Friday, June 29, 2007

"We're very very busy, and we've got a lot to do, and we haven't got a minute to explain it all to you." - BusyBusyBusy, Sandra Boynton

I FEEL as if I have been very very very busy. (But if I have, God knows what I have been doing.)

The two older boys have been at day camp every morning this week. They come home suntanned and hot and sweaty and tired and RAVENOUS. They eat like longshoremen and still I can count their ribs and see each vertebrae. I prescribe more ice cream.

We made popsicles out of orange juice with the new fancy-schmancy popsicle molds, and I dipped chocolate-covered frozen bananas, a remembered treat from my childhood that perhaps would have been better left as a fond memory.

We went swimming Monday afternoon (the intrepid Terzo tried to run away from me and jump in the big pool, and my sweet Seg showed me how he kicks his legs, learning to swim), but Wednesday afternoon we got rained out by an awesome thunderstorm. We all sat on the front porch and watched the rain pour down in sheets, and the lightning zap one of the big old oak trees near our alley. And then we had to run around the house mopping up under windows with towels, because I wasn’t quick enough closing everything up when the hail started.

Wednesday was also the day I lost my mind and vacuumed and then mopped all the floors on the first floor.

Terzo and I have gone grocery shopping TWICE.

But we also visited the train table (and the coffee bar, natch) at the local bookstore.

I worked (a new freelance venture) yesterday morning, and went into work yesterday evening. In between, I took a nice long nap, and afterward I stopped at my favorite neighborhood bar for buffalo bites. The food took FOREVER to come out, but my waitress was a sweetie pie. I sat and read Pardonable Lies and drank my Coke. It was all good.

This morning The Baby and I took a leisurely stroll, examining ants and stones and leaves. We collected sticks. We said hi to doggies and neighbors, and waved to buses and construction vehicles. We discovered that the neighborhood coffee shop is still not open (they are renovating and were meant to be open Thursday). Today, though, they were serving coffee from airpots out front, and the owner produced a doughnut for the very pleased Terzo. We sat on benches on the sidewalk and kibbutzed with everyone walking by. We met some new neighbors with their nine-month-old son, and caught up with some old neighbors, who have had a lovely new baby, who is four weeks old. Terzo charmed the pants off everyone. As always.

Primo has a friend coming over this afternoon, to play Stratego and hockey. His t-ball season wraps up tomorrow with a Parents-versus-Kids game.

We have two picnics to choose from for Fourth of July, and my older brother is coming to visit. H and I are going to a baseball game at the lovely PNC Park, to help celebrate his brother’s 40th. Zoo camp is the week after next, and swim lessons start last week of July.

I have twelve pints of blueberries from Hammonton, NJ, in my downstairs fridge, destined for pie, and a quart of “lusciousberries” (they look like plain old strawberries to me) from our CSA that are crying out for shortcake. I have to go find a recipe for kale, shred the kohlrabi for pancakes and zucchini for casserole for dinner tonight, and refill the popsicle molds.

God, now that’s only eighty degrees, I LOVE summer.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

"It's too darn hot, it's too darn hot." - Cole Porter

A Disorder Peculiar to the Country – Ken Kalfus. If the two main characters were not the most self-absorbed narcissists I have run across in fiction (right up there with Claire Messud’s Emperor’s Children whingers), I might be able to stick out this book. Parts of it are affecting – the scene where Marshall escapes from the South Tower is downright harrowing – but OH. MY. GOD. how I hated horrible Marshall and his equally horrible wife. And felt so sorry for their poor, sad, damaged children. Although NOT for the stupidly-named Snuffles.

Aftermath, Inc. – Gil Reavill. Most definitely not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach. Crime writer Reavill learns the ins and outs of the bioremediation business – cleaning up crime scenes, suicides, and non-biological hazmat sites like meth labs. I personally found it fascinating, but then I am weird and we knew that.

Tracks – Robyn Davidson. Gina asked me why anyone would want feral camels. I am fifty pages into this book and am still not sure. Are camels the only way to cross the Australian desert? I like the parts where Davidson talks about her trip and its preparations; less so her navel-gazing about her solitude and anti-socialist tendencies.

Circle of Quilters – Jennifer Chiaverini. I really enjoy Chiaverini’s books but they must be read in installments, as if they were published monthly in some magazine. Otherwise, they just get too precious and too ‘then-she-did-this, -and-then-she-did-that, -and-then-this-happened.’ Plod, plod, plod.

A Place of Execution – Val McDermid. You know, I liked this book. I am very sorry that McDermid did not really leave the door open for a sequel, as her detective George Bennett was a truly likeable guy and I’d love to see more of him.
Was it scary, as claimed? No. It was disturbing in that one of the main characters was an unchecked pedophile, but it wasn’t very scary. Of course, I have never been terrified by Shirley Jackson either, to whose work this story bears glancing and uneasy resemblances.

Pardonable Lies – Jacqueline Winspear. I am thoroughly stalled on number three of the Maisie Dobbs series. As thoroughly stalled as I am in the Laurie King books.

The Great Stink – Clare Clark. Uncle.

This Organic Life – Joan Dye Gussow. I cannot get into this, mostly because the author annoys me dreadfully. Oh, poor pitiful you, struggling to live in a gorgeous restored Victorian, the house “everyone else seems to want,” whose idea of downsizing for retirement is buying a historic if decrepit house on the Hudson River and then being forced – forced, I tell you! – to demolish it and rebuild.

Bloodletting and other miraculous cures: Stories - Vincent Lam. The main characters in this collection of stories are just fucking grating. Ming is a self-absorbed frigid little tease with delusions of grandeur, and Fitz is a pathetic sad sack excuse of a man. I WANTED to like this; after all, it took our ILL department some serious effort to track it down for me. I felt obliged to like it. But all I keep hoping for is a tidy little murder-suicide and a quick end to Ming, Fitz, and their sad little lives. Unfortunately, that course of action - hell, any action - woud require gumption, which our characters are horribly lacking.

On my bedside table: Miracle in the Andes: I am fairly certain Nando Parrado didn't do any whining, and if anyone deserves to, God knows he does. And Baker Towers, because Gina liked it. But I want to finish Tracks first. I need to understand this love affair with the camel.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

"'Then, madam, I suggest you dry-clean her.” - Alfred Hitchcock

I was in the shower this morning, and the two older boys come tearing up the steps. "Mom! Mom! Mom!"
"What (the *^&%$) do you want?" I shout, shampoo in my eyes.
"Terzo got my oatmeal!" Primo wails.
"Were you done with it?" I ask.
"What's he doing with it?" I ask, envisioning oatmeal-crusted kitchen, dog, etc.
"Eating it."

