Monday, December 31, 2007

"Youth is when you're allowed to stay up late on New Year's Eve. Middle age is when you're forced to." *

So we were invited to a NYE party thrown by H’s wine-tasting club buddies – children invited, and perhaps even tolerated, but I know the woman throwing it, and her house? Well, I worry about the kids breaking crap in MY house and we have really nothing important left to break….and when I emailed my babysitter in NOVEMBER and by December 20th had not heard back? I rightly assumed she was unavailable (read: can babysit one or two kids who may or may not be easier than my three, for the same amount of money…) So.

Then I ran into my friend Alice in the grocery store (which is where all our social plans seem to begin, as I picked Alice up at the mall playground originally – two years ago - anyway…) and she invited us over, along with her husband’s brother and his wife and kids, and may be some other child-burdened couples, to hang out and watch movies and eat her delicious food, and then throw the kids in the guest room bed when they got tired and/or cranky…but she emailed me yesterday to tell me that the brother and wife and children had driven home, ill, to Ohio, and her husband and two oldest children were busy expelling the contents of their stomachs out both ends, and so she thought it best to cancel the festive evening. TOTALLY understandable, although if anyone now needs a drink tonight, I am sure it is Alice.


We were invited, sort of impromptu-like, to the house of other Paxson parents, with their two kids, and various other people and THEIR kids, but they are not even starting till nine or so, AND I have no intention of allowing any of my children to stay up till midnight, so while it sounded fun (and her husband is a professional chef so the food was bound to be good, AND M and I have very similar taste in books so I could have settled in for a nice chat about what we’re reading), I regretfully declined.

I offered to throw a little shindig of our own, off the cuff, as it were, but H fixed me with a beady eye and asked, “Are you INSANE?” or something along those lines. AND JUST NOW I discovered – H is going over to his friend F’s, to play guitars and drink lots. Sigh.

SO. The two older boys and I have just returned from ice skating and the library, and H and Terzo just returned from a nice brisk walk (why didn’t they take the dog? Hmmm?), and I will go throw some chicken and potatoes in the oven, and we will eat dinner and maybe I’ll let the boys watch a DVD or something, and I will put my children to bed as early as possible. And I suppose I will stay home and lie on the couch and read.

Because tomorrow? Pens play at one, and Grandma’s NY Day dinner at four, and then my children will go to bed early because Wednesday? Everyone returns to school and work. A moment for which I have been longing since about, oh, December 22.



* Bill Vaughn

Saturday, December 29, 2007

"By far the most common craving of pregnant women is not to be pregnant." *

We have been painting the room that was the office and will be the boys' room, you know, the one with the cable modem and the wireless router in it, which have been unplugged for three days now. I am a very fast and good painter, but alas, *I* am pregnant and not permitted to paint. So H has undertaken the ordeal and it will look lovely but sweet Jesus, I could do three rooms in the time it takes him to do one.

How many of you thought I'd gone into labor?
Yeah, well, I have been contracting all over the place, so it wouldn't have surprised me either...I am at thirty-four weeks, so anything is possible now. And now that Christmas is survived, I don't care when it happens. Especially if it means the god-awful heartburn goes away. I was wondering if traipsing through the damn zoo lights display tonight with the boys would trigger something, but alas, no, other than some whining (on their part, mostly).

I've been mostly doing laundry and cooking nonstop. I am sick UNTO DEATH of both feeding and clothing my family.

I escaped for an hour or so this afternoon to the bookstore, where I bought Haven Kimmel's She Got Up Off the Couch because I cruised through her enjoyable The Used World last week and decided I need to give her more of my money...well, actually, more of H's money, since he gave me a VERY generous B&N gift card for Christmas (along with some smelly (nice-smelly) lotions and stuff from Bath & Body Works, and a very pretty necklace). (I gave him two ties and a George Carlin book - such inequity. It's a wonder he stays married to me. It's probably just because he keeps knocking me up.)

In other news I am reading (still) Terra Incognita, and Jennifer Neisslein's Practically Perfect in Every Way, which is pretty entertaining. I also started R8chard Russo's Bridge of Sighs, so far, so good, but not blowing me away (not that Russo writes blow-you-away sorts of books...)

So that's it. Once the room is finished, we move all the furniture out of their current bedroom and into that one, and then all the crap out of MY bedroom into what will be the office. And I will be happy once again. Connected and happy.

More later, then....

*Phyllis Diller

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

"The others were all brought up to be polite. I wasn't." *

You know, when we moved into this house, I thought, with its solid, double-brick-walled construction and metal-lath plaster walls, that I would not be able to hear anything between floors.

I thought that were I in the kitchen, I would not hear the boys screaming at each other in their third-floor playroom. Or if I were in the shower, I wouldn’t hear H practicing the Same. Goddamn. Guitar. Riff. over and over and over again, in the dining room. Alas, I was WRONG. Due either to the layout of the house, or the lack of insulation, or perhaps both, I can hear EVERYTHING -- EVERYWHERE.

Except, marginally, in the basement, which is where I hide, ostensibly doing laundry, when I can’t take one more minute of three-thousand-decibel level noise. Or the whining.

But Santa obligingly brought Primo a REAL, junior-size drum kit. (I know I am a fucking moron, you don't need to point that out, thankyouverymuch.) And Primo’s parents realized the most logical place for it to live, to survive the maulings of younger brothers, is IN THE BASEMENT. My sanctuary.

The kid is really talented. Like, blow-your-socks-off talented, for a seven-year-old. And I like music as much as the next person. I even like most of the music THEY like (although I could do without this new Radiohead album, frankly. Thom, darling, you disappoint).

But oh my god, WHO or WHAT did I piss off in a former life, to be condemned to life in a household of hardcore musicians? (And don’t kid yourself, they may be only 4 and 7 (and 44), but they ARE hardcore.)

And then there’s me, as tone-deaf and rhythm-less as they come.
And with serious sensory-overload issues.

Why am I being punished like this? Was I a slaveholder? The tyrannical dictator of an oppressed nation? An amoral prostitute without the heart of gold? A greedy, consuming despot’s wife with nary a care for her poor countrymen?

Whatever it is, I am SO SORRY.
I didn’t mean ANY of it.
I’ll NEVER do it again, whatever IT is.

Or have Santa bring me some heavy-duty industrial earplugs.


*Thom Yorke, Radiohead

Monday, December 24, 2007

"Give peace, O Lord, in all the world, for only in thee can we live in safety." *

Somewhat like giving a donation to buy a goat for an impoverished family in Africa or a water buffalo to a Filipino family (instead of yet another pair of gloves to Grandma or the new John Grisham novel to Uncle Max (Kidding! I have never in my life - nor do I intend to start now - given a John Grisham novel to anyone), this year I give all of you an intangible (and admittedly, not really-real-at-all) Christmas gift: peace.

Perhaps more accurately, I should term it a WISH for peace.

Peace in all the parts of the world in conflict: Iraq, Afghanistan, the Darfur region of Sudan, Burma, Pakistan, Somalia, Colombia…sadly, the list can go on and on.

And that doesn’t even include the need for peace in my own country; the need for peace and love and tolerance, instead of fear and hatred and violence against those different and poor and disenfranchised and in need of a helping hand.

I could go on and on, with a laundry list of values and attributes we all need to develop and demonstrate every day, in hopes of making at least our little part of the world a better place, but instead I leave you with a wish for a wonderful Christmas, and St Francis’s wise words which inspire me every day to at least TRY to be a better person:

Lord, make us instruments of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Merry Christmas, and peace to you all, my dear Internet friends.


* Book of Common Prayer, The Episcopal Church

Friday, December 21, 2007

"What about Santa's cookies? I suppose parents eat those too? " *

Fudge, Glorious Fudge

3 cups sugar
¾ cup butter
2/3 cup undiluted evaporated milk
12-oz package semisweet chocolate chips
1 7-oz jar marshmallow crème
1 tsp vanilla

In 2-qt saucepan, combine sugar, milk, and butter. Heat over medium heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil for 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring constantly to prevent burning.
Take pan off heat.
Add chocolate chips and stir till smooth.
Beat in vanilla and marshmallow crème.
Spread in greased 9x13 pan.
Let cool completely before cutting.

Makes 3 pounds.

I myself am not a huge fudge fan (if I were, I would be....get it?), but this fudge is exceptionally rich and creamy. If I eat fudge, this is the fudge I eat. And a pound of homemade fudge makes a nice gift for the chocoholic on your list, packaged up in a cute little Santa bucket from Big Lots...

Now, these biscotti, on the other hand?
I could eat an entire batch myself (and they are not even my favorite, I like my almond ones even better.) But the anise ones are H's favorites. And I figure if you have to pay anywhere from $1.25 to $2.00 for one biscotti (biscotte? biscotto?) at the local coffee shop or your Starbucks, then a dozen homemade biscotti wrapped up in parchment, tied with jute twine, and stuck with some holly or evergreen - nice enough teacher gift, yes? I mean, really, what teacher needs one more candle or mug or tree ornament or bottle of hand lotion? If I were a teacher (God forbid), I would like baked goods. You can eat them yourself, or feed them to other people, or whatever.

