Friday, June 30, 2006

Superman never made any money / Saving the world from Solomon Grundy

I took the boy and one of his friends to see Superman last night, at the big Loew’s theater nearby. In the interest of getting home at a semi-decent hour for nine-year-olds on a weeknight, we skipped having dinner at home and went for the chicken tenders, curly fries, and Sprite combo at the theater. Which is now, I found out too late, $10. FOR ONE MEAL! I didn’t eat, but had a Diet Coke, and this was easily a $50 Thursday night. Ouch. No wonder I usually stick to popcorn and matinees.

Never mind that, though, because the movie was worth it. I’m a sucker for the super heroes. (Although I never cared all that much for Batman. I’ll root for him, sure, but he’s little more than a rich guy with gadgets and a cool car, as far as I can see. Dark Knight? Whatever. I get that he’s avenging his parents . . . but . . . he’s just too suave. And brooding. And not brooding in a good way.) ANYWAY. I’m a sucker for the super heroes. I love me some Spiderman, and the Xmen, and the various heroes I’ve met through “graphic novels” (comics) as a grown up.

Superman, though, is just so beautiful. And good. And kind. He’s everything a little girl thinks her dad is, and everything she thinks grown men should be. Of all of the super heroes, he’s the one I wish were really real. I always say I’d choose Marvel Comics over DC in a story-by-story fight for my interest, but Superman breaks my heart because he’ll never exist.

The kid who plays Superman in this movie is scarily like Christopher Reeve in a lot of ways. I’m almost glad Dana Reeve is dead, because I can’t imagine how she’d be tortured by this movie. I can’t imagine what it’ll be like for their son, if he sees it. Brandon Routh is the actor, and I haven’t seen an interview or even read anything about him, but he’s perfect. You can see Reeve in his eyes, in his jaw, in his cheekbones. It might not be in his face all at once, but it’s always there. His Clark Kent grin is beautiful. His longing looks at Lois are beautiful. His teary eyes are beautiful. (Oh, and did you see “I, Robot” with Will Smith? Do you remember swooning over Will Smith in the shower, or was that just me? We get a look at Superman’s naked torso here, and I felt similar stirrings.)

Kate Bosworth is a fine Lois (although less urgent and raspy than Margot Kidder), and Kevin Spacey is a SPOT ON Lex Luthor. He’s smart and serious about his dreadful scheme, and nasty and cold and, and funny here and there without being too campy. And Parker Posey doesn’t get enough to do as his chick, but I like her anyway. Also, one of Luthor’s posse is Kal Penn, from Harold and Kumar go to White Castle. It was nice to see him, even as a bad guy.

There’s a new (to me, at least) character, Richard, who is Lois’s live-in boyfriend and (assumed) baby daddy. He’s handsome and kind, and a pilot. He’s a sort of Superman Lite, I guess. He’s a good character, especially as he’s allowed to be jealous of Superman without having to go the normal comic book route of having that jealousy turn him into a villain.

Some of the sets are lovely, and some of the cinematography totally rocks. There are some winking, knowing moments, but they’re tasteful and fun—not ironic or mocking. There were moments when I wanted to pump my fist and give a big, “Whoooooo!” I didn’t, but the whole theater applauded at the end.

Go. Give yourself over to pure goodness. What the world needs now is not love, sweet love. We need Superman, and for 120 minutes, we have him.

Anybody who believes that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach flunked geography. - Robert Byrne

Foods H will not eat:
(he insists he will eat "anything"; yet after long, hard years of research, empirical evidence suggests otherwise...)

Any kind of apple other than organic Braeburns from Whole Foods
Bananas that “are not ripe enough”
Raw blueberries

Shrimp, lobster, crab
Salmon with the skin on

Blue cheese
Goat cheese, especially feta
American cheese (why, that's just...unAmerican! You can't make a decent grilled cheese without American cheese. No, don't argue with me, I have three children, I know what I am talking about.)

Olives, green OR black

Beets in any form
Canned vegetables

Any flavor of Balance bar other than almond brownie

Cream pies
Strawberry pie
Peach pie
Doughnuts - unless it's a sour cream cake doughnut and it's the last one and I wanted it for breakfast the next day
Rice pudding (more for me!); in fact, most pudding, although he does love bread pudding

Pizza (“Cheese is poison”)
Chicken wings
Barbecued ribs
Pork, including bacon – and he prefers turkey sausage
ANY salami that is NOT from Parma Sausage in the Strip, which makes their own. Labriola’s is almost as good, and ten times more convenient to buy, but he won’t eat it
Most lunch/deli meats - especially bologna, even Lebanon bologna which is a whole different creature, and quite delicious
Hot dogs

Until very recently, yogurt; now ONLY Dannon nonfat, fruit-on-the-bottom, cherry, strawberry, peach, or blueberry - if I buy strawberry, I cannot buy strawberry-banana, as they “taste exactly the same”
Skim milk (he acts like it's poison if I give it to the boys when we run out of whole)
Non-dairy creamer, EVEN IN A PINCH
A large quantity of cheese – while I can and do happily consume half a pound or more in a sitting, especially if I am drinking, too (Remember, "cheese is poison")

Sourdough bread
Our grocery store’s Italian bread
Most types of potato chips
Any kind of white bread

Maple syrup
Gherkin pickles
Pickle relish
Cool Whip (not that I disagree…)
Miracle Whip (ditto…)
Any type of salsa that is not organic, high-end, gourmet salsa. He would not sully his palate with Chi-chi's or even La Victoria.
Caffeinated coffee
Commercial peanut butter

Any whiskey that is not Jameson’s – in a pinch, he will deign to drink Tullamore Dew
Beer that is not Guinness or Heineken (he spurns my Yuengling)

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

When you're the youngest, you're the baby... - Rudy Rucker

YESTERDAY was Terzo’s nine-month birthday.

Primo’s nine-month birthday, we’d have had a celebration; I’d have told everyone I encountered, all day long; we might even had had cake. We definitely had portraits taken.

Seg’s nine-month birthday, I’d have told everyone. Also portraits taken, but probably a month later.

With Terzo – wait, is he nine months yet?
Ah, the sad lot of the third child.

BUT he does get some perks from being third.

You wanna chew on the bagel that’s been lying on the floor? Be my guest. Especially if you will stop whining to be picked up.

You wanna crawl around naked, increasing hugely, obviously, the potential for pee on the floors? Go to town. Your potty-training brother has already permanently imbued the carpets with the faint smell of urine. Let’s not even mention the COUCH.

The lady at the deli wants to give you cheese/the lady at the bakery wants to give you a cookie/the Italian store lady wants to feed you biscotti? Ok. Enjoy.

You want to eat five pierogies for dinner, eschewing any and all baby food offered? Fine by me. Especially since with all that starch in your belly, you sleep mostly through the night.

Conversely, I will never let you cry it out, since that keeps everyone awake, whereas if I take you back to bed with me and nurse you, everyone sleeps. Win-win. But which means you probably won't be weaned OR sleep through the night till you're sixteen, at this rate.

You get Motrin (albeit children’s rather than infants’) for your teething pains, Aquaphor for your red butt, and Zantac for your reflux, all without the excruciating debate or incompetence and lack of baby-knowledge that went on with the first two. Because who has time to 1) debate, or 2) deal with a screaming teether for three nights running?

You have two big brothers to entertain you when Mama is busy or not inclined to play; you have umpteen cousins who are happy to hold and play with you at family gatherings; and because it’s pretty certain you are the last grandchild, you are spoiled even more than the first eleven.

True, you may never learn your real name as everyone pretty much always refers to you as “The Baby;” as in, “Will someone see where The Baby is stuck?” “Hello, The Baby! I am happy to see you too!” or “The Baby is chewing on the cable modem, so get him away from there!”

Primo is going to be my tormented, deep, and emotional Goth, stomping around in his big black boots and trenchcoat; Seg is going to be the tomcat jock, nonchalantly charming a different wholesome girl every other week with that sweet yet devilish smile and sincere blue eyes. So when Terzo comes home stoned, with his pregnant, underage girlfriend in tow, I have a feeling I will greet the situation with an equanimity that just would not be possible with a firstborn child.

I’ll let you know in about eighteen years.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

A Random Ramble About My Dad

I know Father’s Day is long over, but I’ve been thinking about my dad lately. He was only 22 when I was born, and so is still a relative youngster at 57. At only about 5’6”, he’s the perfect height for me to dance with (I’m nearly 5’2”), but my mom won’t wear heels to go out with him, and he only comes up to my sister’s shoulder. I have his round face and soft brown hair, and seem to be following his pattern of graying, rather than my mom’s. I don’t have his moustache, though. Or his blue eyes.

He’s a tool and die maker, which means he works in a machine shop with lathes and things, making tools and bits and parts out of metal. He went to our school system’s vo-tech program in high school and then did the whole apprentice/journeyman thing. He wears jeans and canvas chinos to work, and long-sleeves even in the summer, beneath a heavy denim apron, to protect him from the bits of flying metal. His work boots often have metal shavings lodged in them, which have scratched my mother’s hardwood floors more than once.