Is it me, or do I just fail to understand the crisis?

Saturday, June 23, 2007

One thing they never tell you about child raising is that for the rest of your life, at the drop of a hat, you are expected to know your child's name.

I have always had a bit of a thing for names, their history, meanings, and variations. I own at least half a dozen baby names books, most of which I acquired BEFORE I had my children. Like Anne of Green Gables, who thought her name distressingly plain and wished it was Cordelia, I hated my name and always wished it were different. My mother’s other top choices (and reason they didn’t win) were Leslie (gender ambiguous), Samantha (name of our cat), and Tamar (Biblical woman raped by her half-brother), all of which I prefer to my actual name.

My mother’s very top choice was Jennifer. There are many things I am, but a Jennifer is NOT one of them. (Besides, there were four other Jennifers in my graduating class.) Family legend has it that right before I was born, the movie “Love Story” came out, and a wave of Jennifers washed over the maternity wards. My mother used to tell the story that the nurse was so sure I would also be a Jennifer that she already had the form filled out and had to write up a new one when my mother gave her my actual name. “You were the only girl baby in the maternity ward NOT named Jennifer!” my mother declared proudly. Now that I have given birth, I realize that a maternity ward might hold, tops, six babies at a time, so that’s not quite the feat she made it sound; also, I only recently discovered that “Love Story” was released in December 1970; I had been born the previous April. Good story, Mom, but no dice.

I have always liked the Jewish tradition of using the initials or meaning of a name of a deceased relative as a jumping-off point for your child’s name; you get to be original, but you also honor your family. A name should have some resonance. My chief complaint about my first name is that it has none, my mom just liked it. My middle name is my maternal grandmother’s, and I would much prefer to go by that.

I guess it should not be a surprise that the meaning of a name wasn’t quite so important to either of my parents. Another family legend (this one corroborated by my mother’s best friend, my aunt) was that my mother told my dad he had to shorten his last name as it wouldn’t fit on her Saks charge card. This is so very typical of something my mother would say and expect, that it rings true. At any rate, true or not, my father Anglicized and shortened his very Eastern European name very soon after my parents were married. (The fact that his parents disowned him upon marrying my mother probably also contributed to the bastardization of his surname.)

My children, all three, have very traditional names. So traditional, in fact, that many people think we are devoutly religious. (We are not.) And despite our stereotypically Irish surname, my children are not named Connor, Brendan, Liam, or Seamus.

My oldest son is named for my father, and his (my son’s) father. I always thought we would nickname him, but it never worked out that way; his (two-syllable) full name suited him so much more. It’s uncommon, but not freakishly so; it’s a dignified, very English-sounding name, and it suits him perfectly.

My middle son is named in honor of an iconic musician H idolizes, and has his father’s middle name as his middle name. He also has a third name, because we weren’t sure if we were done having children or not, and if we were, we wanted to get my father-in-law’s name in there as well. Seg’s name has since grown more popular, due mainly to a certain skeevy English film actor who rose to stardom about the year my darling boy was born.

When Terzo appeared, we named him for my father-in-law (same as Seg’s third name). His middle name is a classic name that, I am somewhat ashamed to admit, is also the name of a title character in one of Primo’s very favorite children’s books. Yes, we let our then-four-year-old middle-name his new baby brother. Of course, we loved the name, and so does everyone who hears it; it’s turned into a nickname used by, mostly, H’s musician friends since it is also the name of the lead guitarist of an Australian rock band which shall remain unnamed. Our family nickname for him is an androgynous derivation of his first name that I happen to think is adorable, but it’s not so far off its original that it will obliterate his real name.

We had girl names picked out for each pregnancy. After Primo was born, we revisited our girl choices as the name we had picked got very popular, and thank God Primo was not a girl or he’d have been one of a dozen Sophias. The girl name we picked for baby-that-was-Seg and baby-that-was-Terzo was a classic, as well as being my mother’s middle name. (She threatened to come back from the grave and haunt me if I ever named a child her first name (think Borden Milk.)) The middle name is a derivation of my mother-in-law’s name. The poor woman has eleven grandchildren, ten of whom are boys and one of whom has a wildly popular Irish name with a cutesy spelling, and whose middle name is made-up.
Who knows, perhaps at some point we’ll even have reason to use a girl name. Or not, as the case may be.

What prompted all this name musing was this article in the Wall Street Journal about name consultants. Prospective parents are paying consultants to help them pick out names for their newborn babies. I think this is one of the craziest things I have ever heard of, paying a stranger good money to name your child.

The stupidest thing about this phenomenon is that these gullible parents think they are getting unique names for their babies, and yet just about every name is trendy as all get out.

Last fall, John Bentham, 36, a Las Vegas theater producer, and his wife, Shannon, 29, who runs a nonprofit foundation, says they felt "enormous pressure" to find a strong-sounding boy name. "I wanted a name that would look good on a marquee or a political banner," Mrs. Bentham says. Though they had agreed on the letter "j," none of the names they came up with -- Jude, Julian, Jake, Jason, or John Jr. -- seemed original enough. They hired Ms. Walker and Mr. Reyes, who produced an 11-page list of possibilities, including Jackson. In March, the Benthams welcomed little Jackson Dean into the world.

Do you know how many Jacksons I personally know? Off the top of my head, three children, one teenager, and a grown man. That’s FIVE Jacksons, just in my personal realm. It’s a fine name which I actually like quite a bit, but it’s not especially unique. It’s TRENDY. And I don’t live in a hotbed of trendiness, either, my friends.

In the end, choosing a name for your baby should only have a couple hard-and-fast rules:
1. Check the initials.
They should not spell anything rude, vulgar, or stupid. (Or trendy. Sheesh.) A friend of mine switched the first choice for her son’s middle name, changing his potential initials from APE to ACE. Wise choice.

2. No matter what you name your baby, it can be twisted or tweaked into something that can be made fun of, or used to tease him. But for God’s sake, try to not make this typical childhood process moronically simple. I don’t care how cute Gwyneth and Chris thought the moniker Apple was, they don’t have to live with it or get through grade school with it; poor little Apple does.