Anise biscotti

½ cup butter
¾ cup sugar
2 eggs
2 TBSP Sambuca or some sort of anise liqueur
1 TBSP anise/fennel seeds
2 cups plus 2 TBSP flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
2/3 cup slivered almonds, chopped up just a bit

Mix 1 TBSP liqueur with anise seeds.
Microwave on high for 10-15 seconds, or put in 325 oven for about 5 minutes. Set aside.

Cream butter and sugar in mixer until fluffy and light.
Add eggs one at a time.
Add seed/liqueur mixture and remaining TBSP of liqueur.

In small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt.
Slowly add to egg/butter mixture, mixing just till combined.
Mix almonds in by hand.

Divide dough in half.
On a parchment-covered cookie sheet, form two logs, approximately 12 inches long, ½ inch high, and 2 inches wide. (This fluctuates, just do the best you can.)
Smooth with a spatula dipped in cold water, to make as even as possible.

Bake in preheated 325 oven for 25 minutes, until golden brown.

Remove logs from baking sheet (just slide the parchment over) and cool on rack for 5 minutes. Transfer each log to cutting board. Slice with sharp knife, on a 45-degree angle, into ½-inch slices. Line up on a cookie sheet and return to oven for 10 more minutes.

Cool on rack.

Recipe says this makes 3-1/2 to 4 dozen, but I have never gotten more than 3 dozen.


* Buddy (Will Ferrell), in "Elf"

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

"Away to the window I flew like a flash, tore open the shutters, and threw up the sash..." *

I baked a batch of anise biscotti this morning, wrapped a dozen in parchment, tied it with twine, and stuck a few sprigs of holly berries from my neighbor's bush in the knot - very festive. One teacher gift down (Seg's preschool), and only three of Primo's teachers (more biscotti), the mailman and the baby sitter (fudge), and the coffee shop (probably fudge as bringing them biscotti is like bringing coals to Newcastle...), to go.


I promised the boys I would put the lights on the tree today so we could decorate tonight. H brought home an adorable, chubby little, short little tree - the Janeane Garofalo of Christmas trees. I generally prefer Kate Winslet trees - bountiful and healthy and slightly taller. (You can keep your skinny little vacuous Uma Thurman trees - not interested here.) But Janeane smells wonderful.


I sent out my Christmas cards this morning - via email. If you didn't get one and want one, shoot me an email and I'll do what I can.


I am almost finished pulling up the carpet in the office. The floor under is completely trashed, so it's a good thing we didn't harbor visions of gleaming hardwood. I have a couple of area rugs we'll throw in there, and the bunk beds should cover the worst spots. Because it would suck to have to make the boys wear shoes in their own bedroom...


The funniest Christmas card I have ever received was from my high school boyfriend. On the front was a typical cartoony drawing of a man in a nightcap leaning out the window looking for Santa and the reindeer, captioned: "Away to the window I flew like a flash, tore open the shutters, and threw up the sash..."
Inside was written, "I probably shouldn't have eaten so much sash."

Juvenile, I know, but it STILL makes me smile.


You know that line in "The Night Before Christmas" about settling in for a long winter's nap? I am about ready for mine.


* "The Night Before Christmas," by Clement Clark Moore

Monday, December 17, 2007

"On days when warmth is the most important need of the human heart, the kitchen is the place you can find it." *

Rice pudding is, to my mind, utter comfort food. I love it, and I love it so much that I make it even though no one else in my family will touch the stuff. More for me, is what I say! But it has to be my mom's rice pudding - the gelatinous crap from the deli case is NOT real rice pudding. It has to be my mom's eggy, custardy, nutmeggy, warm, comforting bowl of pure nostalgia. Yum.

My mom's rice pudding

3/4 cup uncooked rice
3 cups boiling water
2 TBSP butter
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups milk, scalded
1/2 cup raisins
3 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

Bring water to a boil in large saucepan, then add rice, butter, and salt. Cover and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.
Add scalded milk and raisins, simmer over low heat another 15 minutes.
Beat eggs up with sugar and vanilla.
Scoop some of the hot milk mixture into the eggs and mix together, then slowly add the egg mixture to the hot milk and rice, stirring constantly. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 5 to 7 minutes, until the mixture thickens.
Pour into serving bowl and sprinkle generously with nutmeg.

This is delicious warm, but I often eat big bowls of it, cold, for breakfast.

Because, you know, it's GOOD for you - all that milk and eggs and rice.
Or at least no worse for you than peanut butter toast or bowls of Puffins.
At least that's what I tell myself (also what I tell myself before eating leftover pumpkin pie for breakfast...)


* EB White

Sunday, December 16, 2007

"O Lord, our God, arise, Scatter thine enemies, And make them fall..." *

When I was a younger teenager, I read this book to death. It was so funny and REAL, and I desperately wanted to be friends with Meg and her family, if not just like them. I read it so many times, my copy was in tatters.

The sequel, White House Autumn, was just as good, and developed the characters of Meg and her family further by exploring what it would be like to have your mother become the first woman President of the United States, and then having to cope with Presidential things like inaugural balls, State of the Union speeches, Secret Service agents, and oh, yes, assassination attempts.

I was worried that the third book, Long Live the Queen, could not possibly stand up to the other two. It was much darker (Meg is kidnapped by terrorists), but Meg’s indomitable, wry sense of humor shone through. She rises above her own expectations and proves to be brave, determined, and resourceful. In other words, even MORE likeable. It was suspenseful and harrowing, but also ridiculously funny, smart, and insightful.

I read some of Ellen Emerson White’s other books, and while they were good, none of them captured my heart and soul the way the Meg books did. (Although a character in the latest apparently features in a previous book, which I must go back and read now.) Meg was just so COOL, and I wanted to be her friend. I wanted her to like me. Can you really give a higher compliment to a YA novel’s protagonist?

Today, just before [media frenzy] THE SNOWSTORM OF THE CENTURY[/media frenzy], I braved all the crowds stocking up on toilet paper and milk, and went to B&N with several coupons clutched in my frozen little fingers.

I wanted to buy the First Anti-Coloring Book for my nephew, and some more Christmas books for the boys (Diego Saves Christmas for my little Seg, and Ezra Jack Keats’ Little Drummer Boy for Terzo, my Snowy Day fan). And ever since I had noted a comment about it on someone’s blog, I wanted to buy the fourth in the series of Ellen Emerson White’s Presidential series, the brand-new (well, October) Long May She Reign. The saga of Meg and her family in the White House continues, TWENTY YEARS LATER. My God. What took so damn long?! It’s a thick paperback (with a really boring cover), but I dove in pretty much as soon as I got home, a cheese sandwich and an apple balanced on my stomach, and only stopped to take a brief nap.

Meg is eighteen now, dealing with the aftermath of her horrific hostage experience along with the usual college/becoming-an-adult traumas, and oh, yes, her mother is still Leader of the Free World. The writing is for slightly more mature audiences, and just as funny, if the humor is slightly sharper in tone (which is saying something, as Meg has from the first book been the queen of deadpan sarcasm). I LOVE it and am sure I will reread it over and over again, just as I have the other three volumes. I was up till waaaaaay too late last night reading.

For just a little bit, I am sixteen again – totally in a good way.


* "God Save the Queen"

Friday, December 14, 2007

"Despite years of personal development, she still turned into her mother." *

Right now my two older boys share a room. Terzo has his own room across the hall. All three of them would like to be in the same room, and crazy as that will make an already crazy bedtime, I find it adorable that they want to be together (never mind that we live in a six-bedroom house…and I will stuff all three of my children in one…)

So about a month ago, I started shifting everything out of the big back room that we had been using as our TV room and office, into my bedroom. The TV had been moved, months ago, despite my vociferous opposition, down to the living room (into a nice, enclosed armoire, at least). It seemed silly to use the biggest room for…the computer. Especially since I only ever use my laptop, and almost never in that room. All the books and the computer and the dog crate can just as easily fit into the smaller front room where the boys are sleeping presently.

The back room needs to be painted – it remains a vibrant turquoise from the previous owners, and still sports nasty tan shag carpeting. I was under the delusion for the longest time that I was going to paint it, pregnant belly and all, but I finally came to my senses and decided to get our window-rebuilder-guy to paint it for me. He can’t fit us into until after the first of the year, so we sort of slacked. And then I realized the other night that the absolute mess of piles of books, various pieces of furniture, and odds and ends that don’t go anywhere else, all heaped in my bedroom, was making me nuts.

I was starting to feel like a cross between a bag lady who actually has a home, and my mother, whose house was crammed so full of crap that I took to staying in a hotel when I visited. And I mean true crap – not Antiques Roadshow contenders - piles of junk mail and unopened bills, plastic bags full of twisty-ties, tupperware containers, and more plastic bags, empty egg cartons, rinsed-out jars of all sizes and shapes, every catalog and magazine she had ever received, as well as all the Franklin Mint figurines and dolls and plates she had frittered away money on for years, still in their packing boxes…child of the Depression, coupled with some serious clinical depression, is my layman’s diagnosis.

After taking a month to clear out her house, I learned a valuable lesson, and I am relentless in throwing stuff out. I make weekly trips to the recycling center, have a monthly almost-standing appointment with the Vietnam Vets’ pickup truck, and routinely post stuff on Freecycle.

But when Terzo pushed one of my favorite mugs off the coffee table onto the tile fireplace hearth yesterday, and I picked up the chunks to throw them away, H stopped me: Wasn’t that your dad’s mug?