He works for money rather than for love of the job, but he likes it well enough. He’s good at what he does, and he’s a reliable as the sunrise. In addition to the work things, he makes various car parts for himself and his cronies. It’s cars that he really likes, you see. Not the computerized, fiberglass “pieces of junk” we drive today, though. No way. He likes real cars, with real motors, which he can fix and rebuild to his heart’s content. He’s working on a 1932 Ford right now, and it lives in his great big garage, which also houses a Jeep, a sedan, an old refrigerator (the avocado one that was in the kitchen in the 70s) for beer, pop, water, and extra food during the holidays, and a lathe, an air-compressor, several jacks, various welding masks, and more car stuff than you could ever imagine. The garage is detached from the house, but has its own furnace so he and his pals can be out there in comfort all year. It smells like a mixture of motor oil, primer, and putty, and the scent never fails to make me happy. He has a radio and CD player (his taste in music runs to the . . . pre-Elvis era), and a sign that says, “Smoking Permitted Here”. I swear that if he’d install a toilet he would never need to enter the house.

It’s thanks to my dad that I know how to change my own oil and change a tire, both of which I had to learn before I was allowed to get my driver’s license. (Somehow, though, my sister escaped this. She’s never dirtied her hands with a jack or tire iron, and thinks I’m a fool to do it myself. I prefer to think I’m studly.)

My dad is a good Catholic boy, and goes to church every Sunday (or sometimes Saturday night), but he never sings or prays aloud. He used to drag my sister and me with him, but he’d let us sit in the back row, and sometimes he’d tickle our knees, knowing how hard we’d strain against laughing out loud. And then he’d follow us to Communion, letting me know I should head straight out the back door rather than return to our pew. He liked to beat the crowd out of the parking lot, I guess.

He used to go deer hunting, and even had a reloading bench in the basement where he taught me to reload shells. He taught me to handle guns, and we used to go to the range as a family. He doesn’t hunt anymore, preferring to stay warm and dry, but he’s not at all above taking out a pesky groundhog with the .22. Oh, and you know those big fat bees that are called yellow jackets around here? I swear to God he used to vaporize them with his .22 pistol. It was one of his best party tricks! My younger cousin used to demand, “Shoot the bees, Uncle Jim! Shoot the bees!” And he would. He’d sit in a patio chair on the back porch, watching one, concentrating on that fat, lay hover, and then . . . poof.

He and my mom used to ride Harleys. I don’t remember, but there’s photographic evidence. They weren’t hippes, but they smoked pot. Now he walks around with a toothpick in his mouth, but will smoke my brother-in-law’s unfiltered Camels whenever possible. He likes beer, especially Guiness, but will be just as happy with Keystone Light. He doesn’t care for wine, but likes port. He likes his coffee black and his tea sweet, and doesn’t care at all for steak or salad. He loves pie and cookies, and hot dogs. He makes “grilled cheese” sandwiches by putting slices of cheese between pieces of toast, and then zapping the sandwich in the microwave. He loves to go out for breakfast.

He modified an old farm tractor—a small one—and painted it orange, and this is what he uses to mow the grass. Once, he mowed over a nest of the aforementioned bees, causing a swarm. He finished the job brandishing a tennis racket in one hand, for protection.

He couldn’t care less about any sport of any sort. He’s not the kind of dad who would have coached little league (my mom coached our girls’ softball team). He doesn’t give a crap about fishing. He never wanted to barbecue (Mom, again). I don’t think he’s ever swung a golf club if there wasn’t a windmill and clown’s head in the vicinity. He doesn’t wear a tie more than two or three times in a year, and wouldn’t ever if my mom didn’t insist. What do you give this guy for Father’s Day? Well, you bake stuff. You buy him trees to plant. And then . . . you give him grandsons and take lots of photos for framing. And let the kids make things, like painted ceramic tiles that say “Pap’s Garage”. Oh, the gift-giving mileage my sister and I get out of our boys!

His politics lean far to the right. He was a Regan Democrat in the 80s, and never saw fit to make his way back. He thinks the world is going to hell, and is grateful he isn’t young and just starting out now. (Or, as he says, “I’m glad I’m old.”) He worries about my sister and me, and our kids. He used to get along great with my ex-husband, but now . . . there’s probably no one he likes less, and that includes Bill Clinton.

He doesn’t care for traveling, and went to Disney World with us last August only because I really think my mom would’ve left him if he hadn’t. I think he enjoyed it, though. I’ll never forget seeing him on the Tower of Terror. He’d like to go to Bakersfield, CA sometime, for something to do with old cars. He hates the beach. And Europe? No way. He doesn’t like to leave the county—forget leaving the country. I don’t even think he’s been to Canada.

He likes animals. He puts feeders out for the various local birds. He only watches the TV for news, (Fox—ugh!), WWII movies, and that crazy thing on Spike TV where the Japanese people go through the obstacle courses. He likes Mystery Science Theater. And Wallace and Grommet and Monty Python. He doesn’t read much beyond newspapers and car magazines, but he understands that I feel about books the way he does about cars, so we’re cool.

And that’s about it. That’s my dad. He’s happy, I think. I love him.

Monday, June 26, 2006

I did not have three thousand pairs of shoes, I had one thousand and sixty. - Imelda Marcos

I am having shoe issues. I am thinking entirely too much about my footwear these days. (Wait till the bathing suit purchasing begins - if you think I am obsessing about shoes. BUT -- there will be NO photographs with that post.)

I wear these shoes a lot. Like all the time.
I bought them at Kmart five years ago – they’re Thom McAn - but only started wearing them recently, once I realized that, though they are red, they do indeed go with pretty much everything and have the added bonus of making me look all boho and hip and stuff. They are very comfy, I can walk in them (crucial when you bus it to work), and they don’t smell because I can spray the Dr Scholl’s foot-smell stuff in them thoroughly and easily.

My Op sneakers, despite having been washed and sprayed numerous times, must be thrown away because they REEK. This is a shame as they are kicky and sporty and cute. And comfy and cool (as in temperature). But they really truly do smell like something died inside them. And make my closet smell the same.

I wear my Tevas often - especially when I want to feel leggy and athletic and fit - "Yes, I have been white-water rafting!" - but the fact that the straps are too short bothers me more than it used to. And I have been having clothing-irritation issues, and when that happens, my Tevas start pissing me off because they CHAFE my feet. Especially around my ankles. I know I am weird, don’t look at me like that.

I toyed with the idea of Birkenstocks but can’t see my way clear to spending that kind of cash on them. I just don’t like them all that much – not a hundred-plus bucks worth - and plus, I hear you have to break them in, and I am not interested in breaking anything in. Except maybe flip-flops (See below). Kilowatthour had a cute pair of Mephisto sandals on her site the other day, but for this summer, I am afraid I must stick with my Jesus sandals. They were bought when I was hugely pregnant, with swollen feet, last summer. So they are comfy but ug-uh-ly!

I have an inordinate number of running shoes - something like six pairs? Some reserved purely for running, some are “dress” running shoes, some are for when I am painting or doing yard work – I don’t pitch them till they are quite literally falling apart. I only wear Adidas. And I don't wear them so much during the summer, as they can be hot. Except of course when I run during the summer. I am aiming for four times a week right now. Four times a week of sweaty, smelly feet in running shoes. These are my current favorite pair:

My Doc Marten boots, which I bought in London in 99 and my mother told me they were the ugliest shoes she’d ever seen, and my Doc oxfords which I bought shortly thereafter since the boots were so comfortable and utilitarian - also very hot and seldom worn in the summer. I wear them ALOT in the winter, though.

I *used* to LIVE in these, in high school – with the laces tied in those little knots on each side, and then also in college. (My mother deemed them hideous. She HATED them. No idea why she bought them for me...?) I wore them with jeans, shorts, skirts. But they offer no arch support whatsoever, so they went away shortly after I got old enough to need arch support. Like when I was spending all day on my feet, painting, to, you know, make money to pay rent and whatnot.

These slingback pumps are the most comfortable sexy shoes I own – very pretty and stylish, and I truly needed a pair of wearable and pretty black heels to go with various dresses and skirts, but can’t really wear them to work everyday, or to the playground, or the zoo. I’ll bet H wishes I’d wear them around the house, swishing the feather duster and wearing a little apron – and people in hell wish for ice water. Instead, I tend towards these as my default around-the-house footwear:I have/had two pairs, but can’t find the old ones, which are more comfy as they're already broken in. I faintly remember putting them SOMEWHERE so I could slip them on to wear into the basement when it flooded recently, but now have no recollection of what clever place I chose.

I like the cute little LL Bean sneakers, but for some reason sneakers cut like this always hurt my feet, usually up around my big toe-knuckle (Is there a real term for that?) I bought a pair in Paris because my flat strappy leather sandals were just not cutting it, walking around on the marble floors of the Louvre all day – but they were almost worse. And certainly looked worse. And does anything scream “American tourist” more than a pair of sneakers, no matter how cute?

I considered buying Crocs - everyone's wearing them. R up at the coffee shop told me they are "heaven on your feet." So I bought a pair a few weeks ago - going through my usual shoe-buying angst of "Did I buy too big? Too small? Wrong color?" etc. - and have worn them pretty much constantly since, including to work with skirts. I wear them with the strap around the back, but you can flip it forward. They are VERY light, comfy, and are supposed to be some sort of antibacterial material so won't smell. They are also cheap, cheap, cheap - so I may go buy a pair in green.
I *thought* I just couldn’t do colored shoes – I am *still* recovering from my high school days when my mother bought me shoes to match.every.single.outfit. Gah! WHAT was she thinking? I remember yellow gladiator sandals, red pointy-toed, cross-strap flats, navy Gloria Vanderbilt peep-toe pumps, white strappy sandals, various black shoes, little white Keds canvas sneakers...the very memory makes me shudder. So black Crocs it is.