3. NEVER give twins, or any of your children for that matter, rhyming names, or names that could be rhymed. Because the lowest common denominator will prevail. As Theresa Bloomingdale points out in her hilarious I Should Have Seen It Coming When the Rabbit Died, Dirk and Eric will not become Derek and Eric, they will become Dirk and Erk. Ann and Dan, or Jim and Tim, just result in confusion among your kids when you call. They're going to ignore you anyway; no point in giving them an excuse.

4. If you spend more than five minutes conjuring up a unique spelling for your child’s name, change your name choice. If it takes you that long to figure out how to spell it, just think how long it’ll take your little one to get the hell out of kindergarten. Not to mention spending her life having her name’s pronunciation mangled by all and sundry.
I have a friend who named his daughter a unique and actually quite lovely Gaelic name; but the spelling contained so many extraneous consonants that the unfortunate child spent her entire kindergarten year being called something quite the opposite of what her parents intended, and it was even misspelled in the yearbook. Not worth it.

5. Do NOT name your child after any type of consumer product. EVER. The urban legend of Lemonjello and Orangejello are the obvious no-no example here. But seriously, folks, children should never be named after cars, alcohol, tourist destinations, or sports arenas. That means that an acquaintance’s daughter Tallie (Talledaga) should just have been called Mary!

I have probably ranted about this before, but if I save even one little girl from being named Nevaeh, I will have done some good in this world.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

"Could it be, when I was young, someone dropped me on my head?" - from 'Theory' by Dorothy Parker

The One Word Meme, stolen from the wise and interesting Katya.

1. Where is your mobile phone? Purse.
2. Relationship? Strained.
3. Your hair? Boring.
4. Work? YAWN.
5. Your sister(s)? Nonexistent.
6. Your favourite thing? Books.
7. Your dream last night? Sexy.
8. Your favourite drink? Tea.
9. Your dream car? Green.
10. The room you're in? Library.
11. Your shoes? Flat.
12. Your fears? Many.
13. What do you want to be in 10 years? Happy.
14. Who did you hang out with this weekend? E.
15. What are you not good at? Music.
16. Muffin? Cranberry-orange.
17. Wish list item? Calm.
18. Where you grew up? Jersey.
19. The last thing you did? Chatted.
20. What are you wearing? Warm.
21. What are you not wearing? Bra.
22. Your pet? Four.
23. Your computer? Laptop.
24. Your life? Full.
25. Your mood? Anxious.
26. Missing? Love.
27. What are you thinking about? Babies.
28. Your car? Efficient.
29. Your kitchen? Sticky.
30. Your summer? Relaxed.
31. Your favourite colour? Green.
32. Last time you laughed? Tuesday.
33. Last time you cried? Tuesday.
34. School? Worrisome.
35. Love? Troublesome.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

"You see these old fellas in the pub going: 'I've had a great life, me. Gone nowhere. Done fuck all. Aye.'" - Paul Tonkinson

I have a particular fondness for the English mystery. Not necessarily the Miss Marple/idyllic English village type (not that they’re not fine in their way and not that I haven’t read every Agatha Christie written), but more the mysteries set in the dales and shires of rural England. Elizabeth George’s early Inspector Lynley books; Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse books; Caroline Graham’s fabulous Chief Inspector Barnaby stories. I love them all - I love the villages, the farmers that populate the villages, the moors and copses that become a character in the mystery themselves, and most of all, the wise and canny detectives that must not only solve the mystery but also must navigate the minefield of the insular rural communities from which the victims and suspects emerge.

Monday night, before I had a chance to get myself to the library to pick up my requests, I took Charles Todd’s A Cold Treachery off my TBR shelves. It’s the second in the Inspector Ian Rutledge mysteries, previously unheard of by me. Like the Maisie Dobbs mysteries, this book is set post-World War I, and the trenches and battlefields of the war still haunt its characters. I got a couple chapters in, and definitely liked it; I intend to keep an eye out for Todd’s other novels.

When I finally stopped at the library, I was pleasantly surprised – I’d forgotten that I’d requested Val McDermid’s A Place of Execution. A Salon review of her latest, The Grave Tattoo, contained this quote: Val McDermid is known for her hard-bitten, grisly crime novels -- a critic friend describes her "A Place of Execution" as one of the scariest books he's ever read…. How does one resist that endorsement? Clearly, you can’t, and I didn’t. I started the book last night, just before the migraine hit, and when I woke up this morning, groggy and bleary-eyed, I picked it up and read three more chapters before crawling out of bed, making myself a cup of hot, strong tea, and crawling back into bed with the tea and three more chapters.

Set in the tiny farm village of Scardale, in Derbyshire, so far the book boasts everything I adore about the English mystery: the local color (the farmers, the schools, the village gossip), the class and rank struggles of most of the characters (in this case, the Squire of Scardale Manor, and the village folk), the same struggles reflected in the interaction of the townie police force versus the Scotland Yard. The chief detective, here the young but very promising Detective Inspector George Bennett, must learn when to be assertive and when to defer to the knowledgeable locals, must play his desire for using this case as a stepping-stone in his career against finding himself caring terribly about the victim and the results of his investigation, must untangle the secrets of a close-knit community and know when to expose secrets and when to hold them close to his vest.

McDermid writes admirably well. The pacing is perfect, the bits and pieces of clues dropped throughout keep you guessing, and I know I am in for quite the ride.
I will hate to see this book end.

Monday, June 18, 2007

"Dad is great! Gives us chocolate cake!" - Bill Cosby

I never know what to get H for Father’s Day –but this year was relatively simple – I am having a portrait taken of the three boys together; we got him a new pair of sturdy leather work gloves since he lost his last pair; and I bought him a panini press. We were at a party over Memorial Day weekend at which the host served Panini with grilled veggies, meats, and cheeses. H was rapturous. It was a no-brainer.

We host Father’s Day dinner; in the past we have served grilled steaks but this enterprise frustrates H because his family is all about the well-done steak. H and I like our filet rare. It made him crazy and ruined his day to have to grill the living daylights out of a gorgeous piece of meat before anyone other than he and I would eat it.

Instead we prepped and grilled two eggplant, four zucchini, four red peppers; also sautéed two giant bunches of spinach. We offered fresh mozzarella, whole milk mozzarella, and sharp provolone (also white American for the kids). Our meat selection consisted of hot and sweet salami, cracked pepper roast turkey breast, hot capicolla, prosciutto, and Genoa salami. Our sides were fresh fruit (grapes and strawberries), devilled eggs, kettle potato chips, garlic- and feta-stuffed olives, a tossed green salad with carrots, cucumber, peppers, grape tomatoes, and field greens from our CSA. I baked a chocolate cake, served with vanilla ice cream, for dessert.

