Saturday, December 31, 2005

My Wonderful Husband

Gave me a mandolin for Christmas. Gorgeous, flat back, center hole, spruce top, mahogany back and sides, rosewood fretboard. In true not-so-big-R. fashion, he did his research. He took not-so-little-R. on a mysterious road trip on December 19, and it turns out they went to Mandolin Brothers on Staten Island and listened to a bunch of mandolins, then picked this one. I'm not linking to a picture or going to their website, or Mid-Missouri Mandolins' site, because then I would know how much it cost and I'd really like never to know. I think it's a pretty good system we have, that cheapass me buys presents for everyone in the family and then splashout (dare I say spendthrift?) R. gets a present for me. It may sound like he got a raw deal but believe me, he gets himself plenty of presents over the course of the year.

Anyway, back to the mandolin which I love. One benefit I had not even thought of: it's so light and petite. You can read in the post linked above about "trundling" the guitar around. It really is a burdensome instrument--not as bad as a piano, but close. This doodad comes with a backpacky little case and it's just the perfect size for petite me.

Now I just have to learn to play it. I suppose I'll have to practice and all that. I have tried a couple of crosspicking exercises in a book R. got me, and it's hard to believe it could ever be second nature. But we shall see.

Anyway, I looked back at my list of 14 arbritrary goals and I'm doing surprisingly well

1. Write a book--getting there
6. Landscape our yard so it is (in front) not an embarrassment and (in back) a beautiful private retreat--not an embarrassment, check. Beautiful private retreat, barring financial ruin, slated to happen in the spring.
8. Learn to play the mandolin--now in possession of a mandolin.

So, ergo, check out your list. You may want to slot the unicorn ranch into one of the spots you get to cross off.

Real Post Tomorrow, Maybe

In the year 2006 I resolve to:

Become a modern-day Johnny Appleseed.

Get your resolution here

Friday, December 23, 2005

On the Radio, whoa-oh-oh on the radio

For some reason Karen Carpenter's "Merry Christmas, Darling" is in heavy rotation this year. It's not too bad as pop Christmas songs go, except for this one moment:

Logs on the fire, fill me with desire (uncomfortable caesura)
To see you and to say...

I'm sorry, but for that one awkward moment it sounds like burning logs are a turn-on for her. Which would be fine, but then she does the wholesome "gotcha": she just wants to see her darling, you dirty-minded listeners.

In other complaints, Carly Simon seems to think she can change a whole bunch of the lyrics to "Let It Snow" for no good reason. What was wrong with the corn for popping, Carly? And if the temperature's dropping so much, that actually means it probably won't snow, weather genius. Why aren't you going out in the storm? Because you're the woman? And how do you know how I'm going to feel when you kick me out?*

*I realize this makes no sense to anyone who a) hasn't heard Carly's version of the song and b) isn't a lyrics freak like me.

Pop Christmas moments I do like: every time Gene Autry sings "Santa Claus knows we're all God's children/That makes everything right," it kills me. Kills me. What also kills me, I mean in tears every time and this is really embarrassing? When the chipmunks sing "We can hardly stand the wait..." I also like James Taylor's "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas." But I have an uncomfortable feeling that James could sing "Let's Mutilate Squirrels for Satan" and I'd like it.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Pin

I call it the "No Conversation" pin, after Rebecca West's short story "There Is No Conversation."

I love the pin for itself--it's a wooden circle about an inch and a half in diameter, handpainted in black and shades of cream and beige, with a leafless tree and a full moon. A boy gave it to me in high school--the boy I was in love with junior year. He was never my boyfriend, because he was in love with my friend M. From time to time we would do a bit of kissing and then afterward he would be sure to mention that he would never get over M. and of course this did not mean anything had changed between us. After the first couple of times I should have gotten wise--well, honestly, I did get wise and I decided to go with it.

So then this boy went on a trip to England with his parents, and came home with presents for a bunch of us. He gave me the pin. I would say with certainty that his mother picked out the pin except I can't believe she was sufficiently aware of my existence to think I warranted a present. He gave M. a t-shirt from a Peter Gabriel concert in London.

She would far, far rather have had the pin. But I knew which was the "best" present. This boy loved early Genesis, worshipped Peter Gabriel. It was a tremendous coup and a treat for him to have caught this concert abroad. The t-shirt was a hard-won and rare trophy. He assumed that M. shared all his passions and that she would value the t-shirt the way he meant it. The pin--which looked to casual eyes like the more romantic, the more intimate present--meant less.

So I also love the pin because it reminds me of how very little we know the people we love sometimes. And also how well we know them, and what little difference it makes. That at the end of the day we are trapped in this frustrating, terribly human, inevitable psychic isolation. But we keep making loving gestures, we keep trying to communicate anyway. Despite the fact that there is no conversation.

It spends most of the winter on one lapel or another.

Monday, December 19, 2005

The Meme of Four

Four jobs you've had in your life: department store sales "associate", box office manager, office manager, mother.

Four movies you could watch over and over: Gone With the Wind, Casablanca, The Wizard of Oz, Center Stage.

Four places you've lived: Jersey Shore, Princeton, Northern Virginia, New York City

Four TV shows you love to watch: Arrested Development, Law and Order: Criminal Intent, House, My Name is Earl.

Four places you've been on vacation: Italy, the Adirondacks, San Francisco, Disneyworld.

Four websites you visit daily: only four? This Woman's Work, TelevisionWithout Pity, Open Book, About Last Night.

Four of your favorite foods: macaroni and cheese, roast chicken, black beans and rice, noodles with peanut sauce.

Four places you'd rather be: Paris, Copenhagen, summer, childhood.

Why So Tense?

I have four out of six kinds of cookies baked. Menus planned (groceries still to buy). All presents purchased and wrapped. Letter written but still to be edited by R., cards not even begun (but we believe it's okay to send cards as late as Jan. 9th). All decorations up except tree. House reasonably clean, everyone has something festive to wear. Today's what, the 19th? I think I'm in a darn good place here.

So why the shallow breathing, short attention span, eyes darting around the room, MomVee?

The only thing I can think of is that my unconscious is so used to being frantic and behind that it's not giving me any credit for the above items. And my mother said something similar to me a few days ago: "28 out of 30 cards done doesn't make me feel any better than 1 out of 30 cards done."

I think they should sell tranquilizers over the counter just between Thanksgiving and New Year's.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Theater of the Absurd, or The Interior of My Car

M: The sun is hurting my eyes.
MV: I'm so sorry.
M: I want the sun to say sorry!
MV: The sun can't talk.
M: Why not?
MV: Well, because....because the sun is a mass of incandescent gas.
M: I have gas sometimes.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Upside Down

Have you heard about this decorating trend?

Just looking at the pictures gives me a sick headache.


This sounds familiar:

I don't know how your domestic partnership is arranged but part of the unspoken arrangement through which Steve keeps me in mascaras and standing mixers is that I am solely responsible for identifying, locating, acquiring, wrapping, and insuring that all presents for both sides of the family for every birthday Christmas promotion and Filipino-American Friendship Day arrive on time and in good taste.

Which means every few months I look at the calendar and exclaim "Damn it!" and then scurry into Steve's office bleating, "What do you want to get your (father/step-mother/sister/sister's husband) for (his/her/their) (birthday/anniversary/confirmation hearing)?" Steve will always respond with cold silence, which, to be fair, is exactly how I would react if he burst upon me resting in the bathtub one afternoon and shouted, "Quick! Earn something!" From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs, and all that.