Then I was considering these: I think the regular Keen sandals that everyone is sporting these days are HIDEOUS. That big rubber toe thing reminds me of a pair of Nikes I had in junior high. Total dorkdom. That was me, Miss Total Dork.But someone at the coffee shop was wearing this version, and I think they are so very cute. And probably just as comfy as the regular ones. (She said her kids hated them, and begged her not to wear them, but who listens to their kids anyway?)

I guess I do, sometimes. Primo picked these out:But I wound up returning them. I think they’re adorable, they made my calves look fabulous – as in NOT the Eastern European peasant calves that they really are - but they are just so NOT ME. I just could not bring myself to wear them outside the house. I think you must agree.

So - you see, I am a shoe schizophrenic. And I am fickle. Oh so fickle.
How do men do it? My husband gets by with - let me see - he recently bought two - TWO - pairs of shoes AT ONCE, an unprecedented feat (haha!) of shopping for him - so that brings his grand shoe total up to ---
SIX pairs of shoes.

His sneakers.
His brown leather casual moccasin-types for work.
His sandals.
His black dress shoes.
His brown dress shoes.

Oops. Five.



How does he do it?

Saturday, June 24, 2006

"...women's total instinct for gambling is satisfied by marriage.” - Gloria Steinem

I returned Anthony Bourdain’s Nasty Bits: Collected Varietal Cuts, Usable Trim, Scraps, and Bones; it felt like a ragtag collection of essays that just wasn’t that compelling. The first couple essays I sampled didn’t make me want to read all of it, not in the least. I will keep an eye out for a used copy, but it wasn’t worth the full hardback price to me. And does anyone know if he and his wife Nancy got divorced? His other books are all dedicated to her, and he generally mentions her, but I am noticing that this book was NOT, and none of his current bios mention her anymore. Very sad.


I finished Meg Wolitzer’s The Position last night. I was very sad to see it end, I haven’t enjoyed or been so thoroughly engrossed in a novel in a long time. Possibly since reading Kate Atkinson’s Behind the Scenes at the Museum. Wolitzer is a steady and solid yet nuanced writer who develops even her non-sympathetic characters beautifully. Reading this book and watching its plot, as it were, unfold, was a beautiful and peaceful experience; you were clearly in the hands of a master.
I borrowed Surrender Dorothy from the library, but, like Laurie King’s, Jane Austen’s, and Josephine Tey’s novels, I will ration Wolitzer’s novels, saving them for when I need them. And I MUST own this, anyway, along with all her other stuff.


My boss lent me Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never let Me Go, which is good; I am enjoying reading it so much more than I thought I would. I didn’t want to come back from lunch, I could happily have stayed curled up in the armchair at Starbucks, latte in hand, reading, for the rest of the afternoon. It’s immensely more readable than his other stuff that I have read, Remains of the Day and parts of Unconsoled.
Knowing the plot twist renders the novel actually that much more disturbing, much like knowing the plot twist in “The Sixth Sense” left me scared, crying, and wracked with sorrow for Haley Joel Osment’s disturbed and haunted little boy. However, I can see how powerful the revelation of the secret could turn out to be as well.


I got completely bogged down in HP Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness - much as I felt reading Jonathan Lethem’s Girl in Landscape, I just don’t find other, ruined civilizations all that terrifying, even if they are, as one review of Mountains suggested, indicative of “the fragility of human life.” Uh, ok. Reading the newspaper indicates daily the fragility of human life; squidlike, hex-pedal aliens do not. But that’s just me.


I bought J. Maarten Troost’s Getting Stoned with Savages, his follow-up to Sex Lives of Cannibals. I am looking forward to reading it, maybe after the Ishiguro. I have a feeling I am going to need something sort of light after finishing that.

Or maybe I will tackle Ken Follett’s Whiteout. I haven’t read any Ken Follett since slogging through Pillars of the Earth on my mom’s recommendation, but Whiteout’s got killer viruses! And people bleeding out of their eyes! And sexy biohazard-suited scientists! In a race for their lives! Trying to save humankind! Because we’re fragile! See above!


Is anyone else reading J. Robert Lennon’s story in July’s Harper’s, “Happyville”? I like Lennon; the first book of his I read was Light of Falling Stars; not as memorable an airplane-crash book as Rafael Yglesias’s Fearless, but good. Then I read his The Funnies, which was okay, but not great. And then I kinda forgot about him. But after reading this month’s installation of “Happyville,” I think I should go check out his other two novels, On the Night Plain, and Mailman (although the latter’s reviews make it sound like Confederacy of Dunces, which I found one of the most annoying books I have ever read).


I leave you with this:
Primo on the porch, on a rainy day, with his new-from-the-library books.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

A quote is just a tattoo on the tongue. - William F. DeVault

I am considering getting a tattoo. I have always wanted one. I find them mysterious, and sexy, and I like their (now not so much) hint of rebelliousness and outlier-ness.

After watching Daniel Day-Lewis in “The Last of the Mohicans” one too many times, I very nearly had double bracelets tattooed on each wrist.

Instead I used a permanent marker to draw them on, just to see how I liked them. I LOVED them, but my boyfriend at the time...hated ‘em. So I delayed the tattooing. For which I am probably pretty glad now. Although I still think they look cool on Daniel. Yes, I call him Daniel. We’re like THIS.

I promised myself when I completed my first triathlon that I would get a tattoo of a shark on my hip. I have always loved sharks – I love the way they look, and I love learning about them. I would not care to meet one in the water, but gosh, they’re just so sleek and powerful and beautiful.

If I have a totem, I would like it to be a shark.

The Shark Totem

Sharks are viewed stereotypically as dangerous. Singly, and when they are not hungry, sharks tend to be quite peaceful.
[Check. But when I am hungry, watch the hell out! Bringon the buffalo bites!]

They can be trained to do simple tasks such as distinguishing certain objects from others in the water...In large groups however, they can become unpredictable and may frenzy.In order to remain calm and centered shark medicine people require time to themselves. If they do not have time alone they can become irritable, anxious and aggressive in their behavior.
[Yep. Yep.]

Sharks have incredibly sensitive noses that can smell one drop of blood in 50 million times as much water.
[H says this is true of me. But then he’s spent ten years fighting with me. I don’t mean all ten years, I mean that over the course of ten years…oh, never mind.]

They can feel the pressure waves made by a struggling fish and are sensitive to electromagnetic currents...The shark has no swim bladder and must swim perpetually to keep from sinking to the bottom. Water has always been associated with emotional transformation...
[I like to swim. Uh...]

In the course of our learning we can attract events and people that are disharmonious. Working with shark medicine gives you the power and confidence to drive off negative elements or eliminate them completely.
[Yes! Complete elimination! Sweet!]

Ok, but apparently I? Am a bat. (Which, looking at it, WOULD make a cool tattoo. If I were really a bat. Or, um, felt some sort of affinity with bats. Which I don't. Other than being proverbially blind as one.)

What is your totem animal?

Your totem animal is the Bat! You are definitely a night person. For you the day begins at sundown. You have a energetic attitude and are always on the lookout for some new thrill. Like the Bat, you are listener, you never judge someone until they open their mouth.

So, all right, then, I like bats. And Bats mean Bacardi, and I like Bacardi. Oh, ok, that works. Gimme a bat tattoo! (And no, I am NOT bats, I am A bat!)

Of course SOME people think
“I’m a wolf? You run to the wolf! That don’t make you no lamb!”

Or, oh yeah, A BEAR! AN EAGLE! A DEER!

Anyway, I was ten weeks pregnant with Segundo and decided that now was not the time to get a tattoo, and especially not on my hip. Looking at the state of my hips today, I see I made an excellent choice.

So over the past few years I have convinced myself that the threat of hepatitis was not worth risking for a tattoo.

And EVERYONE has a tattoo these days. I am always surprised when someone DOESN’T have a tattoo. For the record, I believe my mother-in-law and my husband may be the only two people I know without tattoos...ok, only being a teensy bit hyperbolic...but tattoos are ubiquitous these days. Do I really want to look like everyone else? Isn’t it kind of a badge of honor to not have one at this point? I can hear my mother saying, “If everyone jumped off a bridge, would you jump too?” Probably not, Ma, but my fear of heights is a therapy session for another day.

The barista at the neighborhood coffee shop has several tattoos and they look GOOD on her. And now I want one. Again.

Where do I put it?

My ankle? I hear tattooing on the bone HURTS. Also, I often wear capris or skirts, and want to be able to hide it easily if need be.

For the same reason, the forearm is out, plus that smacks of the US Marine Corps, who I am sure are an admirable group of people, but I have no wish to resemble a Marine.

The inside of my wrist is a possibility. Discreet yet visible.

The front or side of the hip is a BAD choice for anyone who has been pregnant. And I don’t even have stretch marks.

My shoulder blade is also a possibility.
As is my lower back.

I had a friend in grad school who had a giant tattoo on the top of his head. Now, one, ouchy ouchy ouchy ouch. Two, what’s the point? He grew his hair back in and while it’s kinda cool that he has a hidden tattoo on the top of his head, who ever gets to see it? And he had such lovely hair...

