Wednesday, November 30, 2005

When you squeeze an orange, orange juice comes out - because that's what's inside. - Wayne Dwyer

I’ve been reading Ayun Halliday’s The Big Rumpus: A Mother’s Tales from the Trenches. I read it before when Primo was small, but decided to reread because that’s about where my brain is right now. (This morning, I put the OJ carton in the glass cupboard and the full glasses in the fridge rather than on the table.) She writes a zine called The East Village Inky – I wish there were some back issues available on her website, but there aren’t. However, she has a few essays on the site, including this one on Powell’s. And this review for her book No Touch Monkey: And Other Travel Lessons Learned Too Late from Stephen Colbert of “The Daily Show:” "I laughed hard on nearly every page of this shockingly intimate travel memoir and deeply funny book." I had to do an ILL to get my hands on this and her other, newish, book, Job Hopper: The Checkered Career of a Down-Market Dilettante.


I was pleased to discover other original author essays on the Powell’s website; especially Audrey Niffenegger who I think is a wonderful writer. Gina, there’s a Chris Crutcher and a Meg Wolitzer for you.


A Death in the Family, by James Agee; I don’t know anything about it but came across the title in Ayun Halliday’s essay and now want to read it. Because my list of books to read and pile waiting to be read are not long or large enough. I got a couple Rachel Cusks at the library on Saturday, but can’t get into them. They read like weird, modern, badly-written, and stilted Jane Austen. How’s that for a bizarre description? But it’s the best I can do. Gina gave me her copy of Diary of a Provincial Lady which I will read after Big Rumpus. I also got Forrest Gump; rumor has it the book is better than the movie. Not that I’ve seen the movie (I know. I haven’t seen “Pulp Fiction” or “The Matrix” either. So sue me.) A book called The Leopard Hat, Kate Atkinson’s Human Croquet (her book Behind the Scenes at the Museum is a favorite), and Eve Adams’ Garden of Eden complete the list of checked-out books. Now if I can just stay awake long enough to read any of them.



Starbucks peppermint mocha – go get one. They are wonderful. That’s what I’ll be wasting my three bucks on on my work days for the next few weeks.

November 30 – last day of street cleaning. So I can stop jockeying my car from one side of the street to the other in this ridiculous charade that the city actually has funds to waste on street cleaning -- which doesn’t really clean the streets. What we need is those old-fashioned chain gangs with those sticks with pointy ends, to walk around and clean up.

OK, any parent has considered - however briefly - the old whiskey remedy for a wailng baby (even if only some of us admit it); but I don’t know of any modern parent who’s actually ever done it. Until now. Sick. This gave me the same sinking feeling in my stomach that the laundry bag scene in Richartd Russo’s Empire Falls gave me – pure helplessness and despair in the face of parents’ stupidity and cruelty.

I think I am getting this baby doll for Segundo for Christmas. Thanks for the advice, Carolyn! It’s a far sight prettier than Mimi!!

This Princess Dora doll is so wrong, in my mind it completely defeats the purpose of the smart, independent, strong Dora persona. But then, what do I know? I played with Barbies.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Winter is nature's way of saying, "Up yours." ~Robert Byrne

This tidbit about yet another benefit of long-term breastfeeding comes at exactly the right time – today is my first day back to work after my seven weeks’ maternity leave. Granted, it’s only 16 hours a week, but the pump was debuted (or re-re-debuted?). Have I mentioned how much I loathe the pump? It hulks under my desk, leering at me, waiting for me to take it out and plug it in every two hours. Evil thing. (Good thing I don’t feel that way about the baby, eh?)

Notice I am not especially stressed about leaving the boys. I am fairly certain that they are in better hands with the babysitter than they are with me. She’s a heck of a lot more patient, if nothing else. And she probably won’t yell at them for rhythmically kicking the filing cabinet while they lie on the floor coloring, or for painting on the table with their yogurt spoon, or any number of other innocent acts that send my OCD tendencies into orbit.


Gina is sick. Everyone send health vibes her way. No one should have to feel like there’s broken glass in their throat. Least of all Gina. Get better, dear! (So we can have lunch when I work next Tuesday : ))


Re: The New York Times 100 Notable Books list – even Jessa Crispin of Bookslut said that she’d read only four of them. If she has only read four, then I am home free. And she mentions that some of the books she thought would make the list did not – specifically, Voices from Chernobyl which was one of the most devastating and enlightening books I have ever read. Now, however, we have the Christian Science Monitor list…. this list is more like it. I’ve never understood why the Christian Science Monitor is considered a reliable source for book reviews. Although I understand it is. Here is what I found out: I sorta was under the misapprehension that it was like having the Mormons publish book reviews (they panned Under the Banner of Heaven and everything by Augusten Burroughs) or the Baptists (they panned everything except The Rainbow Fish.)