Well, not entirely familiar. I do all the kinwork around here, but R. does have opinions about it. Annoying opinions, frankly. I just want affirmation, dammit, not second-guessing. Typical gift conversation:

"I was thinking about getting your sister H. this beautiful camel-color English schoolgirl hat trimmed with brown velvet. It would look perfect with her coat." (NB I have, in fact, already bought the hat)
"I don't know...does H. have a head to put it on?"

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Overheard at a party last night

"Yes, our life is a rich tapestry of vomit."

It's happened. Enough of my high school friends now have children (and not just babies but actual kids) that the Christmas party has a distinctly different atmosphere. Not entirely different. We still tell stories that start "Remember when you were so drunk that...", but we hushed up whenever a child came into the room for boo-boo kisses, DVD help or nourishment.

One of my friends opined that we were actually very good kids for all the naughty secret things we did, and she thinks we should have acted worse. It's an interesting question--if you put morals aside for the moment and focus on the utilitarian. I guess today's results indicate that we were "good kids," since everyone is intact and most of us went to college, own homes, are happily married and have kids. You certainly have to wonder how much more we could have gotten away with before serious cracks appeared in the veneer. And don't come away from this thinking that all the memories that hold us together are memories of debauchery--we had a lot of innocent fun, too.

In A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, Francie's Aunt Sissy expresses regret about all the lovers she has had, and wishes her husband Steve had been "the first and only one." Her sister (Francie's mother) says "Woman talks that means she's going into the change of life....If she never had any lovers, she kicks herself around when the time comes, thinking of all the fun she could have had, didn't have, and now can't have. If she had a lot of lovers, she argues herself into believing that she did wrong and she's sorry now. She carries on that way because she knows that soon all her woman-ness will be lost...lost."

And I think something similar is happening here. We're still years away from menopause, but never again can we dip more than a toe into reckless irresponsibility. It's the wonderful thing about parenthood and the awful thing about parenthood--the job you can't quit.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Sausage Kimchi Bap Update

The kimchi I got was not nearly hot enough. The Fast Break dish was borderline tissue-damage hot. And saucy, which I did not achieve with this batch.

This only increases my determination.

Household Hint

If, after Thanksgiving dinner, your daughter wants one more Italian cookie and you say no, and then she wants to wrap one in a cocktail napkin and put it in your pocketbook for tomorrow, also say no.

Do you know how hard it is to get pulverized cookie, and I mean completely disintegrated cookie, unrecognizable except for the green crystallized cherry and the fifty million crumbs coating everything, out of the inside of your pocketbook? And off of everything in your pocketbook that can't be washed or rinsed?

Turn it upside down and dump them out? Surprisingly, no. Lint remover? Again no. Laboriously wipe with tape? Very slight improvement.

I think what makes me saddest is the indelible grittiness on the outside of this lip balm, which I got at Whole Foods and love passionately.

Year In Review Meme

Courtesy of ergo: "Take the first few lines of the first post of each month. It is a mini-review of your 2005."

...that never wrote to me. Have to give Frost and Dickinson equal time. There are at least 20 things I really should be doing right now other than blogging: laundry, vacuuming, deciding what to have for dinner, helping my kids with their homework, even writing something more lasting (I hope) than a post.

Okay, so yay, links. Now it's time to pick the random items up off the floor, all over the house. I'll be back tomorrow, and with any luck I'll have regained my sense of proportion.

While we were on our non-vacation helping-in-laws-move trip down south last weekend, not-so-little R. was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes (the insulin-dependent or "juvenile" kind).

Do you ever discover that you were dreading something only after it's over? This particularly happens to me with doctor visits. I mean, you would think by now I would recognize that I have...issues...with them, but I am capable of mind-blowing denial.

I've always loved this song, but right now it is so eerily apt. Especially President Coolidge and his emotionally detached comment.

Louisiana 1927
Randy Newman

What has happened down here is the wind have changed
Clouds roll in from the north and it started to rain
Rained real hard and rained for a real long time
Six feet of water in the streets of Evangeline

Yesterday the special edition DVD of Disney's "Cinderella" was released. My mother wanted to know if she should get it for M. for Christmas. I said sure, but wistfully:

Sixteen years ago my boyfriend--well, he wasn't my boyfriend at the time, but he soon would be--gave me the VHS of "Cinderella" for Christmas. It was partly that gift that let me know he would soon be my boyfriend.

Just Call Me "Booge"

Don't get me wrong, there are many things I like about Halloween. I enjoy helping my kids with their costumes; I like to wear a little whimsical something myself. I adore candy. I have a compulsion to buy any decorative item that features black cats with their backs arched.

But I don't like answering the door a bazillion times between 5 and 9 pm.

Leslie Harpold's Advent Calendar for 2005 is up, cleverly disguised on her main site as the 2004 calendar. Check it out.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Gifts For Life

Check this out.

Courtesy of the Washington National Cathedral Advent Calendar.

It Is Margaret You Mourn For

On Sunday, R. and I saw the play "Orson's Shadow" at the Barrow Street Theater in Greenwich Village. It's closing December 31 and if it is at all within your power to go see it, I highly recommend that you do so. If it isn't, I'm sorry. Please note at this time that there will be spoilers below the asterisk row.

"Orson's Shadow" is playwright Austin Pendleton's version of what might have happened when Orson Welles directed Laurence Olivier in a production of "Rhinoceros" at the dawn of the British National Theatre. Kenneth Tynan narrates and Vivien Leigh and Joan Plowright, outgoing and incoming Ladies Olivier, take part.

As you might imagine, the play is uproarious, with witty banter and backstage gossip flying furiously. Artistic temperament is definitely on display. One feels a frisson of guilt, of inadvertent voyeurism when Vivien Leigh breaks down. But the truly moving moment is at the very end. SPOILERS (of a sort) BELOW:


The play ends with Welles and Olivier onstage. Joan Plowright walks on and says "Since I'm the only character in this play who's still alive, why don't I wrap things up." She tells of Tynan's death at 53 of emphysema, Leigh's death at 53 of tuberculosis. She describes her life with Olivier and the remainder of his career--ten years of triumphs with the National Theatre followed by movies to provide for his children's future. Then Welles asks eagerly, "What about me?"

"You lived for 25 more years, but only completed one more movie," Plowright says somewhat hesitantly.
"What was it?"
"'Chimes At Midnight,'" she answers with some relief, since his obsession throughout the play has been to finance a film of "Chimes."
She also tells him that despite bad sound caused by a tight budget, "Chimes" is a masterpiece.

She adds that despite the studios' editing butchery, "The Magnificent Ambersons" and "Touch of Evil" are classics.
"Did anything I did ever eclipse the memory of 'Citizen Kane'?" he asks, since that achievement has been his other obsession.

R. and I had tears running down our cheeks. And while readers of this blog know that MomVee's cheeks are not an unfamiliar path for tears, it's considerably less usual for R. to be moved to tears in a crowded theater. It made me think, again, of "Spring and Fall."

I think, too, that it has something to do with Ergo's recent post:

It is a tension of contradictions that life is to be lived in each moment as if every day was your last and also as if you are going to live forever.

What can we do to ensure that our lives will end with minimal regret? Will disappointment, perfectionism, self-loathing, make us give up prematurely? Will we fail to appreciate our own greatest achievements?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Like Proust's Madeleine

When R. and I were newlyweds, we briefly worked in the same office in DC. There was a kind of bizarre lunch spot near the office called "Fast Break." Our boss could never remember the correct name and always called it "Lunch Break" or "Fast Track." I say it was kind of bizarre because they served a concoction called "Sausage Kimchi Bap" which consisted of rice, kimchi and kielbasa. But not that bizarre, because damn if this was not an incredibly satisfying lunch which I ate as often as I could without my husband becoming alarmed/mocking me.