I saw someone recently with a bar piercing through the back of their neck. Grossed me out. But that might be a good spot for a tattoo…for someone else. That thick slab of muscle back there kind squicks me out. Can’t imagine any needle getting close.

Would it embarrass my kids? I KNOW it would gross my husband out. But then, what doesn’t?

Maybe I need a 666 on my forehead...ok, enough of my grade-school education remains that even thinking that weirds me out. Forget I said it. Please. No 666s here.

What about this?

Or this, apparently a very popular choice...I like it.

Maybe instead of a Virgin tattoo?
I could get one of, maybe, a grilled cheese sandwich that LOOKED like the BVM.

I don’t want some Chinese symbol for peace or love – especially since I am convinced that most of them actually mean “fat” or “stupid.” I don’t speak Chinese – what the hell would I know? I don’t want some Celtic symbol. The only ethnic symbol that pertains to me as a straightforward Eastern Euopean peasant is a potato, and that doesn’t make for a particularly aesthetic tattoo.

Maybe this birthmark/target thingey would work for me:

Ok, I found it. Here’s what I want:

Whaddya think?


Good Lord, who knew she had a modicum of sense?

Tattoos are like stories - they're symbolic of the important moments in your life. Sitting down, talking about where you got each tattoo and what it symbolizes, is really beautiful. - Pamela Anderson


[A] genuine tattoo.... tells a story. I like stories and tattoos, no matter how well done, and if they don't tell a story that involves you emotionally, then they're just there for decoration, then they're not a valid tattoo. There has to be some emotional appeal or they're not, to my way of thinking, a real tattoo. It tells people what you are and what you believe in, so there's no mistakes. ~Leo, tattooist, 1993, quoted in Margo DeMello, Bodies of Inscription, 2000

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

I don't know why we are here, but I'm pretty sure that it is not in order to enjoy ourselves. - Ludwig Wittgenstein

H took the two older boy to Strasburg this week, to ride Thomas the Tank Engine and have a guys’ weekend. My previous post's Radiohead quote came from the flurry of preparations Monday morning. Primo, Segundo, and H were very concerned that they remember the deck of cards, the Monopoly game, the Radiohead and Beatles CDs…I prompted them to pack the potty seats, the Pull-Ups, and their toothbrushes. As I pointed out, “I could make do without the Radiohead CD but the potty seats so the boys can’t fall into the toilet and therefore can poop without assistance….not so much.” When I returned from coffee and errands at noon Monday, I noticed that Primo had forgotten his sneakers, and Seg had forgotten Mimi. Oh well. They seem to have survived. They have been swimming and hanging out with Thomas and playing Go Fish and Old Maid and Steal the Pile, and watching Stanley Cup hockey – Seg even stayed awake till the end of the game Monday evening. I don’t care if they are drinking beer, playing poker, and hiring strippers - the baby and I have had a perfectly lovely and quiet time.

And I ask you – back when Primo was small – what exactly did I find so hard about having ONE – ONE single solitary - baby? This is a piece of cake. Especially as, as I have noted, he can’t talk yet.

Today I totally played hooky and threw responsibility to the winds – I dropped Terzo off at his babysitter’s and then returned home where I LOUNGED…today was a blissful eight-hour vacation.

I picked the baby up at 7 and came home, and my friend L came over. The baby went to bed at 8 and we ate dinner, drank some wine, sat on the front porch, and talked and gossiped and tried to figure out where she could meet someone –a romantic significant-other sort of someone - in this town.

I feel…refreshed.

I did paint the baby’s room – it took a little more than an hour this afternoon and is now a fresh and lovely apple green.
I did go to the coffee shop for a latte and a bear claw.
I did not run.
I did not write half a dozen blog entries.
I did call Australia last night, but alas, no one was home in Australia.
I did read the newspaper in its entirety, and the new issue of Newsweek featuring Johnny Depp.
I did organize some books and start cataloging my fiction.
I did enter into my book journal lists of books I have been carrying around on various small scraps of paper.
I did not organize the 200+ photos we just received from York Photo.
I did not cook dinner.
I did not clean any bathrooms.
I did not call Tuvalu – but I wanted to.
I did play umpteen games of JewelQuest.
I did not do any laundry – until just now when I finally threw in a load of whites.
I did sit on the porch swing with Terzo and sing to him for half an hour.
I did play catch with Terzo with his little puffy soccer ball.
I did let him suck contentedly on my chin.
I did sit on the porch with my neighbor whom I haven’t seen in forever, and caught up, and gratefully accepted an autographed copy of her new book.
I did not vacuum.
I did not have to bite my tongue when I was interrupted for the millionth time.
I did not have to even once utter the phrase, “Please don’t hit your brother.”

I do highly recommend a maternal vacation every few months.

Where do you think I should send them next time?

Checking In

Since BB is taking a bit of a sabbatical, I thought I’d fill in with some book talk.

I’m reading Ayun Halliday’s The Big Rumpus, which at times make me laugh out loud in recognition and appreciation, and at times makes me feel like a total square who is missing out on Real Life. I don’t like being made to feel that thinking Baby Gap clothes are cute makes me less of a person, but . . . I do get the sense sometimes that Halliday feels that way. Is it me? Am I too sensitive? Is she really trying to draw lines? Can’t I like her without wanting to be just like her? Anyone?

I took a break from that for a while this weekend to read a comics series a library friend gave to me, called Rising Stars. The guy responsible for the Babylon 5 TV series (which I’ve never seen) wrote it, and I have to say I liked it a lot. The writing was good, and the characters were people, rather than super hero types. If you like X-Men, you’d like this.

I also read The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Age 13 ¼ this weekend. A friend recommended it, and I fell in love. Adrian is English, and kind of a twerp, but an interesting kid who’s great to spend time with. The author really captures the combination of complete bewilderment and sense of knowing it all that comes with adolescence. A quick read, and great fun. There’s a whole series of these, so I’m looking forward to picking up the rest.

Aside from that, I’m reading reference books. The World Almanac, the CIA World Factbook, Whittaker’s, Bowker, various encyclopedias and dictionaries and gazetteers . . . because I’m taking a reference course this semester. I’m enjoying the class, because I like getting to play detective, but THANK GOD I’m only taking the one this summer, because the work load is kicking my ass. You would not believe the amount of time and work this class is taking. And you also would not believe how, sometimes, Google can be shown to suck. Just saying that makes me feel kind of giddy, like I’m pointing out that the emperor might not be nude, but that his lacey thong is definitely showing.

Oh, I am such a dork.

Monday, June 19, 2006

I could make do without the Radiohead CD, but not without the potty seat.

I am taking a blogging vay-kay.
I think.
I should return sometime Wednesday or possibly even Thursday, refreshed and renewed and ready to be all pithy and humorous and all.
Please stay tuned.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

My candle burns at both ends... - Edna St Vincent Millay

Why am I always so exhausted?

H laughs at me when I ask him this question.

I don’t think the answer is as simple as, I never stop. Although I don’t seem to stop nearly often enough. (But wait till I tell you about this next Tuesday…woot!) I don’t think most other people experience this level of exhaustion just getting through their everyday lives. I think my mental health issues and emotional state make me prone to weariness. I think my genetic makeup is such that all I am really suited for is lying around on the couch and reading, and unfortunately my life currently requires a much higher level of activity than that.

Primo had zoo camp this week, which he enjoyed very much. But it meant getting all three boys up, fed, clothed, on the potty, teeth brushed, and then in the car to drive to the zoo by 9 where I had to get them all out of the car just to take Primo to the camper-gathering location because there was no curbside drop-off. It wasn’t till Wednesday that I realized I could leave the younger two in the car (with the windows open and within sight) because everyone was there to GET RID OF their child, not acquire more. Then it felt like, no sooner did I get the other two home, Seg on the toilet and cleaned up after, the baby nursed and sleeping, the kitchen cleared up and the house straightened a bit, and a load of laundry thrown in, then I had to get them back in the car and go pick up Primo.

I took Segundo for his speech evaluation Wednesday afternoon. The final results:
1. He needs to have the wax cleaned out of his ears by a pediatrician. Also, he has permanently retracted eardrums (causing a clog like that you get when you ascend/descend in an airplane or on a mountain). So, some of his speech issues may be due to his reduced hearing, but it also looks like the hearing things are easily fixable.
Yes, I DO too know what Q-tips are for.
2. He has about a 25% development delay in his speech. They have specific things to work on and recommend speech therapy within his preschool classroom setting.
On one hand, nice to know we are not completely overreacting; on the other, when you hear anyone in a position of authority refer to your little boy’s “disability”? Well, I gotta say, my heart dropped into my stomach, to mix my metaphors. But that’s how it felt. I just wanted to cradle him in my arms and growl at people. Even though these people are going to HELP him. So when he calls his brother a poopyhead, he can say his name CORRECTLY. Enunciate each syllable PROPERLY.
My little Seg. Even though he calls me a "deetheart," I know what he means. *He's* the deetheart.

Thursday I worked a ten-hour day and because I spaced that everyone else leaves at 4, I never got a lunch break. Wah-wah, I know.

