESOME. The lead singer ROCKED that song. It was just freaking incredible.
They also cover Oasis, Matthew Sweet, Radiohead, Nirvana, and Husker Du. They used to cover Cheap Trick’s “Surrender,” and I am very sad that they no longer do.
The lead singer was very sweet, all nervous before the show, but he was terrific, and no less than four women asked me if he was single (he’s not).



It’s hard to rock the groupie thing when you’re used to rocking the mommy thing. Sigh.
And it’s also hard to be going out at nine p.m. when you are used to getting ready for bed around then.

So I’m a wee bit tired today. But I brought a turkey sandwich, an orange, and some chocolate for lunch, so I can curl up in a quiet corner somewhere and finish off Facing the Light. It started out as this “Rosamunde-Pilcher readalike” throwaway-read, and is evolving into this tight little shadowy thriller-y novel which, while not on par with a Robertson Davies or even an official suspense writer like Minette Walters or Denise Mina, is enjoyable and engrossing.

And in other fine news – Girl Scout cookies are in. I am partaking of Thin Mints washed down with a peppermint mocha. Tastebud nirvana.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Yoda Rides a Bike

So the boy has his own blog now--I helped him set it up last night. I figure he's learning computer skills and getting some writing practice in, right? I won't force it on you, but I did want to give you the chance to have a look at the Yoda movie I mentioned months ago. Maybe it's not blockbuster matierial, but it was a fun way to spend a cold afternoon. :-)

I've learned to look like I'm listening to long confusing plots of cartoons and comicbooks when I'm actually asleep or making lists - Patricia Heaton

List Friday, courtesy of Pomegranates and Paper

This week's list: Splendid Necessities for Travel


  • Green and Blacks dark chocolate with mint, and milk chocolate with whole almonds
  • My journal/blank book
  • Pilot G-2 gel pens
  • Books - lots
  • Seltzer water
  • Lip goop, preferably Blistex Daily Conditioning Treatment
  • Moisturizer
  • Digital camera
  • Extra batteries
  • Cell phone
  • Starbucks peppermint mochas
  • Internet access
  • My silver mermaid necklace
  • Excedrin
  • My retainer
  • Glide floss
  • My electric toothbrush
  • Trident Original chewing gum
  • A scarf for my neck, probably my green-y grey silk one but definitely one that goes with everything
  • My swimsuit
  • My running shoes
  • And at the moment, my breast pump

Thursday, February 23, 2006

I like Florida. Everything is in the 80's. The temperatures, the ages and the IQ's. - George Carlin

Not you, Joke! I swear...

It's only appropriate that the quote is from Carlin's Brain Droppings as this is pretty much what this post is.

***************

Bwahahahaahaaaa! The Madeleine L’Engle throwaway comment is my favorite and caused me to snort tea through my nose. (Perhaps I am just a cheap date?)

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This email was sent out to everyone who works at my library (MINE! Possessive today much?):
Greetings! You may have noticed that the numbers 1, 2 and 3 have been placed above the library’s elevator doors on each floor as well as in each car.
Their purpose is twofold:
- For safety purposes and easy identification of location when an elevator breaks down with people inside. When summoned by the emergency phones in the elevator car, Public Safety personnel will know immediately which elevator needs attention and people rescued.
- For repair calls, library staff and maintenance/repair personnel will be in synch.
Thanks.

OK, tell me quick – what’s wrong with this?
Is anyone else perturbed by the WHEN rather than the IF?
I will take the stairs from now on. I have no wish to need to be “people rescued.”

**************

I have been doing a literature review on customer service. I have no idea how some of these articles cropped up in my search results – but they’re amusing.

Like this one:

Miller, Robert H., Ph.D
Efforts to Improve Patient Safety in Large, Capitated Medical Groups: Description and Conceptual Model

Is the opposite of “capitated” de-capitated? And if so, God help *that* control group!

And this one – what sort of person earns a PhD in wig study?
Illicit Wigmaking in Eighteenth-Century Paris
Eighteenth-Century Studies - Volume 38, Number 1, Fall 2004


But this one is my favorite, and one I sent to my husband whom I often compare to Star Trek’s Data:
The Cyborg Librarian as Interface: Interpreting Postmodern Discourse on Knowledge Construction, Validation, and Navigation within Academic
Abstract: This paper explores the implications of postmodernism upon a historically modern institution by articulating and applying three components of postmodernity to the academic library: the rise of local narratives, the performativity of knowledge, and the notion of the cyborg, a human-machine hybrid inhabited, in many ways, by the academic librarian.


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An email came from an old (as in time-past, not old-ancient) friend recently that made me laugh:
Some of the artists of the '60s are revising their hits with new lyrics to accommodate aging baby boomers. They include:

  • Herman's Hermits: Mrs. Brown, you've got a Lovely Walker
  • The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Hip
  • Bobby Darin: Splish Splash, I was Havin' a Flash
  • Ringo Srarr: I Get By With a Little Help From Depends
  • Roberta Flack: The First Time Ever I Forgot Your Face
  • Johnny Nash: I Can't See Clearly Now
  • Paul Simon: Fifty Ways to Lose Your Liver
  • Commodores: Once, Twice, Three Times to the Bathroom
  • Marvin Gaye: I Heard It Through the Grape Nuts
  • Procol Harum: A Whiter Shade of Hair
  • Leo Sayer: You Make Me Feel Like Napping
  • The Temptations: Papa's Got a Brand New Kidney Stone
  • Abba: Denture Queen
  • Tony Orlando: Knock 3 Times on the Ceiling if You Hear Me Fall
  • Helen Reddy: I Am Woman, Hear Me Snore
  • Willie Nelson: On the Throne Again

