Saturday, April 29, 2006

The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play. - Arnold Toynbee

List Friday - This week's topic: Your Dream Job
Courtesy of Loretta, of Pomegranates and Paper

I’ve had what some people would consider pretty cool jobs.

I worked as a scenic artist and set designer in theatre for ten years. I enjoyed drawing out the background drops but the painting, eh. And all the dealing with difficult designers bit the big one. And most of them were difficult. Maybe I should have been a draftsman. I was an excellent painter – one of the few things I do not need to be even remotely modest about – and hit the top of the pay scale in this city at the age of about 26. And it was really just so much manual labor and working with toxins…so I got lucky and became a technical writer. My specialty was medical software, which I really enjoyed. I also dabbled in mark-up languages/programming. That was fun but not ultimately incredibly useful.

In between, I worked in a bookstore, that was also cool for a while. No pressure, you just went home at the end of your shift and forgot all about work. And I was a copyeditor – ok, but you really do have to read a bunch of crap you’d rather not. I’ve worked clothing retail – never again. But I got a major discount on some great clothes. But I? Am not so hot with the customer service. I really don’t like people, in case you haven’t noticed. I also toyed with the idea of becoming a real estate agent. H manfully did NOT laugh in my face when I mentioned that.

I actually HAVE my dream job. I love, love, LOVE being a reference librarian at a university. Every day brings a new challenge and a new research topic. I adore doing research. I love telling people I am a librarian. It’s pretty terrific to actually HAVE your dream job – I know I am very lucky. But inn a different life, the following jobs would be something I would consider, for fun, not for profit.

  1. Forensic pathologist – yes, like Quincy. I would be SO good at this. This has been my dream job since I was little. I just never had the brains/oomph/drive to go to medical school. I could also see my way clear to being a coroner/medical examiner. (I also wouldn't mind being a mortician. Not my dream job, but it'd be ok.)
  2. Biomedical informationist. With my library graduate degree, I am halfway there! When my kids are grown, I can apply myself to finding a job at a hospital library and see what I can work out from there.
  3. A hospice social worker. I would be VERY good at this, too; I am at my best in crisis mode. It’s the mundanity of everyday life that gets me down and makes me nutso and crazy to live with. And I could be helping people who really needed the help, in a time of stress and sadness.
  4. A transplant coordinator. Yes, body organs. I am crazed on the subject of organ donors. Everyone should be one, if at all medically possible.
  5. Olympic gymnast. Nadia Comaneci was my childhood idol. Yes, I *will* be going to see “Stick It,” no matter how godawful the title and the reviews.
  6. Run a little used bookshop/café. But I want to be independently filthy rich, so I don’t have to worry about how we are doing, and also so I can hire people to cover for me when I want to sleep in.
  7. Work for a company that runs estate sales and clears out estates. Do you know that Cheryl Wheeler song, Estate Sale? That pretty much sums it up.
  8. An auto mechanic. But back when cars were not just all computer-driven. I can change out a muffler, and a carburetor, and all sorts of easy stuff like tires and oil. I can weld. I think I’d be a terrific mechanic.
  9. Stained glass restorer. I took a class in this within the past year, and was not only pretty decent at it, but also enjoyed it very much. It is soothing work. And my – ahem, shall we call it, “detail-oriented personality” - would prove to be useful.
  10. A pool boy. Excuse me, pool person.

I used this as the signature on my work email for a while; I'll bet my boss did not find it nearly as droll as I did but I never asked:
One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one's work is terribly important. ~ Bertrand Russell

Friday, April 28, 2006

"...on the street where you live." - Lerner and Loewe

I have often walked
Down the street before,
But the pavement always
Stayed beneath my feet before.
All at once am I
Several stories high,
Knowing I’m on the street where you live.

Are there lilac trees
In the heart of town?
Can you hear a lark in any other part of town?
Does enchantment pour
Out of every door?
No, it’s just on the street where you live.


I don’t quite feel like this about my street – but I do like my street. Except I have to spell it for EVERYONE because, sigh, people just don’t get a classical education these days.

We live on the corner of an alley and an avenue. This is a shot down the alley.
The boys play hockey and ride bikes in the alley, as do the five neighbor children. We also put our trash out in the alley instead of in front of our house, which is quite nice. The wall along the alley is concrete, and the previous owner planted a gazillion rose bushes all along the wall. It’s gorgeous when they bloom – I’ll post photos, I promise. Maybe someone can tell me what kind of roses they are…the beautiful pink dogwood belongs to the neighbors. They have a lovely garden in their front yard.

This heads down the street towards the not-so-savory part of the neighborhood. The woman who lives in the house on the corner - straight past the white couch that has been sitting out for the garbage men since last Sunday and through the trees – is pregnant with her NINTH child. Little bit of neighborhood trivia for you.
The couch was put there by the people who live in the carriage house-cum-apartments of the monster house on the corner. I don’t know them except they NEVER bring their garbage cans in after trash day (we are horrible people and have taped notes and copies of the trash rules to the lids) and one of the boys owns a car without a muffler, that he starts up to work on for HOURS sometimes.
We have to move our cars around the street-cleaners from April to December. There are signs on the posts reminding us: every first and third Wednesday, one side of the street; every first and third Thursday, the other side of the street. It’s a pain. It’s really the only time I wish we had a driveway. And we’re not allowed to park in the alley.
You can see that our city maintenance guys do the same weird thing to our tress that they do to Lazy Cow's trees, all the way on the other side of the world in Australia.

The house on the right is a rental unit, inhabited by three or four or eight college students. They are pretty quiet, they only occasionally have parties, and they seem nice enough.
The house on the left is owned by P, who is 94 years old and still goes for a long walk every single morning, up to Bloomfield for a weekly poker game, and about twice a month or so, has an “escort” to his house. I suppose if it were constant, or it were more obvious, I’d be perturbed. But hell, the guy’s NINETY-FOUR and still gets it on at least twice a month? I think that’s fairly impressive. P’s daughter picks him up for dinner twice a week, and his son drops him off afterwards in his company van. They come over and clean up his yard, too. He seems like a nice enough guy, but as he’s deaf as a post – and VERY quiet, which we like - I haven’t really ever talked with him at length. I only know about the hooker because our next-door neighbors thought it was P’s daughter for the longest time, and told us the story of finding out she wasn’t.

On the right side of the photo is the edge of a gigantic, restored mansion, that is a rental unit for ONE family. I think there must have been a divorce or something at some point, because why would you spend all that money renovating a mansion only to rent it out? I know there’s a teenage boy there who practices his trumpet every evening; and that the lawn service they hire cares for the front yard but neglects the side yard, which is what we stare at from our front porch. Because there’s a long stretch of shaded empty street there, several times we have witnessed what I suspect were drug deals or hookers. But they tend to not hang there anymore as this pesky family with three boys moved in across the street and they call the cops ALL THE TIME, plus they are ALWAYS outside. How very annoying and detrimental to the prostitution and drug dealing public. Yeah, the Babes are pains in the ass.

The house on the corner – you can really only see the back – is where our neighborhood paranoid schizophrenics live. I’m not being glib –they are, and they are brother and sister. Dickie spends most of his time throwing a baseball at the stop sign – apparently he could have had quite the career in pro baseball if not for his mental problems, he spent several seasons in minor league ball. He also very carefully lines up his trash bags across his driveway each week for pickup. His sister is hugely overweight and walks with a cane and has a foul, foul mouth on her. Dickie is harmless, but his sister is a bitch.
Then there’s the duplex right next door. I wanted Gina to buy it and live in one half while renting out the other. Purely for selfish reasons, of course. Like having her right next door. If H and I were millionaires, we’d buy it and tear it down, for the yard. The previous owner did a lot of work to it and then sold it. One side is now empty, the other contains a middle-aged black lady and her granddaughter. The lady’s husband used to live there too and cook the most delectable smelling barbecue in the backyard, but apparently she kicked him out.
Which is a shame because he made the neighborhood smell so yummy.

Our street is a direct route up to the park, and so every summer the cars with the thumping radios go up and down our street. One reason H wants to move. That, and all the rental units.

This morning, walking with the boys to Primo’s preschool, I saw four cars parked at the corner, followed by a K-9 cop unit. I thought at first it was a funeral procession, but that didn’t seem right. So I looked again. In each car was a plainclothes cop and a narcotics cop in uniform (with NARCOTICS emblazoned across their sweatshirts, that’s how I knew.) Dickie was pounding on one car’s window, shouting that they were blocking his driveway. I was hissing, “Dickie, they’re COPS. QUIT it!” The boys were entranced by the K-9 truck. Then the cars all peeled off from the curb and raced away. No idea what was going on, but this is not necessarily an unusual sort of occurrence on this street.

So that’s it – my street.

And oh, the towering feeling
Just to know somehow you are near
The overpowering feeling
That any second you may suddenly appear.