OK, I like Nabokov. He was an amazing writer. Reading Lolita was a life-changing experience. If he willed for an unfinished manuscript of his to be destroyed, I trust him. Destroy it.


I left the house without my camera this morning. On purpose. I feel as if I left a limb at home. Because there’s this student standing here in front of me wearing a hideous bronze-colored T-shirt two sizes too small, black culottes, and Uggs. I want to photograph her atrocious outfit and share it with the blog masses. There have been many other things I wished to photograph – is it illegal to take people’s pictures without their knowledge? - and I just can’t bring myself to bring the camera to work and take the photos. I feel like it’s unethical and not very productive. And maybe sort of embarrassing. But oh, some of the things I have seen today…do people not look in the mirror before they leave their dorm rooms? Kids today…


I explained to Primo the meaning of “penultimate” yesterday, walking up to the coffee shop. It was in context, people! I fear for my ego when he is older. He’s scary enough now. Thank God his father was a math major in college, so I never have to tread the dark, scary path of calculus with that child. I failed calculus. I loved it, but it was like a giant puzzle that I COULD NOT SOLVE. And he will probably be solving differential equations by fourth grade. (Do you solve differential equations? See what I mean?)

Two Funny Things

This is from Bookslut:

A newly-revealed letter by author CS Lewis has shown he opposed the idea of a screen version of his Narnia books, now adapted for a major film.

You don't even want to know what Jesus thought about The Passion of the Christ.


And this is from my mom (who's a nurse and actually heard this from a doctor):

Q: What's the difference between God and a doctor?
A: God knows he's not a doctor.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Man has turned his back on silence. - Jean Arp

Terzo is two months old yesterday, as of 3:57 p.m.
(Unfortunately this photo was taken AFTER we'd removed his black AC/DC tank top, due to extreme spit-up.)


Happy (Actual) Birthday to Sarah Louise! (She’s been celebrating for a week now, but today is the day!)


Camille Peri has a thoughtful article on Salon today, about her teenaged son’s bid to be a gangsta. I am completely engrossed. Go read it.


Carson Kressley, of “Queer Eye” renown, has a children’s book coming out, just in time for Christmas shopping - You’re Different and That’s Super! I thought this was a joke at first – it is NOT. I mean, in the grand scheme of things, yes, but the book exists and is really, seriously, titled that.


Joke, I have found a perfect Christmas gift for you: Apocalypse Chow: How to Eat Well When the Power Goes Out.


I spotted the review for this book in yesterday’s paper, and thought it was for Jonathan Harr’s new book, also about a painter. This guy’s name is Jonathan Santlofer, and the book is called The Killing Art, its main character a former police detective turned art historian. His first book is called The Death Artist and it looks like fun. I could use a nice fluffy mystery right now.


I don’t know quite what I expected from the New York Times’ 100 Notable Books of the Year list, but I think I expected more than this. Maybe some thoughtful reviews or comments, not just a rehash of the bestseller lists.


Movie esoterica:
- “The Last Temptation of Christ” was directed by Martin Scorcese. I hate when I am wrong.
- I think Paul Rudd is a cutie.
- Brittany Murphy does NOT look like she did in “Clueless” anymore, more’s the pity.
- And Donald Faison is Turk in “Scrubs,” which is why he looked so darn familiar!
- I’ve never seen "Two for the Road", but since it stars my favorite actress Audrey Hepburn and a surprisingly cute young Albert Finney, the situation must be remedied.


I saw this movie, “Noise,” at the library yesterday and considered borrowing it for Dan. The premise is that a young woman is being driven batty by her very loud neighbor. Of course, I am relatively certain that it ends with at least one bloody, psychopathic homicide, so perhaps it's better just not to plant the seed...


Pittsburgh can boast of a Rhodes Scholar this year. Justin Chalker, from the University of Pittsburgh, was one of 32 selected scholars, from a pool of 903 applicants. He is the fourth ever from Pitt. Pretty cool.


Yes, the child takes after me, in good ways as well as bad. Scattered around him are the secondhand books friends of ours gave Primo last night – Magic Treehouse books, Danny and the Dinosaur, Boxcar Children; books Terry’s now-teenaged sons had long ago outgrown. Primo could not believe his good fortune. At nine this morning, he still had not dressed or eaten breakfast; he sat on his bedroom floor, surrounded by his new treasures, and read Midnight on the Moon.


I got to take a nice long walk yesterday with Terzo; here I inflict you with mercifully-unPhotoshopped snapshots of various trees, leaves, and dead plants, ‘cause, um, they interested ME. You will yet live to regret my ever having purchased a digital camera.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Is it Still Procrastinating . . .

. . . if you're doing something that needs to be done for Christmas, rather than doing school work? This is the first knitting project I've ever completed. It's not perfect, but I think the friend I've made it for will appreciate it.

Can you tell that it's a scarf? It's chenille, I think, and surprisingly heavy. It's about four and a half feet long, and wraps fairly nicely. Next time I think I won't make it quite so wide, so it can be a little longer.