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More library-ish-related news:

Don't trade freedoms for security
---------------------------------

By LEONARD PITTS JR.
Knight Ridder Newspapers

"The enemies of freedom will be defeated."
- President George W. Bush, 2005

"We have met the enemy and he is us."
- Pogo, 1971

The following happened in the United States of America on Feb. 9 of
this year.
The scene is the Little Falls branch of the Montgomery County Public Library in Bethesda, Md. Business is going on as usual when two men in uniform stride into the main reading room and call for attention. Then they make an announcement: It is forbidden to use the library's computers to view Internet pornography.
As people are absorbing this, one of the men challenges a patron about a Web site he is visiting and asks the man to step outside. At this point, a librarian intervenes and calls the uniformed men aside. A police officer is summoned. The men leave. It turns out they are employees of the county's Department of Homeland Security and were operating way outside their authority.
We are indebted to reporter Cameron W. Barr of the Washington Post for the account of this incident, which, I feel constrained to repeat, did not happen in China, Cuba or North Korea. Rather, it happened a few days ago in this country. Right here in freedom's land.
There are those of us who would say the country has become less deserving of that sobriquet in recent years.
And there are others who would say, 'So what?' They're in the 51 percent, according to a recent Los Angles Times/Bloomberg poll, who say we should be ready to give up our freedoms in exchange for security.
Apparently, they are ignorant of what Benjamin Franklin said: "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
Apparently, they're also unversed in something candidate Bush said in 1999: "There ought to be limits to freedom." Mind you, this nugget of wisdom wasn't dropped in a discussion of national security. Rather, it was the future president's reaction to a Web site that made fun of him.
Seven years later, he's clearly getting his wish. It chills me to know that doesn't chill more of us.
Indeed, of all the many things I cannot fathom about certain of my countrymen and women, their ability to be sanguine at the threatened abrogation of their rights is very near the top.
The only way I can explain it is that freedom - the right to do, say, think, go, "live" as you please - is so ingrained in our psyche, has been such a part of us for so long, that some are literally unable to imagine life without it. They seem fundamentally unable to visualize how drastically things would change without these freedoms they treat so cavalierly, what it would be like to need government approval to use the Internet, buy a firearm, take a trip, watch a movie or read these very words.
If that sounds alarmist, consider again the experience at Little Falls, where an agent of the government literally read over a man's shoulder, Big Brother like, and tried to prevent him from seeing what he had chosen to see.
I'm sorry, but the fact that we are at war doesn't make that OK.
Look, freedom is a messy business. It is also a risky business. But it means nothing if we surrender it at every hint of messiness and risk. That's cowardly and it's un-American.
You would think we would have learned that lesson after the Sedition Act of 1918, the excesses of Joseph McCarthy, the surveillance of Martin Luther King Jr. But apparently the lesson requires constant relearning. And vigilance.
So thank you to the Little Falls library for having the guts to say, hell no.
Some things should never happen in freedom's land.


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If I were selecting Christmas presents again, I know who’d get this book. Doesn’t it look cool?
“Long ago, Blackbird was voted the most beautiful bird in the forest…”

****************

Last week I was walking Primo home from preschool. It was raining and he had his Teletubby umbrella. I had dashed out the door with no umbrella. He said to me, “Well, that wasn’t very smart, Mama. I am smarter than you – but Daddy is smarter than me. That can’t be right, grown-ups are supposed to be smarter than the kids.”
Oh yeah? I’m smart enough to backhand you into next week, kiddo!

Later the same week – the kid is pushing his luck – he said to me, “Mama, who put my laundry away inside out?”
I replied, “I did.”
His reply? “Well, that was very lazy of you. Daddy would not do that.”
Well, since Daddy generally doesn’t gather the clothes, wash them, sort them, or put them away, perhaps he finds it in his kind heart to turn your shirts and socks right-side-out occasionally.
Little creep.

Segundo is very two at the moment. Even though he will be three in a month or so. The whining and whinging and crying over trifles is driving me insane. I look at my sweet little Terzo and think, “Sweet Jesus, are you going to grow up to be one of these grubby, nose-picking, mouthy hoodlums like your brothers?”

No, my snookums, Mama’s little sweet pea, you is not, I soooo know you is not! You are gonna live with your Mama forever and ever and I am going to munch those toes right on up, yes I am, right on up! Yum, yum, yum! Right on up! Deeee-lish-ous! Gimme a kiss! Give me a big fat wet slobbery kiss! Ooooh, I love you, my little sweetie pea. Mmmmm, mmmm, mmmm. My little booger boy!

I know, I'm sick.

**************

I started reading The Left Hand of Darkness but put it down in favor if the new Newsweek and a collection of Robertson Davies’ writings called The Merry Heart. My brain capacity just doesn’t stretch to entire books this week.

*************

I am probably not getting a laptop anytime soon, but H. turned up trumps with a tablet PC he was given at work several months ago. It runs Windows XP and has word processing capabilities, Internet browsers, and I should be able to load my photo software on it as well. Everything I need. I need to buy a USB keyboard, as the onscreen one will quickly make me nuts trying to write long blog entries. But it’s equipped for wireless and as soon as I have the keyboard, which should only run me about $25, I am good to go.