People stop and stare
They don’t bother me,
For there’s no where else on earth
That I would rather on the street where you live


Thursday Show-and-Tell, courtesy of Blackbird

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Why, in my day, you could buy meat anywhere! Eggs they had, real butter! Fresh lettuce in the stores! [UPDATED TEN MINUTES LATER VERSION!]

I have had to change my shirt four times today.
Will Terzo EVER stop spitting up?
Maybe it’s something he’s eating...
read on…

I found this article on Salon about kids’ food choices so interesting, I thought I’d give you my considered and esteemed opinion on it. Just because I can. Hey, you’re the one still reading...Food is just such a weighted topic. (The letters on this article were vehement, both sides.) And most mothers buy into it wholeheartedly, because we are all trying to be good moms, and *clearly,* good moms don't feed their children things that are bad for them.

This seems to be on everyone’s minds these days; Surfing Free just posted about this yesterday.
And there are medical reasons for more rigorous monitoring: Carolyn of TMI Spot maintains a completely separate blog to track what her glucose- and casein-sensitive son can and can’t eat. (She has links to other moms who are dealing with diet restrictions and toddler nutrition, too, if you’re interested.)

Food for our children is a HOT topic.

Just to be right up front: here is a typical day of eating with my boys, and I admit I am not averse to treats of ice cream, the occasional cookie (preferably homemade – it’s the preservatives and chemicals that scare me more than the sugar), or a lemonade/juice box. Mostly because then, *I* can have a coffee or a chocolate croissant or an ice cream.
And as I noted in a previous post or comment, other than allergens, like nuts and strawberries for the baby, my kids are pretty much allowed anything once in a while, except soda. And that’s for no special reason other than it’s rarely around and they prefer juice anyway.

2 bowls Honey-Nut Cheerios or corn flakes with whole milk
Half a banana
Cup of apple or orange juice

Dannon fruit yogurt
Strawberries and/or grapes and/or apples
Annie’s whole-wheat bunny crackers
Chocolate whole milk

Fig Newtons or graham crackers. They also have some kind of fruit, even if it is just some raisins or dried apricots.

A little of whatever we are having, say:
Baked chicken
Steamed broccoli
Sliced apples or oranges
Whole white milk or water
Brownberry’s buttermilk or oatnut bread

Once they get up from the table, they are done. They may eat bread and milk if they are still hungry after they have gotten up. But I am not running a restaurant and I don’t generally cook especially for them. That said, if we are having something I KNOW they hate, like tilapia sautéed in lemon-butter sauce with capers (tonight) – I may make them mac-and-cheese (yes, from the box. They HATE homemade.) or chicken or scrambled eggs. If I am feeling benevolent.

  • Primo will eat any kind of fruit you put in front of him with the exception of kiwi. He’s tried it twice and hated it. He loves chicken and turkey and salami.

  • Segundo’s favorite meal is Bush’s vegetarian baked beans, corn bread, and milk. He is the carb fiend. No danger of him EVER going Atkins on us.

  • Terzo has had some real food – bagel, waffles, plain macaroni, rice – and the only baby food at which he has turned his nose up so far is the Gerber jarred rice-and-turkey. Which I suppose is a good call on his part, actually. Not sure what I was thinking with that purchase.

I do stress about their food. I stress whether they are getting all the vitamins and minerals they need, that they are getting the proper balance of roughage – very important in this time of potty-training, that they are not getting waaaayyy too much sugar. My husband is a fiend about it, but I think that’s because he is not with them as much as I am. So he can be a hard-ass. Also, their whining doesn’t nearly grate on his nerves as much as it grates on mine.

My pediatrician (he’s mine, I tell you! The rest of you drooling moms – hands off! He loves ME!) explained to me that when judging toddler food, it’s really more important – and realistic – to judge their diet over the average of a week’s worth of meals as opposed to one day. He said there are toddlers who can go two days without eating (with NO chocolate stash in the nightstand drawer!) and then eat their body weight or something like that in one meal. Hmmm.

Maybe I was a toddler in a former life.

And maybe the pint of Ben & Jerry's Chubby Hubby I devoured YESTERDAY will be balanced out by all the fruits and veggies I intend to eat TODAY.

[Gah! I just told you what my children eat! So I should tell them that, say, if a woman named Badger pulls up in her minivan and says, "Hey little Segundo, I know you like to eat BAKED BEANS AND CORNBREAD, hop on in!" they should NOT go with her. They should call me and I can go out drinking with her instead.]

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Christmas comes but once a year...

Primo just presented me with his CHRISTMAS LIST.

Oh, for the optimism of a five-year-old...

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Or maybe you could yell, This is the police! and it'll open right up!

OK, Badger’s post re: posting kids’ photos on the Internet has sent some of us – well, me and Gina - into a tailspin. Gina and I exchanged several emails about issues surrounding posting our kids’ names and photos, and should we go back through the archives and delete? Gina suggested just deleting her posts altogether. Which I think would just suck, because I LIKE her posts.
A few months ago I changed the boys’ names to pseudonyms. And I recently decided that I will no longer post readily identifiable photos of the boys, and this policy now includes the baby, which it didn’t at first because he’s SO.DAMN.CUTE, and how could I not share? And I kinda think all babies look alike.
I don’t know that I’ll go through the archives and delete photos. I did offer to do it for Gina if she wanted me to. And I will.
I myself have never used my real name mostly due to a weird but ultimately harmless episode of stalking that happened lo these many years ago now. Also because, what if – in some alternate universe, but still - my mother-in-law learned to set up and plug in her computer, set up and access her email and the Internet, and somehow came upon THE BLOG? I can’t afford a divorce. Although she might see her way clear to lending me the money…
I don’t post pictures of myself because I am FAT. And I want you all to like me. And you might not if you saw how wildly unattractive I can be.
But my children? Are adorable. As some of you well know. And while Behind the Stove may never grow to Dooce-like proportions (God, I hope not! I couldn't take the pressure!), it’s still best to be safe and cautious and what not with your readership. Because you know, for all we really know, one of us may be an axe murderer, or a black-market body-organ profiteer. Or – this is where I get serious – a pedophile. The thought of any sicko seeing my little boys on their computer screen and then twisting those images to suit their own perverted fantasies makes my skin crawl and my stomach roil. So, those of you who have seen my kids, I am glad you got to. Because have I mentioned that they are adorable? And those who haven’t – sorry. I can’t post pictures of them anymore. At least not close-ups or identifiable ones. Because I need to be able to sleep at night. And let me tell you, with three children, I don’t do too much of that anyway.
I’m sorry if I am going on and on about this, but it really upset me, how naïve and careless I can be, with the most precious people in the world to me.


My plumber has (FINALLY!) come and gone, and I now have a functioning laundry pipe system/doohickey thing.
Let the Laundry Games begin!
[Oops. I spoke too soon. The babysitter just called me. She ran a load of towels and put them in the dryer and the DRYER DID NOT WORK. As in, the towels are still wet. As in, please just kill me now and put me out of the misery that seems to be my lot this week. Like having my mother-in-law fold all my towels.]


Literary snippets:

No, no idea why "The Poseidon Adventure" is on the brain. Sorry.
Scroll down for the winners of caption contest #25. All you librarian types will especially appreciate this.

Gina and I also figured out why I so enjoyed The Thief Lord but not so much Inkheart - different translator. Yes, we have become such geeks that the translator matters now. I spent fifteen minutes trying to find out if Inkheart had been translated by more than one person, in the hopes that I could still read it without being BORED. Of course, I did go out of my way several years ago to find Dante’s Inferno translated by Robert Pinsky, so I suppose I knew translation mattered. But still…it so explains the difference between the two.

I am thoroughly enjoying the latest Mary Russell, although the part where Holmes meets Dashiell Hammett is a leetle too…too. So far. But gosh, I have a weakness for heroes with tuberculosis. Color me weird. I also find Sherlock Holmes incredibly sexy. Color me even weirder, I suppose.

Don’t know what I want to read next. I am feeling out of sorts with everything right now, including my reading choices.

I just called one of circulation people the “”reserve goddess.” Which would be ok except HE is clearly a man. Fortunately for me, a man who is my friend. I need a drink or a nap or both.

The library is having their annual Scholastic book fair this week. I need to walk across the aisle and see if they have any Magic Tree House books, cheap, for the Primo. [They don’t. Bummer.] But check this book out: Montmorency: Thief, Liar, Gentleman? Looks pretty cool, eh?


All right. As you were.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Which way do we go in this ferkuckt flippity ship?

Sunday confessions, a day late, because BLOGGER SUCKS:

I am feeling a way I have not felt in quite some time – HOW am I going to get through the day, the week, this month? What’s the point? I feel like hell, I am exhausted, I am sick and tired of my family, and I can’t imagine going on for another forty years like this. And then the guilt smites me – there are moms who are dying, leaving their children behind, I see the obits all the time. And here I am having an existential crisis.