Friday I took the two younger boys to the zoo while Primo was at zoo camp. I drop Primo off at 915, and the zoo doesn’t open till 10. Except, I discovered, if you are members – and we are. In which case you can go in at 9 and pretty much have the entire zoo all to yourself. Segundo rode some of those silly ride-on vehicles that take quarters to shake and jiggle around. It’s only recently that I have had to start putting money in them; for the longest time, just sitting in them was enough for both boys. Then I bought him a lion puzzle in the zoo store, as a present for being so brave and cooperative on Wednesday. (Seg is the family puzzle whiz.) I rarely buy my guys stuff “just because” as we have enough toys to entertain a third-world country, but this felt important to me. It also might have had something to do with hearing the dread “disability” word.
We spent close to two hours in the aquarium. We watched the penguins frolic and swim and get fed; we played in the stingray tunnel and watched them be fed. (At first I was horrified that they feed fish OTHER FISH, but then I realized that it’s not as if the stingrays call out for pizza when they live in the wild. Duh.) Terzo crawled around on the carpet and oogled the sharks in the two-story tank; he was enthralled. And we all watched in fascinated repulsion the octopus, who rarely appears during normal business zoo hours, slurp its way around its tank, eyeballing us out of the sides of its scrotum-y head.
Then we got some lunch (tragedy! The zoo has reformulated its chicken finger coating!) and went and picked up Primo and came back into the zoo and rode the tram through the zoo as the Sumatran express was closed for inexplicable reasons. It was a lovely morning. I got to really slow down and spend some time with Seg, uninterrupted and focused on him.

On the way home we swung by the city pool, to sign up for swim lessons and get pool tags for the summer. Regardless of the fact that this will require me to buy a new bathing suit (I was thinking of a nice black-and-white suit, to showcase my increasingly whale-like figure), it seems like the right and smart thing to do. Neither goal was accomplished – I didn’t have enough cash on me for the pool tags, as the city raised the prices by twenty bucks for those of us suckers who live in the city and can actually afford to pay taxes, own our own homes, feed our own children, oh, and subsidize everyone else’s pool tags. And then I had the following exchange re: swim lessons:

Me: Can I sign up for swim lessons?
Giant, bored, and inept pool guard: Sure. We are just not sure we're doing swim lessons here at this pool though.
Me: When will you know if you're having swim lessons here?
GBAIPG: When we have enough people signed up.
Me: So then I would like to sign up for swim lessons.
GBAIPG: Sure. Yeah, ok, but - we are just not sure we're doing swim lessons here at this pool though.
And so on.
Do I really want these people being in charge of my kid not drowning?

And then I had to think about dinner. I hate dinner. Why do people feel like they need to eat dinner every night? God, they’re so demanding! Add into this mix the potty training, general three-year-old tantruminess, five-year-old boredom, and baby non-napping and fussiness. Nothing too far out of the ordinary – in fact, NOTHING out of the ordinary - but as I have once before told you, I do NOT deal well at all with the mundanities of everyday life.

Then, yesterday evening, I went out - ostensibly to grocery-shop but instead wound up at my favorite bar having a beer and some buffalo bites, sitting on a barstool among all the young, hip, and accompanied Friday-night revelers, reading a book which I enjoyed immensely. I have never minded eating out by myself, but it’s been awhile since I’ve done this, purely out of lack of opportunity. And it would have been fine except my waitress – who I may point out was no hot young thing herself – clearly, CLEARLY, was full of disdain at my loserdom and was a horrible waitperson. I had to ask for a glass for my beer. I had to ask twice for a glass of water. I had to ask for the blue cheese sauce for my chicken, and then she charged me for it – which NEVER happens. Everything took FOREVER to get, and when I did manage to find her to see what was up, she was sitting at the bar chatting up other patrons. The final straw: the bill was $13.52; I gave her a twenty (“Do you need change?” Um, YES); she brought me back 6 bucks. It’s not that I wasn’t going to throw that 48 cents her way anyway; it is the principle of the thing. It’s bad enough that she asked if I wanted change in the first place. I am the first to admit that I am hard on waitpeople – I expect a level of service that many people don’t. But I tip accordingly. This woman got a buck. I hope the 48 cents was worth it. And I said something to the floor manager on my way out.

And then I went grocery shopping. And then I went home, carried in the groceries, put them all away, threw in a load of laundry, carried a basket of clean clothes upstairs, put away the clean dishes in the dishwasher, loaded up the dirty dishes, and WENT. TO. BED. Where, I’d like to tell you, I slept the sleep of the just and the exhausted, but my retainer was bugging me, and the baby kept stirring, and then the cat leaped over my head in one of his midnight spastic fits. I slept through my alarm this morning. I didn’t have time for breakfast. I didn’t have time to run. I barely made it to work on time.
And the Perfects are coming over for Father’s Day dinner tomorrow. For which I must bake a cake, and prepare potatoes and salad, and clean and fry a boatload of greens per H’s request, and do everything but buy and cook the steaks. Thank God I don’t have to do that.

God, I am so exhausted.

Do you suppose I could be anemic? Maybe I am not eating enough chocolate. Maybe I am eating too much chocolate. Maybe I need another coffee.

Maybe I should stop whining and get over myself.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Take off your Band-Aid because I don't believe in touchdowns

This entry brought to you by the letter Q – no, T! Agh! (That [paraphrased] quote brought to you by “Monty Python’s Holy Grail.”)

This post sponsored by Carolyn of The TMI Spot.


Q – Jess (of Garish and Tweed fame)’s first little niece-y type, with blonde curls and a new little sister.

Quicksand – I have always been arrogant about quicksand. I will bet you *I* could pull myself out. No idea from whence this insane confidence stems.

Quisp -

Quaker/Quaker Oats – I always thought I’d make a good Quaker. Turns out I am a just-fine Episcopalian, which is all right too. And Quaker Oats – I prefer the instant Maple and Brown Sugar, with lots of hot water and milk, to make it soupy. (My boys prefer it thick.) And Quaker used to make a Pop-Tart-y type of toaster pastry with oats in the crust. H liked them, in strawberry. Then Quaker discontinued them. Damn them.

Quadratic - as in quadratic/polynomial equation. Just SAY it. Doesn’t it just roll off the tongue? Gosh, I love the word. Quadratic.

For that matter, quads. As in, “I ran three miles this morning and boy, are my quads killing me!”

Quarantine – have I mentioned how much I enjoy plague books?

Quid - the English monetary unit also known more formally as the pound. Oh, how I wish I were in England! And I just helped a patron find bibliographic info on John Donne, so now I long to be there. In front of a table full of double cream, strawberry jam, strong tea, and SCONES.

Quilt – Which I do. Slowly. By hand. See?

Quiet. (Ahhhhhh.)

Quandry, quarrel, quack (quack, quack), quackery, quibble, quagmire, quarrel….I adore the “qu” consonant combo.

Carolyn, the Q just wasn’t that hard.


Tristan - Have you ever read James Herriott’s Yorkshire vet books? All Creatures Great and Small, etc.? One of the vet brothers he works with is named Siegfried; the other, younger, dashing and debonair brother is named Tristan. Tristan sounds like he’d be a hoot. Of course, he'd have to be, with the Wagnerian name. I suppose he should just be grateful he wasn't christened Zoltan.

Tsunami – Primo is obsessed with natural disasters at the moment. I am intent upon shielding him from any well-meaning twit who might think it’d be cool to tell him all about last year’s killer tsunami.

Towel (monster) – what I turn into when I have my wet hair wrapped up after a shower. I growl and tickle the boys' bellies. The boys think this is hilarious and giggle and shout with laughter. It’s a good time and oh so simple.

Ticky-tacky: Little boxes, little boxes, little boxes all the same

Tea – which I drink way too much. At the moment, Irish Breakfast with plenty of sugar and milk. But also coffee.

Tiropeta – not only is it fun to say, it’s great to eat! Great cheesy chunks of even more cheesy goodness. Yum yum!

Tuvalu : Blackbird :: ??? : BabelBabe

Teamwork. I am not a team player. But you probably discerned that little fact about me long ago.

Triumph Spitfire. So pretty.

On the QT. I was ABOUT to say, how I blog. And eat chocolate. But, "I don't think this means what you think it means." And I would be correct. But I leave it on the list. It's still catchy.

Hat on this demon's head, fly far away! Fly away, steal away, creep away, gleep away, never come back! - The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins


As I suspected...


Thursday Show-and-Tell: A Hat, courtesy of Blackbird

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Still Crazy After All These . . . Months?

Hello, hello. I’ve been away. Well, no I haven’t really been anywhere, but I haven’t written in a while. I haven’t had all that much to say. I’ve been lurking around, seeing what you’ve all been up to, but I haven’t been doing anything I’ve felt like writing about.

I got pre-approved for a mortgage and made an offer on a teeny-tiny house, but the sellers rejected me. I didn’t care though, really. Why? Because the house was so small. Because I don’t really want to move (even though I rent my townhouse, I like it, and I like my neighborhood—and I hate moving). And because I was just thrilled to find that I have A-OK credit, and that banks were willing to give me mortgages ALL BY MYSELF. That’s cool.

What else? The boy has had his official Moving Up, and is now a fourth grader. Today is also his half-birthday, incidentally, which means he’s 50% of the way to being nineteen.

Oddly, I’ve had football on my mind. I watched Friday Night Lights a few weeks ago, which may well be the GREATEST SPORTS MOVIE EVER. It’s based on a true story, about a high school football team from a small Texas town. The story covers the 1988 football season, which, as a member of the Class of ’89, was the season played during my senior year.