H wielded the press like a pro. Once we figured out that you kinda have to hold the sandwich back in the press with a wooden spoon until the bread heats and collapses a bit, they got a lot more professional looking. (Sorry, I did not take photos, as really, how would I explain THAT? My in-laws know the Internet exists, but that might be about it.)

I myself had a panini with prosciutto, provolone, zucchini, and spinach, chased by several (um, more than that) olives and about four devilled eggs. (I would have eaten more but everyone else ate them first – grumph.)

Liz at Pocket Farm is hosting a One Local Summer project, encouraging bloggers from around the country to eat at least one dinner a week created from local ingredients.

Still in the practically post-coital glow of Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal Vegetable Miracle, I leapt aboard the bandwagon and signed up. I was thinking I might try to make my panini my first local meal for the project.

The ciabatta came from a local bakery that we know we are insanely lucky we have: their bread is amazing. Their raisin-walnut loaf is wonderful toasted with butter for breakfast, and I would walk across hot coals for their green-olive foccacia; often half of one was an entire meal when I was younger, thinner, and less, um, solvent. (What? Aren’t olives a vegetable?)

The butter was from Beaver Meadow Farm in nearby DuBois (that’s “DEW-boyz” to all you non-yinzers. I know, it makes my ears bleed, too.)

The prosciutto is made by Parma Sausage, in the Strip.

The spinach was from our CSA.

But the provolone was imported, as were the olives. I am sure my mother-in-law used Giant Eagle eggs for the deviled eggs, which means they could have been shipped from anywhere in the country. (I probably would have used eggs from Hillandale Farms, in Ohio, but really, I am still jonesing for my own chickens, although I need to investigate Mildred’s Daughters eggs.)

And that’s just what I ate; the rest of the cheeses, and lots of the meats, are most definitely not local. I think I can do better, especially for my first week out. But I have to admit, those panini are damn yummy.

So was the chocolate cake. H requested this one especially, as he likes the hint of cinnamon in the cake and the rich-without-being-too-sweet icing.

He may be a raging pain in the ass as a husband, but he’s a damn fine father and I was happy to celebrate the day with him and our three beautiful boys.


Brabham Family Chocolate Sheet Cake

(From Michael Lee West’s wonderful Consuming Passions)

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
2 sticks unsalted butter
4 TBSP cocoa
½ cup buttermilk
3 eggs, lightly beaten
½ tsp salt
1 scant tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350.
Mix together flour and sugar in a large bowl.
Boil water, add butter and cocoa and stir till everything is melted and it’s thickened a bit (it doesn’t get very very thick, just FYI).
Pour over the sugar and flour.
Using a large spoon, blend well.
Add buttermilk, eggs, salt cinnamon, soda, and vanilla.
Mix well.
Pour into a buttered 9x13 pan.
Bake 35 minutes.
Cool 5 minutes (preferably on a wire rack) and ice cake in its pan.

Chocolate Icing

1 stick unsalted butter
4 TBSP cocoa
6 TBSP milk
3 ½ cups confectioners sugar
1 TBSP vanilla

Melt butter in a saucepan.
Stir in cocoa.
Whisk in milk, pouring in a slow stream.
Remove from heat, add sugar and beat.
Stir in vanilla (and 1 cup chopped pecans if you like – we do not like.)
Icing will be grainy and lumpy. Pour over cake and spread to cover. Icing sets quickly so work fast.

We served this with Turkey Hill vanilla bean ice cream, from Lancaster County, about four hours east of here. (Reinhold’s is made right in Pittsburgh, and is the most delicious ice cream, but it’s not readily available in the typical grocery stores.)

And I forgot the vanilla in the frosting because Primo was interrogating me about what I was making, and I don’t do well when I am distracted when baking. It seemed ok, but I do wonder if it had anything to do with the icing not really setting? Which was fine, all gooey with the cold ice cream and all.

And since H left this morning with the two older boys for Stroudsburg and Thomas, the remainder of the cake is ALL MINE. Oh yes!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

"If you ask me, there isn't enough blue food." - Mark Darcy in "Bridget Jones's Diary"

H went to play poker with friends tonight.
While I generally would rather read a book than watch a movie, I do have a small stash of old favorites, comfort movies, as it were.
Thye include “Moonstruck,” “Love Actually,” “The Parent Trap,” “Bridget Jones’ Diary,” and “Roman Holiday.”
Every once in a very great while, I will add to the collection. Recently I purchased a sure-to-be-godawful DVD called “Stick It!”
Its tagline caught my fancy: “It’s not called gym-nice-tics!”
I mean, c’mon, that’s FUNNY.
Plus, long long ago, in a galaxy far far away, when I was young and thin and shorter, before my seventh-grade growth spurt that put me at five-eight, I was a gymnast.
Not a particularly good one by any means – I spent an awful lot of time trying to learn to do an aerial (never succeeded) and a back extension (successful). I could do front handsprings but not back handsprings. I finally managed a back hip circle on the bars just before I grew half a foot.

I was gymnastics-obsessed - spent my seventh summer cartwheeling in my poor mother’s living room and jumping around on the front lawn pretending to be Nadia Comaneci. I amassed quite a clipping collection about Olga Korbut, Nadia, Ludmilla Turischeva, Tracee Talavera, Julianne McNamara – I knew all the names, all the big stars and the up-and-comers. I even subscribed to US Gymnast for a while.

I took lessons at a teeny little gym called Sunburst Gymnastics. I went once a week, for an hour, and then to gymnastics camp (half-day) for a week in the summer.
I competed in one meet, and I still have my medal (in fairness, I should tell you that everyone who competed got a medal, if you managed to do your back somersaults, and kick turns on the beam). Like everyone else in the gym, I sewed all my ribbons and patches to my leotard, and I wore little white anklets with colored pom-poms on the backs, and I will tell you right now, I HATED wearing grips on the bars, I only used chalk. I longed –yearned, I tell you - for calluses on my palms, and rips on those calluses.

My first floor routine was to the theme from Pink Panther (I could probably still do it if I had to – ba dum, ba dum, ba dum ba dum ba dum, ba dum ba DUMMMM, badadaDUM), second level floor was to Nadia’s Theme (natch), and the level three floor routine was to “Evergreen.” I never got past level three, sadly.