In the same vein, I am sick and tired of nursing. There’s a small, selfish part of me that loves that I am the only one who can comfort him when he’s inconsolable. But mostly, I am sick of it. Some other being has been in control of my body for the past fifteen-some months; I am so ready to claim my body back. I look forward to not having to think about if my boobs are readily accessible, or if exercising will make my milk taste funny.

I am VERY angry with my plumber. And I DON’T CARE if his father-in-law is sick, or for that matter, if his mother is on her deathbed. I just want my stupid washing machine/sewer lines fixed so I can do laundry. Because I CANNOT STAND the way my mother-in-law folds my laundry. I know I am being an ungrateful and cold beast, and I DON’T CARE.

Sometimes I fantasize about having a nervous breakdown so I can go live in a psychiatric hospital for a week or two. (I think I've confessed this before, to all and sundry, loud and often.) Of course, with my luck, I’d wind up as Olivia de Havilland in “Snake Pit.” Maybe just a broken leg (do you even get to be an in-patient for that these days?) Just some nice, benign, recoverable injury, so I can get two or three nights sleep, my meals brought to me, and some time to read.

I wish I owned a gun. You should know, I am a pacifist, and really, the thought of owning a gun scares the crap out of me. I have handled one once, and that terrified me. The boyfriend whose gun it was wanted to teach me to shoot, and I was soooo not interested. But this sudden longing for a gun coincides with the warm weather. Which means all kinds of idiots are driving down the street with their bass thump-thump-thumping. It’s an act of aggression, and I would like to respond in kind. By shooting out their speakers.

Serious Things and Crazy Things. And a Book.

Teddy has finally learned that his dad is gay--they had the talk yesterday. His reply was, "Oh. That's okay." I'm not sure how this is going to play out. So far, nothing. Maybe there won't be anything until Ted hits 12 or so. I just don't know.


Sorry for the bad scan, but I had to show you this ad for the Naughty Nads Bikini Design Kit from the May issue of Shape magazine. One of my friends called me from the store yesterday to tell me about it, and then I ran out to get a copy and see for myself. I'd love to hear your thoughts.


Lipshitz Six, or Two Angry Blonds is . . . quite a book. It's two stories in one, and features fewer likeable characters than any book I've read in a long time. Yet I was compelled to finish it--some of the writing is really great. I'm glad I got this from the library rather than the book store, but I'll look for Cooper's next book.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

The rain, it raineth on the just, and also on the unjust fella;

But mostly on the just because the unjust steals the just's umbrella!

-Ogden Nash


The riches, they just keep a’coming:

Gina took me out for lunch on my birthday.
Sarah Louise gave me one of her cunningly wrapped gifts, including a little stripey notebook and The Left Hand of Darkness, which I wanted to own so I can finish it without worrying about having to return it to the library!
My best friend from college, who was also my maid-of-honor, sent me, per her usual much-appreciated extravagance, a box of fudge and a box of chocolate-covered Oreos.
The boys gave me perfume.
My in-laws gave me CASH.

This year’s birthday truly was a banner one.
Thank you, thank you!


Oh my sweet babboo. (I suppose that's like Oh my giddy aunt!)
Look, mail from exotic places!
I DO love getting real mail!

Suse sent me the loveliest package full of glorious things, that was fun to open and elicited all sorts of ooohs and aaahhhhs from the audience (my boys).

There was lovely, knobby, silky soap, wrapped in blue paper and tied with string.

There was a bee-yoo-ti-ful intricately knitted flannel, which I can not possibly sully by using to wash. Blackbird and I were discussing what we could perhaps fashion these into: hats, or cell phone cases, in order to display them as they should be displayed, to be appreciated fully.

There was a little card, graced with a close-up photo of an echidna. Apparently Suse’s echidna wanders her backyard…

There was a little package labeled, “For three handsome young men.” I truly thought the boys might explode with excitement. The conductor happily joins Blackbird’s conductor, who is pleased as punch to have a reliable partner, so they can each have every other weekend off now. The engineers are happy to be helpful, keeping all the boys’ trains, including the Polar Express Segundo received for his birthday, in good nick.

There were two types of TimTams. And I just “slammed a TimTam.” And now I must move to Australia where I can get these easily. Suse, could you see your way clear to adopting me or something?

Thank you, my faraway friend. Your graham crackers are probably on a tramp steamer somewhere in the Atlantic.


I finished The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place last night, lying on the couch, savoring a hunk of crusty Italian bread, a chunk of Gorgonzola, and a Bacardi-and-kosher-for-Passover Coke. Ah, Friday nights. Anyway, I enjoyed the book, but I enjoyed the reading of it more than I did the happenings in it. I mean, the characters were interesting – I liked Margaret Rose very much. I’ve always had a soft spot for Melville’s Bartleby, and this book made me continue to do so. I liked her uncles, and Jake Kaplan. I just felt, once again, that the ending didn’t match the rest of the book.

Maybe I expect too much from YA fiction?

Now I embark upon a sure winner, Laurie R. King’s next Mary Russell novel, Locked Rooms. I am happy to find she has another Kate Martinelli police novel, The Art of Detection, coming out in May - not that I have read Night Work, the third Kate Martinelli novel, yet but just so I know I have a King book in reserve.


I have been perusing Blackbird's archives. I know that sounds stalker-ish but it's not. It's just entertaining. I found this test in one of her past posts (these are my results):

Dante's Inferno Test - You Have Been Judged

The wretched King Minos has decided your fate. His tail wraps around his body 7 times. The sweet light no longer strikes against your eyes. Your shade has been banished to... the Seventh Level of Hell!

Guarded by the Minotaur, who snarls in fury, and encircled within the river Phlegethon, filled with boiling blood, is the Seventh Level of Hell. The violent, the assasins, the tyrants, and the war-mongers lament their pitiless mischiefs in the river, while centaurs armed with bows and arrows shoot those who try to escape their punishment. The stench here is overpowering. This level is also home to the wood of the suicides- stunted and gnarled trees with twisting branches and poisoned fruit. At the time of final judgement, their bodies will hang from their branches. In those branches the Harpies, foul birdlike creatures with human faces, make their nests. Beyond the wood is scorching sand where those who committed violence against God and nature are showered with flakes of fire that rain down against their naked bodies. Blasphemers and sodomites writhe in pain, their tongues more loosed to lamentation, and out of their eyes gushes forth their woe. Usurers, who followed neither nature nor art, also share company in the Seventh Level.

Take the Dante's Inferno Hell Test

Good God, I had no idea I was quite so evil. Now I know. And so do you.


For your edification and amusement, some random photos.

Bug soap, from Easter. We made it last week. It squicks me out. Primo wanted to use a plastic turtle from our extensive collection of little chokeable plastic animals, instead of his spider. Whatever.

This? Is the BANE OF MY EXISTENCE right now.Have you ever dealt with a five-year-old who wishes to mail-order anything? Primo wants this kitchen appliance set we can order from the Betty Crocker catalog for 8 bucks and however many boxtops. He intends to use some of his own money from Easter and/or his piggy bank. He is obsessed. Possessed. Driving me nuts. I ordered it. I mailed the points. After three. straight.days of nagging on his part. I had to lay down the law and impose a moratorium on the words "Betty Crocker" being uttered at meals. I am still shocked that he didn't wake up in the middle of the night, pad into my bedroom, and question me about the order status. Do you remember when Calvin ordered the beanie off the back of the chocolate sugar bombs cereal box? That's what this is like, but ten times worse because it's happening to ME.

At the zoo. As if they don't know the place by heart. Because we've been there a thousand times.

Surrender, Bert!

Friday, April 21, 2006

A Loop is a Loop is a Loop . . .

I have Prince on the brain today, which (in my mind) is never a bad thing.


I called 911 on my way to taking Teddy to school this morning. There was a man standing on a corner, just a few blocks away from the school, wearing what looked like swim trunks. No shirt, no shoes . . . I know that's not that big a deal. I know that's none of my business. But I noticed that he had a board in one hand. And then I noticed that in his other hand? Was. A. Dead. Rabbit. At least I think it was dead, as he was holding it by the ears and it wasn't struggling. And there was a moment where I looked it right in its wide-open eye.

I don't know what the hell was going on, but I figured that the guy looked crazy enough to merit a call to the cops. Maybe he's not crazy, and has a perfectly reasonable explanation . . . but . . .

The 911 dispatcher lady was very sympathetic and assured me she would send a car to the area. Oy. I wanted to stick around and spy on him until the cops got there, but I didn't. I sort of felt like someone should keep an eye on him. Should that someone have been me?


In other, much less scary news, I'm reading Confessions of Super Mom. I picked it up at the library yesterday, based pretty much on the title alone. (Look at me, judging a book by its cover!) It's a fluff book, easily read in one sitting if you aren't worried about getting up at 5am. Birdie, the main character, goes a little nuts trying to get rid of a stain in her bathroom and mixes a bunch of cleaning products. She hallucinates, blacks out, and then wakes up with super cleaning powers, super hearing, and something like Spidey senses that tingle.