Anyway, hooray for me! :-)

There is unrest in the forest, There is trouble with the trees...

Saturday, November 26, 2005

"I'm not an owl!" - Hermione Granger

I began my Christmas shopping Friday. No, I am not one of those getting-up-at-6-am-to-shop crazies, although I was up at 6 am to feed the baby. But it occurs to me that Primo’s birthday is in two weeks and Christmas is in a month and I should immediately begin trolling the Internet for appropriate gifts. Especially since said baby is being held nonstop by his adoring uncle who is in town for 36 hours.

In the spirit of true romance, the digital camera was Dan’s and my Xmas gift to each other – never mind that the poor man has not even been able to get his hands on it since it came.

He plaintively mentioned he needs slippers, since our house is old and cold and due to the high cost of heating this winter, we have the thermostat set at some insanely frigid temperature. (I also might mention that, due to his neuroses, he refuses to turn the heat *on* when he’s home because the noise of the boilers bothers him.) At any rate, I have icicles hanging off my nose and earlobes as I type. So, slippers: I am buying him boring old grey corduroy moccasin-type slippers, with a rubber sole. But check these out: Brightfeet lighted slippers. Pure genius!

I am going to get this photo enlarged and framed for him. I of course know already where it will be hung but still it is ostensibly a gift for him.

Primo wants an “electric guitar with real strings.” His electric guitar is a little old plastic thing I bought at the Red White and Blue for two bucks two years ago. Dan thought he meant he wanted a real guitar and so therefore pompously pronounced that “any child of mine will learn to play on an acoustic guitar.” I patiently explained that Primo wants a TOY - he wants something he can strum and play as he pretends to be John Lennon or Jeff Tweedy or Joe Strummer. He’ll start piano lessons in kindergarten and guitar lessons when he’s a bit older, but for now, he just wants a TOY guitar with strings. Thank God women pay attention to their children.

I am however ignoring the request for a telescope this year, since even a toy telescope would run into the hundred-dollar range. But I will give him The Child’s Introduction to the Night Sky.

The baby is easy – he’ll get a few books to gnaw on and a Teletubbie, probably Lala, as Primo has Tinky-Winky and Segundo is a Po fan.

Segundo is a little tougher, mostly because I know whatever I get him, Primo will want. But I have some puzzles lined up for him, because he is a puzzle whiz. And this cool art book, Nature’s Art Box, with projects we can do together while Primo is in preschool. And some sort of sport-y equipment since he is my bruiser/athlete. Or maybe some Lincoln Logs. Buying for the second is harder because the first already has received many of the things the second would like anyway. Ergh. It might get easier when he gets older and they develop more disparate tastes.

Most of the Thomas the Tank Engine paraphernalia is being taken care of by the boys’ very generous aunts and uncles, who are buying them like a gazillion engines. And I don’t want to buy them any of the sets other than tracks and some signals, since they use their Legos and blocks and TinkerToys to build the water tower and the roundhouse and the big, big bridge now and I’d like to encourage that creativity. Also because have I mentioned that all our money is being used to pay heating bills this winter, and one of those Thomas sets could cover our gas bill for a month or two.


Finished Prime. I liked it, as I said, because of the parts about G-Man. But the ending, similar to Liquor’s ending, was contrived and predictable. Still, I’ll read the next Rickey and G-Man book.

Also finished The Penderwicks - a pleasant little book but, really, worthy of the National Book Award? I’m not so sure. I will still look forward to more, especially about Batty, the youngest Penderwick who is charming and quirky.

I started Douglas Adams’ Last Chance to See then. It’s amusing in a chuckle, chuckle – Bill Bryson-y sort of way, but for whatever reason I was expecting laugh-out-loud funny (even though his other books aren’t really laugh-out-loud, either). Maybe it’ll pick up though, I am only in the first chapter. I am conscious of Adams *trying* to be funny, though, which can be the kiss of death.