Wegmans has abruptly stopped carrying brown basmati rice, so I had to buy a big bag of some kind of Thai short-grain brown rice instead. When I was scraping the rest of not-so-little-R.'s curry off the plate (and into my mouth) before I put it in the dishwasher, something in the sense memory part of my brain screamed "Sausage Kimchi Bap"! And I knew that I would have to make it myself, because there are no Korean restaurants around here, let alone Korean-Polish restaurants.

I bought a jar of kimchi at Whole Foods today (I looked into making kimchi from scratch and I'm sorry but, it's Christmastime and I have a life). I'm very excited to gaze into a bowl of Sausage Kimchi Bap and say lovingly, "We meet again...."

Friday, December 02, 2005


Leslie Harpold's Advent Calendar for 2005 is up, cleverly disguised on her main site as the 2004 calendar. Check it out.

Edited 12/5: no longer disguised, the 2004 is now archived and the 2005 is identified as such.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Blight

Spring and Fall
To a Young Child

Márgarét, are you gríeving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leáves, líke the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! ás the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you wíll weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sórrow's spríngs áre the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It ís the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

Gerard Manley Hopkins

Last Sunday the Old Testament reading was from Isaiah: "... No ear has ever heard, no eye ever seen.." so that sent me right into this poem. Because I am capable of paying attention to anything except the actual Mass. At least I finally achieved my goal of being like Vicky Austin, who can recite "The Blessed Damozel" in her head during church, because I do have "Spring and Fall" memorized (in fact that and "To An Athlete Dying Young" are my only surefire memory pieces).

Tears were absolutely pouring down my cheeks. Why? I mean, we know it's not exactly difficult to open the MomVee faucets, but a navel-gazer like me can't help but stop and ponder this for a moment. Is it because the trees are in fact unleaving right now? Or because I haven't really thought of this poem since I got a Margaret of my very own?

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Mighty Girl links to an exhaustive cheat sheet for foiling voice response systems, and spells out a successful (and oddly satisfying) universal strategy.

If you try sometimes, you might find you get what you need

If you are like me, for most of your life you thought of the autoharp as a fake instrument for nursery school teachers and people who are too lazy to learn guitar.

My opinion began to change when I saw a Johnny Cash tribute on TV (not the recent one, but a 1999 TBS one) on which June Carter Cash--70 years old and gorgeous--sang "Ring Of Fire" and accompanied herself on the autoharp. I got more interested when I read Will You Miss Me When I'm Gone? and learned that Sara Carter played the autoharp. I decided I would get one, especially since I hate playing electronic keyboards and that was my only possible accompaniment when I lead music activities at school or Scouts. Then I found out that autoharps are really, really expensive. In the meantime I realized that schoolkids and Scouts don't know or care if you are playing D, G and A7 (works better than C, F and G7 for my voice and hands) on every song and I started trundling the guitar around.

I didn't forget about the autoharp, though--it has a special sound that's different from a guitar and it really has a place in Appalachian music, which interests me. (I also have a yen to learn mandolin but talk about expensive. A friend of ours bought a cheap mandolin and warned me away.) So I mentioned it to a friend who is a music minister and she said her church had a closet full of autoharps gathering dust. I got one on permanent loan. The only problem was it was really, really out of tune. I tried tuning it with every socket wrench head in the basement, and then with a combination of pliers and a crescent wrench. Painful and not entirely successful. The autoharp sat in the corner of the sunroom for a couple of years.

And then last week I thought, there has to be a tool for this. Froogle search for "autoharp tuning tool" turned one up at an Amazon affiliate for $2.99. Of course it should be a national law that one of these tuning wrenches is inside every autoharp case but what can you do?

So now my autoharp is tuned and I am practicing strums and singing "This Land Is Your Land," "Who Knows Where I'm Going," "Good Night Irene" and "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" Only 6 years after the first vague stirring of autoharp lust.

If there's something you need to move your life forward, do me a favor and find out if it only costs $2.99 plus shipping. You'll be glad you did.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

I love this

Actor Chris Klein on his ex-girlfriends: "Are we friends? Absolutely. Do we talk? No."

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Poets Down Here

Before I begin: I'm sure that both of the people who read my blog are extremely interested in "boat curtains." I must have been drunk when I accepted the Google Adsense offer but I'm too ignorant and lazy to get rid of it.

So I've been listening to "Born To Run" a lot, with all this 30th anniversary hype. R. and I have discovered that we can never do anything original: whenever we do something like get an awesome new turntable or rent five Roy Rogers movies there's an article in the Wall Street Journal the next day saying "Audiophiles Turn Back to Vinyl" or "Three cities feature Roy Rogers film festival this week." So I've decided to just consciously go with the flow. Thus I've been listening to Born To Run (on vinyl, of course).

I bought this album as a Christmas present for my father in 1979, the first year I saved up my money and bought Christmas presents for my friends and family. He gave me "Keep On Doing" by the Roches, and for several years we listened exclusively to each other's presents, perfectly content. Now I own both of them, which I think is emblematic of both my aesthetic development and my father's boundless generosity. For the first 20 years I played only side one, because it features "Born To Run," which you have to like if you're from New Jersey; "She's The One," which has suggestive lyrics that fascinated me as a ten-year-old; and "Jungleland," which I think I can safely say is the most beautiful Bruce Springsteen song.* You can tell because side one is somewhat scratchy and poppy but side two is still pristine. And what I have discovered in the past 5-6 years, since I saw Bruce in concert, is that I was cheating myself out of "Thunder Road," which is almost as gorgeous as "Jungleland."

So we were playing the album this weekend and I was singing along with Jungleland and not-so-big-R. asked, "What is this song about?" It stopped me in my tracks. Here was Mr. "I never know the lyrics to songs or even the characters' names in a movie," asking Ms. "I will do a close reading of anything, hand over that poem," what a song was about and I had no idea and had never thought about it. I cleared my throat. "Um, gang war?" "But what's this about flashing guitars just like switchblades?" "I don't know," I mumbled. "I like the part about the opera out on the Turnpike."

Right now, in the quiet of the morning, if I had to write a timed essay about it I think I'd go with the transcendent nature of art. But do you have any ideas, constant readers?

*Not necessarily my favorite Bruce Sprinsteen song, because there's also "Hungry Heart," "Glory Days," and "Rosalita." I was explaining to R. that I always think of "Rosalita" at Thanksgiving because these two lyrics make me feel hopeful and trimumphant in exactly the same way:

"So from the beginning/The fight we were winning/
Thou, Lord, wast at our side/All glory be thine." (We Gather Together)

"And your papa says he knows that I don’t have any money
Tell him this is last chance to get his daughter in a fine romance
Because a record company Rosie just gave me a big advance." (Rosalita)

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Warning: Child Anecdotes

Things M. has said lately:

She runs into the kitchen
M: Mommy! Maybe someday we could get married!

This afternoon in the driveway:
M: What did you do to the garage?
MV: I cleaned it.
M: But why did you put the car in there?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

How long 'til my soul gets it right?

My mother thinks M. is the reincarnation of her mother, my Grammie. For starters, because she is bossy and complains a lot (we say this out of love). Also because she has more than once said to my mother, "When you were a little girl, was I your mommy?" My mother said yes, incidentally. Way to cooperate with the Catholicism, Mother.

More spookily, Grammie hated the song "Kookaburra." R. and S. love it, and we frequently sing it as a round at bedtime. But one of M.'s first sentences was a passionate, "No! No gum tree!"