The writing is decent, and the characters and story are lively and good to spend time with. I mentioned in an email to BB that it's odd to see an homage-to-comics-type thing come from a woman writer and a woman's point of view, but it's pretty fun.

If I were a super hero, I'd want to be hot. I'd want to have all of Superman's powers, but to have a bit of Batman's noir-ish edge. Birdie's not like that at all--she's much more like any of us would probably be in her shoes. You'd like her.


I'm taking Teddy to a school skating party tonight, which fills me with super memories set to the tune of "Another One Bites the Dust" and "Centerfold". Oh, and that horrible Dolly Parton/Kenny Rogers duet. Islands in the Stream, indeed. Remember the joke? Dolly Parton doing the back stroke? :-)

Oh! Oh! This story is so good, it must be fattening! - Stewie Griffin

Here’s the thing – I generally am pretty bored with my birthday. But as years go by and expectations sag lower, ever lower, and as I realize more and more every day that nothing in this life really is all about me as I once thought it was, I find I enjoy the day more and more. Little gestures – my blogger buddies chiming in to wish me a happy day, phone calls from faraway friends, a co-worker giving me a card or a little token prettily wrapped and presented – make the day brighter and happier, and make me feel loved and appreciated and special. So thank you all, my sweet little Internet ones, for helping make my 36th birthday fun and happy.


Birthday dinner recap:
H and I went to a little café (charmingly, modestly named) on the city’s South Side. We were shown to a window table with such smoothness and flair that I settled in for a relaxing and impeccably presented meal, secure in the knowledge that my waiter’s service was more European than American. (Past vacations in Europe have completely spoiled me for American wait service. I am a snob.) I was also pleased that I did not wipe out on the tile floor in my chic new sling-back heels.

We started with a smoked mozzarella appetizer, with some sort of tomatoe-y, oniony bruschetta-topping-like garnish, on toasted crusty bread.

We each had house salad – I love Belgian endive, I adore olives, and there was enough of each. The balsamic dressing was divine and I could have cheerfully licked my dressing-on-the-side plate. But I did not. European-style waiters frown on that sort of behavior.

I opted for the filet, stuffed with gorgonzola (did someone say blue cheese? Gimme a spoon!) and served in a dark beer reduction. There was some sort of weird-ish matzoh-ey thing underneath, that wasn’t unpleasant, but seemed superfluous.
H had gnocchi – so light “they could float off the plate” as he so poetically observed – in a pepper and tomato sauce. I thought they were a bit oily but he liked them very much.

After I dutifully cleaned my entire plate – ha! – I tried some of their breads – the basket had three different kinds, and they looked like Breadworks bread. Breadworks is a local bakery that produces these huge crusty heartily-flavored loaves; I have been known to live on their walnut-raisin bread. Again impressively, the waiter waited until I had finished my bread before approaching, removing plates, and asking about coffee/dessert. We took a breather to finish the bottle of wine – a very nice, spicy/fruity, if young, red, recommended by the sommelier.

Then onto the real deal for dessert – lemon tart. Now I make a kick-ass lemon tart – lemon curd on top of a crushed-amaretti crust – and this one was almost as good as mine. Mine is creamier. But it was good, and washed down with several cups of strong but smooth coffee. Which is why I was emailing some of you at 5 the next morning. A lovely and relaxing experience; H gets serious points.

And our dear babysitter did not charge us for the evening! It was her present to me!
And I wore the new polka-dotted black dress, and was complimented.
Ah, life is good.
Sorry, I did forget the camera. Which is probably just as well.


Alas, Cinderella turned back into a pumpkin the next day.
My new black wrap jersey dress from Mizrahi for Target came, and I tried it on last night after work. I look like a prison matron. It goes back. As do the cute ankle-wrap wedge-heeled espadrilles – I love them but I just can’t seem to make myself wear them, they are so NOT ME. Also, after much consideration, the black-and-white patterned top from my Dress Barn extravaganza. I haven’t even taken the tags off. If I haven’t worn it in three weeks, I doubt I ever will, because I’ve worn everything else. Since I bought this cute skirt yesterday, however, all the returns and purchases finally balance out a bit. I feel as if I have some nice pieces on which to base my spring and summer wardrobe, and was not too, too extravagant or spendthrift.


I finished EL Kongisburg’s Silent to the Bone last night. One word: anti-climactic. Not sure what I expecting, but the intricacy and delicate touch I have come to expect from Konigsburg were not present in this book. There were some nice bits – the protagonist’s relationship with his older half-sister; the methods by which Connor allows his silent friend to communicate – but overall, disappointing. Which will not stop me from reading its companion volume, The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place, especially since Margaret, the older half-sister, who was far and away the most compelling character in Silent, is the main character in this one.

I returned Sharon Creech’s Walk Two Moons. Unless someone can give me good reason to read it, I just think I’ll skip it. The first chapter left me cold, and I see no point in continuing (the book, that is). Life is too short to read non-compelling books. I think I need to make that into a bumper sticker.


List Friday, courtesy of Pomegranates and Paper

This weeks' theme: Ten Reasons Why You Love Your Neighborhood. Sooooo easy this week.

Go HERE, read THIS.


Yesterday marked the 7th anniversary – if a word so reminiscent of joy and happiness can be used in this context properly – of the Columbine high school shootings. My thoughts were with those parents especially yesterday, and often throughout the years. Now that I have children of my own… there’s nothing more that can be said.

In much, MUCH happier news, today, Friday April 21, is Katya’s birthday. Happy birthday, Katya!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

My Outfit

I'm not taking pictures of myself, because I'm at work and because I'm too fat for the camera, but I can sort of show you what I'm wearing today:

This shirt (mine is the deeply-discounted version, which has a more subtle checked pattern) never, ever wrinkles and is light enough that it's never too hot to wear it. I have it on over a light blue tank.

This skirt (mine's brown) is from Title 9, and I love it with all my heart.

And making their Spring 2006 debut, the best shoes in the world . . .

My legs are shaved and my toes are painted pink.

That is all.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Do you prefer "fashion victim" or "ensembly challenged"? - Cher Horowitz

Wednesday's outfit:
Short-sleeved navy blue V-neck T-shirt, on sale at Old Navy - $7.50
Pale blue linen/cotton Calvin Klein drawstring-waist skirt, on clearance at Marshall's - $6.00
Beige, pink, and brown Op sneakers, with coupon at Famous Footwear - $19.95
The baby not spitting up on me all day - Priceless


Thursday Show-and-Tell, courtesy of Blackbird

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

“Few women admit their age. Few men act theirs.”

OK, I told Blackbird I wasn't going to blog about it being my birthday.
I find I lied.


I AM: 36 today, the mother of three, the wife to one, a librarian, a reader, a runner, a writer of blogs
I WANT: books, always more books. And to learn to rock climb.
I WISH: I was more patient. And thinner.
I HATE: myself sometimes.
I LOVE: my boys to distraction.
I MISS: my mom and dad.
I FEAR: my children dying. And spiders.
I HEAR: the circ clerk barking at patrons
I WONDER: when it became acceptable to be loud in a library
I REGRET: not putting out for my high school boyfriend
I AM NOT: patient or kind or especially affectionate
I DANCE: with abandon
I SING: badly
I CRY: when I am mad, which makes me madder
I MAKE WITH MY HANDS: baked goods and quilts
I WRITE: the blog. Every day if possible.
I CONFUSE: irony and sarcasm
I NEED: my lip waxed. And a slip.
I SHOULD: go pump. My therapist tells me I worry too much about the “shoulds.”
I START: many household projects and many books
I FINISH: most of the household projects eventually, about half the books, and a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Chubby Hubby ice cream waaaay too often
I TAG: whoever’s interested


This seemed like a good day to fill in this meme.
As Gina pointed out, it’s my birthday.
It’s also Patriot’s Day.
You know –

Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere.
On the eighteenth of April in seventy-five
Hardly a man is now alive,
Who remembers that famous day and year…
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm…

After church on Sunday, the deacon stopped to say Happy Birthday to me, and asked which day exactly.
I replied, “The eighteenth, you know: on the 18th of April in ’75…”
H snorted.
I said snarkily, “I didn’t say *I* was born in 75. [1775, no less!] I am happy to admit I was born in 1970. I’m talking about Paul Revere.”
What can I say, he was a math major.


You know you are getting old when your idea of indulging yourself on your birthday includes going for a run at 630 am.


Celebrities and other personages of interest (mine) who share MY birthday – yes, it’s all about ME, especially today:
  • Hayley Mills
  • Lucretia Borgia
  • Clarence Darrow
  • Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown
  • Francois Leroux
  • Haile Gebrselassie
  • Frances Bean Cobain

And in keeping with my oh-so-cheerful and optimistic personality, deaths which occurred on April 18:

  • John Foxe, of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs (I think it was a natural death), 1587
  • Albert Einstein, 1955

Events that occurred on this estimable day:
  • Wilkes' expedition to South Pole sails, 1838
  • San Francisco Earthquake kills over 700 people, 1906
  • Poland annexes Central Lithuania, 1923
  • 74,000 on hand for opening of Yankee Stadium, 1923 (for Peg)
  • Bombing of Tokyo, 1942
  • 1st "Walk"/"Don't Walk" lighted street signals installed, 1955
  • 12th Boston Women's Marathon won by Joan Benoit Samuelson in 2:22:43, 1983


H *is* taking me out for dinner tonight, at a restaurant to which someone gave us a gift certificate, upon the birth of Terzo. Because parents of newborns get to go out a whole bunch, you know. At least it will come in handy now.