I saw “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” last night. My impressions, in no particular order, and subject to change:
  • The first half of the movie was so concentrated on special effects that the dialogue and characters suffered, but it got better about halfway through.
  • Although I must admit that most of the special effects were very cool – I especially liked the Yule Ball scene, and the underwater scenes.
  • The actor who played Cedric Diggory was gorgeous.
  • Ralph Fiennes was PERFECT as Voldemort.
  • Ron Weasley’s droopy-mouthed, snivelly-nosed, long-haired whinyness just GRATED on me.
  • Hermione gets prettier and prettier every movie. While I didn’t particularly love her Yule Ball gown, she looked wonderful in it. And her little giggle of pleasure and anticipation just before Viktor Krum leads her into the Yule Ball was spot-on.
  • I loved Viktor’s transformation into a shark for the Black Lake scene.
  • Viktor was cast all wrong – he should be dark and mysterious, not some bullet-headed thug. I never got the impression from the book that Viktor was dumb, and that’s exactly what impression the movie tried to give.
  • Loved the French girls’ costumes, hated the Bulgarians’.
  • I had a brief moment where I thought they’d implied that Fleur was a lesbian, until I remembered that her prize at the bottom of the lake was her little sister.
  • I hated Rita Skeeter.
  • I adore Severus Snape.
  • My other movie option last evening was “Pride and Prejudice,” in which Alan Rickman plays Mr. Bennett. So either way, I couldn’t lose.
  • What was up with that bizarre torture cage thing that Barty Crouch Jr was held in during the Pensieve scene? How very Inquisitional. All those spells and the best you can do is an Iron Maiden? And when Crouch tries to run, Mad-Eye is the only one who uses MAGIC to stop him – the rest of the wizards try to tackle him. Play to your strengths, people.
  • I adore Neville Longbottom too. I foresee great things for him.
  • That band – at the Yule ball – parts of Radiohead. I kid you not.
    From the Amazon CD review: …with three songs by the Weird Sisters, the group that performs at Hogwarts' Yule Ball. Led by Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker, the ad hoc band also includes members of Radiohead [Jonny Greenwood, guitar; Phil Selway, drums -bb] and Cocker's side project Relaxed Muscle.
  • If the rest of the movie’s music had been anything like the song that played through the end credits, we’d have been in trouble. It was AWFUL.
  • I want Richard Harris back!
  • I liked the idea that Mad-Eye’s eye was this cool camera-type thingey, but did it have to look so dumb? A reviewer compared it, rightly so, to Marty Feldman’s eye in “Young Frankenstein,” and I found myself wanting to say, “Hump? What hump?”
  • Will Harry develop some gumption in the next movie? I hope so. For all his supposed wizardly skill, he is sort of gormless. He seems to be shaping up to be the milquetoast Christ-figure, and I don't like it. You figure JC must have had some serious gumption to get the Pharisees all riled up - so why can't HP have some too?
  • And speaking of Christ figures, did anyone else see the preview before HP for the new Superman movie? What's with that? "I sent my only son to earth..." Weird.

Friday, November 25, 2005

I see something special and show it to the camera. - Sam Abell

Primo drew this when he was two-and-a-half, just before Segundo arrived, and I love it. It makes me happy to look at it. It's just about the most evocative portrait of me and my two older boys that I could hope for. It happened to be just good luck that he drew it with black marker on pink paper, making it quite the graphic statement into the bargain.

I love it so much I had it professionally framed and it hangs in my bedroom.

Every once in a while Primo will say, "That's MY drawing and I want it!" but I refuse to give it up.

Friday Show-and-Tell, courtesy of Blackbird

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Lo, sifted through the winds that blow, Down comes the soft and silent snow, White petals from the flowers that grow
In the cold atmosphere.

Prime is getting better the further I plow into it. It’s turning into more about G-Man who is a character I really like. So I suppose I’ll keep with it after all.

At the same time I am a third of the way thru The Penderwicks. Discussing this with Gina, I noted that it reads very much like the old-fashioned Elizabeth Enright/Melendy books, but then Penderwicks mentions something like the dad’s computer or the make of a car and you realize it is indeed a modern book. Which brings me to this question: what is the opposite of an anachronism? For example - if it were a typical modern-day book and the dad hauled his typewriter everywhere, then the typewriter would be an anachronism, yes? But the computer in the midst of the old-fashionedness – what is the computer?


On the same train of thought - Gina and I were pleased to find that the meaning of “namesake” goes both ways. Terzo is named after his grandfather, so is his grandfather’s namesake. But turns out that Grandpap is also Terzo’s namesake. Thank God for Webster’s.


I renewed my library card yesterday. Because we have the “DonorPlus” cards, I wrote a check and got to pick the new card – I stayed with my old fav, the frog. And I now have a keychain card – Segundo lost my keychain with the first one on it ages ago. The boys picked out their own cards, and we selected the old-time photo of Pittsburgh for the husband. And when I got home and found that somehow on my new account there was 24 bucks worth of fines and I called the library, my favorite librarian recognized my voice, fixed it all up, and was so incredibly nice. Is there anything more heartwarming than having your librarian recognize your voice? I am even more enamored of her now than I was before. And I was plenty enamored before, like a teenage girl; I want her to know that I am a librarian, too, see, I might be someone cool to hang out with, see, see? Did you see the cool books I checked out? Don’t you want to be my friend? Don’t you like me? Huh? See?


Speaking of voices, is there anything more heartrending than a froggy baby? Terzo has lost his voice. He has the croup. (The croup. Why the article? I don’t rightly know.) It’s so pathetic to watch him cry with no sound coming out. And I thought listening to my baby cry was the most awful thing—turns out his NOT crying is oh so much worse.


Primo asked me today if Bert and Ernie are brothers.