Coffee shop computing, here I come!

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Whoever gave us this outfit, while having great taste in colors and texture, clearly does not have children or hasn't dressed an infant in a very long time. Back snaps! Ack!


My friend C. and Terzo at lunch at the coffee shop yesterday. Terzo has many, many girlfriends who all vie for the privilege of holding himi and having him spit up on them.


Blackbird, I thought you might enjoy seeing the Conductor in his natural habitat. You made my boys very happy, thank you so much. That was very sweet of you. As you can see, he's a very important man in charge of many important things...


This post has been brought to you by the letter B.

"I was at this restaurant that 'serves breakfast anytime.' So I ordered French toast during the Renaissance." - Stephen Wright

Jess wanted to see a meal.


Jess, this is Segundo's breakfast this morning. Yes, OJ, and two bowls of oatmeal, and then a bowl of Kix cereal, all while perusing the sports page.



Primo ate two bowls of oatmeal and a glass of apple cider. He read the cereal box.


Terzo was still asleep when the other two were eating. But this will be his meal sometime today, after the babysitter comes.

The cats were fed.

The fish was fed. And yes, I know I need to change the water.



H. left for Florida this morning. I already have MY evening meal planned.
As you can plainly see, all the food groups are represented.

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Thursday Show-and-Tell, courtesy of Blackbird.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Happy Anniversary?

Hey! I think it's been a year since we started Behind the Stove. Should we exchange jewelry or something?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

I work on a laptop specifically so I can work in cafes and pretend I'm part of the human world.

Today’s quote is by Jonathan Lethem.
I love Jonathan Lethem and want to bear his children.
I’d even share my General Tso’s and chocolate cake with HIM.

******************

I spent yesterday evening at the neighborhood coffee shop with my friend’s laptop and her dissertation reference list. I know some of you will think I am insane, but figuring out the correct MLA format for conference proceedings that have not yet been published, or forcing Bookends to italicize rather than underline titles of edited books – it’s FUN. I live for this stuff. Thrive on it. I am also really good at it, which, if you know me at all, must mean I really am good at it as I never say I am good at anything. In fact, I am pretty much certain I am bad at just about everything I do, including mothering. Except yesterday. Yesterday I took the boys to the Center for Creative Play, because Primo did not have preschool due to Presidents’ Day and the thought of being cooped up in the house all day with all three of them was enough to send me straight up the wall. CCP is basically this giant space (it used to be a supermarket) filled with interactive playthings – a fully stocked toy kitchen, doctor’s office, extensive dress-up corner, ride-on trucks and cars, climbing-on stuff, ball pit, a tree house, a sensory room where kids can go be quiet and swing in the hammocks and listen to music, a huge train set, musical instruments galore. My guys LOVE this place. I don’t mind it too much as I can plunk myself down with the baby on the floor in the baby area and see the whole rest of the place to keep track of Primo and Seggie and not move for two hours except to dole out snacks as necessary. I forgot to bring a book, which was the only bad thing. Generally the other moms here tend to be pretty hip and together, so I made an effort and put on clean cargo pants and my Doc Martens and some tinted moisturizer and a necklace. I tried, people. But I am just not hip enough. And then the baby spit up down my back. Oh how I longed for my book. But the boys had an awesome time, and I have fun watching them play together so well. Since none of the toys are theirs, there tends to be much less of the “Primo snatched my train!” “Seggie grabbed my toy!” sort of crap. Then I took them home, put them down for naps/quiet time, plugged in the laptop and nestled in bed and worked. I so want a laptop. I have for a while but now that I actively know what I am missing, I really really want one. I want to snuggle in bed under my down comforter and surf the Net and write blog posts and check email. Fie on the desktop computer! Fie, I say!

*****************

I am carrying around in my bag with me the following three books, because you never know when the mood will strike and when it does, what it will be:
  • A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian
  • Raising Your Spirited Child
  • The Left Hand of Darkness

I need serious help. Or at least a good chiropractor.
And where was this good sense yesterday when I was at the CCP with a sleeping baby and NOTHING TO READ? There was not even a shampoo bottle in sight!

********************

I think I am having lunch with Gina today. We missed last week due to Pledge. The money thing, not the furniture polish. I would never let furniture polishing get in the way of seeing Gina.

*********************

OK, Blackbird has been posting some great coverage of the Olympics, and combined with King Kaufman’s coverage at Salon, really, you don’t need anything else. Go immediately and read both. Now. Go. What are you waiting for? There’s no more to this post.

I See a Red Door and I Want it Painted Black

I just changed the ring tone on my phone to the opening strains of “Paint it Black”, and now I laugh every time every time someone calls. The melodrama! I have always taken issue with Trent Reznor and his brand of manufactured teen angst, resenting him for what always seemed to me to be little more than coldly capitalizing on the misery of adolescence, but I never saw “Paint it Black” that way. In fact, I wonder if this song wasn’t a joke. Were Mick and Keith making fun?

Anyway.

Hello, by the way. I’ve missed you. Pledge is finally over, and may I say this has been the roughest stint I’ve ever had. Why? Because I’ve been sort of promoted, and can now beg for money with the best of them, on any program, at any time. And I even had to pinch hit as a producer for a while, which means that I have truly arrived. Pleased with myself? Why, yes! Pitching is a lot of fun sometimes, and a big change from sitting in front of a computer. The downside, though, is that it SUCKS THE LIFE OUT OF YOU. I know it’s small potatoes to the world at large, but pitching really is performing. Live. And there’s no real script. And the people you work with change with every show. It’s exhausting.