My hometown wasn’t quite as wrapped up in football as the town in the movie, but it was darn close. The movie was moving—I felt for the kids and the adults (or some of the adults, anyway). I remembered vividly why (even as the captain of the cheerleading squad), I developed a hatred of and bitterness toward football. And I remembered that football is so much a part of where I’m from that I kind of like it anyway.

So I watched that movie, and I requested the book it’s based on from the library, and it just came in, so there’s more football. And Ben Roethlisberger, the QB for the Steelers, is in the hospital across the street from me, because he wrecked his motorcycle on Monday. His big head is on every local media outlet. And then my son, who loves playing sports but has never before expressed any interest in formalized athletics, went to a football camp that the University of Pittsburgh’s football team runs for kids on Monday and Tuesday.

The camp was at their sports complex, which is off-campus, because it’s an enormous, sprawling thing that couldn’t possibly fit anywhere on Pitt’s urban campus. There are three fields, people—two outdoor practice fields, and one that’s inside. There is a huge weight room, lavish locker rooms with spas and what-not, various conference rooms and small theaters for watching films of games and practices, a big auditorium, and a sort of museum/trophy room where you can check out Dan Marino’s retired jersey and Tony Dorsett’s old shoes, among other things.

I went to Pitt for my undergrad, and I’m a Pitt student now. Glad to see my tuition is really going toward something worthwhile.

Anyway, the boy had a good time at the camp, despite some misgivings before actually getting there. He met up with a friend from school, and felt much better about things. He ran drills and learned plays and learned how to tackle on the big dummies, and basically worked his skinny little butt off for two days. He came home sore and tired and hungry, and despite my morning efforts with the sunscreen, is sporting a “farmer tan”. He was pleased with the whole thing, but I don’t know whether he’ll want to do it again next year. Either way, I’m proud of him for trying something new.

You know who else is proud of him? Strangers and old men. I can’t tell you how weird it was to realize that all the security guards and parking attendants around the joint were so friendly and chatty and outgoing with me. Not because I’m a looker (because I totally am NOT), but because they knew I was there because I had dropped off my boy so that he could learn to play football. They honestly treated me like minor royalty because I was a mom whose boy was doing something they understood and approved of. Weird. But it really made it easier for me to see why some parents’ identities get so wrapped up in their kids’.

So, yeah. Football. I’m hoping I can finish this book and then football will be a non-issue for a while. It’s just weird.

I don’t have much else to report. I’ve been reading like a maniac, just blowing through books, because I’m only taking one class over the summer. The boy and I have finished all of the Harry Potter books, including Half-Blood Prince, so that’s kind of exciting. He’s not sure whether Snape is good or bad, but I’m impressed with his line of thinking: It’s possible to be a jerk and do mean things and still not be evil. That’s right, kid, it is! Good for you!

Hmmm . . . what else? Oh. We went to Ohio over Memorial Day weekend, to be the Western PA contingent for my cousin’s graduation from Oberlin. We visited a Cleveland friend, went to the Lake Erie beach, and then met my cousin and his mother (my very awesome ex-aunt) for a swanky dinner, and arranged to meet up again the next morning at Oberlin for the ceremony. Do you guys know Oberlin? It’s all hippy and artsy and liberal to the extreme. The kids weren’t required to wear caps and gown, and while some did, others . . . did not. There were girls in dresses with wreaths of flowers in their hair, sporting bare feet and hairy legs. There were boys in cut-offs and Berks and ball caps. There was a kid in a Pink Panther costume. There were girls in what looked like bridesmaids’ gowns. There was a boy in white tie and tails, complete with top hat and cane. There was a boy in a white bathrobe.

My cousin, who majored in English, wrote his senior thesis on Absalom! Absalom!, and plans to move to San Francisco, intern for The Believer, and then work his way into chef-dom by taking a job in a fancy restaurant, was planning to wear the jeans and pink oxford he wore to dinner. Turns out that he did indeed wear just that, as he passed out in it at 6:30 in the morning and slept through most of the ceremony. We drove to Ohio, sat in the burning heat and humidity, and never got the money shot of the boy getting his diploma. Because he was too late to walk. Super.

That’s about it for me. I joined the pool that’s like five minutes from my house, and it hasn’t been warm enough to swim since the day I signed the paperwork. What more do you need to know? This unseasonably cool Pittsburgh summer is brought to you by . . . my pool membership! Hooray for me!

Sorry to babble on so much, but it's good to be back.

Monday, June 12, 2006

N is for Neville who died of ennui. - Edward Gorey, "The Gashlycrumb Tinies"

Mimi’s got a brand new tat:

Look out, Loretta! Nothing is safe now!

Killer giraffes! In your neighborhood! More at eleven!

We will, we will ROCK YOU (rock you!) You would cry, too, if it happened to you!

Brave your storm with firm endeavor. - George Cooper

The calm before the storm.

In less than a week, I have hosted three dinner parties.

Wednesday evening was H’s wine-tasting extravaganza. 16 people.

Thursday H invited his brother, sister-in-law, their four children, and his parents over for a cookout – which I prepared for, cooked for, and then went to work from 3pm till 10pm.

Tonight H invited his cousin D for dinner, along with her parents. D is in town from Florida, because her sister just got married on Friday evening. We don’t get to see her that often, and I was delighted to spend some time with her. But geez oh man am I exhausted.

H left the whole thing very open-ended, resulting in everyone arriving at 6 pm, when he thought they were coming at 1pm. I have never ever before been sitting around with a glass of wine in my hand, freshly showered and with everything ready, when the guests arrived. But when people arrive 5 hours after you thought you invited them (semantic screw-up on H’s part, btw), well, that preparation thing will happen.

We started out with a chunk of Camembert and some sesame crackers. Uncle J especially liked the crackers- he said they reminded him of Communion wafer. Oh-kay.

Our CSA offerings this week consisted of lots and lots of greens. So for the meal I made two huge salads – one Mediterranean-themed with romaine and spinach greens, olives, roasted red pepper, parmigiana-reggiano cheese chunks, tomato, and cold pasta salad, sprinkled with toasted pine nuts; the other more American-themed, with field greens, Dry Jack cheese shavings, sliced green pepper, hard-boiled egg, avocado, and cucumber, sprinkled with chopped green onions. I baked a couple fillets of salmon bathed in white wine, sprinkled with dill weed and salt, and drizzled with olive oil. I fried up a mess of spinach in olive oil and chicken broth, with garlic slices and red pepper flakes. We served crusty bread, and a fruit salad of fresh pineapple and blueberries topped with flaked coconut.

And for dessert, I offered a lemon cream cake from Eat Cake. I didn’t have two 8-inch round pans – my round pans are 9-inch – so I baked it in a 9x13 pan and cut it in half cross-wise and layered it that way. The cake was a nice light plain cake, and the frosting was whipped cream folded in with lemon curd, and was wonderfully light, creamy, and lemony-tart.

Aunt M brought us a huge tray of leftover cookies from Friday’s wedding. My favorites – these almond cookies with apricot filling, covered in coconut - were there, also some of the raspberry cookies I like too. Because, you know, I need cookies to eat like I need a hole in my head.

So the dinner party was quite successful, everyone enjoyed looking at the first wedding pics to come back from the developer, and they all admired my adorable and smart children. A very nice evening. I wish I could say the dinner party season is coming to a close, but we offered to host the Perfect family’s Father’s Day dinner. So I must take a deep breath, gird up my loins, and prepare for 8 adults and 6 children to feed next Sunday. After which I shall collapse and order pizza for dinner for a week straight.


Friday night may well have been one of the worst days I have ever had.

First – please don’t call CYS – I lost my temper completely with Primo and slapped him. I have never felt as much like a worm as I did then. I was totally unjustified – I was angry at him and I lost control. It was my nadir as a mother.

Then H and I had a fight at the wedding. I won’t go into details, mostly because I am tired of thinking about the whole thing, but suffice it to say that he was incredibly mean and rude to me, and rather than cry in front of his entire family at the reception, I left. I just got up and walked out of the reception. My first inclination was to take my car and drive home but his bag was still in the car and I didn’t want to go back into the hotel, and I didn’t want to show up at home at midnight and scare the bejesus out of the babysitter. So I sat in the car, wrapped in a blanket, called Gina, calmed down, and read until several hours later H came looking for me. I got the room key from him and went inside and went to bed. Dammit, there was no way I was passing up an opportunity to sleep all night long, and sleep in.

The long and short of it is that H finally, the next morning, apologized profusely, and we talked about what was REALLY bothering him rather than what he’d been so mean about. And I told him that we get into all kinds of trouble when we try to play by other people’s rules and meet other people’s expectations instead of doing what has proven to work for us. And while it may not be conventional and/or easy, it’s crazy to ignore that it works for us. And then he told me I was very wise. And we talked, and talked some more. And I wound up being more exhausted than if I had just stayed up all night with the baby. I have been through the emotional wringer. I got nothing left right now. Except some wedding cookies and an extra slice of lemon cream cake. And that, my sweet Internet ones, is why I can’t lose this stupid weight.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

This is a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. The broadcasters of your area in voluntary cooperation with the FCC and other authorities...

List Friday, courtesy of Loretta, of Pomegranates and Paper

This week's theme: In case of this NOT being a test, this is NOT only a test, this is an actual emergency, please tune to one of the broadcast stations in your area – Loretta wants to know: What stuff would you take with you?