It’s snowing here, fiercely at the moment.

Here’s the scene from my front porch (Dan has already swept the steps and walk, because that's what men do. I would have left it for aesthetic reasons.):

And here’s another simply because I am obsessed with taking photos of tree branches:


I am thankful for my three beautiful, insane-making, and funny boys; my husband who, while completely exasperating much of the time, helped me produce said cute kids; my in-laws - always, if nothing else, utterly well-intentioned; my little brother, who is a star in my firmament, and his wife who might be the only woman on earth who deserves him; her parents, who are kind and loving to me and my husband and sons, wholly without any obligation to at all, just because they are wonderful, open-hearted people; even for my older brother who is nuts but I suppose I love him anyway; for Gina – words can’t even begin to describe how or why she puts up with me but boy, I am glad she does, since she makes my life more bearable AND more interesting; for my other friends – Leslie, Lauren, Christina, Sarah Louise, Lannie, among others – who all fill a little part of my heart that no one else can; and for my blogging buddies who are sometimes the only thing standing between me and my running out into the street screaming and tearing my hair out by its roots after a day alone with my children. Oh, and also, for the fact that it is Joke hosting fifty-plus people at his house for Thanksgiving dinner, and not me.

Happy Thanksgiving, all!

Show and Tell--Something Special

It occurs to me that I think many things are pretty special--I snapped pics of most of these things without even going downstairs. I hope I'm not violating the spirit of Blackbird's Youngest's wish when I present you with the following:

This is my mom and dad on their wedding day in August of 1969.

My friend Randy made me this box years ago, and when I opened it I found a note that said, ""Smell me! I'm cedar!"

This is my grandmother, my nephew and Teddy on my parents' back porch this past 4th of July.

My iPod. I hate the ear buds that came with it--they're too big for my petite flower ears--but I love this bit of technology more than almost any other.

I just made these winter curtains for my bedroom. They're courderoy, lined with flannel, and the little flowers make me so very happy.

We've been using this Lego Yoda on a bike to make our own movie.

My first attempt at being crafty without my mother around to coach me. This was probably 1994, and irony was clearly king; I cut all of those ads out of the back of Cosmo. :-)

Teddy's first fingerpainting exerience. He's not going to stand for its hanging in his room much longer, but I'll get away with it while I can.

This needs no explanation.

That's it for now. I might post more things later, because I'm thankful for things, right? And if I'm I'm thankful for it, it's special!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

"The buying of more books than one can possibly read is the soul's way of aspiring towards infinity."

My most recent blog discovery, and I fear I am dreadfully behind the rest of you: Fifty Books blog. I requested about five books from the library last night, and it’s all her fault! I am happily engaged in reading her archives now.

I will probably finish Prime but it’s not really about Rickey and G-Man so it’s not all that compelling. I have a pile of books to retrieve from the library today:

  • The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
  • Forrest Gump by Winston Groom
  • Last Chance to See by Douglas Adams
  • The Big Rumpus: A Mother’s Tales from the Trenches by Ayun Halliday. (I also want to read her new one, Job Hopper: The Checkered Career of a Down-Market Dilettante, but the library doesn’t own it yet.)
I am still waiting on Everybody Into the Pool and Diary of a Provincial Lady.

I am buying Audrey Niffenenegger’s Three Incestuous Sisters for myelf later this week.

Primo has discovered Babar. I thought the beginning, in which Babar's mother is shot by the hunter, might upset Primo but he seemed ok with it and is delighted by the rest of the stories. He's also been checking out the Madeline books. And he has informed me that he needs to get more books about the solar system when we go to the library this afternoon.


I am dreading Thanksgiving. I get overwhelmed with the heat and noise and crowd of my in-laws’ holiday festivities, and generally just need to grit my teeth and get through the next two months. I may be the only person in the world who loves the month of February because all the holiday exertion is finally over.
My older brother is coming into town for this Thanksgiving. His visits used to be a nice thing but not so much now. I feel like he comes here to drink and sleep. I know he says he only really wants to see the boys but I can’t even take him at his word and leave him alone with them because he turns on the TV for them and goes to sleep. He’ll be here for a day and a half, and I have vowed to be nice and easy-going this time, but it’s going to not be fun.


Segundo loves these little red berries and must pick some every time we go for a walk. (He doesn't wish to eat them, he just thinks they're very pretty ("Pitty, Mama? Pitty?"). And that they *smell* like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.)

Winter is really, finally, here.

I covet this stained glass window from the house on the corner. All of our stained glass was reportedly removed and sold by the owner’s ex-wife before the house went on the market. Thank God she was dissuaded from removing and selling the cherry staircase. Designing and building new stained or leaded glass windows is a task on my restoration list, albeit well under replacing the boilers and painting.

Primo made this “pinch pot” at preschool. I love it. Bring on the clay ashtrays!