To My Dearest Bablebabe

Happy Birthday to you!
You live in a zoo.
You look like a monkey,
And you smell like one too!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Making an Unpleasant Face

I just realized that's what I'm doing. I have a headache and I'm feeling harried because of a stupid group project for one of my classes, and I forgot my lunch (more on that later), and I just don't want to be here. Call me Little Mary Sunshine.


Easter was nice enough. We played softball in my parents' yard yesterday, and I stole third base. Yay me! I'm with BB, though, in feeling appalled about the way Easter has turned into a major gift-giving holiday. Teddy collected, solely from his grandparents and great-grandmother, a total of $100. $100!! We are not a wealthy family. I have a few wealthy relatives, but they weren't even THERE. He was thrilled, of course--who wouldn't be? But it just doesn't feel right to me.

Dinner was a huge to-do. My family is eastern European on one side and Italian on the other, and this is at no other time as apparent as it as at Easter. We had (I'll spare you the "hunky" names) cabbage rolls and kielbasa and home-made easter cheese and sweet bread and horseradish and beets and pickled eggs and ham and . . . home-made ravioli. (Thank God for that, though, because the rest of the stuff really doesn't interest me.)

Oh, and apricot, poppy seed and nut rolls. And the obligatory pound cake in the shape of a lamb.


Jonathan Ames has a new collection of essays out, called "I Love You More Than You Know" and I was thrilled when I got the email from the library telling me it was waiting for me. Then I go the book and realized that I'd already read most of the essays in other publications. Sigh. Oh, well. I think this is my punishment for wanting to read when I'm supposed to be taking care of finals. Shame on me.

Sometimes you keep something valuable so long...only to find it is no longer valuable.

Sunday confessions, a day late:

The above quote is a pearl of wisdom direct from the mouth - er, keyboard - of a fellow blogger. Blackbird, take a bow. You are quotable!

Ok, that's not really a confession. So here we go --

Primo has always been my obedient-ish child. He *asks* if he can have some Easter candy before breakfast. Of course, the answer is no. On the other hand, Segundo just sauntered into the living room with his cheeks stuffed full of Hershey’s kisses. If you don’t ask, you can’t be told no! I admire this trait and wish I were more like Segundo. (Unfortunately, Primo inherited his at-times-over-eager desire to please from me.)

I am very lackadaisical about monitoring my children. In the morning, as long as they are safe and not drawing blood from each other, I prefer them to leave me alone. Until about 10 or so. Lock up the microphone stands.

I spend much of this hour or so, between breakfast and truly awakening, reading/writing email, and reading/writing blogs and comments. And drinking tea. Very strong, very caffeinated tea.

I just yelled at my child for laughing too raucously.

I wish I were brave enough to ask my shrink about taking some sort of anti-anxiety med on top of the Zoloft. But I don’t *really* want to pump anything else into my body and therefore into Terzo. I should probably just invest in an industrial-strength pair of earplugs.

Also, I just heard an ad for PBS Sprout, “PBS preschool, round the clock.” I find this APPALLING. What could you possibly, regularly, need children’s programming for at three in the morning? The confession part: I HATE TV. I can’t watch, I find it way too noisy and visually stimulating. I tried to watch “ER” the other week, a show I used to watch regularly, and couldn’t get through it. As I get older, I seem to need peace and quiet and calm, and the soothing-ness of a good book. People who turn on the TV and let it run as background noise perplex me. Even when I lived alone I did not ever do this. I just don’t get it. And I look down on said people. I am sorry if any of you are among this consort.

I get VERY impatient with other parents who let their children run wild through the coffee shop, church, even the supermarket, when I feel I spend much time making sure my children don’t disrupt other people too much. I am not talking tantrumming or crying kids, or kids having a good time laughing and talking; that happens to all of us. I am talking about the parents who allow what amounts to a full-fledged tackle football game between three preschoolers to go on the full-length of the coffee shop, while they drink their coffee and chat and read the paper. Hello! I come up here to GET AWAY from noisy and rambunctious children! And it’s much harder to get my kids to sit at the table like human beings and drink their cocoa and not scream their comments at the top of their lungs when you allow your children to act like rampaging Huns.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply, Alleluia! - Charles Wesley

I give up on Inkheart. It BORED me. And in a blinding flash of defiance and liberation, I realized – I do not need to finish this book, slogging through it regardless of my true feelings. It can go back to the library, mostly unread. Now you’d think a novel about a book restorer and his spunky daughter, caught in a web of intrigue and adventure, revolving around a mysterious book which said book restorer can READ into life, would enthrall me. But no. I am BORED.

So I started Kage Baker’s The Garden of Iden, yet another Badger recommendation, and then this afternoon, because I was lounging on the couch in the library and it was right there on the shelf to hand, Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique.

Now, I consider myself as much a feminist as the next chickie, but the first chapter of this book really put me off. I need to know – who can tell me – did Ms. Friedan have hard data to back up all this “Women go to college now [1950/60s] to marry and breed” malarkey? I just don’t buy it wholeheartedly. As with most sociological books - Reviving Ophelia, Katie Roiphe’s The Morning After, Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth, and most relevant to me, any of the “mommy” books out there: Wolf’s Misconceptions, Judith Warner’s Perfect Madness, even novels like I Don’t Know How She Does It - this book seems to cater to, for lack of a better phrase leaping to mind, the least common denominator, and the LCD happens to be the image of the downtrodden, overworked, martyred mother and wife. Yawn. I am indeed tired, and overworked, and often bored, but not because of societal pressure. It’s because I CHOSE to have three children and work only part-time, because this is the combination that makes me happiest at the moment, and the only other way I could possibly “have it all” would be to oppress other women into cleaning and cooking and laundering and shopping for me. Am I fulfilled? I don’t know. But who is to say that not having kids and/or a husband and having some engrossing career, or having others care for my kids full-time, would be any more fulfilling? I guess I am just a little fed-up with all the analysis and finger-pointing and blaming, while I am just trying to live my life and get through my days as pleasantly as possible. Perhaps I am making Friedan’s point for her….but halfway through the first chapter of The Feminine Mystique, I thought, It’s the same old story, only I suppose Friedan gets credit for being among one of the first to think and talk along these lines. I’ll keep reading and get back to you if or when any of Friedan’s assertions and observations ring true to me.


Our Easter was very pleasant. The Easter Bunny brought baskets – each boy got an Easter coloring book, some fruit snacks, a plastic egg with some change in it, a lemonade juice box, a bottle of bubbles, and a little kit to make bug soap. (That’s soap with plastic bugs in it, not soap with which to launder your household insects.) Then they had Egg Hunt #1, with the eggs they’d dyed at the church yesterday. There’s still one egg rolling around somewhere they couldn’t find, and that H couldn’t remember where he’d hidden. I fear the cats will find it and then we’ll know where it is all too soon.

I went for a run, only bad thing being that the coffee shop was closed so I couldn’t finish off my run with my usual latte. It was fun to watch all the little old ladies in the neighborhood totter off to church in their Easter finery – hats, gloves, purses, the whole kit and caboodle.

Then we all got ready for church, all my men looking very handsome. We even have photographic proof that they were wearing ironed shirts. Gasp! Pigs are flying! The ice rink in Hell will open shortly! Between that and H’s new, very short haircut, his mom was going to be in seventh heaven! I wore my new black tulip skirt, with a fitted lavender blouse and black sling-back pumps. I looked JUST like an Easter egg, shape and all.

Church was PACKED. Because we only live half a block away, we sauntered in at 2 minutes till 11, as usual, and were met with – NO SEATS. Somewhere, somehow, folding chairs were conjured up and we sat. And stood. And knelt (only I don’t kneel – having been raised a Baptist and all, kneeling just raises my hackles) and prayed. And sat. And stood and read. And sat. And shook hands with everyone around us (I only wish I’d thought to bring the Purell, Blackbird!) And stood and sang. And sat. The Episcopalians are all about aerobic health, I tell you.

Then after church was Egg Hunt #2, in the churchyard. The eggs were pretty much just scattered around on the grass rather than hidden; also evident from some smashed eggy bodies on the ground was the fact that not ALL the eggs had been so hard-boiled. The scattering-rather-than-hiding strategy caused this hunt to wrap up mercifully quickly and we went home for waffles and naps.