The one pair of perfect khaki cargo pants I own. What? They FIT me, and wonderfully, I might add.

My engagement ring and the silver claddagh ring H gave me for my first anniversary, also the necklace from my first Mother’s Day and my mermaid necklace from Stone Harbor

Segundo's Mimi
Primo’s Pooh Bear

The first five photo albums – everything more recent is uploaded at the developer’s photo website; also the half-dozen videocassette tapes from the camcorder

The baby books

The boys’ baby quilts I made for them

The paintings the boys painted for me for Mother’s Day and for H for Christmas
The paintings H and I bought on our honeymoon in Venice
The painting my parents bought on *their* honeymoon, which hangs in my living room

H’s two acoustic guitars – because he loves them and they’re lovely and make him so happy

My KitchenAid mixer – my mother gave it to me as a wedding gift
My grandmother’s cedar chest
The secretary my grandfather built for my mother
(We are assuming the superhuman-strength-in-crisis will kick in, ok?)

The inlaid box I keep my jewelry in – not because of the jewelry but because it was a gift from someone I once loved very much, and pretty much still do, but in a different way; or maybe instead the book he gave me, illustrated by Maxfield Parrish, one of my favorite artists, and inscribed to me. Or both. Take two, they're small.

I would NOT grab this houseplant. Even though Primo painted the pot for me at preschool.


Thursday Show-and-Tell: a houseplant. Courtesy of Blackbird

Wine can of their wits the wise beguile, Make the sage frolic, and the serious smile." - Homer

Segundo is potty-training. Yes, this is a good thing. Yes, I am very pleased. But the actual process of potty-training is the absolute pits, and I had forgotten that. Invariably he needs to go RIGHT NOW when I am putting the baby to sleep, or I am preparing food, or we are on our way out to the car for the 930 appointment, it is now 915 and it takes exactly fifteen minutes to get to the doctor’s office.

Seg also tends to start a poop, catch himself, and then when he strips off his Pull-Up – yep, you guessed it. Bathtime! THREE times yesterday, in the midst of preparing for the Great Wine-tasting Event.

And what is it with little kids and being naked while sitting on the toilet? WHY oh why must he take off every stitch of clothing? I never thought I’d ever say to any man, “Oh, PLEASE, leave your socks ON!” and yet? I do, more than once a day these days.

Yesterday I had a total hissy fit. It started when Seg called for me from the bathroom when I was up to my elbows in spinach-ball mix (more on that later). I had to clean up him – and the floor and toilet seat. Scrub, scrub, scrub, hot water, tons of soap, lather, rinse, repeat several times. Back to the kitchen to finish the spinach balls and ice the chocolate cake. The baby begins to scream. H is working from home but we have been sternly directed that we are to pretend that He. Is. Not. There. Because he is WORKING. So I pick up the baby, head upstairs and change his poopy diaper. Then - scrub, scrub, scrub, hot water, tons of soap, lather, rinse, repeat several times. Back to the kitchen to wash dishes, make the spicy walnuts, arrange the spinach balls on a pretty tray. A voice is heard from upstairs. Segundo. Yep, you guessed it. After which point I pretty much lost MY shit. I ranted and raved about how I just wanted to finish ONE. FUCKING. THING, anything, and not even well, just finished! Instead I am up to my elbows in shit, up to my elbows in food, up to my elbows in shit, up to my elbows in food, etc. Yeah, that’s appetizing, hmmmm? Doesn’t everyone want to come to my house for dinner now?

Good thing there was wine aplenty at the tasting. And none of this swirl-it-around-your-mouth, spit-it-out *tasting* for me. The dump bucket was an unnecessary accessory as far as I was concerned.

Earlier in the day I took the boys down to the Strip District to the cheese specialist at Penn-Mac. No one knows what her real name is – everyone calls her DearHeart because that’s what she calls everyone. Capisce? I told her the theme – Californians. She hooked me up with five wonderful cheeses:

Dan had requested a hunk of St Andre triple crème. Which I do like, but...sorta yawn.
So we wanted another soft cheese, and then two hard cheeses, one mild and one sharp.

She gave me a Dry Jack, also manufactured in California, and a hunk of aged Manchego (sheep’s milk cheese), which I loved and have the rind with me at work tonight to gnaw on.

She also recommended the evocatively-named goat’s-milk Humboldt Fog, which was an enormous hit with our guests. She explained that the outer layer is made from the morning milking, and the inner layer from the evening milking, and the cheese is bisected by a layer of vegetable ash. Probably a leetle more than I personally needed to know.

But my favorite was the Point Reyes Farmstead Blue – very strong, creamily crumbly, and delicious with Braeburn apple slices or crusty bread. Yum, yum, yum. H does not like blue cheese, but I would sell one of my children – yes, today I would as long as you wanted one of the older two - I am kidding, creepy Internet people, do not call me for pricing info – for a really good blue.

In addition, we served sliced organic Braeburn apples, organic red seedless grapes, rosemary spiced walnuts, spinach balls, several kinds of crackers, a loaf of baguette, and the piece de resistance, a Gateau de Reine Saba, the Queen of Sheba cake, a flourless chocolate cake with a bittersweet glaze.
Oh. My. Sweet. Jesus. It was so easy and so good, and deceptively looked like it was so much trouble. And sadly, there was none left for breakfast this morning. So very very sad. But I got a round of applause, people – a round of applause, for this cake. I have never before inspired a round of applause. For anything, let alone a cake.

I am posting the recipes. Because I had to type them up for H to send out to the wine-tasting group. So you, my sweet Internet friends, might as well benefit also.

Where were the children for all this, you ask?

The two older boys watched a Thomas video and then the first period of the hockey game. They came down and said hello, shyly – shyly! - and went back upstairs to go to bed.

Terzo refused to go to bed, so he hung out with me. And I was having a great time but kept getting this - whiff - of - something. I thought it must have been one of the very ripe but very delicious cheeses??? No. Terzo had spit up DOWN MY BACK. And I had not noticed. And no one saw fit to alert me.

How could they NOT have smelled it?

I was actually having this exchange earlier with Blackbird, and we came up with the somewhat disturbing thought of breastmilk cheese. You could call it something clever like Aged Nipple or go with the foreign sound, something perhaps like Queso de la Entrerrosca.

A mild, slightly rubbery cheese, made from the first milking and served young.
Coated in a layer of Enfamil ProSobee.
Serve with French bread and a spicy Syrah.


Celeste’s Spinach Balls

2 10-oz packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 cups bread crumbs
1 cup grated Italian cheese, firmly packed (I used domestic Parm)
4 small green onions, chopped (I use ½ a regular white onion)
½ cup butter, melted
3 eggs
Dash of nutmeg

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Shape into 1-inch balls. Bake 10-15 minutes on a cookie sheet, at 350 degrees, until golden brown.


Rosemary Walnuts

Melt 2-1/2 TBSP unsalted butter. Mix with 2 tsp. crumbled dried rosemary, 1 tsp salt, and ½ tsp cayenne. Pour over 2 cups of walnuts, tossing to coat. Bake nuts on cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.


Gateau Reine de Saba (Queen of Sheba Cake)

For the cake:
12 TBSP butter, more for the pan
6 oz bittersweet chocolate (I used Ghirardelli)
A few drops almond extract
2 TBSP strong coffee
4 large eggs, separated
Pinch of salt
1 cup sugar
1 ¾ cups finely ground almonds

For the glaze:
2 TBSP sugar
1 TBSP corn syrup
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, broken or chopped into small pieces
1 TBSP butter

1. Prepare the cake: Heat oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and line the side wall with parchment paper. Ina heavy-bottomed pan, combine the 12 TBSP butter, 6 oz chocolate, almond extract and coffee. Melt over low heat, then transfer to a bowl and allow to cool.
2. With an electric mixer, whisk egg whites and salt until soft peaks form. Slowly add ½ cup sugar until thick and glossy. Set aside.
3. Ina separate bowl, whisk together egg yolks with remaining ½ cup sugar until thick. Fold in the melted chocolate mixture. Add ground almonds and mix well. Whisk in a dollop of egg whites to lighten the mixture. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the rest of egg whites, keeping batter airy.
4. Scrape batter into pan and bake until cake is dry on top and a bit gooey in center, 30 to 40 minutes. (After 30 minutes of baking, check center of cake with tester. If center seems very wet, continue baking.) Cool cake on a rack for 20 minutes, then remove side of pan. Allow to continue cooling. Top of cake may crack as it cool, but glaze will cover most cracking.
5. Prepare the glaze: Ina small saucepan, combine 2 TBSP sugar, the corn syrup, and ¼ cup water. Bring to a boil, and then remove form heat. Add 4 oz chopped chocolate, swirl pan to mix, and allow to stand until melted, about 3 minutes.
6. Whisk TBSP of butter into icing, then pour evenly over cake. Use a spatula to ease icing to edges of cake. Allow icing to cool and set before slicing.

Yield: One 9-inch cake (10 to 12 servings)

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Conventional opinion is the ruin of our souls. - Rumi

OK, the long-promised book post.