Yes, it was, and I loved it, but it’s broken.

Well, why don’t you glue it together, and find some use for it even if you can’t drink out of it anymore? he asked.

I looked at him like he was insane. What is the point of a coffee mug if you can’t drink coffee out of it?

Well, except that my dad died when I was seventeen, and I don’t have many things of his, and the mug makes me happy. He worked for RCA for years, and the mug sports the dog-and-gramophone RCA logo, and something about the Trident submarine translator with which RCA was involved, somehow. Maybe in the communication systems? I don’t know. It had a cool squared-off handle, and was shorter but wider than your average coffee mug. It was second in my affections only to my Philadelphia Flyers mug.

But then, of course, I couldn’t bring myself to throw it away, and it sits on my kitchen window sill awaiting copious application of Crazy Glue. And now I am off to pull up carpeting in the back bedroom, under the theory that the painter can paint around the boys’ bedroom furniture just as easily as he can paint around the bookcases and dog crate and computer equipment, and so I can get the rest of the piles of STUFF out of my bedroom. So I can sleep at night again, knowing that I dodged at least ONE becoming-my-mother bullet.


*refrigerator magnet, from this site

Thursday, December 13, 2007

"...the fastest college-level reader will read, at best, twice as fast as the slowest college-level reader." *

I feel like I have been reading and reading and reading, but I suppose not really. I have only finished a few books in the past two weeks. Which is odd for me. However…

In no particular order, books I have been reading:

Outside In – Courtney Thorne-Smith. Yes, she of the dazzling white teeth and manly jaw. I was a devotee of “Melrose Place” AND “Ally McBeal.” (I am almost too ashamed to reveal this, but H and I once had a gigantic, screaming, howling (on my part) fight because he FORGOT TO TAPE ALLY MCBEAL FOR ME WHILE I WAS AT WORK. I know. Call the domestic abuse hotline! What can I say, I was a child bride in many regards.) Anyhoo – C T-S has written a novel about – surprise, surprise – a television actress. And you know what? It’s GOOD. Good as in, I stayed up way too late last night because I was really caught up in the story, good. She can actually write. She has an endearingly self-deprecating sense of humor, and a finely tuned sense of the ridiculous. I laughed out loud many times. I liked her sympathetic characters, hated the villains, and enjoyed the story.

Terra Incognita - Sara Wheeler. Entertaining, in a weirdly fragmented personal way, but also chockfull of bits of Antarctic history, biography, exploration, and geography.

Man Walks Into a Room - Nicole Krauss. Remember how much I loved History of Love, once I finally got into it? I love this book, too. Krauss is such an elegant writer. You want to savor each page. It begins with vaguely the same sort of premise as the mind-numbingly dull Echo Maker: man loses his memory…but under Krauss’ deft hand, you begin to understand how the main character begins to view this as a blessing, and you can’t wait to see what he does with his newfound freedom. How many of us haven’t at some point or another thought, “What if I just drove off and became someone else? Left everything behind and started over?’ Well, this book lets you explore that possibility (without having to suffer the brain tumor that afflicts the protagonist). I am not finished it yet, but if it really disappoints in the end, I’ll let you know. Somehow I don’t think I’m in any danger.

Mr Golightley’s Holiday - Salley Vickers. Suse turned me onto Vickers, and I am eternally grateful. Her books are just a little odd, and sort of hippie-dippie metaphysical, but also so true to life, so viscerally empathetic. This one has a twist that the flap copy of my edition totally gave away, so don’t read ANY reviews or the flap copy if you want to read this and get the whole experience. I enjoyed it despite my knowledge of the twist. And now I can say no more.

The Winter Rose - Jennifer Donnelly. Somehow I wound up with a review copy of A Northern Light’s author’s second novel. It’s a big, fat, sprawling epic which I don’t want to put down.

Mommies Who Drink - Brett Paesel. Did I forget to tell you guys about this book? Gina recommended it to me, and it was everything the sadly disappointing Confessions of a Slacker Mom was NOT. Paesel is hilarious, and even though I was never so wild that I snorted cocaine off naked men in the back of limos (I am not sure Paesel was either, honestly), I still could totally relate to her funny, somewhat bittersweet, and honest book about how much your life changes post-child.

Letters from Father Christmas - JRR Tolkien. One of you Aussie types turned me on to this, and I ordered it after last holiday season, so…I just now pulled it out. ‘Tis the season and all…it’s a fun book. The illustrations are amazing and charming and I am thoroughly enjoying myself. I can’t read it when the boys are around, however, since they still believe in Santa (of course) and so I can’t risk Primo reading it.

Books I have purchased:

Terror by Dan Simmons (to add to my always entertaining Ant/Arctic collection), Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett (although I found Autobiography of a Face (the book written by Lucy Grealy, whose complex and at times difficult friendship Patchett discusses in T&B) whiny, self-absorbed, and disappointing), and…I was sure there were more…maybe not. I bought Primo a couple of books for his birthday, so maybe that’s what threw me…oh, and George Carlin’s When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops? for H for Christmas (but I am hoping to read it before I give it to him.)

Books I have given up on:

Mr Dixon Disappears - Ian Sansom. I wanted to finish this, but I just found Israel tiresome and pathetic (and not in the endearing way of the first book), and the plot line completely unbelievable, and so I stopped.

Books sitting in the TBR pile:

Restless - William Boyd, and Origin - Diana Abu-Jaber.

And damn that Lazy Cow, now I have to go request some MORE books from the library!


from "The 1,000-Word Dash" by Timothy Noah, Slate magazine

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

" Who-ville, they say, that the Grinch's small heart grew three sizes that day!"

Yesterday was Primo’s seventh birthday. The cupcake party for the family wrapped up almost a week of celebrations: birthday party for friends (skating), family dinner, school treats, and finally the immediate family dinner, presents, and cupcakes yesterday. People, I love Primo but I am thrilled for it all to be over, and today we began tentative Christmas prep.

I pulled out the Christmas books, adding the new ones (a musical Jingle Bells (for Terzo who loves the song) and Grumpy Santa, for me) to the basket; I taped the handprint-Christmas tree and cutout gingerbread men paintings onto our front door, and positioned my soft trees from dear Suse in their tableau on the mantel with the reindeer. There is a cinnamon candle burning on the entryway windowsill. The received Christmas cards reside in their gold and silver sleigh basket next to the answering machine.

H will bring me home a tree sometime in the next week or so, and I will festoon it with unbreakable ornaments. The gorgeous glass balls and intricate crocheted ornaments will remain packed away until, oh, retirement or such time as we do not have three rambunctious boys playing catch in the living room; two crazy cats who have been known to knock over trees; or one clueless dog who might eat something tasty-looking like a silvery, sparkly, spiky snowflake.

I am not sending mailed cards this year. If I have your email, I will be sending e-greetings with photos of children (preferably mine). I tell myself I am saving the environment, but really, I am just lazy.

I have already turned down five invites to various holiday functions: cookie exchanges, potlucks, cocktail parties. I will continue to turn down invites to, oh, anything we don’t care to attend. Crazy idea, hmmmm?

The strands of lights wrapped around the front porch columns will get taped into place as soon as there’s a dry day. The wreath is already hanging in the entryway.

Most of the boys’ presents are bought, and my niece and nephews apparently desire only gift cards, which are easy-peasy AND add to my FuelPerks from the grocery store.

I used to make fifteen different kinds of cookies. But then I also weighed fifteen (or more) additional pounds. This year, it will be a pan of chocolate chip cookies for the boys, a batch or two of anise and almond biscotti for H, a batch of rum balls for my older brother who is coming here for Christmas, and my favorite no-bake oatmeal cookies for me. I confess I have laid in a supply of Trader Joe’s Candy Cane Jo-Jos, which are like peppermint Oreos, but better. I will throw together a few loaves of cranberry walnut bread to have on hand for visitors, and I will probably make a few batches of (delicious but easy) fudge to give to teachers and mail carriers and garbage men, oh my.

Christmas pageant dress rehearsal is this Saturday. Four years of conservatory theatre training stood me in good stead as the costumer – tonight I will festoon the Angel Gabriel’s halo with some silver stars and garland and call the costumes complete. I can’t even tell you how much fun this was. Seriously, the kids are so cute and excited, and most of the costumes consist of draped fabric and lots of shiny gold or silver cord and tinsel. I love the Christmas Eve service at church, with the pageant and the carols and the candles.

So, hey, haul out the holly, ring those silver bells, and, um, cue the boys of the NYPD choir…

Monday, December 10, 2007

But I think that the best reason of all may have been that his heart was two sizes too small.

Welcome to the Christmas edition of getting to know your friends!
Okay, here's what you're supposed to do, and try not to be a SCROOGE!!! Just copy (not forward) this entire email and paste into a new e-mail that you can send. Change all the answers so that they apply to you.

Then send this to a whole bunch of people you know, INCLUDING the person that sent it to you... 'Tis the Season to be NICE!

Ok, here goes...

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
Wrapping paper. It's CHEAP. And so am I.

2. Real tree or artificial?
Real. Artificial trees are an abomination in the eyes of the little baby Jesus.

3. When do you put up the tree?
Anytime after Primo's Dec 11 birthday.

4. When do you take the tree down?
Immediately following Orthodox/Ukrainian Christmas, on January 7.

5. Do you like eggnog?
With real cream and raw eggs and lots of rum, sure. But I haven't had the real stuff in forever, and carton eggnog is an abomination in the eyes of the little baby Jesus.