The church that runs Primo’s preschool has a little garden tucked into the nook between the main building and the offices. It has little stone benches and some decorations and it makes me feel peaceful just to look at it.
The rabbit plaque reads, "The finest gift is a portion of thyself."

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Your friend is the man who knows all about you, and still likes you.

It has become quite clear in the past several days that I have a problem, an addiction of a somewhat unsettling nature: I have taken umpteen photos of my kids, of pretty scenes, of interesting objects. I have taken photos of animals at the zoo, objects around my house that please me, quirky little characteristics of houses in the neighborhood. But now…I go to a birthday party, a perfectly normal place to take photos, and indeed take pictures of the birthday girl and her friends attending the party. But I also take photos of THE FOOD - because the plates are pretty and I wish to share this fascinating fact with my blog buddies.
I long for my camera so I can share how I see the world, with people whom I have never physically met. I suppose this is the way people throughout the ages have made and grown friendships, we just happen to be doing it in a huge and anonymous environment. I wonder if any sociologists anywhere have done studies of the phenomenon of the Internet friendship.
Gina knows how I see the world already as she has been my physical, in-person friend for close to ten years [God bless her, I don’t know how she puts up with me sometimes]; I think I present myself fairly truly, don’t I, Gina? How do you think the process of becoming and staying your friend was/is different from whatever process is happening now, with people with whom we are building relationships online?

You see, this is what being awake at 3 a.m. with a hungry baby does to your thought processes.

Here are some of those photos of the food, in case you were wondering.
What they say about me, other than the fact that I am a loony, is that I have a weakness for 1) food, and 2) colorful plates, or maybe just plates in general.
And now YOU know.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

I have an existential map. It has 'You are here' written all over it. – Steven Wright

Dan and I attended a fundraising event for the Union Project last night. It was an art opening of sorts, with proceeds from the art sale benefiting the project. Some of the stuff for sale was absolutely gorgeous – I particularly covet the wonderful swirly glass tumblers that I may go back and buy.

The Chamber Orchestra of the Pittsburgh Symphony performed, and they were wonderful. I enjoyed them more than the “real” symphony. The space provided such an intimate and immediate sound and feel to the performance, and the music was more modern. It was a totally unexpected bonus as neither of us had paid any attention to what else was going on at this fundraiser. We had almost just skipped it to go to dinner and I am so glad we didn’t. (We wound up at the Sharp Edge, a local bar/restaurant, for one of their luscious blue cheese burgers after.)

A very pleasant night, although I was at the UP all of five minutes before I wished heartily I had brought my camera. There were so many cool things to show you all – the tumblers I want; the yellow-glazed mugs Dan liked; the deep dusky purple color they painted the sanctuary; the bowls of gummy bears on the buffet table; the construction lights strung all over the ceiling to light the space, that looked cool and trendy, not dorky and unfinished at all as you might expect; the serving china from the old church – white with gold rims and "East End Baptist Church" stamped on it in gold; the same plates, topped by wine glasses holding orange sand and votive candles, surrounded by polished stones and chunks of amber glass as centerpieces.
Oh, how I longed for my camera.


I finished The Thorn Birds and I did not want it to end. I want more Meggie and Ralph, and especially more Justine! What an epic story. Next up is Poppy Z. Brite’s sequel to Liquor (which I enjoyed very much), Prime. I started it last night (well, this morning at 5 a.m., feeding the baby) and it has the same easy, readable feel as Liquor. I like the characters of Rickey and G-Man even more.


I am sure you are all aware that the next Harry Potter movie, “Goblet of Fire,” opened Friday. Stephanie Zacharek reviews it on Salon, with such talent that even if I didn’t want to see it anyway, I’d go see it. She’s an amazing writer. [Gina saw it – lucky woman! See her review below.] Every review – including Gina’s – has mentioned Hermione’s Yule Ball dress – I have to see the film if only to get a gander at this dress. But in a way I am sorta feeling like I am kinda over the whole HP thing. I will read the next two books to see what happens, but I am less than entranced anymore. Hmmm.


I just requested The Penderwicks from the library. Jeanne Birdsall’s book has been compared to Elizabeth Enright’s Melendy books – enough of a recc for me. The fact that it won the National Book Award for young people’s lit is irrelevant after that comparison.

I tried to read Gregory McGuire’s Wicked but just could not get into it. However, my sister-in-law has seen the musical three times and offered me a ticket to the production that comes to town in March. I am going to go see it. Gotta keep an open mind about these things…

Larry David is one of the comedians featured in TBS’s comedy special “Earth to America” Sunday night. It is meant to raise consciousness about global warming, so a good cause, but frankly I would happily listen to David read the phone book. And probably laugh just as hysterically.