The other day, sitting in traffic, I reflected on how much I hate white cars. Then I thought about how my grandmother loved white cars. When her stepfather bought her her very first car, they couldn't find a white one, so he bought a maroon one and had it painted white (that must have taken a lot of coats). So I idly asked, "M., what color cars do you like?" She sat up, took her finger out of her mouth, and said firmly, "White."

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Adequate Homes and Gardens

I have a new game I like to play in my head. I like to read home decorating articles (unless I'm going through one of the stages in which I forswear magazines because they depress me and make me discontented and inclined to buy things). The best ones are those that describe the decor in a given family's (or couple's) home. It's even better when one or more of the homeowners is a professional--architect, designer, etc. They always have these incredibly complex aesthetic reasons for doing everything, reasons that make you believe that you, too, should hang a rusty gate on your dining room wall.

I've been doing a lot of redecorating lately because my extended in-laws are coming for Thanksgiving. I say my extended in-laws because my mother-in-law and father-in-law have been here many times and have already formed an opinion of my decor for good or ill; but not-so-big-R.'s grandmother is coming for the first time ever and for some reason this is making me insane. Anyway, I haven't done anything as drastic as painting or wallpapering, but I have: framed and/or hung a whole bunch of pictures that were hanging around for years; put new knobs on the kitchen cabinets; literally kicked(or at least pushed with my knee, part of the time) our particleboard entertainment center to the literal curb (and inadvertently damaged the phono preamp in the process, sigh); and made new kitchen curtains.

You're wondering about the new game. Basically, while I do these things, and especially as I scan with my eyes the things I cannot change about my house by Thanksgiving, I write random lines from the magazine article about my decor:

"In addition to choosing an antique-look Waverly fabric for her kitchen curtains, MomVee added to the country effect by sewing radically wrong rod pockets, subsequently ripping out the old seams and leaving charming random threads, snags and tiny holes in the material."

"Although she replaced the particleboard entertainment center, MomVee chose to keep the particleboard corner TV cabinet.'We think it's important for the kids to remember their roots,' MomVee explained. 'And I think it's a touch of early-marriage, new-homeowner style that keeps our decor lighthearted and fun.'"

"MomVee always keeps a heaping basket of unfolded laundry somewhere in the main living area. 'It helps demonstrate that life--what takes place in the living room--is composed of work and play. Besides, I love all the different colors and textures in a basket of clean laundry.'"

Try it at home!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Clearly Target and I are not meant to be together

So, I did a search at Target for "shot glasses" (none of your business)*, and after all the results you would expect it said this:

VIDEOS brought to you by No items match "shot glasses." These results are for "stott."

Ohhh...kay. What if everyone started doing this? "MomVee, this is not-so-little-R.'s teacher. I've never heard of this book The Fellowship of the Ring, so I graded his book report as if it were on Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone." Or, actually, "I graded his book report as if it were on Snarfblatt," because last time I checked "stott" was not something a lot of people were searching for.

*All right, I was searching because Not Martha linked to someone who said that Target has candy cane shot glasses in the dollar bins, and I foolishly thought maybe dollar bin merchandise would be online. Also from Megan, the Charlie Brown pathetic tree. The irony of commercializing the Charlie Brown pathetic tree is making me dizzy. Leave it to Urban Outfitters.

Speaking of irony, not-so-little-R.'s teacher did tell me she knew immediately what kind of child she was dealing with when his "what I did this summer" composition included the word "ironically." Apparently that's not a typical usage in fourth grade. She also told me he needs to get over his bad attitude about group work. I managed not to share my feelings about group work.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Dear God, You have _got_ to be kidding me. Love, MomVee

On Monday S. had her annual checkup and the pediatrician heard a heart murmur he never noticed before. It's probably nothing, but we have to go to the cardiologist. The same cardiologist to whom I gaily shouted, "See you in a year!" last week after M.'s appointment.

Monday, November 07, 2005


I got this idea from Voir Dire Subculture:

Type your name with the word "needs" after it into a search engine and see what comes up.

Vera needs your help. Defending human rights in Malawi.
Vera needs to find out the cost.
Vera needs sugar. She wants her name in peppermint frosting.
Aloe vera needs dry and arid conditions so it's best grown in a pot where control over the conditions can be achieved.
Since Vera needs a reliable car, she asks her bank about auto loan rates.
VERA needs to develop an effective. mechanism for gathering learning;
all Vera needs is some warmth and acknowledgement

Cat Humor


Communication Breakthrough

It is possible:

Greetings from

I've reviewed our previous correspondence, and I'm sorry for any
misunderstanding thus far.

I've requested a refund for $189.23 to your credit card.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Dear Target Customer: I guess I'll just have a sweet roll

or, Why Target Customer Service Reps Can't Read

Back in August, I ordered a wedding present from a Target registry. Soon after, I learned to my distress that the couple in question had moved to a completely different city some time before and had not bothered to update their registry address.

I have been engaged in a rapid downhill correspondence with Target ever since. The first e-mail exchange was promising:
MomVee: blah blah blah present blah address
Target: No problem, the people who live there now will probably send it back (I doubted it); but if they haven't done that by September 19th, go to this link and let us know and we'll refund your money anyway.

So after September 19th:
MomVee: It's now past September 19th and as per your e-mail instructions pasted in below I'm letting you know blah blah blah
Target: I see that the items in order #!@#$%$&%$*%& were delivered on August 4th! You can track your order blah blah blah.
MomVee: No, no, no! Relevant passages from old e-mails, plea to actually read mine.
Target: Silence
MomVee: Hey, are you ever going to do anything about this situation? Explanation, explanation, plea to look at all customer service messages about this order number for more info.
Target: (actual text)
Greetings from

Thanks for letting us know that this package did not reach your
recipient because of a problem with the shipping address. If a
package can't be delivered, the shipper should return it to us. When
we receive the returned package, we'll issue a refund to your credit
card and send you an e-mail confirmation.

Friday, November 04, 2005

A Great Line

Unfortunately, I can't remember the specific situation that brought this to the top of my consciousness (probably a politician soundbite); but I love this zinger from Duke Frederick in As You Like It. He tasks Oliver with finding his fugitive brother Orlando, and threatens to seize all his property if he can't bring him to justice within a year. Oliver protests:

Oliver O that your highness knew my heart in this!
I never lov’d my brother in my life.
Duke F. More villain thou.

I use this line (in my head) all the time. Also my own private variation, "More idiot thou."

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

This Is An Amazing Resource

If you could figure out an efficient way to search it.

Folklore and Mythology: Electronic Texts

Halloween Roundup

Just Call Me "Booge"

Don't get me wrong, there are many things I like about Halloween. I enjoy helping my kids with their costumes; I like to wear a little whimsical something myself. I adore candy. I have a compulsion to buy any decorative item that features black cats with their backs arched.

But I don't like answering the door a bazillion times between 5 and 9 pm. If you are a mother, or certainly if you are I (grammar?), between 5 and 9 pm you are helping people put their costumes on, making dinner, straightening up the living room, checking homework, fielding phone calls, putting children to bed...often simultaneously. I have to keep reminding myself that I will get to see the adorable children in their costumes and give them my carefully chosen treats (carefully chosen to be totally unappealing to me so there will be any treats left by nightfall).

Winners last night: twin Marilyn Monroes.

Throwing Stuff Away Update

Last year Santa (nudge nudge, wink wink) fell in love with some inflatable Tiki heads at the dollar store. Both R.'s and Uncle S. got them in their stockings and were distinctly underwhelmed. They floated around the house for a while. Then in my current frenzy I went through not-so-little R.'s desk and threw away with joyful abandon.