So. Did I watch this movie tonight? No, I did not. Because it was all the way UPSTAIRS and I was all the way DOWNSTAIRS and I am LAZY.
[WARNING: non sequitur approaching]
So I popped in “Bridget Jones.”

My favorite moment: when Mark Darcy kisses Bridget at the end, and she says, “Wait a minute. Nice boys don’t kiss like that.” And he growls, without even opening his eyes, “Oh, yes, they fucking do.” And then he wraps her in his overcoat.

The funniest moment: the fight scene between Daniel Cleaver and Mark Darcy.

The most heart-wrenching moment: when Mark meets Bridget’s friends, and is all shy and sort of awkward and cute, and then he flashes that gorgeous, elusive smile…sighhhhh...

The most cringe-inducing scene: Bridget’s speech at Mark’s parents’ ruby anniversary party. Or maybe when Bridget shows up at what she thinks is a tarts-and-vicars party in a Playboy bunny outfit, and everyone else is dressed normally…or when she answers the phone, “Bridget Jones, wanton sex goddess," and it’s her mum...or...or...let’s face it, I love Bridget because she’s real. She fucks up. A lot. She says stupid things and acts like an ass. But she means well, and loves her mum and dad, and sticks by her friends. I would want her to be my friend. And tonight, for just a few hours, she was.

But she stole my boyfriend, just so you know.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

"We are like mechanics working on a car. We know what we are doing, it is a routine." - Katrina Firlik

To the salesperson at my B&N: Ok, OK, I give up! I LOVED The Kite Runner but I was willing to wait for the paperback of A Thousand Splendid Suns until you waxed lyrical about it AND noted that my member discount makes it only fifteen dollars! All right, I’ll come back and buy it.

To Jessa Crispin of Bookslut: I have just requested Joanna Kavenna’s Inglorious from the local library. I did not run out and buy it, because you and I, while I admire you greatly, do not have similar reading tastes. And I have to save my money for Hilma Wolitzer’s newest book, Summer Reading. (Although, now that I mention it, I remember liking The Doctor’s Daughter but I don’t remember a damn thing about it.) I trusted you, Jessa; don’t let me down.

To every single goddamn reviewer: I do not like Dom DeLillo. I do not like him in a box. I do not like him with a fox. I do not like him in a house. I do not like him with a mouse. I do not like him here or there. I do not like him anywhere. The first chapter of Underworld was the single most overrated, jaw-achingly boring chapter I have EVER read. I wanted to muscle through it because Rogue Librarian gave me the book as a thirtieth birthday present, but I COULD NOT DO IT. I will not like Falling Man either. I promise you. Leave me alone already.

To my dearest Suse: your copy of Animal Vegetable Miracle is finally winging its way to you over thar in Oz. I even signed it, love. (So you can’t return it, sorry.)

To a fellow Laurie King fan (um, Peg, that’d be you): I just bought Art of Detection in paperback last night and am so excited! Share my excitement! You know you want to!

To Nando Parrado: I am very sorry you had to eat your fellow teammates to survive, but your bravery and strength are astounding. I am very much looking forward to reading Miracle in the Andes, although, I must tell you how utterly bizarre I find it that it was shelved in Sports>Soccer.

To my Intro to Critical Reading prof (on whom I harbored a mad, obviously unrequited, potentially embarrassing crush): It was only my infatuation with your brains that made me read The English Patient and it is entirely your fault that I now believe Michael Ondaatje to be one of the most amazing living writers, and almost entirely your fault that I will have to buy his newest book Divisadero, rather than borrowing it from the library. I hope you’re happy, Mr Smarty-Pants.

To my dad: Hey, Dad, do you remember how you used to worry that the weight of my measly two bookcases stuffed full of YA paperbacks was going to compromise the structural integrity of our house? I am currently attaching to my bedroom walls floor-to-ceiling shelving that will probably hold over five hundred books, and so far my house is still standing. I really think you were worrying over nothing.

To Pokemon et al.: You may think you’ve insinuated your cute, spiky, yellow self into Primo’s affections, but *I* hold the purse strings, little fellow, and I am not too sure about you and your cadre of adorably dorky monsters just yet. Although I admit that calling the handbook The Complete Pokedex is really kinda clever, and I may grudgingly admit you to my house. Just don’t even consider bringing Tentacruel or that snarky little Sneasel with you.

To Frank Vertosick: I loved When the Air Hits Your Brain but Katrina Firlik’s Another Day in the Frontal Lobe appears to be the up-and-comer in brain-surgery-for-consumers lit. I do wonder about those pristine white sneakers she wears on the cover, though. Which brings me to this:

To everyone who watches CSI and/or any of its thousand and one spin-offs: You enjoy your TV, I’ll be lying on the couch reading Gil Reavill’s Aftermath, Inc.. I have a cast-iron stomach, so I may well be eating Chubby Hubby ice cream while reading. The best thing? No commercials. I prefer my gore uninterrupted, thankyouverymuch. Now pass the ice cream.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

“Adventure must start with running away from home” - William Bolitho

Yesterday afternoon, after spending my lunch hour reading the interesting-but-didactically-written Portrait of the Burger as a Young Calf, I chanced upon a copy in the free-exchange shelves of Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire.

You know me; you know I love to read about Arctic exploration gone awry, shipwrecks, sailors adrift at sea, mountain climbing accidents, wilderness survival stories – if something extreme or insane in the outdoors can be attempted, and even better if something goes wrong in that attempt, I am all over it.

But good writing about the great outdoors is ok, too – I love Bill Bryson’s books, and have a soft spot especially for any kind of climbing writing (after I read Eiger Dreams, I pretty much wanted to marry Jon Krakauer and bear his children).

I snagged Desert Solitaire and then, in a typically obscure tangent, I had to do a bit of research to come up with the name of the man idolized by Christopher McCandless in Into the Wild. (John Wesley Powell, by the way.)

While trying to find out that factlet, I stumbled across this list, thereby guaranteeing many pleasant hours of outdoorsy reading for the summer months ahead:

Outside Magazine’s Best Adventure Books of the Last 100 Years:

1. Wind, Sand & Stars. By Antoine de Saint-Exupery (1940).
I read this, a long long time ago, while sick in bed.

2. (Tie) The Worst Journey in the World. By Apsley Cherry-Garrard (1922)
This has been on my TBR list for so long, it’s shameful.