Add that to the pledge work I normally do, which often involves being at the station at 5am, and put that on top of my normal work, and you can see why I’ve been absent from Behind the Stove for a while. I’ve been absent from pretty much everything else, too.

I’m back now, though, after a peaceful Sunday filled with naps on various couches and chairs, and a day off yesterday that allowed me to tackle the mountain of laundry piled in my basement and catch up on some neglected school work.

And reading! I finished Mapping the world of Harry Potter, which is a collection of essays (mostly by other fantasy writers) about the six existing books. If you like Harry Potter at all, this book is worth a look, if for nothing more than the Joyce Millman essay about Snape. Did you know the Internet is rife with “adult-oriented” fan-fiction starring none other than Severus Snape? Naughty!

I read a lot of comics through the drive, and I finished with a re-reading of Marvel 1602 and then bought its sequel. I only mention this because the sequel, written by different authors (Neil Gaiman wrote 1602) was the first comic I chose on my own—everything else I’ve read has come through friends who are huge comics geeks, or Bookslut’s Jessa Crispin), and it’s total crap. Not only is it hard to follow, but it’s not at all compelling. I’m sure under Gaiman’s hands it would be just as interesting and exciting as the first, which goes to show that good writing is good writing, whether the novels in question are graphic or not.

Speaking of writing, I’m still working on Middlemarch. Does anyone else think Eliot hated Dorothea Brooke?

Teddy is really enjoying The Voyages of Dr. Doolittle. We took our books with us when we went for a snack at Ryan’s Pub the other day, and my boy sat in a bar with his book, reading and laughing aloud. Am I growing a proper little nerdling, or what? Add to that the fact that we’re reading Harry Potter books aloud to each other—complete with accents!—and the boy has no hope for ever being cool. He could shave a Mohawk into his blue hair, slap on a leather jacket, buy a motorcycle, smoke unfiltered Camels, pierce himself until he's sieve-like, and do time in the stony lonesome, and STILL not be cool.

That’s about it for me. I roasted a lovely rosemary-lemon chicken yesterday, and made soup, and baked cookies . . . comfort food, comfort reading. Regular working hours. Clean laundry. My happy, dorky kid. And lunch with Val. All is right with the world.

Monday, February 20, 2006

You just can't win, and so it goes Till the day you die...Love stinks, yeah, yeah...

I so want a bookstore to sponsor me to read fifty books in a year. Heck, I am doing it without sponsorship! Unfair!

************

I finished The Rebel Angels this evening – only my third re-read of this wonderful book. And I am not in the mood to continue in the trilogy with What’s Bred in the Bone. So I am all pissy and out of sorts as far as my reading goes. I thought about starting The Death of Vishnu; I picked up Best Food Writing 2005; I could go for a Laurie R. King but I am on the one that’s all about Kim, you know, Rudyard Kipling’s Kim, and I am not really into it; so I started the Rosamunde Pilcher-compared Facing the Light by Adele Geras that I picked up on the bargain table for four bucks. It’s kind of creepy. It may get better, but I am not in the mood for creepy. I am thinking that I am experiencing what I think of as “reader restlessness” and nothing is going to make me happy just now. Normally I reread, to snap out of the funk, but rereading is what got me into the funk in the first place. Because who can live up to Robertson Davies’ brilliance? Not many authors, I tell you. Maybe I will pick up Jonathan Lethem’s Fortress of Solitude and see if I can get immersed in that.

************

Did we have a romantic dinner, blah blah blah? Well, our babysitter called and cancelled due to flu, which I couldn’t be too upset about as she probably caught it from us. So instead we planned Chinese take-out, and I picked it up on the way home from work, along with some gooey chocolate-y desserts from a restaurant we both like, and I even ran over to the campus bookstore on my lunch and bought an anniversary card. I brought home two movies, Kenneth Brannagh’s “Henry V” (one of my all-time favorite movies, and one which H. has not seen and has expressed the desire to) and “Adaptation.”
So, we’re all set, right? Get the kids in bed, fire up the DVD player, open a bottle of wine, feed each other chocolate cake…yeah, yeah. No, it was not to be.
He picked a fight with me.
Over software. (See below.)But it could have been anything, really. He so wanted to pick a fight.
Normally I am the cranky one picking fights.
He is totally wrapped up in a project at work that is consuming his every waking moment, and this week is going to be bad as he has to fly to Florida Thursday morning for his mom’s birthday party that evening, and then get back for Friday evening’s gig, and he is missing two days of work, and he is all bent out of shape because while he wants to work on this project, he is HATING it as well…and he picked a huge fight with me.
So I folded laundry in righteous indignation, ate a bowl of General Tso’s and some of the cake, and went to bed with a book. At least Robertson Davies didn’t make me cry!

************

Ok, all you scholarly types, has anyone exported references from Bookends (Mac) and successfully imported them into EndNote (PC)? Mostly I am just curious at this point. Because I HATE when I can’t figure something like this out. I think it’s either the version of EndNote I am working with (8), and/or EndNote’s damn “proprietary” XML – which freaking defeats the WHOLE ENTIRE purpose of XML, dudes! Dammit! Never mind. I think I just answered my own question.