6. Favorite gift received as a child?
I always got books, and was thrilled to get 'em. Boy, there's a shock, huh?

7. Do you have a nativity scene?
Yep, my mom gave it to me and H on our first Christmas

8. Hardest person to buy for?
H, hands down.

9. Easiest person to buy for?
My kids.

10. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
Nothing leaps out but it must have been something from my MIL who even after fifteen years has not the foggiest idea what sort of person I am.

11. Mail or email Christmas cards?
Used to be devoted to mailed cards, but this year will only mail to people who are not online. I am pretending it's because I am being environmentally conscious but it's really that I am lazy.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie?
The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. THE REAL ONE. The Jim Carrey one is an abomination in the eyes of the little baby Jesus.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
I pick stuff up all year round but really kick in the first week of December (generally when I realize I have not one thing to give Primo for his birthday) for whatever's left to get.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
No. Stupid me.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
Cruschchiki. My mom used to buy them in five-gallon buckets from some little old Slavic lady who made them very year for us, and then H's uncle the priest used to bring me a box from his little old Slavic lady in his parish, But I don't get them anymore now. Bummer.

16. Clear lights or colored on the tree?
Colored. What can I say, I might as well have grown up in a trailer park.

17.Favorite Christmas song?
The Pogues' Fairytale of New York.
Silver Bells, O Come All Ye Faithful

18. Travel for Christmas or stay home?
Stay home. Dead parents have their advantages.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeers?
No. Isn't Grumpy one?

20. Angel on the tree top or a star?
Star I made, with the boys' photos on it.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?
Christmas morning!
What sort of troglodyte do you take me for?!
Plus, people who open presents anytime other than Christmas morning are an abomination in the eyes of the little baby Jesus...

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year?
All the freaking invitations we get, from people we haven't heard from all year long. I know I sound ungrateful but come on, people. NOW is not the time to add more stress to anyone's schedule.

Also, the way people pile all their Christmas cookies in one tin, so they all taste exactly the same.

23. What I love most about Christmas?
I actually hate Christmas and could happily go to sleep in the beginning of December and not wake up till February. Bah humbug. But with kids, it's definitely gotten more bearable.

Friday, December 07, 2007

"I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' babies!" *

Let’s do some math, shall we? (Because I was first a drama major, and then a post-bacc studying English lit, and then a librarian, so I am not very good at this and could use some input.)

Counting backwards:

February 8, 2008 – My due date (more or less, based upon my best guess, and lazy record-keeping from date of last period (sorry, Joke))

January 21-25, 2008: H’s Very Important Conference in sunny California (at least a six-hour flight, not counting security, check-in, etc., or possible weather delays on this end)

October 10, 2005: Terzo’s due date, for comparison’s sake
September 27, 2005: Terzo’s actual arrival date (almost 2 full weeks early, and after a scant five hours of labor, and thirty minutes pushing, so as you can see H has not a snowball's chance in hell of getting back in time for the actual birth even if I call him the second my water breaks (sorry, Joke).)

2: Number of friends who have graciously and sincerely volunteered to come to the delivery room with me should I go into labor while H is gone (and we all know that’s EXACTLY what will happen, yes?)

1: Number of husbands who may very well be told to just remain in CA for the rest of the conference as I will be in the hospital for a few days anyway (although I suppose someone has to watch the other three...)

To be completely fair and upfront:
Dec 6 or 7, 2000: Primo’s due date (again, more or less, due to faulty recordkeeping and general slackness on my part regarding recording either/both my menstrual cycles and my sex life)
December 11: Actual arrival, after twelve hours of labor and forty minutes pushing

March 23rdish, 2003: Segundo’s due date
April 1, 2003: Arrival date, after about ten hours of labor and fifteen minutes pushing

1: Number of mother-in-laws who will NOT be called until AFTER I have given birth
1: (Realized with great relief) Number of mother-in-laws who will be in Florida from January till March

As I read these stats:
1: Number of BabelBabes totally built for childbearing (good Eastern European peasant stock and all...)

Shame I am not as good at the actual mothering part. Oh well. That’s what therapists are for, right?

For those of you bored with me wittering away about my children (God knows *I* am...), a book post is forthcoming.
But first I get to go away from my children for something like 18 hours, as H has a gig tonight and we have a babysitter overnight. Yay, me! Would it be totally terrible to skip the gig altogether, call room service, and curl up in bed with one of the very good books I am currently reading?


* Prissy, in "Gone with the Wind"

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

"So somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have done something BAD." *

I have no idea why there was not a school delay this morning. Or, you know, barring that, how about sending out the random salt truck or snow plow? Nice to see my tax dollars being used for…wait? What ARE they being used for, then? I ask, as I slide through an intersection…

Why are all three of my children obsessed with putting their feet on me? I am NOT an ottoman or a footstool. It makes me INSANE. Not to mention I have cute little toe-shaped bruises all over my rib cage.

I am watching my friend’s dog for her today and both dogs are conveniently lying in front of my entryway door, effectively blocking any drafts. I wonder if I could market this idea, somehow...the dogs are much more attractive, if slightly more work, than one of those bean-filled fabric tubes...

I am currently addicted to Trader Joe’s potato latkes – they come frozen, in a pack of eight, for 2 dollars. You heat them up in the oven, and they are downright yummy. I am having some (um, make that all as I just ate the last one) for lunch, with sour cream. It didn’t occur to me until later last night (duh!) that perhaps they are seasonal...must go stock up, I suppose. Just like their Candy Cane Jo-Jos, which are like peppermint Oreos but better.

Why must I tell my children Every. Single. Morning. what they must do to get out the door? We do the same EXACT thing every morning – dress, eat breakfast, brush teeth, put lunches in backpacks, put on jackets. Do they really need me to run through this litany every single goddamn morning? Must they really be reminded to put on their shoes? Do they really need me to tell them to put on their coats, hats, and gloves, as it is currently snowing and 25 degrees outside, a fact readily observable by looking out the window? (I am talking mostly about my almost-seven and almost-five-year-olds here, not Terzo.) And this morning I reached the point where I thought, if your hands were that cold, you would remember where the hell you left your third pair of mittens THIS week, and I sent them to school with no mittens. And some minor shrieking about how I don’t want to live my life like this either, so why are they making it so difficult, and what did I do to deserve children who never listen to a (horrible, shrieking, shrewish) word I say? (Hmmm, I wonder...also, one of those must be CYS-call-worthy.)


* paraphrased from "Something Good," from The Sound of Music

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

" I don't want a pickle, just want to ride on my motorsickle." *

This meme is sweeping the blogosphere. Ok, not really, but it provides content when I am feeling too lazy to think of actual things I want to say. Cut me a break. I'm PREGNANT. (Although I am ALWAYS lazy...)

What kind of soap is in your bathtub right now?
Soft Soap milk-and-honey. Thank you, Badger. I have never looked back.

Do you have any watermelon in your refrigerator?
No. It’s December.

What would you change about your living room?
I would like to finish and hang the curtains, and get the gas fireplace functional.

Are the dishes in your dishwasher clean or dirty?
Dirty. I just unloaded last night’s clean ones and started loading today’s dirty ones…

What is in your fridge?
Milk, eggs, breads, cold cuts (salami, provolone, American cheese, and cracked pepper turkey breast.) Beer (Guinness and Yuengling). Celery, carrots, apples, leftover Middle Eastern food (mostly baba ghanoush), yogurt, cider, apple juice, and OJ. A doorful of condiments, sesame seeds, salsa, pickles, etc. A thawing hunk o’ beef for stew.

White or wheat bread?
Wholegrain white for the boys, oatnut for me and H, English muffins and bagels for all of us.

What is on top of your refrigerator?
A basket of cereal boxes (you know, full of their cereal).

What color or design is on your shower curtain?
Clear but with prism-y designs on it.

How many plants are in your home?
I have a vase of dried hydrangea on the mantel. That’s it. I have a black thumb when it comes to houseplants.

Is your bed made right now?
Not yet. I am changing sheets, and so am waiting for my favorites to finish drying.

Comet or Soft Scrub?
Soft Scrub, orange scent only.

Is your closet organized?
As organized as I get.

Can you describe your flashlight?
I know we have a real one but I can only ever seem to find the boys’ flashlights, which are shaped like tigers and growl when you click them on.

Do you drink out of glass or plastic most of the time at home?
Depends on what I am drinking.

Do you have iced tea made in a pitcher right now?

If you have a garage, is it cluttered?
No garage. No shed. My basement is a wreck.

Curtains or blinds?
Both, or none, depending.

How many pillows do you sleep with?
Three. I want another, but four for one person seems….unnecessarily decadent.

Do you sleep with any lights on at night?
A nightlight in the bathroom. Not that this stops the boys from peeing all over the seat anyway.

How often do you vacuum?
A few times a week.

Standard toothbrush or electric?
Standard upstairs, an old electric in powder room downstairs. I love my electric toothbrush but I was burning through thru batteries too fast.

What color is your toothbrush?
Standard is pink; electric is turquoise and white.

Do you have a welcome mat on your front porch?
Just some black runners so you don’t slip and kill yourself on the wet wood, and a matching mat in front of the door for same purpose.