2. (Tie) Journals. By Meriwether Lewis and William Clark (1841)
I have a good friend who read these right after she read that giant book about L&C released a couple years ago, and recommended it to me. Like every dutiful and good librarian, I have a penchant for primary sources: Daniel Defoe’s Journal of the Plague Year, Owen Chase’s and Thomas Nickerson’s The Loss of the Ship Essex, Sunk by a Whale, and Rachel Calof’s Story.

3. West With the Night. By Beryl Markham (1942)
I own this but have not read it. And for whatever reason, I ALWAYS confuse Markham with Amelia Earhart.

4. The Snow Leopard. By Peter Matthiessen (1978)
I have not read this, but I have read and thoroughly enjoyed Mathiessen’s book about great white sharks.

5. Desert Solitaire. By Edward Abbey (1968)
I own it now.

6. Endurance. By F. A. Worsley (1931).
Own it, have read most of it.

7. Sailing Alone Around the World. By Joshua Slocum (1900)
How did I miss this?

8. Into the Wild. By Jon Krakauer (1996)
OK, Christopher McCandless was an extremely foolish young man, but it’s a terrific read.

9. Coming into the Country. By John McPhee (1976)

10. Arabian Sands. By Wilfred Thesiger (1959)

11. Touching the Void. By Joe Simpson (1989)
I own this, but have not read it as I ration my mountain-disaster reading; otherwise I start to get bored. I know, juvenile when I am reading about people in mortal peril but that’s how it goes.

12. The Mountains of My Life. By Walter Bonatti (1998)

13. In Patagonia. Bruce Chatwin (1977)
Own this.

14. Arctic Dreams. Barry Lopez (1986)
Own this.

15. A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush. By Eric Newby (1958)
This looks FABULOUS.

16. Tracks. By Robyn Davidson (1980)
This one is for all you dear Aussies.

17. The Long Way. By Bernard Moitessier (1971)

18. Running the Amazon. By Joe Kane (1989)

19. Young Men and Fire. By Norman Maclean (1992)
This one reminds me of another that piqued my interest, Eric Blehm’s The Last Season.

20. The Great Plains. By Ian Frazier (1989)

21. Kon-Tiki. By Thor Heyerdahl (1950)
A true classic.

22. My Journey to Lhasa. By Alexandra David-Neel (1927)

23. (Tie) Alive. By Pier Paul Read (1974)
Read this, was positively blown away by it. In fact, Nando Parrado’s personal account, Miracle in the Andes, is out in paperback, and I have to go buy it right now.

23. (Tie) The Perfect Storm. By Sebastian Junger (1997)
I read this at the shore one summer, shortly after seeing bits of the movie. Wow. I followed it up with Linda Greenlaw’s The Hungry Ocean, but her writing was not nearly as captivating as Junger’s.

24. A Walk in the Woods. By Bill Bryson (1998)
This is the first Bill Bryson I ever read; I liked it very much but I think In a Sunburned Country (about Australia) is probably my favorite of his.

25. Old Glory. By Jonathan Raban (1981)
This is the only one that doesn’t look all that interesting to me – it smacks too much of Mark Twain. Yawn.

I also found this list of National Geographic’s 100 Best Adventure Books. Many of the titles on the two lists coincide, and I own several more on the NG list. It’s always more fun to go used-book shopping with a goal; now I have one, list in hand.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

"Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag, and smile, smile, smile."

Today is Primo’s LAST DAY of kindergarten. Sob. My baby is growing up…of course it’d be worse if he didn’t, so...I have Seg and him signed up for a week of zoo camp, a week of neighborhood day camp, and two weeks of daily swim lessons. By gum, we’re going to be busy and we’re going to LIKE it!...there is also plenty of time for lying around, swimming, bike-riding, fountain-splashing, park-going, etc…I am thoroughly pissed that the zoo has rearranged its paths so that you must trek through the entire zoo to get to the polar bears...letters will be written...H and I went to the symphony on Saturday and heard Sarah Chang perform Mendelsohn’s Concerto for Violin. WOW. She was mesmerizing to watch, incredible to listen to, and thoroughly blew me away...afterwards H, I, and two friends went for drinks at a fancy martini bar where the waitress at the table next to us upended an entire tray of drinks on the unfortunate woman behind me...I didn’t wear the dress, I wore a new skirt and a green shirt and my uncomfortable pointy-toed of course we found an on-the-street parking spot several more blocks from the hall than I am used to...there is good reason I am a librarian: sensible shoes...finished The Plague and I yesterday but cannot seem to decide what to read next...I started rereading Barbara Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer so maybe I will keep plugging on with that...the fence project has been put on hold until we can get the retaining wall fixed and the steps NOTHING ever simple?...the no-dig bed seems to be working just fine, the plants all look great...I planted three blueberry bushes yesterday...which explains why my arms are so sore this morning, I couldn’t think of why...I cannot concentrate on a damn thing...I am off to pack up the spicy walnuts for Primo’s teachers’ end-of-year gift...then I must take Punto for a run...we are dog-sitting a friend’s dog, she’ll want a walk too (the dog, not the friend)...I keep reassuring the cats that the new dog isn’t STAYING...they don’t get it, or if they do, they don’t care, they don’t LIKE her...I’d really like to just go back to bed for the day, I am exhausted.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

There comes an hour when protest no longer suffices; after philosophy there must be action; the strong hand finishes what the idea has sketched.

Last week, on my way to go grocery shopping, Seg asked if we could go next-door to the Big Bird and play with the Thomas trains at the bookstore. Since he finished his preschool year two weeks ago, we were under no time constraints to get the grocery shopping done at a specific time, and I can get coffee just as easily at the B&N as I can at the BB, so what the heck. The boys staged giant train wrecks centered on the trestle bridge, and I looked at books.

Noticing that the last Jennifer Chiaverini Elm Creek Quilts novel was out in paperback, I scooped that up. (I have to read all my library books first, though.)