Friday, February 17, 2006

A wedding anniversary is the celebration of love, trust, partnership, tolerance and tenacity. The order varies for any given year. - Paul Sweeney

H. likes to tell people we met when I was dancing in a bar.

He neglects to mention that he was playing guitar in a ceili band, and I was doing ceili dancing, in a neighborhood Irish bar, with about a gazillion old people and maybe three other people our age.

I remember him as a bit of a dork. My friend Janice had a crush on him and spent much time discussing with me how to get him to ask her out. I remember one splendid evening she got him to give her a ride home.

I happened to be dating a genuine, bona fide Irishman from Armagh at the time, with a charming accent, bad teeth, and the heart of a playboy. (Any genuine Irishman with an accent in an American bar will score. Every time. True fact.)
I remember being at a New Year’s Eve party and sitting on Paddy’s lap and Janice throwing herself at H. who, I later discovered, was seething inside with passion for me as he sat on the couch across the room. How was I to know? Shortly thereafter, Paddy and I broke up. (He said I wasn't "feminine enough" for him.)

H. asked me to a hockey game – I said no. Instead I had plans to party with friends the day of the Saint Patrick’s parade.

I remember he always wore this mint-green Glacier Park baseball cap that his hair stuck out from under, and a dorky bright green jacket that his sweater stuck out from under, and black sneakers.

Then he lent me his favorite book to read, Tom Robbins' Jitterbug Perfume. That very well may have been what did it, although I don’t really remember anymore.

Next thing I knew I was at Eat N Park with him at 3 in the morning, after a gig, guitars under my feet because (I know this now) you can’t let a guitar reach any extreme of temperature, either hot or cold, so the guitars came inside with us.
He drove a little beige Prizm and I remember standing outside his car that March evening, after late-night breakfast, after a Saint Patrick’s Day-week performance, being kissed by him. It was a nice kiss, gentle and sweet.

His birthday is in April – I gave him a beautifully illustrated copy of Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories - he lived in Africa for several years - by which he seemed underwhelmed. He gave me a tie-dyed long-sleeved t-shirt for my birthday several weeks later.

It was a fairly unremarkable courtship. He called when he said he would, we spent weekends together. He called me at work everyday to say hello, and his roommate was ok with me being at the apartment an awful lot.

I met his family. I remember skipping out of a tech rehearsal to go to dinner at his parents’ for some holiday – I wore a little red plaid kilt and a long-sleeved red sweater; I think I took his mom an Easter lily. I went to his nephews’ christening, having no idea what it was all about, and gave them children’s Bibles. I was not and really never have been at ease around his family. I read too much, talk too much, work at weird jobs, and drink rum instead of froufy girly drinks.

He came home with me to New Jersey for a family wedding – I remember he wore these awful loafer-y plasticky dress shoes with his suit but looked very handsome otherwise. We went for a walk during the reception and he started asking me questions about what I would like my wedding to be like. Clueless, I said I had not given it much thought and left it at that.

My mother thought he was charming and handsome and manipulative and too old for me.

H. proposed on a Tuesday night in August, during a break of the ceili session at the bar. He wrote me a song, most of which I no longer remember but I am sure he does, and hid the ring in the neck compartment of his guitar case. I thought he was kidding at first.
He says he got waylaid by some old family priest who wanted to talk about H.’s grandmother, and was sweating bullets, with the ring in his pocket, afraid that the break would be over before he got to me.

I called my on-again, off-again longtime college boyfriend, J., and told him I was not moving to New Haven to live with him, as we had planned, but instead was marrying someone I’d met six months previously. I must say, he took it rather well.
The next day I wore my ring to work at the theatre – it took practically all day for anyone to notice that the scenic artist was wearing a healthy-sized sparkly diamond solitaire on her finger. Apparently it went rather well with my painted-up jeans, flannel shirt, and hiking boots.

When we called H.’s mom to tell her we were engaged, she asked, “To each other?”

We planned the wedding in less than six months. We were the last of the three couples in his immediate family to get engaged, and the first to get married.

I picked my dress out by myself. When I showed Mrs. P. a picture of it, she said, “It’s plain. But so are you.” She truly did mean well, I know now. She just has very conventional ideas about things. Especially things like weddings. Especially the wedding of her oldest son, whom, she confided to me at one point, she had hoped would become a priest.

My own mother got her nose in a snit about God knows what at this point and didn’t speak to me for months before the wedding. She wore black – on purpose – to the rehearsal dinner. And she and Mrs. P wore the same dress to the wedding, my mom in turquoise and Mrs. P in cream, that they’d bought in stores three hundred miles apart.

In most of the pictures, especially the one where my older brother is walking me down the aisle, I look like a deer caught in the headlights, but the best man - H.'s college roommate - poured enough champagne into me eventually and I relaxed a bit.
So did everyone else - my father-in-law insisted on Guinness at the reception.

At some point H. got on stage with his band and sang, of all things, the Georgia Satellites' "Keep Your Hands to Yourself." (To this day I do not know WHAT he was thinking.)

We went to Italy on our honeymoon. We were in Venice for Carnivale and traipsed all over Rome and stayed in cozy little albergos and watched a woman eat an entire whole baby octopus, with its tentacles pinned to the top of its head, in a terrific restaurant in Florence. We drank like fiends. I never got a migraine because all the wine is so fresh - no sulfites.

We returned home to our one-bedroom apartment that was so small - and I was so neurotic - that I couldn't go to the bathroom if he was in the apartment for at least the first six months of our marriage.