On Sunday, before the parade, I thought R.'s Indiana Jones costume could use a finishing touch, in addition to the hat, jacket, whip and gun. An idol, like the one he takes at the beginning of "Raiders"! The tiki! I went upstairs with a heavy heart, hoping against hope that I had not thrown away the tiki, but it seemed likely, especially since it was a painful reminder of a failed gift.

But no, at least one tiki was still kicking around (in not-so-big R.'s study, where things go to stay alive forever)!

Now I can toss it. I think.

How Siblings Can Differ

Last night, in lieu of a truly spooky story, I read my children Stephen Vincent Benet's The King of the Cats, one of my all-time favorites. It has an extremely elevated vocabulary and arch style, and I wondered about a quarter of the way through whether they were getting it. Being polite children, they didn't interrupt. M. fell asleep. When I finished, S. said, "That was a great story," nestled into the pillow, and was heard from no more.

Not-so-little R. was completely terrorized, afraid to go anywhere in the house alone, and asked me to please never say "Then I'm the King of the Cats!" ever, ever again.

And Now For Something Really Scary

M. has her every-nine-months cardiologist appointment today. I could use everyone's psychic help in remembering to breathe while driving there.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Screaming Memies

Lifetime Top Five Items of Clothing

1. Vintage suede jacket
--from The Antique Boutique on Broadway in the Village, I believe still extant, unlike Unique, my other big hangout. Starting when I was 13 I was allowed to prowl the city with a friend, but my parents usually arranged to be on the same island. In the era before cell phones, I'm not sure what this really accomplished except to make them less reachable in the event of a crisis. Then when I was 14 or 15 I could take the train and be truly on my own, which I did as often as I could. I still own this jacket, wore it yesterday. It's a kind of mahogany color, lined with iridescent greenish rose acetate (looks better than it sounds) medium length, somewhat boxy cut. It had a self belt which I tossed long ago, and now I'm kind of sorry.

2. Lavender Indian cotton sundress--this dress was one of those mysterious successes Nancy Hale writes about in A New England Girlhood: "Certain dresses had a cosmic importance in my wardrobe. There were dresses in which I always had a good time and those dresses, as smart or smarter, which seemed to possess no magic." Although I was not a Boston Brahmin debutante in the 20s, I did have this magic dress, which I bought at "$5-a-bag-day" at the Friends of Animals thrift shop. It was lavender, a color I have always loved, sleeveless and trimmed with eyelet and coarse lace; the bodice buttoned down the front and it had a slightly flared skirt. It actually fit me rather poorly, the waistline hitting neither at my natural waist nor at any other convenient spot; but boys fell all over me when I wore this dress.

My first boyfriend and I had a little routine in which he would say "I like your dress," and I replied "That's because it's a dress." (var. also for "skirt") It was more than that, though. In high school my skirt day/pants day ratio was higher than it ever will be again but not every skirt was magic. I especially enjoyed revealing the thrift shop origins of the fawned-over dress--rather than explaining the $5 bag I would just say it cost $.50, based on how many items I thought I had bought--and the boys would exclaim, "And thrifty too!" It was like "Kind of Woman" from Pippin.

Eventually fell apart in the wash.

3. Tattered Jeans--Another bulk thrift find, these from a loft kind of place in Cambridge where you could buy clothes by the pound out of random piles all over the floor. I was visiting friends living there for the summer, in between sophomore and junior year of college. I spotted these very worn jeans, already with significant holes in the knees, picked them up and held them in front of me. They looked about the right length, so I stuffed them in my garbage bag. As it turned out they were boy's button-fly Levi's and they fit me perfectly. To paraphrase Barbara Mandrell, I was low-rise when low-rise wasn't cool. These jeans had a magical quality not unlike that of the lavender dress. I particularly remember one time when my roommate said, "You know, if you had described that outfit to me (vintage suede jacket above, ecru lace blouse, the jeans) I would have said no. But you look awesome."

One sad day they had to become shorts, and then...I don't know what happened to them. On the same trip I bought a wide-brimmed black straw hat in Quincy Market, which I left on the airplane coming home.

4. My wedding dress--it was exactly what I had in mind, the first dress I tried on. (I took three off the sample sale rack. The salesladies made me try on number two, but I refused to bother with number three.) My mother-in-law was recently reminiscing about all the family wedding dresses, and she said "You looked beautiful in your dress. Like Grace Kelly." Mission accomplished! It was a ballgown with a tulle skirt (sweep train) and silk satin bodice with a portrait neckline, appliqued all over with beaded Alencon lace. I'd love to wear it again. Sigh.

5. Three hats--a hat lover like me can't pick just one. Two hats I bought for my sister-in-law's wedding in 1998 (I always buy the hat and then get a dress to match. It's easier than the other way.) Both are fine straw with tulle studded with tiny roses around the crown. I wore the pink and white one to the wedding, and I have worn the taupe and white one to every Easter ever since. The third hat is a huge black straw with big black crepe roses and veiling around the crown. I get to wear it tonight as part of my Holly Golightly costume!

So, to sum up: three vintage items, all having waistline issues. The remaining two rely heavily on tulle.

I tag ergo.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

What I'm Listening To

"American Jukebox Fables," Ellis Paul. Our wonderful local NPR station brought him to play free in the riverside park this summer, and we bought the CD.

I keep hitting 3 on the little stereo remote over and over so I can obsessively listen to this catchy chorus:

"If you want to run/I'll pack my suitcase/
And if you want to stay,/I'll make a front door key/
and if you need space/To fly free,/
take all the sky you need"

I liked it better before I checked the liner notes and understood that a woman was speaking, because although it is very nice to give your partner of any sex some space, I'm more impressed when a man does it for a woman. Others have written this song before, notably Todd Rundgren, perhaps the underrated musical genius of the 20th century; but good themes bear repetition.

On the same album I'm liking the very catchy and upbeat (unusual for me to obsessively repeat an upbeat song)* "Alice's Champagne Palace," despite this incredibly cheesy rhyme:

"Alice will pour you a cold one,/You go ahead and ask her,/if you're running away to Alaska."

It actually makes you start to feel that it would be fun to run away to Alaska and work in a cannery...unless, of course, you had three children a marriage and a whole life on the East Coast. Yeah. Also, and this seems so unfair, even when I was footloose and fancy free, for a woman (and especially a woman from a family like mine) something like running away to Alaska never seems to be on the list of options. Anyway, to redeem itself the song also has this great line:

"I guess sometimes you gotta go/to the end of the earth/just to turn yourself around."

And sometimes you just have to get the youngest kid off to school. :)

*Edited to say: actually not so unusual, thinking about it. About two years ago I was obsessively repeating "I Don't Know What It Is" and "14th Street" from Rufus Wainwright's "Want One." They are still awesome. Too bad "Want Two" pretty much stank. I really prefer my music's sexual content to be sufficiently veiled that I can play it in front of my children. Is that wrong?

A big Thank You

To the users and manufacturers of crystal meth, who have created an atmosphere in which I have to bring a slip of paper up to the pharmacy counter in order to obtain Children's Tylenol Plus Flu, bubblegum flavor.

The bright side is I always maintained that pseudoephedrine made me feel way too high even for cold medicine, and now I feel vindicated. Apparently my body is so sensitive it can perceive even the ingredients of a recreational drug.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Attitude Adjustment

Here's something that takes getting used to as a parent: report cards, progress reports, and for the most part teachers at conferences, never say "Wow! Your child is really smart,"* even if it's true. Because, of course, although it helps to be smart in school (most of the time--Some of the time--) teachers are not reporting on your ability, but on your effort and achievement. S.'s progress report was great, and the comments section read "S. has excellent work habits. She is capable and attentive, as well as friendly and kind to all of her classmates." The principal wrote, "We can't ask for more!" which is great, and I agree (especially the friendly and kind to all part), but the tigress deep inside me can't help screaming, "Capable and attentive? How about creative, insightful, and generally brilliant?"