What is in your oven right now?
Nothing. But lasagna for dinner soon.
And maybe a cake since the Madeira cake I baked Friday is almost all gone already.

Is there anything under your bed?
Some boxes of stuff from the office, since we are shifting the bedrooms. Normally, nothing other than dust bunnies and the cat. Have I mentioned my OCD?

Chore you hate doing the most?
Vacuuming. And carrying the laundry up from the basement.

What retro items are in your home?
Half my furniture is flea market stuff. Plus all my grandmother’s Depression glass.
I like old stuff, and shop at thrift stores and flea markets by choice.

Do you have a separate room that you use as an office?
Yes, although as mentioned previously, we are in the process of shifting rooms so thank god for the laptop…

How many mirrors are in your home?
Um. Hmmm. Eight. But not because I am vain. I just like the pretty, old fashioned frames.

What color are your walls?
Different color every room pretty much.

Do you keep any kind of protection weapons in your home?
Does a baseball bat count? Or the dog?

What does your home smell like right now?
Hot cocoa.

Favorite candle scent?
I don’t really care for scented candles.
I normally buy unscented ones.

What kind of pickles (if any) are in your refrigerator right now?
Gherkins and dill hamburger slices.

What color is your favorite Bible?
Um, this is such a weird question that I am skipping it. Although I do own about half a dozen different Bibles, various translations.

Ever been on your roof?
Yes. Who else do you think scraped, recaulked, and painted all the second floor windows?

Do you own a stereo?
Yes. Several, in varying degrees of functionality, including one turntable the boys use to play H’s old albums.

How many TVs do you have?

How many house phones?

Do you have a housekeeper?
Yes. Me.

What style do you decorate in?
Um, seriously? Anything that will withstand three boys. My house is very…eclectic.

Do you like solid colors in furniture or prints?
Solid. Although the editor in me is dying to pick apart the grammatical incorrectness of this question…

Is there a smoke detector in your home?
Yes, a couple. And they routinely go off when I am baking.

In case of fire, what are the items in your house which you’d grab if you only could make one quick trip?
My children, the cats, and yes, even the dog. The folder of important docs like passports, etc. The photo albums from before I got my digital camera (three or four). My laptop. But then my boys would probably make me put everything down to carry their Pokemon cards and stuffed animals.


* Arlo Guthrie

Monday, December 03, 2007

"I used to do my homework at one end of the kitchen table while [my grandfather] cooked at the other end." *

I just was compelled to clean the accumulated goop of a year out of the grout of my tiled kitchen table with a butter knife.

Either I need to up my Zoloft dose, or I am nesting.


* Vincent Schiavelli

Saturday, December 01, 2007

"Proper names are poetry in the raw. Like all poetry they are untranslatable." *

In case the fourth is a girl, by some odd twist of fate:

Abigail? I know an Abby I dislike, and several I like. Anne. I like Agnes, but only pronounced the French way, which isn’t going to happen here. Antonia (in homage to AS Byatt)? Amy? (I cannot see myself as the mother of an Amy.) Amanda. Wow, I sorta like Amanda.

Bertha? Beth? Britney! Blech.

Clare. “Clare – it’s a fat girl’s name” (I LOVE that movie.) I like Catherine, too, and it has the added appeal of being my grandmother’s name.

Diana? THE girl name in H’s family, for girls of his generation. I think there are six of them.

Eleanor. Ellen (No. Does anyone else remember Ellen Tebbits?) Elizabeth (one of our top choices for a while there.) Elise?

Frances. No. H’s first girlfriend was a Frances. Of course, my first boyfriend was a Francis. And that’s our boy middle name. Shhh, don’t tell.

G. Gloria. Pretty in theory. I used to adore Geraldine, can anyone tell me WHY?

Helen? No, H’s college girlfriend was a Helen. Crazy, neurotic, psychotic wench.

Igraine. Whoo hoo. Isabella? VERY popular these days. Most of the I names seem to be variations on Isabella. Except for Inez.

Jane. Like the name, but H does not. I think he’s right. Jessica is pretty. But I also cannot see myself as the mother of a Jessica. Jennifer? Does anyone name girl babies Jennifer anymore?

Kara. For Rogue Librarian’s sake, absolutely not.

Loretta. Look out, Loretta! Laura/el/en. Letitia. Lucinda (I LOVE, H hates.)

Merle. Mairead. The poor girl would never make it out of kindergarten. Madison, like the rest of the planet (I actually despise this name - forgive me if you named your daughter that, but I think it’s hideous. It’s like naming your kid Detroit. Or Pittsburgh.)

N. There are no decent N names. Think about it. Nancy. Nan. Nellie. Nettie. Nicole. Nothing. I got nothing. My next-door neighbor says Neveah is very popular right now. Yeah, well, so is Taylor and I am not going there either. But since we’re on that train of thought, why not Nivea? Neutragena? Noxzema? I mean, really, why the hell not?

Octavia. I really dig this name, but no, can't use it. For the same reason the CAT, and not one of my boys, is named Septimus.

Petrova, after my favorite character in Noel Streatfield’s Ballet Shoes.

Q. Are there any good Q girl names? The website lists Queen, Quiana, and Quinn. The answer would be NO.

Riley. Reid. They sound like boy names. And Rachel and Rebecca don’t do a whole bunch for me. Too…Biblical. Or something. Which is downright laughable if you know my boys’ real names.

Susan? While I know and love several people named Susan, I don’t actually care for the name. And Sophia got knocked out of the running when it skyrocketed in popularity these past few years (Primo was Sophia, had he been a girl.)

Theodora. Teresa (too religious, although Tess is nice. However, we know a Tess whom I like very much, but too close.)

U. Una? Isn’t there an Una somewhere in children’s lit that I like? Sounds familiar. Maybe in the Anne books?

Valerie. Not.

W. Winnie. Wilhelmina. Wacky.

Xenia. I used to go to church with an old lady named Xenia.

Yvette. Yvonne. Y not?


Girl names are MUCH harder than boy names, there are many many fewer ones that I like.


*WH Auden

Friday, November 30, 2007

"What’s in a name? that which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet." *

Social Security's website o' names

Since I am fairly convinced that this fourth is a boy (why would anything be different?), let's start there.

Atticus? Aaron. Not Adam.

Baruch? Benjamin? Berkeley (a nod to H's college days)?

Calvin? Christian? Cain? Erm, maybe not Cain.

David. No, what about Daryl? Wahahahaaaaa....

Eamon. Ethan (VERY popular. So, no.) Eli (another nod...)?

Francis. Eh. Finn? Fred (which is the damn dog's real name)?

G. G is tough. Grover? Gabriel?

Henry. NO.

Ian. Ivan. Call me Ishmael. Or not.

Jonathan, John. Jack. Blech.


Luke. I was wrong, Luke is actually *dropping* in popularity.

Matthew. Michael. Mark. I like Mark, but there are issues with Marks we have known...

Neil. I like Neil. In fact, I really like Neil. Not as much as Luke, but a lot.

Oliver. VERY popular.

Philip? NOT Peter.


Riley. Richard. Raphael (if we are going to look at archangels...)

Seth. I like Seth. I even know Seths that I like. Steven? Sean?


Ulysses is the only U name I can think of.

Virgil Victor Vincent. Valentine.

William. Wyatt. Excuse me.


Y - would you believe Yahir is a more popular name than Simon?

Zachary. Zechariah? Zeke....Zaccheus. Zaccheus was a wee little man, a wee little man
was he....

The boys all have firm opinions on names, but I don't like any of their suggestions (for example, naming the fourth after the only brother of Jesus we don't yet have is NOT acceptable to me.)

Maybe it'll be a girl, and I will have to tackle those names another day.


* Juliet, Act II, sc. ii, in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

"Parenting forces us to get to know ourselves better than we ever might have imagined we could." *

Monday was my SIXTH day with my family, but my first without another adult to buffer. Or schlep work off to. Or change diapers. And since it was meant to pour all day long (which it did), the thought of spending the day in my house with three hyper children, the damn dog, and probably the TV blaring all day seemed like a very very bad idea. Off to the Children’s Museum we traipsed – my membership had lapsed a few months after Terzo was born but re-upping was simple, thank you, my beloved Visa card.

After slogging through the rain and ditching our sopping jackets (after-after hitting the cash machine, because you know, contrary to my children’s firm belief, I do NOT either grow money on trees in my backyard or mint it in the basement), we started as usual in the Mr Rogers area. Better than a Valium, that Mr Rogers, how I love him. Even at almost-seven, Primo found fun stuff to do, and the two littler boys really dug the trolley, the puppets, and the sweaters (although none of them dressed up in the cardigan sweaters like Primo used to). Terzo was especially enthralled by the player piano.

I was busy trying to figure out if this fish was supposed to look like Liberace or if it had some sort of tumor.

The two older boys were too scared to go in the habitrail until The Baby blazed the way. Possibly because I told them that if they got stuck, tough luck. My seven-month-pregnant belly won’t allow me in further than the first level (sadly, I know this from experience).

I prefer my children caged, not free-range. (Just the opposite of my chicken.)