It's eleven years today. Three beautiful kids, two houses, two graduate degrees, and a combined fifty pounds later.

Crazy as he makes me, he has put up with things many men would not - and arguably should not - have to. He’s seen me at my worst and still talks to me. He's still handsome and charming, when he wants to be. He's one of the very few people I've met who is as stubborn as I am. I don’t know how much more I could want. I do love him.

Happy anniversary, H.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

And I just can't get enough, I just can't get enough...

Books I bought last night:
Tunneling, by Beth Bosworth: It sounds like a cross between Time Traveler’s wife and The Eyre Affair, both books I love. So for 4 bucks it was worth a shot.
And some book whose title I forget, by some woman whose name I forget, that sounded like a Rosamunde Pilcher cozy-English-comfort book, that began with the protagonist in the bathtub discussing how stressed out visiting her mum makes her, and how she wishes she could stay unrumpled and crisp and ironed, because her mum is sure to note when she’s not. How could I resist?

I have been rereading Robertson Davies’ brilliant Cornish Trilogy but as the completion of this, my third reread of this particular Davies’ work, could take months, I have been peppering other books into the mix. I started Christine Rosen’s My Fundamentalist Education: A Memoir of a Divine Girlhood last night and didn’t want to stop reading to sleep. I feel like I lived this girl’s life (we look to be about the same age); and here I thought the South Jersey fundamentalist crazies had the market cornered on things like sword drill, Bible cozies, and Rapture paranoia. I will need to own this one. And it will certainly save me the trouble of writing my own childhood memoirs.

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Literary snippets:

I have to read Sarah Dunant’s new book, In the Company of the Courtesan, because her first novel, The Birth of Venus was very enjoyable.

OK, OK, OK, I’ll read The Thin Place already!

Why didn’t I think of this? The Year of Yes, by Maria Dahvana Headley chronicles her year of going out with ANYONE who asked her. Sounds like my entire dating life. But then maybe I was just a slut.

Who's That Noshin' on my Laig?
Peter Benchley
1940-2006

David Mitchell has a new book coming out and I am so happy! I LOVED Cloud Atlas and can’t wait to read Black Swan Green.

Kevin Brockmeier’s The Brief History of the Dead is not, as I first supposed, a tribute to Jerry Garcia et al. I saw it in B&N last night, and hey, death and disaster AND the Antarctic – where do I sign up?

Dudes, I have never been a big Melville fan and I am saying now with the critics – the guy made it all up! Every last bit of it! Does this come as any surprise? Not to James Frey…but honestly, Herman, if you’re going to go to the trouble of making stuff up, couldn’t you at least make it INTERESTING?

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Snippets:

More in the mother-daughter communication debacle vein.

Jake Ryan versus Lloyd Dobler? Is there any contest?

I’m wearing Max Factor 2000 Calorie mascara that a friend gave me as a sort of thank-you present for looking up articles about premature burial and other dead-people-related things for her. What? Do you think librarians sit around drinking tea and discussing Nancy Mitford all day long? And my eyes hurt. I know you hate the pink tube, Leslie, but I have to go back to it, though I must say, my lashes LOOK killer.

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I took a lot of pictures trying to get just the right close-up for Show-and-Tell; they’re too cute/cool (or maybe they’re dorky, but I don’t want to know) not to share. Here ya go.

I call this one "The Blair Witch Baby"





This one is just for Blackbird.

Milk-drunk love

These are all the munchable parts...






I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. de Mille.



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Thursday Show-and-Tell, courtesy of Blackbird

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

I love you!

Not like they told you love is, and I didn't know this either, but love don't make things nice - it ruins everything. It breaks your heart. It makes things a mess. We aren't here to make things perfect. The snowflakes are perfect. The stars are perfect. Not us. Not us! We are here to ruin ourselves and to break our hearts and love the wrong people and *die*.

Nicolas Cage as Ronnie Camareri, "Moonstruck"
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Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 13, 2006

Wait a minute! Wait a minute!

I forgot why I REALLY watch the Olympics - so I can read Salon's coverage the next day.

While no one - I emphasize, NO ONE - will EVER top Gary Kamiya's 2000 Summer Games coverage -- after all, how exactly could you top sentences like this one: Khorkina's first-we-make-love then-I-kill-you then-I kill-myself antics wouldn't have seemed so extreme anywhere except in the sexless, zombie-like atmosphere of an Olympics women's gymnastic competition -- King Kaufmann's coverage is damn amusing.

If you're bored and need reading material that will make you laugh so hard you'll cry, go to Salon.com and search the archives for Olympics coverage from years past, written by Kamiya and/or Kaufmann. Freaking brilliant.

Truly the BEST reason to watch at all.

"Well, Lou, that's why I want to pursue it." - Herb Brooks

I know I said I wouldn’t watch because I didn’t care…but we’ve all been sick and we are sick, we watch TV. So here are my Olympic snippets:

Good Lord, could Il Pomodoro Volante (Primo is wildly amused by the nickname) be any cuter? When Bob Costas interviewed him after his gold-medal win, he was just so adorable. I hope Sasha Cohen goes out with him – I know I would. Although I am technically old enough to be his mother.

Am I the only freak who thinks like this? When someone mentioned that Michelle Kwan will be flying home today, and her plane may just cross paths with Sarah Hughes’ plane winging to Torino, I immediately thought, “Wow, wouldn’t that be some story if Hughes’ plane crashed…on her way to the Olympics…as an alternate…on the way to Olympic gold…”

Michelle Kwan has won nine national championships? Did you hear that last night? That’s incredible. I am sad for her that she doesn’t have an Olympic gold medal.