There's the rub. I'm 35 years old and I can't get used to this idea, that we get credit for what we actually do, not what we could do. I really need to work on that.

*And when the teachers do briefly comment, in person, about how intelligent a child is, there's always a qualifier: "He's very bright, of course, but he's going to have to learn that..."

Proposed Ban

I have already described (to some extent) my issues with presents, so you may want to take this with a grain of salt; but I think I'm on pretty firm ground here.

I propose a ban on all Christmas decorations that represent wrapped gifts. It's this specific product that set me off, but I have been noticing more and more gift-shaped decor in recent years, not to mention the rolls of wrapping paper I saw in the posh stationery store last year that depict skinny women shopping in high heels. Maybe I didn't get the memo, but I thought we were all, at the very least, trying to keep up the fiction that this is not all about the presents? It's not like the holidays are devoid of symbolism or iconography, or our decorating motifs are so impoverished that we are forced to display what seem to be presents but do not, in fact, even have a carefully chosen token of someone's affection inside.

I have a slight sick feeling that this is a misguided response to complaints that trees, Santas and (although I haven't encountered this one) stars are somehow offensive. I have certainly noticed the proliferation of snowmen and while I don't go hog wild on the snowmen they don't offend me. At least they have to do with cooperative creative effort and making the best of a dark and cold time of year; at least they represent living beings and not dollar signs. I fear, though, that someone complained about the snowmen and thus we have the ultimate decorative "So there."

Friday, October 21, 2005

Bear With Me On This One

So I just watched "National Treasure" with the kids (not-so-little-R. got a pile of Borders gift cards for his birthday and this was one of his purchases). It was really quite delightful. I don't suppose, especially with a gun to my head, that I could claim it was a "good" movie, but we all enjoyed it very much.

What I wanted to mention specifically here was a little moment towards the end *SPOILER ALERT DO NOT READ FARTHER ETC. ETC.*

...when the history buff/treasure hunter hero and history buff/national archives bigwig heroine are in peril on a rotting spiral staircase way beneath Trinity Church. At a quiet moment the hero takes the heroine in his arms and says, "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry I dropped you, but I had to save the Declaration of Independence," and she says, "That's okay! I would have done the exact same thing!" He does this great double take, says, "You would?" and obviously goes through the thought process of hey, that's not okay, you're a woman and my romantic interest and you should...but if it's the right thing for me to do, then it's the...actually, it's kind of hot!

I think it's an awesome, subtle, feminist moment.

Who Put The Bump in the...oh, never mind

I have a question: when did pregnant women's bellies become so universally known as their "bumps"? "First shots of Katie Holmes' bump" the tabloids trumpet. “My stand-in has a bump, and my stunt double has a bump,” Jennifer Garner helpfully explains.

When I was carrying my babies, I had nothing so trendy and cool as a bump. It had no name except maybe a belly. But mostly I just felt that it was the same abdomen I always had, except with a (sometimes huge) baby underneath, and everyone else seemed to also.

Does the bump taking on an identity of its own have philsophical implications? And if so, what are they?

Nothing To Do

Well, yes, I do have to make dinner, do at least three loads of laundry, pay bills, pick up clutter, make beds, clean bathrooms, vacuum upstairs, mop the kitchen...

But today I don't have to make any phone calls, and it is my particular pathology that a phone call hangs threateningly over my head all day, torturing me with its possibilities of conflict, ridicule and rejection.

So when I don't have any phone calls to make, the whole day opens up invitingly in front of me.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

I Know This Is Wrong,

But I want The Complete New Yorker just so I can read the J.D. Salinger stories that were never published again, anywhere else. It's only $61.11 on Amazon, which seems like quite a deal for 80 years of the New Yorker. On the other hand, I hate reading things onscreen, and I know the vast majority of the NY will go untapped forever for that reason.

Want to know something even worse? It crossed my mind to give my father the thing for Christmas, then go over to his house and read the Salinger stories.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Warning: Child Anecdotes

M., like Frances the badger, sings a lot of improvisational songs. Here's today's first effort, inspired by her brother walking in on her in the bathroom:

I was going bathroom
I was going bathroom
I was going bathroom
We are young.

I won't deny the tune owed a lot to "The Bear Went Over the Mountain," but I really like that Pat Benetar touch at the end.

In other news, S. continues to riff on Dental Arts long after the concept has lost its freshness for everyone else in the car.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

There Is No Satire

It all comes true.

In Holidays In Hell, which I am too lazy to go upstairs at look at for a copyright date (and the Internet is failing me, but let's just say the 80s), P.J. O'Rourke recounted his visit to Heritage USA, Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker's theme park in South Carolina, noting "The Bibles themselves
had names like A Bible Even You Can Read..."

So today some helpful person hung a flyer on my doorknob advertising the availability of "The Recovery Version: A Bible You Can Understand."

This Makes Me Mad

This isn't a political blog, and I'm one of those people who tries to give Dubya the benefit of the doubt; but really--

"On Sunday, President Bush called on Congress to consider a larger role for U.S. armed forces in responding to natural disasters..."

I'm sorry, did he miss the, oh, twelve years of school when they tell you about the balance of power? And how the redcoats could do whatever they wanted and how much it pissed off the founding fathers? This guy is from the party, supposedly, of states' rights and smaller government.

And yes, I know the story is a week old. Thank this morning's NPR commentary for bringing it onto my screen.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled mommy/cultural blogging.

Monday, October 17, 2005

But am I mulled?

You Are Apple Cider

Smooth and comforting. But downright nasty when cold.
What Part of Fall Are You?

True confession: there were a lot of questions with two equally valid (for me) answers. My first result was "You are fall leaves, pretty and colorful but soon dead," and I didn't like it. So I changed to all my alternate answers and voila.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

For Aldi Fans

This site has a shopping list and a month's worth of menus designed around Aldi's offerings. I'm not sure whether I'm going to try it--at first glance it looks a little more, I don't know, "red-state" than we usually eat--but it's tempting. Sometimes it's nice to be told what to do down to the smallest detail.

Saturday, October 15, 2005


"They keep talking about drafting a constitution for Iraq. Why don't we just give them ours? It was written by a lot of really smart guys, it's worked for over 200 years, and we're not using it anymore."
-- George Carlin

Courtesy of Doonesbury at Slate.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Birthday Party Notes

1. It's over.

2. I have a really really bad, drug-resistant headache.

3. Last weekend I felt bad because I threw away our safety dartboard, although we were down to a single dart. And a few months ago I felt bad because I threw away 2 or 3 remote-control vehicles that people gave not-so-little-R. as gifts when he was WAY too young for them, like 7 or 8 years too young, and they had bent antennas or missing remotes or just generally made me feel like killing myself and were never played with. And then yesterday NSLR received a magnetic dartboard and an RC stunt car for his birthday and I decided I am never feeling guilty for throwing something away again. I am going to throw away a ton of things.

Monday, October 10, 2005


I really hate making phone calls, and tonight I have to call the [many] people who have not RSVP'd for not-so-little R.'s birthday party on Wednesday. I especially hate making phone calls when I am already sort of peeved at the people I'm calling (and curiously, this is very often the case...hmmm). No matter how hard I try, I keep having little fantasies in which, instead of saying "Hildegarde? I'm calling because I'm concerned that Siegfried may not have gotten the invitation to R.'s party..." I say "Hildegarde? What the hell is wrong with you?"

The situation is not helped by people who respond with blatant lies ("Oh, it didn't say RSVP." That one left me actually speechless for a moment.)