And ever since the library-book-replacement debacle, I keep thinking I should just BUY Primo’s books (because, you know, we have a twenty-dollar-bill tree growing in a sunny spot in my muddy backyard…). But I like to buy classics, books I think all the boys will eventually enjoy, and that bear rereading (we’re on our fourth reading of Paddington, and they’ve been pestering me for more Mr Popper’s Penguins, which has to be, upon rereading, one of the dullest books ever written). So I brought home Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Now, the movie “Willy Wonka” is ODD (although I harbor a shamefully weird crush on Gene Wilder), and I won’t let the kids watch it yet; and many other Roald Dahl books are ODD (I still sometimes have nightmares about his story “The Swan,” from The Wonderful Stories of Henry Sugar and I was NOT an especially sensitive child by any means). But I thought Charlie might be a fun book to read aloud to the two boys this summer, before bed and during the lazy, hot afternoons, swinging on the porch swing. Well, that was the theory at least. Primo started it yesterday afternoon, propped up on his elbows in our front yard, his feet draped over the side of the wading pool where Seg pretended to be a polar bear. He gulped it down, begging me to stay up a little bit later so he could finish it before he went to bed (I let him. Sucker.) I was charged to bring home more Charlie books today – but our library doesn’t own Charlie and the Glass Elevator, so I checked out Matilda (my personal favorite) and the deliciously creepy James and the Giant Peach.

A ten-year-old friend recommended the Alex Ryder series, by Anthony Horowitz, and I did look at them but I think Primo is still a wee little bit too young for them just yet.

He also proudly showed off his Pokemon Pokedex, and now Primo wants one, too. Because that boy is digging Pokemon these days, and he loves nothing more than memorizing statistics. He reads the sports page every single blessed morning, and can rattle off batting averages, point totals, plus-minuses, and possibly even, who the hell knows, over-unders. I think nothing would delight him more than becoming a repository of useless Pokemon information.

Public schools wrap up Tuesday, and I am already fearing trying to keep that boy in books this summer.


Yesterday I began Betty MacDonald’s The Plague and I, a rollicking account of her year in a tuberculosis sanatorium. No, seriously, I do have to admit, probably only MacDonald could make this a good read. I mean, she made life on a chicken farm hilarious in The Egg and I so who was I to doubt? I have coupled it with a serious attempt to finish Clare Clarke’s The Great Stink because the reviews were so good, and the writing is so evocative. But that’s sort of the problem. It’s a book about the engineering and building of London’s sewer system – and even I, the great iron-stomached one, am finding it tough to read it while eating, which is my favorite way to read.

So I am off for my lunch hour – to read about TB or read about sewage. Tough call.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

She's like, so whatever, you could do so much better. - Avril Lavigne, "Girlfriend"

It's a snippet post, haven't done one in ages. But I am a little scattered at the moment, so here goes.


I am wearing a pale blue, flowered April Cornell skirt that was given to me by a friend who lost thirty pounds using the Stressful Divorce Diet. It’s long and loose and cool (the skirt, not the divorce), but it’s totally frumpilicious, and completely bulks out my already-nonexistent waistline. (I am wearing it with a man’s white oxford button-down – Queen of Style, that’s me. I call this my Muslim look.) Plus, I keep rolling over it with the wheels of my roll-y chair at work at the ref desk. I am not only the Queen of Style, I am graceful as well.


Per everyone’s requests, I would be thrilled – thrilled to pieces – to post a photo of my pretty new dress. I love it, and plan to wear it often. We have symphony tix Saturday and I will probably wear it again for that. I’ll take the photo then.

I do need different shoes for it – my pointy-toed leather slingbacks are not summery enough, and my black sandals (the “cruel shoes”) are sexy and strappy, but the straps are elastic – it takes hours for the marks on my feet to go away after I take off the shoes. What I need is a pair of (still) black, (still) strappy (maybe two, and definitely a thicker strap), heeled sandals to work with the dress; I do not want a wedge, I want a heel, and I definitely think they need to be mules. White would go with it, but I REFUSE to wear white shoes. (Unless they are tennis shoes, obviously. In which case, ONLY white will do.) Anyhoo, when I show you the dress, I also will show you the shoe candidates and perhaps you, my sweet little stylish 'netties, can help me pick.


I meant to say thank you to all those who offered the stick-your-boobs-out advice. I must say, it worked : ) I thought of you all cheering me on, and I felt loved. Albeit by, rationally speaking, a bunch of women I have mostly never met in person – but loved nonetheless. So if any of you are really three-hundred-year-old perverted men who are just toying with me, don’t tell me now, ok?


Onward and upward...

At the risk of revealing myself to be a total degenerate, I discovered Harry Potter porn last night. Like most fan fiction, lots of it was abysmally bad, some was decent, and one or two stories were perhaps well beyond the realm of possibility, but amazingly well-written. Nice to confirm that I am not the only woman out there who lusts for Severus Snape, or Draco Malfoy (which fact is most odd, as I normally don’t care for blonde men, but both Draco and his father fill me with lust. (Now I feel like Jimmy Carter. Ahem.))
The last time I got really engrossed in HP fan fic, turns out I knew the guy who was writing lots of it. So, you, and you know who you are, if you're writing HP porn, lemme know which ones are yours.


I am THIS CLOSE to finishing I Know This Much is True. I enjoyed it very much, despite its Oprah certification : )

Next up: one of the following books, all ILLs from my job, which is definitely a terrific perk:

Bloodletting and Other Miraculous Cures: Stories - Vincent Lam. Our ILL department really went above and beyond for this one – it’s not held by many libraries, and the first request for it came back unfilled. But then my dear sweet ILL angel hand-requested it from the holding library, and lo and behold, here it is.

The Great Stink - Clare Clark. I know, I didn’t return it. I am thinking this might be next, as it seems like it’ll be a quick read.

The Plague and I– Betty MacDonald. I need to own this but until I find it used, this will suffice. I love MacDonald’s The Egg and I and think it’s one of the funniest books ever. I have high hopes for the entertainment quotient of this one.

Living the Good Life: Being a plain practical account of a twenty year project in a self-subsistent homestead in Vermont, together with remarks on how to live sanely & simply in a troubled world - Helen & Scott Nearing, and This Organic Life: Confessions of a suburban homesteader - Joan Dye Gussow. Both of these are positive backlash from the Kingsolver book. Until I get all my tomato plants in (I bought three Red Beefsteak Heirloom plants today), I need farming inspiration. (And did anyone notice how this was initially posted with that thought just hanging there in mid-air, completely unfinished? Welcome to my brain.)

This is one of those cases where 1)I have so much good stuff to read, I am virtually paralyzed and therefore do not know where to begin; and 2) I was at the library today and did not check out any books, because I already have a ton waiting for me at home.