I can’t watch the freestyle skiing – it makes my knees hurt just to watch. The mogul portion is accompanied by this mental soundtrack: “Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow.”

The little Korean short-track speed skater with the weirdly colored hair who won the gold? “Hmmm...Gelfling?”

I do not like Apolo Ohno. Clearly he screwed up his race, his hand hit the skate of the other skater and then hit the block. But in a post-race interview, he blamed the mishap on the *other* skater making contact with *him*. Jerk.

I find short-track speedskating very exciting to watch. And hypnotizing.

The US uniforms – especially the snowboarding ones – are hideous. They look like old-time baseball uniforms, with none of the charm. Although I suppose the fur-trimmed parkas are ok. And the Italians – oh, those poor athletes. Can you imagine being in an international spotlight wearing those godawful silver things?

Does Bob Costas ever age?

Has anyone else been checking Google each day to see the Olympic changes in their icon? Pretty cool. Today it’s a female snowboarder.

The figure skaters who successfully landed the triple axle throw? The guy? Is very cute. I generally don’t like blondes. But God, he’s got a terrific smile, and I have hair envy. Also, I read recently that she is recovering from LUNG CANCER.

Primo decided the ski jumping looked too hard, but Segundo was all about going out to try it RIGHT NOW. And the new favorite game to play? Ski-jumping baby!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Now that should do the trick for a sticky monkey!

OK, someone help me, one of you non-etiquette-ly challenged types (Joke?) - I confess to the horror of putting reply cards in my wedding invitations. We did not have entrĂ©e choices, I just needed to know who was coming and who was not. This was more than ten years ago, but now having read Poppy’s post about wedding invitation blunders, I am horrified that I committed some gross faux-pas. (But my mother-in-law said it was ok!) Why are reply cards the devil? Just so you know, though, I did self-address and pre-stamp and took out the tissue and everything else. But those reply cards haunt my dreams now! Don’t hate me because I was raised by wolves.

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Last night H. went to see the new Pink Panther movie. I, having been sick for-freaking-ever and in addition having had an acute bout with a stomach virus that lasted for twelve nasty hours on Wednesday night and left me feeling desiccated like unto the Sahara desert, decided to stay home. I had no burning desire to see the new Pink Panther. When H. got home and told me that it had been like a movie-going festival, that many people there had babies and toddlers that were running around during the movie, and groups of people were chatting all through the movie, and a girl two seats down from him was on her cell phone throughout the whole movie – I once again remembered why I do not go see first-run movies in the movie theatre on weekend evenings. Because I am old and crotchety that way. Anyway, my sister-in-law had offered to have all the children at her place to babysit; I kept Terzo with me, but sent the older two boys. (Probably should have kept Seggie home also, as he seems to have cycling-malarial-symptoms syndrome (yes, I made that up).) Did I do anything exciting, house to myself and all? Paint some woodwork? Read a good book? Watch the Olympics opening ceremonies (bah!)? No, I went to bed. I consumed a giant bowl of cashew chicken and another giant bowl of homemade rice pudding and went to bed.

I get so nervous when people don't post for a while. Suse over at Pea Soup has not posted since Wednesday, an eternity in my book.
And I am irrationally (I stress irrationally) terrified she’s left us.
I do this to all the blogs I read regularly – Blackbird hasn’t posted in two days? She hates us. Badger hasn’t posted? She’s dead.
Or in prison.
I WORRY. Yes, I know I am a dork. I used to read this blog called Simple Things (for a while, I thought Pea Soup and Simple Things were written by the same person…) and she stopped posting sometime last fall. Just...stopped. And I worry. Is she ok? Did something horrible happen to her? Did she just get bored? Or maybe, just maybe, other people HAVE LIVES. Hmmm. Anyone know where I can get one of those, cheap? Perhaps I could start by getting a babysitter and going to see a movie with my husband. Instead of sleeping all Friday evening, waking up from time to time only long enough to stick a boob into Terzo’s gaping maw.

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Oh, God help us. Because Jessa’s right – Ethan Hawke’s books are crap. The movies have to be worse. I have a special place in my heart for little ole Ethan Hawke because – little known fact – he was in my freshman class first semester. He was as big an asshole as any high school actor who suddenly finds himself attending one of the premier theatre programs in the country, having “his art” taken seriously (at least by the profs, if not his fellow students), and being required to take a loser history of theatre class with those production types who walk around in painted-up jeans and grotty sneakers. (Yeah, well, at least WE shower! And don’t freaking burst into song at the drop of a hat!) This is not to say he was the only one – all of the actors were assholes, just as all of us production/techie types were obnoxious and loud and profane – for freshman theatre majors, this attitudinal behavior was practically a requirement. At any rate, due to this minor brush with fame (no he wouldn’t recognize me or my name, I was just part of the obnoxious mass), I follow his career in the same sort of way I look at car wrecks. I may know they’re horrible but I have to look? I know he can’t act, and I think he perpetually looks like he needs a good scrub, and God knows how he landed Uma Thurman, but I still have to read his crap writing and watch his mostly-bad movies. He left school after first semester to do “Dead Poets”, and possibly it’s the only decent thing in which I’ve seen him.

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Snippets:

Peg, this is for you. Mostly because I just enjoy way too much the phrase “biowillie.”