Wednesday, October 05, 2005


Not-so-little R. wants to be Indiana Jones for Halloween, a costume choice I heartily approve.

I thought it would be easy to find a fedora hat and find (or make) a bullwhip, but I'll admit I was a little concerned about the leather jacket.

So I went to the thrift store looking for the hat today and found (drumroll) an awesome leather jacket in NSLR's size! It's even somewhat worn around the corners, as Indy's would naturally be.

This doesn't mean I won't be able to find a hat, right? Right?

Fair Warning--Kid Anecdote

I do try to limit them...

Before we leave for preschool, M. and I both use the bathroom.

M: Now our bwadders are empty!
MV: ...yes.
M: What is a bwadder?
MV: Well, it's kind of like a balloon inside your tummy, full of wee-wee.
M: (gently) Except when it's not full.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

New Media, Mixed Feelings

Yesterday the special edition DVD of Disney's "Cinderella" was released. My mother wanted to know if she should get it for M. for Christmas. I said sure, but wistfully:

Sixteen years ago my boyfriend--well, he wasn't my boyfriend at the time, but he soon would be--gave me the VHS of "Cinderella" for Christmas. It was partly that gift that let me know he would soon be my boyfriend. At the time, that was more than one might be expected to spend on a platonic friend. (As I recall, I gave him the soundtrack of "The Little Mermaid" on cassette. Yes, we were hiding from adulthood, and yes, he is now out of the closet. Irrelevant to this story.) But more than the price aspect, the fact that he picked that movie suggested that he understood me, not only knowing it was my favorite Disney movie, but that "Cinderella" is my personal iconic fairy tale. (I have small feet and like surprising people with my heretofore unnoticed qualities.)

Two years later, I was full of angry and bridge-burning feelings, but somehow this tape survived the purges. I kept it, and all three of my children have watched it countless times. The box is yellowed and brittle.

I feel very funny about getting rid of it.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Eighth Celebrity Crush

I would be remiss if I did not mention Adam Brody of "The O.C." While this show has gone so sadly downhill that I now only watch it when my husband is not home,* and Seth Cohen's self-centeredness has crossed the line into parody, I still remember the Seth of Season One--particularly his awkward delight at Summer's sudden and inexplicable lust--the Seth of the Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve episodes. And I still love that Seth.

*Only a really good show is worth that kind of ceaseless eye-rolling.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Seven Things Meme

7 things I want to do before I die:
1) Sing solo in public again
2) Learn to surf
3) See Paris
4) Publish a novel
5) Have grandchildren
6) Drive cross-country
7) Become an authority on something

7 things I can do:
1) Write a good thank-you note
2) Sight-read show tunes on the piano
3) Read really fast
4) Make dinner out of whatever's on hand
5) Find and buy a black-tie dress that fits in under 30 minutes (recently tested)
6) Remember obscure and useless facts about movies I have not seen
7) Make (and in some cases pack) five breakfasts, three lunches, one snack and two caffe lattes, pack two backpacks and comb three heads of hair between 6:45 and 7:30

7 things I cannot do:
1) Whistle
2) Remember the rules of card games
3) Hit a ball of any kind with a stick of any kind
4) Lie without blushing
5) Sleep sitting up
6) Control my tone of voice
7) Notice how, in item 7 above, I did not comb my own hair? A sadly regular occurrence.

7 things I say most often:
1) You may not speak to your brother (sister) that way.
2) Two things:
3) No.
4) Fine.
5) Actually...
6) I'm sure you will not be surprised to learn that...
7) You must be high.

Celebrity crushes:
1) Vincent D'Onofrio
2) Andrew McCarthy
3) Hugh Grant
4) William Hurt
5) Colin Firth
6) John Cusack
7) (new) Jason Lee

Friday, September 23, 2005

Laughing, and I swear not at Finslippy's expense

"Last night, at 11:30, after an hour of vigorous denial over the goings-on near Henry’s room, I realized that all was quiet and went to check things out. I found Scott sleeping on the floor of Henry’s room while Henry, fully upright and alert, chatted with his father’s inert form. “Darth Vader goes whoosh and the Storm Trooper turns him into Darth Vader and when I’m at the playground I go whoosh down the slide but sometimes I fall and I get a little scrape but I’m okay,” he said as his father snored lightly against the carpeting."

I have so been there, in so many ways.

Equal Time

Because S. was the only one who didn't get a spot two posts ago, I just wanted to mention that she is currently entranced with a big brick building on the highway labeled "Chapel Hill Dental Arts." Every time we drive buy she chuckles deeply and delightedly announces "Dental Arts!" Then there is some speculation about what kind of scrimshaw-like arts are practiced inside.

An Exercise

From Dawn--


1. Go into your archive.

2. Find your 23rd post (or closest to).

3. Find the fifth sentence (or closest to).

4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.

With the Coach-Families! From Been a Long Lonely, Lonely, Lonely, Lonely, Lonely Time.

Things My Family Has Said To Me Lately

Not-so-little-R: (after hearing on NPR that "Curb Your Enthusiasm" begins its fifth season tonight) Wow! "Transformers" is in its fifth season too!

Not-so-big-R: Hey, I like the new, non-stained throw pillows.

MomVee: M., why are you putting on your pajamas at 3 o'clock in the afternoon?
M: (with a look of infinite patience) They're my pretend soccer uniform.

Thursday, September 15, 2005


Ergo's Guy is calling her Dr. This and Dr. That.

Not-so-big-R. never calls me Master. Ever.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Some things I know...

...about covering books with clear Contac paper:

1. No matter how beautifully you mitre the corners, your child's teacher will not send a congratulatory note home or mention it to you at Back To School Night.

2. When you find a store that has clear Contac paper, go ahead and buy four large rolls. You will use them--if not this year, then next year. Making multiple Contac runs throughout September stinks.

3. Practice makes perfect. Or at least better.

4. Yes, that is another damned book. Try to remember it is not your child's fault. You want your child to have schoolbooks. The school does not want them to fall apart. Be zenlike in your acceptance of the ongoing Contac task.

5. Once covered, books with textured surfaces look better than glossy ones.

6. Don't bother to smooth out the little bubbles, etc. No one cares.

7. You will eventually be finished with this job. Until next year.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

More pharmacy hell...but with a happy ending

So I went to Walgreens and asked the robot pharmacist, "Do you sell sharps disposal containers?"
"Do you sell the red containers for putting used needles in?"
The human pharmacist leans out from farther down the counter, catches my eye, and shakes her head no. "Thank you," I say to the human pharmacist, while the robot pharmacist says, "Take them to the hospital."
"She wants a container," the human pharmacist explains as I walk away.

Next I tried the mom and pop pharmacy. "Do you sell sharps disposal containers?"
"Just a second."
"I'm sorry, we're just out of them. Do you have to have it today?"
"No, but as long as you're going to reorder, I want three."
"Okay. We'll have them tomorrow. Let me get your name and number..."
When we were all done she said, "Don't run all over looking for something. Just call us. We can always get it for you."

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

And you may ask did I get here?

Well, for one guy it was a search on French Yahoo for "voiture ballai"

And someone in the UK was looking for stuff about sheep on Technorati.

Why do I feel they were both disappointed?


Q: What's the difference between a Rolling Stone and a Scottish sheep farmer?

A: The Rolling Stone says, "Hey you, get off of my cloud!" The farmer says, "Hey, MacLeod, get off of my ewe!"

Monday, September 05, 2005

Here's what's running through my head

I've always loved this song, but right now it is so eerily apt. Especially President Coolidge and his emotionally detached comment.