After everyone woke up we went up to Grandma’s for Easter dinner. Ham, broccoli-Velveeta casserole, artichoke heart casserole, potato salad, twice-baked parmesan potatoes, Hungry Jack biscuits, ramen noodle cabbage salad, rigatoni, meatballs, baked ravioli, lime jello mold, the list goes on and on. Nary a real vegetable to be seen anywhere. Guess the Easter bunny ate them all up.

Then Egg Hunt #3. Instead of real eggs, which I will let my children eat (can hard-boiled eggs carry salmonella?), there were plastic eggs with candy in them that I will throw away right before Halloween next fall, and at least some cash, with which the boys will be taking ME to the coffee shop this week. (Primo is off till next Monday, and activities are planned…zoo, museum, yearly photos.)

Then the sweet little Terzo with wonderful endearing timing started to yawn and I volunteered to head home with him and put him to bed.

I even scored the hambone - split pea soup of the gods, here we come!

As my mother-in-law would say, Buona Pasqua!

But I have one question:
What the HELL am I supposed to do with three dozen hard-boiled (we hope) eggs?

Happy Easter 2006!

Peep Research - A study of small fluffy creatures and library usage.
By Susan Avery and Jennifer Masciedrelli. Office of Fluffy Research, Staley Library, Milliken University.

Easter just isn't Easter without Peeps although, as several people have pointed out, what marshmallow chickens and chocolate rabbits have to do with the Resurrection, we have not a clue.

Perhaps David Sedaris can help..."Now a bell...that's fucked up!"

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Quis is fatur, quis is fatur

For him that stealeth, or borroweth and returneth not,
this book from its owner, let it change into a serpent in
his hand and rend him.
Let him be struck with palsy, and all his members blasted.
Let him languish in pain, crying aloud for mercy, and let
there be no surcease to this agony till he sing in dissolution.
Let bookworms gnaw his entrails...and when at last he
goeth to his last punishment, let the flames of hell consume
him for ever.

Curse on book thieves,
from the monastery of San Pedro, Barcelona, Spain


[used in Inkheart, by Cornelia Funke, which I am enjoying,
even if it is a bit slow]

[Joke, I had to use an online translator, so let me know if it came even remotely close to something understandable...]

Thursday, April 13, 2006

All the windows of my heart I open to the day. - John Greenleaf Whittier

Last night H and I watched “Cider House Rules.” It is my favorite of John Irving’s books. I almost didn’t want to watch it as you know how often a great book can be turned into an abysmal movie (“Possession,” anyone?) But the movie was wonderful. Tobey Maguire was wonderful. All the actors were wonderful. I like Paul Rudd, and Charlize Theron, and Michael Caine. The script was wonderful. The whole movie was just wonderful and thoughtful and sensitive and not melodramatic or sappy in anyway. (There is a great review here, by Salon’s Stephanie Zacharek.) Also, I am now madly in love with Tobey Maguire. Or maybe I am actually in love with Homer Wells.

CHR is one of only two films I have ever seen that were as good as the book they were made from – and the other is “The World According to Garp.” (BB trivia: The only movie BETTER than its book was “Bridget Jones’ Diary.”)

I generally don’t see movies of books I love as it is almost always a mistake. Again, “Possession,” anyone? Or “Prince of Tides”? Or “The Great Santini”?


I finished Frindle by Andrew Clements in about an hour and a half the other day. Clever concept (a boy invents a new word for “pen”) but not particularly well-developed. And the character of the English teacher, Mrs. Granger, was most interesting and she totally got glossed over. She deserved her own book.

Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak, on the other hand, was most thoughtfully and sensitively developed. I like the idea of reading it to a class over the course of a school year, as one of the commenters last week (Cari, maybe?) mentioned, because the suspense and momentum built throughout the book add to its power.

I will start Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart tonight. And I have the new issue of Newsweek, and the new issue of House and Garden to read this weekend.


I took the boys to the playground yesterday afternoon and decided immediately thereafter to follow Angela’s (from Fluid Pudding) advice and restrict my children’s toys to one banana slice – preferably VERY ripe – apiece. The two older boys were spinning on the Puke Machine (you know, that little merry-go-round thingey – why, what do YOU call it?) and Segundo of course fell off twice, was dragged around by his arm at least once, and hit his head twice, once on the pipes you are supposed to hold onto and once on the actual deck of the thing AFTER he fell off. I endured all this before I finally got tired of watching, heart in my mouth, and waiting for him to be decapitated by the damn thing. I hauled him off it, telling him – oh, the tantrum that ensued – that he was just too little (and his mama is just too overprotective and neurotic) to play on that particular piece of playground equipment.


I ate a chocolate bar for breakfast this morning.
And then I went out for a walk/run (twenty minutes, doing one minute running, one minute walking…and so on. Nice easy way to build back up.)
Then I stopped at the coffee shop for an iced latte.
Then I climbed out on the porch roof and worked on our windows.
Fortunately I only had to recaulk in a few places (I did most of the recaulking the summer before I got pregnant with Terzo) and the paint worked as primer since I had to use two, and in some places three, coats to cover the brown.

Here is what the windows looked like:

Here is what the finished windows look like:

On the first floor, I painted the actual window mullions and frame olive green, but as we are replacing some of the second-floor windows with vinyl windows, and you can’t paint vinyl, I figured it’s best for them to be consistent. The front windows that look out onto the porch, and the porch railings and columns, will be picked out in olive, and the front door is olive – or at least it is until I have time to strip it down to the oak – but everything else will just get a nice clean coat of gloss white. The outside of the house is shaping up – thank God – as I had to call the plumber today for the inside. The main pipe beyond the laundry tub is simply rusted through. I ran some laundry as the underwear situation was growing dire, and the soapy water just gushed out of this gaping hole in the 4-inch main pipe and its rust. I am afraid to tackle it myself as I don’t know where the 4-inch pipe goes after it descends into our basement floor. And I really have no wish to find out, frankly. I just wish my soapy water to go there, wherever it is, and stop pouring out onto the basement floor.

All I really want is some clean underwear.


List Friday, courtesy of Pomegranates and Paper

This weeks' theme: Your Top Ten Hobby Supplies (although I don't have ten...)

Here we go:

  • Chocolate
  • Ice cream
  • A big spoon
  • My bed or at least a comfy sofa
  • Bottle of seltzer water
  • A good book

"To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.” - Thomas Alva Edison


If you had grown up in the house I did, or had to clean out my mother's house after she died, you too would be compelled to have a relatively organized junk drawer.

You too would be able to lay hands on
or a rubber band
or a pen
or scratch paper
or your coupon organizer
or the birthday cake candles
or Scotch tape
or a screwdriver
or a snap-off utility knife
or a tape measure
or the collected Campbell Soup labels
or the take-out menus
or Motrin
or hand cream
or some string
or scissors
or the Purell
or stickers for the potty chart
or the fish net scoopy thingey
or spare change for bus fare
or a thumbtack
or a paper clip
or some extra batteries
or any of those other little troublesome things that you seem to require daily
in an instant.


Thursday Show-and-Tell, courtesy of Blackbird

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Daydream Believer

I’m going to assume you’ve all seen High Fidelity (okay, I assume you’ve read it, too, but I’m talking specifically about the movie). Think back to the scene where we first get to see Lisa Bonet as Marie deSalle, in that club where she’s singing the Peter Frampton song. Remember how Rob, Dick and Barry are just completely BEWITCHED? I want to be her. Just for a while—one night, even. I want to be beautiful and exotic and smiling and mysterious and lovely, and have men of all kinds just kind of stare at me and imagine little scenarios in which we live together and I might include one of our private jokes in a song lyric and then a tiny picture of him off in a corner of the liner notes of my next album.

Forget that I’m not beautiful or sexy or mysterious. Forget that I can’t sing. Where is the fairy godmother that will just give me that feeling for one night? Is that so much to ask? Who would you have your FGM poof you into for a night?


Work pretty much blows right now. We’re getting ready for a May pledge drive that is fully twice as long as a normal May drive, which is bad. The fact that I have no student interns to work with makes it worse: I literally have half the staff to do twice the work. All I know for sure is that I’m going to be taking some serious time off at the end of May.


Most Disgusting Thing Ever, or America Really Doesn’t Stand a Chance:

Have you guys seen the 7/11 Pizza Sandwich? My GOD! My boss saw it featured on The Apprentice last night, and he’s still kind of in shock.


That’s about it for me. Um, Joke, if you want to email me about the light saber, send to gmcb17 at gmail.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

My Moses Moment

Okay, so Gwyneth took a pass on another fruity name and went with Moses for her baby boy. Add that to the fact that it's nearly Passover (no, I'm not Jewish, but I've dipped my share of parsley into little bowls of salt water), and I have a mild case of Moses on my mind. I share with you, now, my Moses Moment.

Ten years ago, just before I got pregnant with Teddy, his dad and I went to Israel for a week. We were in London, and this was our spring break escape from all the wet and gray cold. Our only requirement for the trip was that it be to a place that was warm and sunny, which ruled out pretty much everything we could get to cheaply, outside of Africa and Israel. Africa required shots, so the decision was made.