This room is a little weird, there’s lots of supernatural-ly type stuff in it, like a ghost room (reflections of other museum patrons manipulated by mirrors), a skewed sort of dollhouse, portraits whose eyes follow you around the room, and this lovely lady guarding the entrance. These things always creep me the hell out (remember the one in “Big”? Ick.).

As did this initially.
“Hmmm, Gelfling?”

The two older ones discovered a very cool puppet-master sort of video game, and would have stood there all day changing backgrounds, switching puppets, and choreographing dance routines for them, if I would have let them. Unfortunately for them, there were other children at the museum as well (though not nearly as many as I’d feared, what with public and most private schools off for the first day of hunting season. I suppose they were all out in the deluge shooting poor innocent deer instead. VERY educational. If anyone is going to wield a gun in my family, it will be ME. So there.)

Meanwhile, I yearned for some caffeine –some other SMART mother had brought Starbucks in with her (I know, I am pathetic, I was so desperate, I photographed the damn empty cup!).

Terzo played with the cabinets while I looked at the book display. I thought this one was titled Jesus Makes Hair Gel (maybe out of wine?), a title that took up way too much of my available brain power for several minutes until I figured it out. See? Toldja. Not NEARLY enough caffeine.

And then Terzo made me follow him into the Gravity Room (worse than a funhouse and less than half the fun) where I promptly became nauseated and had to sit down afterwards. Ugh.

I finally dragged away the boys, kicking and screaming – no, merely whining - from their puppet game, and made them stop long enough to eat some lunch, and then wandered into the physical science-y room.

Although this neato contraption does not always operate exactly as it should, I love the way the wires and cages look. Puts me in mind of Calder, whose mobiles I have always loved. That blue ball is one of Primo’s attempts to navigate the maze.

I was thrilled to discover that my children have excellent taste in cars. (This is my midlife crisis car – you know, after I ditch the minivan, which we have not even purchased yet. So perhaps I am getting a bit ahead of myself.)

Terzo wanted to climb to the top of the platform to launch parachutes, but the open steelwork seemed to scare him and he wouldn’t stand up. He crawled not only up all the steps but the entire time he was up there, launching parachutes, watching balls, and thinking about trying the spiral slide (he decided against it, I think because he had to stand up to get to it).

Then he played with this primitive musical instrument for something like half an hour. I thought it was really fun but its noise totally made me have to pee really bad.

So I sat in front of *my* favorite thing in the museum, legs crossed, while he played. See how the letters fall on the screen, and are stopped by the image of your body? So very cool. I want one in my bedroom. Therapeutic; soporific. But probably more expensive than Zoloft...

The traveling exhibit was the Zany Circus for Social Change, comprised of circus tricks like tightrope walking, juggling, and stilts (which I really really wanted to try but realized before I made a total ass of my pregnant self how foolhardy that would be). Don't they look like FUN?

OK, explain to me why, when we have dozens of trains and hundreds of crayons at home, this is still what my children gravitate to when we are out somewhere where there are a dozen other options. Please explain it to me. Because I am at a loss.

We saved the water room till last, because, bad, unprepared mother I am, I neglected to bring either swimsuits and sandals, or a dry change of clothes.

I took photos of stuff that amused me while the three boys built dams, threw rubber fish, and floated sailboats, and got dripping, soaking, sopping wet.

And in Seg’s case, bellowed “Yellow Submarine” at the top of his lungs while plunging the little bath toy in and out and in and out of various pools.

I was both pleased at my child’s very cool taste in music (My guys were also the ones who took the microphone platform in another part of the museum and proceeded to wail “You Shook Me All Night Long” at the top of their lungs while the other children were bleating “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”), and being embarrassed by how very freaking loud he is. I am still not convinced he is not hard of hearing...

Some of those amusing-to-me photos:

Lots of belly-up creatures of the deep.

My favorite denizen of the deep, in his natural habitat (a heavily chlorinated pool in a children’s museum). (Never mind that the little guy is plastic…you would need your head examined as well after spending an hour and a half preventing your youngest child from “SIMMING!”)

Was I trying to channel Andy Warhol?

We spent more than an hour in the water room, and I had to drag the kids out, to beat the Steelers traffic home. Granted, I had a mild episode of “You are horrible, ungrateful, whiny children” shouting on the way home when Primo complained that we’d had to leave at all, and Seg cried because I told him he could not have a milkshake when we got home (we’d had ice cream after lunch).

So call CYS. Go on. I’ll happily hand over my museum membership card to anyone else who cares to wrangle the three of them next time, for the entire day, in a public place. But only if you fit in the Habitrail.


* Fred Rogers

NOW we interrupt this blog because Comcast SUCKS.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

"I felt I had every right to use the symbols of the Church and resented being told not to." *

I read Maile Meloy’s Liars and Saints on a whim last week. I vaguely recalled some fanfare about Meloy’s first novel when it came out in 2004, but the whole “saga of an American Catholic family” just didn’t really catch my interest. Besides, if you’ve read Thorn Birds, do you really need a saga of another Catholic family, American, Australian, or otherwise?

A little research revealed terrific reviews from reputable sources, and a nomination to the Orange Prize longlist. (Funnily enough, the other three books I tried to read from that same longlist – Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, Mammoth Cheese, and The Great Stink – were disappointing.)

So I brought it home from the library where it long ago had made its way to the general fiction shelves, and started it with not much in the way of expectations. I had for whatever reason lumped it in my mind with Mameve Medwed’s innocuous, chick-litty books, so figured on a quick and possibly pleasant read.

I couldn’t put it down.
From the first sentence, when a young Yvette Grenier marries her military pilot sweetheart before sending him off to World War Two, I was completely intrigued and had to find out what happened next. Not that it was a breathless, headlong rush – no, Meloy’s prose is cool and elegant and oddly removed from its complex characters and their passion-inspired actions. Her pacing is perfect – precise details are given when needed, with Meloy expertly filling in gaps in the action to quickly reach the next important event when necessary. It’s not often that you read a three-hundred page book seamlessly covering fifty years.

There were times when I felt that Meloy was experimenting with her medium, throwing in plot twists and events that were just strange enough to be completely true to the story (the truth-is-stranger-than-fiction mythology only aids Meloy in her endeavor), to see if the reader was paying attention, or if her characters were, or both.

When I stopped by the library to return several other books, I picked up Meloy’s sequel to Liars, A Family Daughter. I don’t want to spoil the read for anyone, but it is equally as compelling as its precursor, and its meta-ness greatly appeals to the geek in me. Meloy’s cleverness, exploring alternate realities for the same characters and playing with displaying her craft within her craft, put me in mind of AS Byatt’s Babel Tower and John Fowles’ French Lieutenant’s Woman.

Liars and Daughter were the perfect duo of books to read the same week that H and I watched Bill Murray in “The Life Aquatic.” While beautifully filmed, with some entertainingly quirky performances (especially by Cate Blanchett and Willem Dafoe), it’s a very strange little movie that could have used a stronger, defter editor’s hand and reminded me very much of a Coen Brothers outing. The conceit of making a movie within a movie was mostly stilted, and there were aspects of the filming that I am sure seemed much more clever in theory than in actual realization (the cutaway scenes of the boat, for example). But like Meloy’s novels (but not nearly so clever), the whole endeavor had a very meta feel to it, like you had opened the door into a private, unedited screening of someone’s personal journey captured on film almost accidentally, and the creator was annotating as you followed along.

So there’s my trifecta recommendation for the weekend:
Liars and Saints and A Family Daughter, coupled with “The Life Aquatic.”

I don’t think you can lose.


* Andres Serrano

Friday, November 23, 2007

"Kraft Foods, which now owns the [Stove Top stuffing] brand, sells about 60 million boxes of it at Thanksgiving." *

We are having a very low-key after-Thanksgiving day: hockey, a long walk in the snow flurries with the dog, Reuben sandwiches and veggie soup for lunch...although I suppose Thanksgiving itself was fairly low-key as well:

H took the two older boys and the dog out for a long hike in the park in the morning, while Terzo and I stayed home and puttered around doing laundry, and playing with Matchbox cars, and nothing much else.

We cleared the fridge of leftovers for lunch. (Each boy had one steamed dumpling, half a peanut-butter-and-banana sandwich, a scoop of steamed rice, some raisins, and a clementine. Nothing like a varied diet.)

My older brother opted to drive rather than take Greyhound so arrived in the early afternoon, which was great as we hadn’t been expecting him till almost 8. The boys were totally psyched to see him, and he spent the afternoon playing Stratego and Clue with them. Everybody took naps (some shorter than others) and then we headed over the river and through the woods – or at least over the railroad tracks and through the playground – to Grandma’s house where I very intelligently ate not too much.

I woke up in the middle of the night last night yearning for some more stuffing, however. I should have eaten more stuffing.

My mom never made stuffing – we had always wild rice, which was delicious but not even approaching the buttery, chewy deliciousness of a good, oniony stuffing. My mother-in-law’s stuffing is like my recipe for chicken dip – any excuse to eat a pound of butter, or in the case of the dip, cream cheese, can’t be bad. I don’t really even care that the potatoes are whipped (not mashed); the yams are gluey; the turkey cooked to within an inch of its life; or the veggies are all canned – the stuffing makes up for all of that.


Chicken Dip

1 8-oz. block of Philadelphia cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 large can Swanson white chicken meat, drained and flaked
2-3 scallions, chopped
2 tsp soy sauce

Mash all ingredients together. Best if refrigerated overnight, but not necessary. Serve with Triscuits.