WE know libraries are cool.

God, I am so sick of all these dodgy authors. Just write a decent book and shut up about it. If you must make things up, just write another novel, please.

The first Joanna Trollope book I ever read was The Choir, and I was caught. While even she admits her books are not intellectual, they are immensely readable, and her characters draw you into their lives, leaving you feeling with them and almost always wanting more. Is there anything better you can say about a book? Trollope’s thirteenth novel Second Honeymoon is due out in March.

Does anyone really care about the Olympics anymore? Look, some American speedskater just won a medal. Yawn. I am with Bode Miller on this one – it used to be an honor just to go to the Olympics. Now it’s all about the medal count, and the endorsements and cash, and those ridiculous, melodramatic human-interest stories. No, I do NOT care if Jane Doe’s kitten fell into the frozen lake when Jane was six thereby inspiring years of dedicated figure skating practice, and I also don’t really care if she wins a medal. Jane, not the (presumably dead) kitten.

Speaking of memorable Olympic moments, back when it at least *felt* like the games were real, does anyone else remember Torvill and Dean? Now THEY were incredible. As were Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner. And the 1980 American hockey team. Ah, now those were the days, my friends! The only recent Olympic story that even remotely comes close – Sarah Hughes’ figure skating upset last winter Olympics.

Oh, so if she'd had *proper documentation* the HUMAN HEAD IN HER CARRY-ON *wouldn't* have been a problem? And of what, pray tell, does proper documentation for schlepping around a human head CONSIST?

I just changed my ringtone on my cell phone to the theme for “The Godfather.” This makes me irrationally happy.

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"You stay alive, no matter what occurs! I will find you. No matter how long it takes, no matter how far, I will find you."

Or maybe I should be using a quote from "The Eiger Sanction"?

"Get out of here. Either of you friggin' vampires ever touch this telescope, you're gonna need surgery to get it out of your ass!"

Or maybe
"I'm sorry, I thought you'd draw the line at hauling ice."

Anyone else care to weigh in here?

Friday, February 10, 2006

Pooh," said Rabbit kindly, "you haven't any brain." "I know," said Pooh humbly.

When we moved, Primo was very upset at the prospect of leaving our old house, the only house he knew. But when we promised him a Winnie the Pooh room in the new house, he brightened and resigned himself. After all, he had these cool orange cats hand-painted by Mama all over the walls of his old room -- but Pooh? Nothing tops Pooh!

So the new room was the first one painted - No Bother Blue with Pooh Bear Yellow trimwork and Blustery Sky Blue stencils.



The Pooh menagerie were all gifts from my older brother's now-ex-fiancee, who was a huge Tigger fan herself.Piglet is around somewhere, too, probably under the bed. When we got an extra Pooh, we took him back and got Piglet and Primo lugged that Piglet all over the mall and fed him his French fries at lunch.
The Pooh comforters were thoughtful hand-me-downs from the boys' older cousins, and the Pooh sheets were Primo's, to celebrate his then-new big-boy bed.


We received many many cards when Primo was born and I framed and hung up some of my favorites. I think they're cute decorations in a baby's room.


I saved up all my diaper points for the free Pooh chair, and then, before Seggie was even conceived, I also got the Tigger chair. They make for a cozy reading spot.


When Santa brought Segundo this little Pooh he'd seen in the grocery store a few weeks before Christmas, Seggie danced and shouted with pure delight: "My Pooh! I love my Pooh!"


We are Pooh purists in this household. These are mine, from when I was little. Clearly well-read and well-loved. The wit, clever wordplay, and optimistic yet realistic life view of the originals make the books reading pleasure for children and adults alike.

Which brings me to my favorite lamp. I have lamp issues - I have very few I actually like, and the ones I have are too bright or not bright enough or wobbly or whatever. To be fair to my lamps (whaaa??), I get frequent migraines so me and light sources are not so simpatico anyway.

But this lamp is not fraught. In fact, just looking at it makes me feel like a good mom.

When Primo was smaller, we were wheeling around Home Depot and he saw this lamp. Already in the grip of his Pooh passion (which continues to this day, by the way) he sighed blissfully and said, "Oh, Mama! Pooh lamp! Can I have that Pooh lamp?"
This wasn't a whine or a bratty, spoiled "I want!" It was an innocent yearning over an object of pure, sweet desire. The lamp cost forty dollars. Seemed like a lot to me for a kid's lamp. I did not buy the lamp that day, and Primo was ok with this.

But when we moved - and I was painting his Pooh room - something like a year later - I bought the Pooh lamp with my own cash, not out of the household budget so I wouldn't feel guilty about the price -- and plugged it in and put it on his dresser. When Primo first came to the new house and finally saw his Pooh room, with his new big-boy sheets and the Pooh lamp -- his thousand-watt smile just beamed -- man, I felt like a million bucks.

Sometimes it takes so little to make a child happy.


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Thursday Show-and-Tell, courtesy of Blackbird
(a day late...)

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

That's a good question, but it's like having a 'Z' in Scrabble and no way to use it.

Pholph's Scrabble Generator

My Scrabble© Score is: 26.
What is your score? Get it here.


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Pholph's Scrabble Generator

My Scrabble© Score is: 17.
What is your score? Get it here.


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Pholph's Scrabble Generator

My Scrabble© Score is: 5.
What is your score? Get it here.



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Courtesy of Peg. Thanks, Peg!