We each packed a bag and walked to the underground, and then caught a train, and then flew to Eilat (I couldn't believe how self-sufficiently we were able to leave the country--going to England involved two cars' worth of family and luggage to see us off at the Pittsburgh Airport). We landed at one of those little airports where guys wheel stairs up to the plane and you climb down and then walk across tarmac to get into the main building. We caught a cab to take us to our hostel (a remarkably nice one wherein we actually had our own bathroom!), and spent a week reading, soaking up the sun, and sniggering at the Russian tourists who really did resemble walruses. Well, the men did, anyway. The women were topless and leather-skinned. Oh! And there was an earthquake one morning while we were eating our breakfast! Just a little one, but it felt like our breakfast table was sitting on top of a washing machine while on the spin cycle. By the time we realized what it was, it was over.

We went scuba diving, which was exciting and terrifying, like the greatest roller coaster ever, only amplified about a million times. WAY scarier than the little earthquake.

We didn't go to Jerusalem, because the day we bought our tickets for the bus trip up, we heard that a tour bus had been bombed and that American students had been killed. I got scared and cried, and then we called our parents from a pay phone to let them know we were fine, and then we threw out the bus tickets and resolved to just stay at the beach.

So where was Moses in all of this? Well, Eilat is a little town that sits right on the Red Sea. I was lying on the beach, thinking about how the mountains reminded me of the chocolate mountains in the "Land of Dairy Queen" TV commercials and thinking, look, there's Egypt . . . look, there's Jordan . . . HOLY CRAP, MOSES WAS HERE! MOSES! PROMISED LAND! PARTING THE RED SEA! I was just blown away by the fact that the clear water I was staring into, watching schools of little fish arc up out of like tiny rainbows, was THAT Red Sea.

Never before or since has biblical history felt so amazing and alive and, frankly possible as it did at that moment.

All that, from a week at the beach. Not bad!

Monday, April 10, 2006

He is the very pineapple of politeness. - Richard Brinsley Sheridan

I didn't want you guys to worry any more than necessary - so here is a sign that all is well (Seg is the middle one)- or at least back to normal, as normal as it gets around here - it's the Pineapple Follies! I am not sure why the boys found the pineapple top so intriguing but they did. And I made the baby laugh and laugh by holding it on my head and doing my Carmen Miranda impersonation: "You can put them in a salad, you can put them in a pie-aye..."

And speaking of pies, it's H's birthday today. He requested an apple pie for his birthday celebration. So I made an apple pie, and a big pot of turkey-rice soup, and we had salami, cappicolla, provolone, and roasted red pepper sandwiches, on crusty Italian bread, and soup for dinner. And pie after, with three candles in it. Because he's forty-THREE.

For his birthday, I had given him the pottery class that he so enjoyed. The boys presented him with the DVD of "Rockstar INXS." As an added bonus, I gave him - ta da! - working plumbing! Bring on the laundry!


I have indeed been reading, believe it or not.
Here's a quick run-down/catch-up. Reviews pending.

I finished Ruth Rendell's Thirteen Steps Down at the hospital Saturday night.

H ran away with my copy of The Sex Lives of Cannibals, telling me "it reminds me of the time I spent in Africa." ????? Uh, ok.

I bought Anne Lamott's Plan B, Laurie King's newest Mary Russell book, Locked Rooms, and a remaindered copy of Jim Harrison's The Raw and the Cooked (wasn't there a Fine Young Cannibals song or album by that name?) at B&N last week while shopping for the INXS DVD.

I also checked out a whole bunch of YA books from my work library, and requested some other books from the public library that came in this week - Frindle, Cornelia Funke's Inkheart, Connie Willis's To Say Nothing of the Dog, and In the Garden of Iden. (I tried to get Three Men in a Boat, to read before the Willis, but I couldn't get a library to ILL it.)

So I am working my way through that stack.

I am reading Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak right now and very much enjoying it, considering I am not the fiend for YA lit like some other people around here.


Photographic snippets:

I knew I should have gone to med school! Look at the precision of that operating room! Look how I wielded that monkey wrench! I have the hands of a born surgeon. Uh huh.

Terzo is starting to - well, not crawl, exactly - more like get up on all fours, pump madly away, and fling himself forward onto his chest. When he does it on the floor, he gets somewhere. When he does it on my chest when I am holding him? I feel like I am being humped by my baby. It's so wrong. I mean, there's a real reason we don't have a dog...I'm not entirely certain I believe I actually just typed that, and am going to post it.
And allow me to point out that my boy shares my fine sense of fashion.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

In which my heart stops for the briefest of moments, Or, the moment every mother dreads.

Ten points to anyone who can identify this object correctly. I’ll wait while you consider.

[“Jeopardy” theme song playing here…]




If you guessed, the bottom part of a microphone stand that goes with the guitar Primo received for Christmas this year…you would only be half-right.

If, however, you guessed, the bottom part of the microphone stand that goes with the guitar Primo received for Christmas this year, that Segundo saw fit to jam into his mouth yesterday afternoon, so far and so deeply that he bled like a stuck pig, necessitating a trip to the ER and an overnight stay for observation because the mouth laceration was “alarmingly close” to his carotid artery? Well, then, you would win...well, there is no prize. Sorry. But you’d win. Isn’t the thrill of winning enough?


So what is there to say? It happened while I was at work, and H called me at work around 5:30, once everything settled (we really need to get him a cell phone), and told me that Seg was FINE, they just wanted to keep him overnight for observation, “in case.” In case what? He started bleeding and didn’t stop? Pretty much. Until the CT scan came back (my brave boy had two CT scans! And an IV!) they were operating under the assumption that there was imminent danger to the blood vessels, including the artery.
So I elected to stay with Seg, and H ran home, got all the necessary stuff – like Mimi, and the sainted man even brought me a book – brought it back, and then left us for the night.

All the usual things that happen in a large hospital happened – the annoying roommate who had the TV on the entire time until she was discharged with her baby at 11 pm; the squalling teeny babies who made my heart wrench, and be so grateful that my babies are all healthy; the constant interruptions all night long for vitals, IV flushes, wound checks, housekeeping. No point in going into it in any sort of detail, we’ve probably all, sadly, been there.

The important thing is, we are home, and Segundo is just fine. The CT scans came back normal, there is no more danger. He is on a soft diet for the next day or so (he managed to eat three pancakes at the hospital this morning). The mouth heals quickly, he should be completely back to normal within the week.

And while before I clearly allowed my children to play with razor blades and small windpipe-sized marbles, no more! And I intend to be much more vigilant about HOW they play with their toys. Just for instance, the microphone stand will be used as a microphone stand….not as a trach tube…or not at all.

Friday, April 07, 2006

“Only great minds can afford a simple style.” - Stendhal

This is a photo of normal me, dressed to hang out with the boys, go to the park or coffee shop, go grocery shopping, what have you. Just as a benchmark of sorts. I admit I am frumpy, but I am comfortable and don't think I look too awful. (This is starting to sound an awful lot like the poor souls in the three-way mirror in "What Not to Wear.")(Also, gotta say, taking photos of one's self in the mirror is incredibly difficult, hence the weirdo angle. Sorry. Pretend it's intentional and artistic.)

I need a dress for this wedding in June. I found this:
Cute, yes? I need to do some work on my biceps perhaps, but with my open-toed little black heels and this black/silver wrap I already own, perfect for a Friday evening summer wedding.I think.

Photographing yourself makes you realize what exactly your problem areas are, and other than incredible impatience with my children, I realize that my hips and butt area could use some work. ("I know that now!") They are a leetle lumpy.

Primo did not like this dress. The black was ok, but the yellow-y dots frightened him. Why did I ask him? Read this. Segundo's reaction: "You pitty, Mama." Terzo got no say, he'd have just barfed on it anyway.

Now, the dresses at the horribly named Dress Barn (mooo-oooo-ooo-oooo.....) were Buy-One, Get-$5-Off; Buy-Two, Get-$10-Off-the-2nd. So after I tried on every. single. dress in the store, I settled on this as my second one. Because, you know, they're saving me money. Heck, they're practically giving them away! I think the pattern is pretty if a bit psychedelic, it helps hide my tummy, and it can be dressed up or down. Most of the other dresses were either very dressy - beaded and strapless and things like that - or business-suit-like.

Then...I found this black tulip skirt. I LOVE it. I personally think it makes my legs look fabulous, no mean feat considering I have my grandmother's sturdy peasant legs.

I like the top. I like the fit, I like the style and color, I can wear it with black or tan or possibly even brown, maaaaayyyyybbbbeeee olive.
Primo liked it, too. He dubbed it "cool." Segundo's reaction: "You pitty, Mama."
I liked the top so much that I tried this one on too, against my better fashion judgment. But it's the same cut (hides the stomach bulge). Once it was on, I found I liked it. A bit pattern-y for me, but I think I can pull it off. And I think the detailing is cute.Don't mind me as I give you a very close-up of "the girls" as Stacy calls them, or "the wee ones" as I call them normally.