Well, my father-in-law’s birthday cake wound up being chocolate with raspberry filling and chocolate frosting. I am sure it tasted just fine (I had to take the boys home before they got around to having cake last night) but in the 70-plus degree heat of my in-laws' house, half of the cake and filling slid off the cake, off the plate, and tried to escape off the buffet. Thank God my father-in-law appreciates the effort and love that went into its creation and does not care about the aesthetics. (Quite the opposite of my mother-in-law, but since I know this, I can be prepared : ))


Where is my new, free calendar from the zoo? I need it now. I have events piling up in the new year that must be marked down. I am also obsessed with finding those little clippie things that are magnetized to hold it onto the fridge since the regular magnets are not doing the trick.


This email came through our neighborhood list this morning:
Can anyone recommend a good house keeper…We would prefer someone who is courteous, pays attention to detail and does a thorough job.
Because a uncouth, inefficient, and sloppy housekeeper is really what most other people prefer? What if s/he’s rude but gets your floors really clean?


It has come to my attention that the Italian for “third” is terzo. Ok. I was just messing with you, people. Like people who spell perfectly normal names strangely in their attempts to be “different:” Nychole, or Cyndee, or Kaitlynne. Or Madicyn - as if that real name isn’t horrible enough. Henceforth, Terce will be known as Terzo. Or Turtzho, whichever strikes my fancy. This has been a public service announcement.


I hate my breast pump. That is all.


This morning Primo and Segundo and I attended a birthday party at the zoo. (Terzo went to the Yale/Harvard fottball telecast with his dad.)I walked all around the zoo and am zonked out, as are the boys. But perhaps the walk cancelled out the birthday cake which was my breakfast. Sigh.

Here’s the birthday crowd.

“I am going to eat YOU.”

Wouldn’t you hate to have to bathe an elephant?

Or shave a baboon?

Although cleaning the shark tank might be fun.

Friday, November 18, 2005

My Show and Tell

Teddy and I took a little walk today, so here are some pics from my parents' house and yard. (I think this is my first Show & Tell!)

This is my dad's red wheel. We have no idea why he likes it so much, but he painted it and set it here. My mother indulges him, so it's been here for years.

Here's Teddy walking away from the wheel, just for a sense of . . . presentation.

These are just some pretty berries.

And now I'm going to eat some pizza.

Blogging in the Sticks

I'm writing from my parents' in Mt. Pleasant, PA. The zip code here here is 15666, which pretty much sums up this place--the town where you can get a varsity letter in drunk driving. (I'm kidding about the letter, but not the zip.)

I'm here because my mother had her gall bladder removed this morning, about 20 years after she was told she needed to have it done. My mom, you see, is a nurse. (And a martyr.) She's one of those medical professionals who will baby and care for and drug everyone in town, but won't lie down or take a Tylenol when something hurts her.

I have my own martyr tendencies, but I'm good friends with drugs and period patches and hot water bottles and Vick's Vapo-Rub. I carry Immodium and Advil and tissues and cough drops and lip balm and a plethora of other pharmacy aids in my purse: I am the lady to look for if something ails you.

Anyway, my mom is fine, and sound asleep in the only upstairs bedroom that has a TV in it. (This way she can be sure to watch Guiding Light live this afternoon, instead of tape on this evening. It's the little things, I guess.)


Once we knew my mom was okay, Teddy and I (yes, I kept him home today because I didn't want to have him stranded at school in case something went wrong with my mom) went to see Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire at 10am! Huzzah! It was great! You finally, FINALLY start to see the kids as real people in this one. I'm going to credit the director for this, but the main credit has to go to the kids, who are finally learning how to act. And they swear a lot: "Bloody hell," and even a disgusted, "Piss off." Yes! Because kids swear! Imagine!

The movie is long--more than two hours--despite the things that are changed/rearranged/cut from the book. The story isn't damaged by some of these (somewhat major) changes, however, and the movie didn't *feel* long at all. Ted and I both want to go again.

Random things:

I noticed Fred and George Weasly more than usual in this one. They *look* perfect for the part, but they gave off an odd vibe. I kept thinking of a cartoon version of a drugged up Ringo Star, in a (mostly) good way.

Hermione at the Yule Ball=LOVELY. I was so happy for her! :-)

Snape is almost . . . benign in this movie. Alan Rickman nearly smiles in one scene.

Ralph Fiennes does a great job as Voldemort. His voice is perfect.

I cried during the scene in the graveyard and its immediate aftermath. Ted said he felt like he might cry, but he didn't. His knees were literally shaking, though.

The bottom line is that the book is still far superior, but this movie is fun and exciting, and I was sad that it was over.

We saw the trailer for Peter Jackson's King Kong, and GOD! I hadn't given this a second thought when I heard it was being made, but I will see it for sure.

And now I must scare up some lunch.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Red is the ultimate cure for sadness. - Bill Blass

I don’t really like red. I don’t wear it, it washes me out. I don’t gravitate towards it the way I do cobalt blue for my kitchen appliances or greens in clothing to complement my reddish hair or earth tones in home furnishings. But turns out there are many red things I like well enough, or at least notice.