A couple of friends invited me to dinner tonight at a new restaurant called The Library. I couldn't go but they did bring me back dinner. I debated ordering the Breakfast of Champions appetizer (potato skins with brie and smoked bacon) or perhaps the Light in the Attic salad (spinach, gorgonzola, and bacon) but settled on the Hamlet sandwich (prosciutto and smoked cheddar), and it is DELICIOUS.

J ordered the Tyler Durden (black and blue ribeye with gorgonzola sauce and redskin smashed potatoes); B got the Huck Finn sandwich (pulled pork). Rave reviews all around. Off to eat my drippy, salty, tasty prosciutto sandwich. Cheers!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha'olam (We praise You, Eternal God, Sovereign of the universe)

We drove to New Jersey last Thursday, leaving Punto with a friend, packing up clothes and diapers and snacks (and juice boxes) for the road, and hostess gifts (a pound of handmade salami from Parma Meats for my brother, and a pound of Enrico lemon-poppyseed biscotti for my SIL, and a book and some cars for my nephew) and my laptop and H’s guitar and my new dress. (Next time we go anywhere, I think we should rent a minivan.)

We made excellent time to NJ, even stopping in Carlisle at the Country Club Diner where my boys inhaled their weight in food and charmed the pants off the waitresses, who plied them with ice cream topped by whipped cream and sprinkles.

NJ was just as hot as PA, but for some reason, it didn’t bother me nearly as much. Perhaps because they only have the one child, their house is not sticky all over like mine, and so that helps.

We took the boys to the playground and taught them how to play Home Run Derby; ordered out burritos, and pizza; drank a whole lot of Amish ale and wine. Chess games were played, and hockey games watched, late into the night.

I lay around a lot in the hammock – look at my view. Ahhhhhh. Lazybones. I also read a lot - mostly I Know This Much is True but also bits of my brother's copy of Slaughterhouse Five.

Terzo enjoyed the swing. And Uncle C obligingly pushed him for almost an hour. God bless the patience of uncles.

My brothers taught the boys to play Texas Hold’Em.
(When H asked Primo to go get him another beer, I worried that the neighbors would call CYS.)

There was a jam session, with frenetic dancing and little children masquerading as whirling dervishes. (We introduced my nephew to the pleasures of both Ralph's World AND Wilco.)


Saturday H and I got up at the crack of dawn and drove to Connecticut.

We hit Route 1 early enough to enjoy a leisurely breakfast in a little teeny tiny diner, where we drank pots of coffee and discussed opening a teeny tiny diner of our own in our neighborhood, one of the few things it lacks. I grew up in the Land of Diners, I miss being able to stop in night or day for a fresh cup of coffee, killer breakfasts any time, and consistently excellent pie.

The bat mitzvah service itself was beautiful – very moving and solemn.
E was nervous but still lovely, poised, and practically perfect. I have known her since she was a baby, and she has grown up to be a sweet, smart, gentle, funny, and delightful young woman. I wiped tears away several times; we were all so pleased for and proud of her.

After the Torah portion and the procession and the dressing/undressing of the scroll, and the bit with the bread and wine which was shockingly like Holy Communion, the service wound to its close and we all adjourned to the club for the reception – which I must say, rivaled most wedding receptions I have attended.

We were greeted at the door with servers bearing trays of drinks. There was a lavish spread of grilled vegetables, cheese, fruit, and crackers. Circulating servers offered scallion-wrapped scallops, coconut shrimp, smoked salmon on black bread, mini avocado-mango-corn tarts, and other nibblies. (It did not occur to me until later to wonder about the presence of so much shellfish; at the time I was merely grateful to eat as much of it as I could hold. There’s nothing like chewing a salty, tender scallop while looking out over the ocean.)

The meal was wonderful – fresh field greens topped with a round of toast and goat cheese; a choice between broiled salmon or beef tenderloin; carrot cake with light, creamy frosting; a tray of delicate, buttery cookies; lots of hot, strong coffee; and an open bar.

We shared our table with two couples, the male halves of which had worked with A in a previous job, which we didn’t really speak of, as he left the company shortly after two of its directors were killed in the September 11 attacks. (A was meant to be at the early-morning meeting as well, but for some reason wasn't. H and A have been friends since college, and A was best man at our wedding; the thought of any of our lives without his strength, intelligence, and levelheadedness is well nigh unbearable.)

Instead we spoke of children (one of the women had given birth a mere two weeks ago); music, politics, travel (one of the men was from Ireland, and one of the women from Russia); books, vacations, food – we had a wonderful, wonderful time, and H even danced with me, and complimented my dress. Will wonders never cease? (Turns out he was hammered. Does that matter?)

There was a terrific slideshow of E growing up, with three or four slides of her with our boys. (H and I cheered and clapped and overall acted like ancient people, which I suppose technically we were.)

There was a DJ, and some crazy dancing, especially to a song about not liking someone’s girlfriend? I am so glad I have boys. A couple of these thirteen-year-olds had moves that made me blush.

The centerpieces were bowls with fresh flowers – and look, fish! The favors were little bags of gelt, which were embossed with E’s name and the date. (I brought gelt home to my two older boys, my littlest and my nephew got maracas which the DJ was handing out.)

After the party wrapped up and we helped E’s parents gather up presents and leftover cookies and stuff, we all went back to their gorgeous, comfortable home in a little wooded cul-de-sac and sat on the screen porch and talked. Finally H and I drove home at 930, listening to the Stanley Cup finals on the way.

I cannot remember the last time I had such a perfect, beautiful day.

Three years from now, E’s little brother N will become a bar mitzvah! We are already looking forward to the trip. Although, since we were dubbed honorary Jews by E’s dad during the Hakafah, does that mean that next time I can’t eat my weight in scallops?

Friday, June 01, 2007

"Most of New Jersey doesn't even have refineries." - Richie Sambora

I am in New Jersey for a bit, visiting my little brother and his wonderful wife and my positively adorable, chewable little nephew. The boys - all three, plus H - are with me. Posting may be scarce for a bit. We have baseball games to play, and bat mitzvahs to attend, and nephews to fawn over. There are cousins - "Cousins!" - to play with.

The drive wasn't really all that bad, once we got out of the dead space of mid-PA and found a diner in which to eat eggs and pie. We escaped the Roy Rogers/old-people-in-tour-buses experience by the skin of our teeth, but our trauma was such that a hefty cup of diner coffee was enough to erase it from memory.

And inquiring minds want to know - is a compass a standard piece of equipment in cars these days?

Musr run - "Play with cousins!" is up next.