What I am reading:
Mountains of Madness – HP Lovecraft
The Silver Wedding Anniversary – Lee Harris
The Doctor’s Daughter – Hilma Wolitzer (yes, she is Meg Wolitzer’s mother) – I so wanted to call out sick today from work so I could go lounge up at the coffee shop and finish reading the second half completely uninterrupted except to freshen my latte. Alas, duty called. Especially since I am missing work Saturday due to a wedding.
Life and Death on Mount Everest – Sherry Ortner

What I’ve read:
Tales from the Crib - Risa Green – this started out very weakly, but quickly got funny and endearing – just like the heroine. I have read every single baby/motherhood book ever written – or at least it feels this way – this one isn’t bad.
My Latest Grievance - Elinor Lipman. You know, Lipman is getting predictable. I thought Alice Thrift was just a one-off boring novel, but this one – eh. It was ok – I really enjoyed the parents’ characters, but the rest – I might not have been able to write it but I could have told you what Lipman was going to write.
I Should Have Stayed Home: The Worst Trips of Great Writers - Roger Rapoprt & Marguerita Castanera, eds. This was oddly entertaining. But then I also enjoy reading about disasters on Mt Everest and cannibalism on the high seas.
On the Road to Emmaus: Stories of Faith, Doubt, and Change - Mark Collins. The author is the husband of a friend of mine, and I enjoyed getting to know him better. Light but fun and interesting reading.
The Sex Lives of Cannibals - J. Maarten Troost. This is the book that inspired Blackbird to live in Tuvalu. Ahem. An entertaining read. I look forward to his new book. The Culinary Art of Nymphomaniacs. KIDDING! It’s really called Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific. I know, I like mine better, too.
Eat Cake - Jeanne Ray. Pistachio cake. Cake, cake, cake. Gosh, how I adore cake. ‘Nuff said.
The Amazing Mackerel Pudding Plan - Wendy McClure. Funny but not much more here than is on her website.
Dinner with Anna Karenina - you know, no matter what the horrible and sordid secret is in a novel, I can remember only ONE TIME it being really and truly horrifying (that was a Caroline Graham novel, the first of hers I read). So I had a tough time getting as worked up about the events in this book as was necessary to get through it. So, no, I did not finish it. But I felt compelled to warn you.

What I have been trying to read:
The Bowl is Already Broken by Mary Kay Zuravleff. I WANTED to like this book, I really did. An agent for the author - or maybe it’s her editor – sent it to me, to review. On this blog. I wish I had glowing and fabulous things to say. But I do not.
My initial reaction, after trudging through about a hundred dreary pages was this: most of the characters are caricatures; the main character, Promise, needs to grow a backbone; her husband Leo is a milquetoast, and her children are neurotic and irritating. This changed a bit throughout the book – I did develop a reluctant liking for her husband Leo. Only to find Promise increasingly annoying. The scene with her daughter Lydia and the velvet pants was *beyond* neurotic and irritating – at that point I didn’t get why Leo didn’t run away screaming. Or beat them senseless. Or something.
I did like Promise’s mother, a practical and rooted kind of woman. Except for the fact that apparently and for no discernible reason – although by this point I was skimming – she named her daughters Promise and Honor. But a book about her, I might find more interesting.
Also, I admit, I seem to find Asian art yawningly boring – sorry. The author is clearly quite knowledgeable about her chosen subject area, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the world gives a fig. A little bit is fine, sets up atmosphere, whatever. The main character has to have a job, yes? But when she waxes eloquent about how the tiny brush strokes are made – the eyelash of a newt or the tail feather of a hummingbird, or whatever the heck it was – WHO CARES? I do not. And I venture to say most people won’t. There’s a fine balance between knowledge and accessibility. That balance is not achieved in this book.
The work/political aspects of the novel – even more jaw-achingly boring. I read to escape that crap, which goes on in everyone’s workplace, so unless it’s funny – or at least believable so I can wholeheartedly hate someone for the heroine – spare us. The same goes for the underappreciated/overworked mom angle - yeah, we moms are all underappreciated and overworked, but I want a new take on it – or at least an interesting, humorous, intelligent take on the same old crap – to hold my attention throughout a book this long.
Mary Kay Zuravleff’s not a bad writer – not at all. She has an elegant style, but she’s very wordy and tries a bit too hard sometimes. She obviously loves her subject matter, but the passion just doesn’t translate.

Now I am off home, to prepare for the Great Wine Tasting Event of the Century, hosted by H tomorrow night at our house. We have to move the new kitchen table out of the entryway and hide six extra chairs somewhere. Among other things. But I won't be able to recaulk the second-floor windows or paint the bathroom or re-tile the powder room in one night, so hide the chairs it is.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

It's like being between trapezes. It's Linus when his blanket is in the dryer. There's nothing to hold on to. - Marilyn Ferguson

Some of you may remember, after the Thomas weekend last summer, that Primo’s best blanket, his lovey-dovey, Bunk went missing (or is it Bunky? I can’t keep track with that kid; apparently Bunk is the boy and Bunky is the girl blanket…wtf? Anyhoo… For the sake of simplicity, and my sanity, and those of you following along at home, we’ll say Bunk.)

Bunk was a pastel plaid Carter’s blanket, with a white satiny border which Primo liked to “wrinkle” between his fingers (his term). He slept with Bunk and his Pooh Bear every night, and the two went everywhere with him. Tragedy had struck, and I majorly regretted not following my dear friend L’s advice to buy two of Pooh and two of Bunk, in case this very thing happened. She has four children, and is wise beyond her years, as I happen to know that in her house is a closet with doubles of each of her children’s loveys. Yeah, she’s smarter than I am. Sometimes I wonder who isn’t.

Well, I called both beach houses, to check if anyone had found a ratty flannel blanket. No. No one had. I turned my car inside out. I seriously doubted that Bunk was hiding under the spare tire or in the glovebox, but you just never know.

I called the hotel in Lancaster not once, not twice, but THREE separate times, to see if any housekeepers or following room occupants discovered Bunk, maybe between the wall and the bed, or rolled up in the corner of the closet, or…or….I don’t know, lying mangled in the parking lot. Alas, no.

I almost thought about driving back the four hours to the hotel, to see if *I* could find Bunk, as I was sure my distressed-mother instincts could track Bunk down, somewhat like that woman in the TV show Medium, who can sense where the body is? Well, I was sure that I could sense Bunk’s presence. But H talked some sense into me.

Surprisingly, SHOCKINGLY, after the initial upset, Primo was philosophical about Bunk’s disappearance. Until recently. One night last week, he woke up crying for Bunk in the middle of the night. I held him and found him Pooh Bear, and reassured him that I had done everything (well, short of driving back to hunt the blanket down myself…) to find Bunk.

I offered to put Bunk’s picture on a milk carton. But Primo didn’t get the joke.

I said that maybe, some other little boy had found Bunk and so Bunk was living the good life, being loved and wrinkled by some other small fellow. I *thought* that would comfort him, but I didn’t take into account the typical five-year-old: apparently Primo would rather see Bunk dead at the bottom of the East River than being loved by another child.

He asked me to call the hotel again, which I did. (I mean, the next morning.)Well, you would have to, and don’t pretend you wouldn’t have!

I searched eBay and Carter’s for a replacement blanket, but no dice.

I prayed to Saint Jude….no, not really.

But then Primo offered an incredibly easy solution, or so I thought: could I make him another Bunk?

My mission, should I choose to accept it: go forth and find Bunk fabric.
I needed company (that's Sarah Louise). And sustenance.

First, another foray into babydom, just in case Carter’s had decided to do a retro line.

Five years is along time in the life of baby goods designers, I suppose, as nothing even closely resembled Bunk. You’d think there’d only be so many combinations of pastels and animals and baby stuff, but You. Would. Be. Wrong.

First we were drawn inexorably towards the feminine side of the store. You have it here, on the record, that I am NOT having another baby. But wouldn’t it be fun to dress a little girl? Sigh.

Or maybe not so much.

Leslie, I have found the perfect layette for you. So when you decide to procreate, please let me know. Or would Ingrid sleep in a crib??

So we soldiered on, to Joann Fabrics.

I am considering recovering my sofa – I thought something green, perhaps? To match the armchairs? No?

Maybe just unbleached muslin, nice and neutral.

We finally found the flannel. Have I mentioned it’s been VERY hot here? In the nineties? Exactly when you want to be shopping for flannel, allow me to tell you. I found lots of adorable prints, an entire array of classic Pooh, all kinds of fun novelty fabrics.

Retro is in bigtime in the fabric world, and cute prints abounded.

Look, it’s Boo-boo Kitty!

Sl’s pick, to recover her sofa, perhaps?:

No, no, I am kidding. This was her favorite: Well, of course it’s pink. Where have YOU been?

At long last, we found this. Which frankly, is not even close.

But it is pastel.
And it is plaid.
And it is flannel.

Okay, here’s the thing: I may be tall, and have reddish hair, and questionable fashion sense, but that does not make ME Julia Roberts. And this fabric is not going to make Bunk.

Primo swallowed his disappointment and consoled himself by bashing Seggie upon the head with the Pooh Bear chair. And Seggie howled, and I yelled, and all was returned to normalcy. But please stay tuned, as the Search for Bunk continues.


Oh, and by the way, may I just mention that Blogger FUCKING SUCKS?
Yes, YOU, Blogger! You'd better be listening! I haven't been able to upload a photo int he normal fashion in *three* days, and it's on my last nerve. I DON'T CARE if you're FREE - I want you to function as expected, damn you! Only by perserverance and courage and pure stubbornness was I able to put photos in this post. NO THANKS to Blogger. Sheesh.