Bertie the bus is the boys’ favorite red object...I despise these pants – sweats should be blue or grey – but Primo insists upon wearing them whenever they are clean...Mix with Bacardi rum and you’ve got one of my favorite things, even topping girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes...Po is Segundo’s favorite red object...We are big Radiohead fans in this house...These are my favorite pens. I have them in blue, black, and red...I purchased this candle from the cooking shop/bakery up the street (home of the butter cream experts). It was 75% off regular price; I paid three bucks...I seem to like red boxes. For soaps and extras toothbrushes and other odds and ends...Some wonderful and red books...I wore this dress for my friend’s wedding, and for my brother’s rehearsal dinner...the tile in the bathroom is one of the retro things I adore about my house...these great earrings were a Christmas gift last year from my brother’s wife, whom I love and I hope she loves me...another red box, for stray favorite book in life, conveniently bound in globetrotting 84-year-old aunt gave me this eyeglasses – a departure in style for me. My previous pair were tortoiseshell...The Grinch Who Stole Christmas is my favorite Christmas story. “Little Cindy Lou Who, who was no more than two…”...I heart my hot water bottle. It keeps me toasty in the winter and is filled with cold water when I have a migraine...We had our gutters scraped and painted last weekend. We no longer need to fear a giant rainstorm...Segundo’s sparkly party hat, living on one of the computer speakers...Badger’s virtual pet fish Beelzebubbles makes me chuckle. Its name is one of those clever things I wish I had thought of but never could in a gazillion years.

But, hands down, my favorite red objects are these:

Friday Show-and-Tell, courtesy of Blackbird

Totally. Freaking. Speechless.

Really. Am I missing something? Is this supposed to be some kind of toilet training aid? Because if it is, I don't see the point. And if it isn't . . . I still don't see the point.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

"The only way that I could figure they could improve upon Coca-Cola, one of life's most delightful elixirs...

"...which studies prove will heal the sick and occasionally raise the dead, is to put rum in it."
- Lewis Grizzard


You need to check this out. I laughed myself simple(r).


Emmy update: I haven’t seen hide nor hair of the cat, but truth be told, I did not have time to go looking for her this morning. Last night, however, she was sleeping on my dirty laundry pile AND she chased my mother-in-law, who for some reason is horribly afraid of cats, up the basement stairs. So I choose to infer from this that she is feeling at least marginally better.


Other people find their signs in the stars or in their horoscope – I choose to take mine wherever I can get them. I saw two Guinness trucks while driving Segundo to daycare today. The first Guinness truck said, “Guinness: If only everything flowed this smoothly…” and the second one, following on its heels (tires?) said, “Guinness refreshes the spirit.”


One surefire way to divine what sort of a morning you have had: if you walk into the Starbucks and say, “I’ll have a Bacardi and….um, I mean, a tall skim chai,” it’s probably been a less-than-stellar morning.


This series of books (reviewed on Salon today) retelling the great myths looks really interesting, especially if they are written by the likes of Margaret Atwood and Donna Tartt. Karen Armstrong, who wrote the fascinating History of God writes the first book in the series, A Short History of Myth, introducing and exploring the concepts of the series to follow. (By the by, the review itself is an interesting read.)


Gina finds Garrison Keillor insufferable, as do I. Although I wanted to email his story on the food of Thanksgiving to Joke, the gourmand.


I must own this book, Mommy Knows Worst: Highlights from the Golden Age of Bad Parenting Advice RIGHT NOW.


Childbirth seems to have destroyed my ability to properly use commas. Sorry.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Don't look so sad, Marina, there's another part to it for a rainy day...

On my way to the vet’s last night, I was actually in a great mood. Dan got home way earlier than expected so I got to leave Terce home too. I stopped and picked up some groceries. I stopped at B&N and spent the gift certificate from my Perfect sister-in-law - I bought Colleen McCullough’s The Ladies of Missalonghi, Poppy Z. Brite’s sequel to Liquor, Prime, and a book about Bombay called Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found, by Suketa Mehta. So as soon as I finish Thorn Birds, I have stuff to read. ‘Cause, you know, I didn’t before. Nothing just lying around my house, unread. Waiting to be read. Nope. Not me.


What is it about large expanses of water that make me want to leap in and swim around in circles?

I would like to put some bird feeders up in our yard and then learn about birds that come eat there, but it seems kinda cruel to lure them in only to have Emmy rip their heads off, no? Maybe if she has a splint on, it’ll slow her down for a while, but still…seems heartless. So I just admire neighborhood bird feeders.

The intricate gate caught my eye.

Upon further snooping, I discovered the lovely garden and fountain – in the middle of the city. Cool, huh? The gardening/yard decoration feats around this neighborhood sometimes surprise me but always please me.

Sta’aka. (Read The Sparrow, it’s good.)