So, the jury is out. But here's the real trouble. Can I be the lipstick librarian? Is this waaaaayyy too much cleavage to wear to work, or at all? I am sooo self-conscious about my boobs at the moment because they are huge (for me) and I know once I am done nursing Terzo, they will shrink back to their previous AAA minisculity (is that a word? It is now.) So I am not used to dealing with bosoms.

It's so so so much simpler to grab my trusty grey or navy t-shirts and khaki cargo pants and Tevas, and all the baggy things that are comfy and hide my flab, than to try to pull off some sleek and fashionable little ensemble. That might expose some FLESH. Which is a sure way to begin down the road to perdition, as every good Baptist girlie can tell you.

I need Stacy and Clinton, and for the love of God, if you cared about me AT ALL, you all would nominate me for "What Not to Wear."

I have *never* looked at him like he's a pot of cottage cheese with pineapple chunks in! Maybe, once or twice, plain cottage cheese...

List Friday, courtesy of Pomegranates and Paper

This week's list: Freaky Foods, for Freaky Friday


My list will not be long. There is no food in the world I will not happily sample, or have sampled, except one:


I can't look at it, I hate the thought of it, and I have never ever even tasted it.

That is all.

You can say what you will, you will not convince me. And considering that I will eat anything else - octopus, brains, runny cheese, chocolate-covered oddities, escargot -whatever else you put in front of me - I think it's ok to not want to eat one thing, even one as (seemingly) innocuous as cottage cheese.

The Cold November Rain

Yes, it’s April 7th, but it’s so dark and miserable that it might as well be pre-Thanksgiving and just above freezing. It’s one of those days where the cars’ tail lights and even the traffic lights are reflecting off the rain-soaked roads—at 9:30 in the morning! Okay, yes, it’s kind of pretty. But it’s killing my sinuses and making me want to hug my mug of tea close to me and doze a little while I inhale the steam. Back to bed with a book, anyone?


I am reading Prisoner of Azkaban with Teddy (we’re in the Shrieking Shack right now), so I admit to having Harry Potter on the brain, but am I the only person who heard about the Judas papers and thought of Professor Snape?


I’m looking forward to making dinner for two of my library school friends tonight. One has graduated already, and is working as a Reference and Teen Services librarian, and she’s so young (23) that this is her first “real” job! She’s adorable and enthusiastic, and I can’t wait to hear what she’s been up to. The other is still slogging through school as I am, but she’s full-time and taking Education classes as well, because she wants to be a school librarian. I used to think I wanted that, too. And then I realized that wanting those sweet school-day hours and summers off isn’t a good enough reason to work with kids if you don’t like them all that much.

And that’s pretty much that for me.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

A killer whale's savage revenge!

So we all know I have noise issues, yes? So tell me this – in the grand karmic view of things, is it fair that 1) the saleslady at the dress shop followed me around the store, eventually going into painfully unnecessary details of her personal life, or 2) that the only other person in Supercuts was an ancient woman with a hearing aid carrying on a VERY VERY LOUD CONVERSATION with her stylist, right next to my chair? I don't *mean* to be a horrible person, but that karma, it bites me in the ass every time.


Today I meant to:
- Buy joint compound, Liquid Plumr (why is it spelled like that?), curtain hooks, and muslin
- Finish the living room curtains
- Grocery shop, especially for the half-dozen white eggs Primo requires, hard-boiled, for preschool tomorrow. Goddamn Easter bunny.
- Run, or at least walk a bit
- Sort out the boys’ outgrown clothes
- Write a nice, meaty, bookish blog entry

Instead, I:
- Sat at the coffee shop noodling with the tablet PC and drinking tea
- Spent an hour and a half trying on every article of clothing in the store (The Dress Barn! What man thought up THAT name?!), eventually buying two dresses, two shirts, and a skirt. None of which I then wore to work since I was very self-conscious about my displayed cleavage. Not that I didn’t think I looked nice – I did. Perhaps I’ll post pics tomorrow. But what self-respecting librarian displays cleavage, I ask you? Nancy Pearl wouldn’t!
- Got my hair cut, not that you can even tell
- Fed the baby
- Was twenty minutes late for work.


The library book sale wrapped up this evening. I have been stockpiling books all over the place – in my cubicle, in my locker, at the ref desk – I bought two boxes last year and still haven’t taken them all home. So I recycled those and will begin the new migration on Saturday when I have my car here. Mostly I picked up fiction – some mysteries by Ruth Rendell, whom I have recently discovered, and Colin Dexter, whom I love. When I need brain candy, I go to a mystery. It’s always nice to have some on hand. Also some classics – Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons, The Naked and the Dead, The Brdige of San Luis Rey. I also bought the sequel to Jaws. Why? Because it was there, and free. And this book: Orca. I mean, could YOU resist this sort of cover copy: Orca…he has one mate, and if she is harmed by man, he will hunt down that person with relentless, terrible vengeance – across seas, across time, across all obstacles.. Now tell me the truth here, am I just a freak, because that blurb made me laugh out loud.

I first tried to picture a whale time-traveling. That was amusing enough.
But then I sort of crossed it in my mind with Moby Dick. More giggles.
But then, the coup de grace: Orca competing in the obstacle course of Battle of the Network Stars.

They made a movie out of this book, with Bo Derek. It just gets better and better.

It’s written by the same guy who wrote the masterly The Swarm, also made into a quality film (although I don’t think it’s the bee movie where the kids get trapped in the school bus...I could be wrong, as those were Saturday afternoons long, long ago, in galaxies far, far away. Or at least New Jersey which is practically the same thing).
And he is also the same guy who wrote the not-so-bestselling How to Write Almost Anything Better and Faster.

Now I ask you, how could I NOT own this masterpiece?


I bought The Sex Lives of Cannibals on recently and just got it yesterday. I am reading it on both Badger’s and Blackbird’s recommendation. I also intend to leave it lying around the house when my mother-in-law next visits.


Badger, you have not yet steered me wrong in a reading recommendation. I am pretty much taking your entire list of Required Reading and going to the library. No pressure. Just thought you'd like to know.


I generally don't shill for other people's blogs - unless they really merit it. And the latest installments of both Finslippy and Mimi Smartypants made me laugh so hard I cried. Hence, merit. Go forth and read. And also, looks like Julia might actually be pregnant, and I am deliriously happy for someone I have never ever met or even emailed. This Internet, it is a crazy thing.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Someone Please Bitch Slap Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise as "The Pacifier": In Star magazine's newest, chock-full-o'-babies issue, there's an interesting story on how Tom Cruise plans to help Katie Holmes follow Scientology's guidelines -- designed, according to L. Ron Hubbard, to "save both the sanity of the mother and the child and safeguard the home to which they will go" -- of strict silence during birth: By getting her an adult pacifier. "He commissioned an adult-sized 'binky' for her to clench between her teeth, hoping that it'll squelch her screams," a source told Star. "In keeping with a Scientology silent birth, Tom is prepared to do whatever it takes to muffle Katie's moans and groans during the delivery." (Lowdown, Star)

That's from Salon, by the way.

So Katie isn't allowed drugs, and she isn't allowed to make any noise, and Cruise is going to keep her quiet by shoving a large pacifier in her mouth. Um, hello, there, Women's Empowerment! Come a little closer, so I can stomp you under my manly boot. I can't remember the last time I was so thoroughly disgusted by a piece of celebrity "news". Granted, I understand that this is from The Star, and may not be true. I still wish I could kick Tom Cruise in the nuts.

It's All Part of My Rock & Roll Fantasy

Ted's been taking guitar lessons after school this year, and he's finally getting comfortable enough to poke his way through "foreign" sheet music. I have a Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young songbook I bought at a yard sale a million years ago (because I have no musical talent but a nice little Neil Young crush), and I pulled it out Monday night. I don't think you can imagine how much fun I had honking my way through stilted, honking renditions of "Our House" and "Helplessly Hoping". And *then* he taught me to play a scale! It's time to start thinking of band names, guys, because you *know* a bunch of self-deprecating moms who like to write would score a recording contract in no time.


I may or may not skip school tonight, because Teddy's dad is out of town and I don't know whether I feel like making Ted sit through Government Documents with me. He'll do it--and probably even enjoy it for a while--but it's such a good excuse to take the night off that I don't know if I can resist.


I made vanilla pudding yesterday. I prefer chocolate, but Ted likes vanilla better, and I'm nice like that. I wondered as I was making it what keeps it from being a decent breakfast food. I mean, milk, eggs, some butter, vanilla, a little cornstarch, and only 3/4 cup of sugar . . . practically health food, as far as I'm concerned. Seriously.


I've been renting my townhouse for a little more than two years, and my landlord asked in passing whether I'd be interested in buying my unit. I told her yes, and that I might actually be interested in buying another, too (mine is one of four). I don't think I could afford the whole building, but I think I might dig being a landlord. Or would that be landlady?