My Mother-in-law’s Stuffing

(for 20-25 lb. turkey)

1 can of chicken broth
6 loaves of bread
1 ½ lbs butter, melted
Celery, chopped
Onion, chopped
6 eggs

Cook giblets, etc., in a can of chicken broth.
Mix all other ingredients together, then use broth to moisten.

I know she stuffs her turkey with it, but she also bakes a giant pan of it next to the bird. And that's about all I know. Except that I could happily eat the entire pan, with maybe a side of cranberry sauce (the jellied kind that comes in a can. (I know, I KNOW.))


*according to a Kraft Foods company spokesperson

Thursday, November 22, 2007

"O Lord that lends me life, Lend me a heart replete with thankfulness." *

Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds. ~Theodore Roosevelt



* William Shakespeare

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

"No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion, may be inflicted on prisoners of war to secure from them information of any kind." *

Start with a very teeny tiny space (fetchingly decorated as an igloo with milk jugs, Christmas lights, and blue plastic tablecloths), a janitor obsessive about scratched floors, and a school building with heating temps regularly reaching into the nineties, making the school like unto the Sahara Desert.

Add some well-meaning if fairly clueless parent volunteers (many of us toting students’ younger siblings) and some already-overworked teachers, lots of little kids who don’t really grasp the concept of money OR tax OR waiting their turn, and a few older kids who are just learning how to work the system, or maneuver around it.

Top with a large-hearted and kind anonymous donor who generously donated money but with no plan regarding how to allocate it to needy kids, and what have you got?


I haven’t been this exhausted since I gave birth to Primo.

I have a really good idea – let’s forget the waterboarding debacl – ahem – debate – and conscript Guantanamo prisoners into running grade-school Scholastic book fairs nationwide. Yes, it might violate the Geneva Conventions, and it might be tough getting clearances for all of them, but I say it’s least enough to get them to confess something and send ‘em all the hell back home, where for fear of having to do it again, they will behave themselves from now on.

It’s just a thought.

* Article 17, Third Geneva Convention

Saturday, November 17, 2007

"Violence is the first refuge of the incompetent." - Isaac Asimov

I very rarely get political on this blog, you all know that.

But the facts of the matter are these, in no particular order:

I am a bleeding heart liberal.

I voted Libertarian in the last city mayoral election.

I am all about social programming, and could not care less about wasting more money on defense spending.

I am a pacifist, and a bit of an isolationist.

I think our brave and stalwart soldiers should come home from Iraq. They are there for all the wrong reasons, even though I am guessing *they* are fighting for the right ones.

And this ongoing story from Veterans' Affairs makes me want to do nothing so much as punch President Bush right in his smug, stupid face.

Friday, November 16, 2007

"You've been mostly dead all day." *

Friday morning, breakfast.
The boys are eating oatmeal and talking about how old people are.
(No, no idea why. Who knows why they talk about three-quarters of the crap they talk about?)

Primo: I’m 6, and Segundo is 4, and Terzo is 2.
Terzo: Two!
Primo: Punto’s 5. But Tiny and Cippy [the cats] are only 4.
Terzo: (Throwing spoonful of oatmeal at the poor dog.) Punto! Five!
Segundo: Daddy’s 45. [Um, he’s not, he’s only 44. At least for a few more months.]
Terzo: Daddy!
Primo: But Mama’s only 37! That’s not old.
Segundo: No, Mama’s not old.
Primo: (helpfully) Grandpap’s old. And Grandma’s old.
Segundo: (thoughtfully contemplating his last spoonful of oatmeal) Yeah, she’s practically DEAD.


* Fezzik to Westley, in "The Princess Bride."
With my sincere apologies to Liz.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

"Glory days, well, they'll pass you by, glory days..." *

I went back to my archives to see what I had done for Christmas last year - posting and giftwise - and came to the sad conclusion that I used to be much funnier, and a much better writer.

So sad.


* Bruce Springsteen, "Glory Days"

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

"Why do birds suddenly appear every time you are near?" *

QUESTION: Why did I agree to run the goddamn Scholastic Book Fair?
ANSWER: Oh, that’s right, because I wasn’t pregnant last year when I said I would. And so therefore I must have been drunk. Or smoking crack. Or both.

QUESTION: Why does Primo think I have the set list of every show I have ever seen embedded in my brain for all time?
ANSWER: Because if I had someone else to cook my meals, do my laundry, direct my bath times, arrange my social life, and pretty much do everything for me but wipe my ass, I too would have the brain capacity for mindless minutiae like he does.

QUESTION: Why am *I* solely in charge of feeding my family?
ANSWER: Because, clearly, H goes to slave away at his job everyday while I sit at home on my Barcalounger, eat bonbons, and watch soap operas, so really, what’s a little meal planning here and there, between “One Life to Live” and “Santa Barbara”?

QUESTION: For that matter, why am *I* solely in charge of all the Christmas shopping?
ANSWER: I gave birth to them, isn’t that enough? Apparently not. And since I didn’t give birth to my in-laws or my children’s teachers, I suppose it’s only right that I be in charge of shopping for them..?

QUESTION: Is “Santa Barbara” even still on?
ANSWER: I haven’t the foggiest idea.

QUESTION: Why do we live in a three-thousand-square-foot house when all three of my children, both cats, and the dog (and probably the goldfish were he mobile) want to be in the same square foot I am presently occupying?
ANSWER: Because they LOVE me, despite the ungrateful, screaming shrew that I am?
(Although I suppose that’s really another question…)

QUESTION: If a boy punches his little brother in the attic and no one is there to hear it, does it still hurt?
ANSWER: Apparently only three hours later, when it occurs to the younger brother to tattle and burst into tears at his previous trauma.

QUESTION: Wouldn’t it be really useful if, with each child you birth, you grew an arm that upon the youngster reaching the age of eighteen, became vestigial and fell off?
ANSWER: Useful, yes. Attractive, no. But that alone might prevent more children and thus, more arms.
(I would also like to grow progressively harder of hearing with each successive baby.)

QUESTION: Whose fucking idea was it to buy those children a drum set last Christmas?
ANSWER: Oops. Shit.


* "Close to You," The Carpenters

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

"And when they start to sing the Marseillaise, they sing it forty different ways. Fifty million Frenchmen can't be wrong." *

I was considering posting my ultrasound photos until I realized, ew, I would be posting pictures of the inside of my uterus on the Internet. My little ‘netties, I love you all dearly but I think I want to keep my innards to myself, thankyouverymuch. Suffice it to say that The Fetus is alive and well, growing beautifully, moving like a maniac, and looks pretty much like every other fetus in utero – kinda creepy and alienesque. It’s ok, I’ve done this before, it turns out ok. (The tech said she could tell the sex (Quarto? Quarta?) but I did not find out. Because I am lousy at keeping secrets like that, and H has no wish to know.) (I think he may still be in denial altogether, frankly.)


I woke up this morning with two arms wrapped in a death grip around my neck, a leg thrown possessively over my waist, and stinky breath being snored in my face. You know, if I was interested in this in the first place, H and I would not have separate bedrooms. I will have to send Seg back to his bed from now on, no matter how loud the thunderstorm. Or at least insist he brush his teeth more thoroughly.


On a similar note, Terzo kept enticing me to lay in his bed with him just “a leetle longer” this evening’s bedtime by requesting one more song. He cocked his head, grinned his toothy grin at me, and said, "’Ow ‘bout...zee 'Iggles?" Or "’Ow ‘bout...Weel-co?" It was what I imagine it would be like being in bed with a very tiny, blonde, charming Frenchman. Only I am assuming Frenchmen don’t dig "’Eavy – er, Heavy Metal Drummer" as much as Terzo does.


See this? My library account.
See that first book?
Why I made Primo get his own damn library card.


*"Fifty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong," Willie Rose, Billy Raskin, & Fred Fisher/ inspiration for the Cole Porter musical, "Fifty Million Frenchmen"

Monday, November 12, 2007

"Let's undress just like cross-eyed strangers..." *

Why do the public schools have off today? I know it’s Veterans’ Day, and while I am all for honoring our veterans (my dad was one, as are most of my uncles, and I dated at least one guy from each branch of the service at the height of my dating life, so you know I am all for supporting our men in uniform), I fail to see why my child can’t go to school, honor the vets there, and, you know, get the hell out of my hair.

Although, in his defense, Primo has been entertaining himself since nine a.m. (which is the absolute earliest I permit any radio/drumming/guitar-playing) by listening over and over AND OVER to Wilco’s “Kidsmoke.” (Have I mentioned it is the only Wilco song I actively dislike?) to ‘learn the words.’ He also seems to be learning the guitar chords, if the energetic strumming and twanging coming from his little plastic electric guitar he got for Christmas last year is any indication. I only hope the strings and tuning mechanisms hold up.

Meanwhile, the two younger boys are carefully stripping all the bedclothes off their beds, ‘because,’ and making tunnels. Well, since I change sheets in the beginning of the week anyway, I might as well let them have their fun. (See how much good not vomiting up the Zoloft does my mental state?)

I am about to shower, pack up all the boys and some lunch, and head to the Center for Creative Play. Since it’s way too soggy to throw them outside today, and so they can go run around there in the supermarket-sized space, and I can have a coffee and read and be glared at by more attentive, caring mothers.


* "I am Trying to Break Your Heart," Wilco

Friday, November 09, 2007

"The richest person in the world...couldn't provide you with anything like the endless, incredible loot available at your local library." *

Now, I know this stack can’t possibly compete with Lazy Cow’s towering, er, tower, but I gave it my best shot.

These Is My Words - Nancy Turner. This is cheating, I guess, but I really just needed to renew this one. I have been so wrapped up in reading about disgusting psychopathic murders that I have been too busy to read a nice wholesome book about life on the prairie.

One Perfect Day - Rebecca Mead. My Favorite Librarian told me she’d just gotten married two months ago (and I wasn’t even invited, sob!) and of all the books well-meaning people sent her prior to the festivities, this was far and away the most entertaining. I can’t wait. Everyone’s worked with one of those chickies that gets engaged and turns into a wedding-planning monster (as opposed to clueless child-bride morons like me who just said, “Yup, that’s fine. Uh-huh, sure, Mom. Okey dokey, dear MIL.” See, I am so EASY). I am looking forward to this book with a somewhat disturbing tendency to salivate already beginning. [Ohmigod, I started it last night and this woman is BITTER. She’s married, so other than being so plain as to verge on homely, I have no idea what her issue is.]

Garnethill - Denise Mina. Mina gets mentioned in many of the same breaths as Val McDermid and Henning Mankell. We all know I like McDermid, if I do consider her mysteries a tad superficial; I own two Mankells but haven’t actually read any. I have read one previous Mina, and was…underwhelmed. But this one. This One is supposed to be AMAZING. We shall see. See what cruising book review sites in the middle of the night will make you go request…?

When We Were Bad - Charlotte Mendelson. Even though I do not have a curl right in the middle of my forehead, this title spoke to me. Plus, it won awards of some sort or another, which my reptile brain recalled when I saw it on the new shelf…[started this one today. Reminds me of Myla Goldberg’s Bee Season for some reason – could be all the secrets swirling throughout the narrative…]

Once Upon a Day - Lisa Tucker. It was sitting in a display with other books I read and liked, including Kite Runner and Spot of Bother. The cover was cool. And MFL said, “I arranged that display, I loved every single one of those books.” So I grabbed it.

From Hell - Alan Moore. To satisfy my graphic novel jones, once I devoured Marvel 1602 in like two hours. It’s about Jack the Ripper. I seem to be on a serial killer kick.

The TinTin is for Primo, it’s the only one he hadn’t read. What AM I going to do with that boy?

I have to point out how much I enjoy the stickers on the spines – the obvious “New Book” sticker, which may or may not mean it’s a one-week book, bright green for graphic novels (“I am NOT a real book!” it seems to shout), the starkly drawn skull for mysteries (“Read at your own risk!”). I like ‘em.


* Malcolm Forbes

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

"Nothing is quite so wretchedly corrupt as an aristocracy which has lost its power but kept its wealth..." *

I am ripping through Val McDermid’s Wire in the Blood. It’s sort of horrifying, but not exactly subtle. I expected more nuance (a complaint I have had with the other two McDermid books I have read – and nonetheless enjoyed), which, again, isn’t to say I am not completely engrossed. I am. So engrossed that the last fifty pages of Street of a Thousand Blossoms (a book I liked very much and can recommend as an excellent read) are languishing unread on my nightstand.

I must make a run to the library to pick up my latest requests: Rebecca Mead’s One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding, Alan Moore’s From Hell (nice juxtaposition there, eh?), and Denise Mina’s Garnethill.

I still have Ha’penny waiting here for me to pick it up, if I ever finish plowing through Dorothy Sayers’ Whose Body? which I must confess I am not loving. I am finding Lord Peter MOST annoying. Why does he keep dropping the g’s at the end of his words? Is that supposed to be something aristocrats do? If it is, I am glad I don’t hang out with any (even though I have been made fun of for enunciating my ending g’s so hard as to make them sound like k’s; must be my lower-middle-class background...)

Meanwhile the new Richard Russo has suddenly sprung to my attention from the pile under my nightstand and is demanding to be read RIGHT NOW. Tut, tut, little book, there are library books ahead of you.


*“...and which still has endless leisure to devote to nothing but banal enjoyments." Alexis de Tocqueville

Sunday, November 04, 2007

"Ka-chow!" *

Epiphany of the day: You haven’t lived until you have watched your four-year-old, all spindly arms and legs, running around announcing a stuffed-animal hockey game in his Lightning McQueen underpants – the ones with "I AM SPEED" emblazoned across the butt.


* Lightning McQueen in "Cars"

Saturday, November 03, 2007

"They're different from my other friends, they don't start sentences with "You know who just died shoveling snow?" *

I am going to write another post that might – or might not, since it doesn’t involve animals - spawn vitriol and disgust. (And I am not picking on poor Miz S, I swear I’m not – her response was tame (and at least sincere and balanced) compared to some of the emails I got on that post, and now I will say no more, I promise.) This topic is especially worrisome to me after reading Alice’s funny and heartfelt post about making new friends, which left me feeling like my soul is a withered old crone, perhaps with a big wart on her nose.

People will think, God I can’t believe she even HAS any friends. Maybe you won’t be surprised, who knows. But here goes.

I asked Gina (who totally generated that BFF anxiety in ME when I first asked her out for coffee lo, these many eons ago) recently if it would be very awful to have “Leave me alone, I have enough friends” tattooed on my forehead. It’s not that I have thousands, or that I really think you can have too many. It’s not that I don’t meet people I am sure I want to hang out with, and who would make my life better, funnier, or just simpler. But I am feeling very stressed lately, and have not had nearly enough time to myself.

And what I want – what I NEED – to do, for example, on school mornings is drop the two older boys off and return home to plunk Terzo in front of Sesame Street for an hour while I drink a cup of tea, read the paper, catch up on blogs, get the laundry started, wake up a little bit…in other words, probably all those things that other people get up early, before their children, to do. And which I don’t, because I have never been a morning person and the fact that my offspring rise at the ass-crack of dawn has not changed my proclivities, if it has changed my actual actions. I may like you, you may be a perfectly nice person I will be sorry I didn’t get to know, but right now I don’t want to go walking with you, I don’t want to take the kids to the zoo, I don’t want to go to the park, I don’t want to do anything but what I said above. I don’t want to DO anything. I don’t want to SCHEDULE anything. I just want to BE for a few moments, catch my breath, and figure out how to get on with my day. I have a husband who works long hours, and three children who must be fed and clothed and kept healthy, and I have work to do (that actually pays money) even though I no longer go to an office. I have to do necessary things like go grocery shopping and clean and run errands, in between picking up and dropping off children at various schools, and I truly don’t understand why NO ONE ELSE seems to need to do these things. (I also seem to need a lot of time to myself, which may or may not be normal but that’s what it is. I enjoy my own company and don’t get nearly enough of it. )

You know what else? Friday evenings? I don’t want to go out at ten for drinks; by ten I would like to be in bed, asleep. I don’t want to sit in your living room and fondle dildoes with the rest of your friends at your Tupperware – er, excuse me, Passion Party; I don’t want to see a movie I know nothing and care even less about, or stroll the mall, or do much of anything other than have a drink or a restorative cup of tea, maybe watch a period or two of the hockey game with my husband, read some of my book, and go to bed early. If my neighbors are out on the porch, I might wander across the alley and have a glass of wine and a bit of a chat with them – this event does not require showering, make-up, or for that matter, shoes, and is a highlight of my social life. I am TIRED. I am LAZY. I don’t like feeling obliged. I am possibly the most antisocial person I know.

I don’t see enough of the friends I already have and love. E lives three minutes from me and I see her when we drop the kids off and pick the kids up at school. Gina lives three miles from me and I see her maybe once a month, if I am lucky and we are both healthy, awake, and in decent moods. And I don’t love her any less when she calls to cancel because she’s feeling yucky and it’s raining and we don’t feel like venturing outside, and she doesn’t love me any less when I call to cancel because I have had a rotten day and just want to go to bed with the comforter over my head. And THAT is the kind of friend I need. Not one who minds if I have to cancel, or doesn’t understand why I don’t want to pay for a babysitter to go do something I actually have no desire to do. I am very fortunate to have several dear friends like that; I also have some wonderful cyberfriends to whom I consider myself closer than people I might see even every day (and somehow I know these friends, if they lived near me, would be the friends I would want to see and who would understand when I needed to hibernate.)

I don’t want to join a mommy’s group, or discuss books with people who consider Maeve Binchy great literature (not that I haven’t read and/or enjoyed a Binchy title…), or schedule exercise everyday at the same time (for that matter, I prefer to run by myself, as my running is done as much for its mental as its physical benefits.) I don’t want to make elaborate plans that require planning like unto the invasion of Normandy.

I really should have been one of those hermits who lived atop a pillar or in a cave somewhere. I probably should not have gotten married and procreated four times. I probably will not be surprised when I am old and alone, with my sixteen cats and neighbors who don’t know or care if I am dead or alive. There are many people I love, and fewer people I actually enjoy spending time with; but mostly, I need way more time by myself than I get, and I am starting to mightily resent a lot of perfectly nice people demanding more of my time and attention.


* Richard (Tom Selleck), on "Friends," about Joey and Chandler