Louisiana 1927
Randy Newman

What has happened down here is the wind have changed
Clouds roll in from the north and it started to rain
Rained real hard and rained for a real long time
Six feet of water in the streets of Evangeline

The river rose all day
The river rose all night
Some people got lost in the flood
Some people got away alright
The river have busted through clear down to Plaquemines
Six feet of water in the streets of Evangeline

Louisiana, Louisiana
They're tyrin' to wash us away
They're tryin' to wash us away
Louisiana, Louisiana
They're tryin' to wash us away
They're tryin' to wash us away

President Coolidge came down in a railroad train
With a little fat man with a note-pad in his hand
The President say, "Little fat man isn't it a shame what the river has
To this poor cracker's land."


Monday, August 29, 2005

Notes from the North Country

How often do you head out grocery shopping and when you ask if there's anything you can get people while you're out, end up with this list:

--two-cycle motor oil
--boxer shorts
--2-inch trailer hitch shaft
--ice cream scoop?

I would venture to say, only while on vacation at a remote lakeside cabin.

I was also informed of the problem of wax drippage from the picturesque chandeliers on the screen porch, and when I suggested small hurricane glasses, was told they do not exist. Subsequently located lantern glasses of the exact right size in the general store; unfortunately there were only four in stock. Obviously the Internet can solve this problem if the store buyer won't. I feel that I did not receive enough credit for this discovery. While I'm complaining, I'll just say that I expected a little more praise for actually locating a trailer hitch shaft of any size in an unfamiliar area. But hey.

We canoed downstream with my father-in-law and picknicked (sp?) on a big rock overlooking a waterfall. That was awesome, and I am extremely proud of my new paddling skills. That was on my birthday (thanks for the greeting, ergo) which no one remembered until we got back to the camp and my mother-in-law said sheepishly, "your parents called to wish you a happy birthday." But that's okay. And actually the kids remembered, when I got out the cupcakes at the picnic, but I shushed them because at that point it had become an experiment. Again, only on vacation.

On Saturday night my in-laws had a party and everyone had too much to drink and told a lot of jokes on the theme of male anatomy.* Only on...well, you know.

*Two guys are walking across a bridge and feel the need to relieve themselves. They walk over to the side and er, arrange themselves over the railing. One says "This water is awfully cold," and the other replies, "Yes, but it's not very deep."

Friday, August 19, 2005

Going On Hiatus

I will be in the Adirondacks until August 29, without cell coverage, Internet, dishwasher or washing machine.

Whenever I think of the word "hiatus" I think of the horrible Dr. Hicks from the early seasons of ER, who suggested that Peter Benton go on hiatus because of his many personal problems.

How many "characters" are there?

I've read two of the books on the long list for the Booker Prize, which is two more than I have usually read. I liked one (Saturday) and disliked the other (Never Let Me Go). I thought I'd go for a third, and as I perused the list I spotted In The Fold by Rachel Cusk. I've read and enjoyed other books of hers so I went to Amazon to check it out, and the editorial review contained this phrase:

"While there is little 'plot' to speak of..."

Job Opportunity

So, I get all this "Be a secret shopper" spam. (Note: a secret shopper is not one who cuts the tags off her purchases and hangs them in the closet in hopes that her husband will not notice. A secret shopper buys things with someone else's money and then fills out surveys about how nasty the sales associate was.) My question is, would I have to wear that shirt? Because the purpose of those flower appliques is, presumably, to technically cover the nipples. I cannot help feeling two things, though: 1) Those appliques look like some kind of horrible skin condition and 2) They really call attention to what they are meant to conceal.

Also, notice that this young woman cannot even point without her male companion's assistance.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

This Is Awesome

100 Things About Other People

I think this is my favororite:
44. I cut my head open with a sharp knife while trying to kill a housefly with that same knife.

Although I also like number 85: I once made 100 phone calls in a day to a guy's house when I was in junior high school. Just to hear him answer the phone. The police came. The family didn't press charges.

Link thanks to Terry Teachout.

Monday, August 15, 2005

We're Back

From American Girl Place. And yes, it is possible to spend six hours there. We quickly ran through the play money that came with our "Day at AGP" package, and caught up in the fever of acquisition, I started saying "Well, Uncle T. usually sends $25 for your birthday" and "Okay, I know you didn't expect the hairdo to cost $20, so I'll cover that" and "I'm getting you these matching baseball caps as a souvenir, so that doesn't really count as part of what you're buying."

I must say, though, that S. proved to be a good little shopper, and as much as some of you reading this may guffaw, it was a learning experience and an exercise in choice and restraint. We got this bed, since the only bed for American Girl Today dolls (the kind S. has) costs one hundred and sixty dollars and weighs forty-five pounds. ("we usually recommend that people have it shipped" the sales associate said. Yeah.) The only purchase I would have quibbled with was the red white and blue gymnastics outfit, but you know, not my doll, not my birthday outing. Well, also the hair care kit, but I recognize that most little girls enjoy styling hair.

The show was awesome--S. and I were singing the songs (quietly) on the train coming home, and the production values were modest but ingenious. At the end they have the audience stand up and sing the American Girl Anthem ("I can be brave, I can be true/I will do the best that I can do") with the cast but unfortunately I was sobbing too hard to sing most of it. Luckily the mother next to me was similarly incapacitated.

Afternoon tea in the cafe, also awesome. We had nine things to eat, about three bites of each, which is my favorite kind of meal. The decor is perfect, black and white stripes and polka dots with hot pink accents. They had a harpist playing Beatles songs, and a little box full of questions to ask each other when conversation lags. And, of course, a special seat and dishes for your doll. Absolutely everything--the seat, the dishes, the aprons, the green glass flowerpots the chocolate mousse comes in--is for sale right outside. (We resisted).

Brilliant marketing, I recognize that. But also, truly a wonderful ready-made day's outing for a girl and her mother.

Friday, August 12, 2005

I'm just sayin'

Someone should tell the phishers pretending to be Earthlink that "automatical" is not a word.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Developing Theory

Two kinds of people in the world: people who were sadder when Dumbledore died than when Sirius died, or vice versa.


Music Hath Charms...

I read Doonesbury every day, including the 5, 10, 15, 20 and 25-years-ago strips. A few months ago the 1990 storyline was Andy Lippincott's death. He drifted away listening to Pet Sounds on CD, and they found a note on his nightstand that said "Brian Wilson is God."

So I decided to buy Pet Sounds on CD, high time because Wouldn't It Be Nice, God Only Knows and Sloop John B are probably my top three Beach Boys songs. And I have always thought Brian Wilson was a genius, if not actually a deity. Yet the only Beach Boys recording I owned was a weird vinyl "Beach Boys Live in London."

Well, it's that good. And this morning while I was listening to the gorgeous unmistakably Wilsonian harmonies, the deceptively adolescent lyrics, the brilliant musical effects I can't even name*, I was also reading this, in Ian McEwan's Saturday:

"There are these rare moments when musicians together touch something sweeter than they've ever found before in rehearsals or performance, beyond the merely collaborative or technically proficient, when their expression becomes as easy and graceful as friendship or love. This is when they give us a glimpse of what we might be, of our best selves, and of an impossible world in which you give everything you have to others, but lose nothing of yourself."

Or, as Tess Gallagher would say, "Then something else happens."

*For instance, incredible use of percussion, which I usually don't notice much. Like the single authoritative bass thump that ends the intro of Wouldn't It Be Nice, or the oddly stirring snares of God Only Knows.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Music Recs

What's been playing non-stop on the awesome kitchen stereo my wonderful husband gave me?

Ryan Adams "Cold Roses." Every song on this double album is good. Singable. Excellent for playing one of our household's favorite games "who/what does this sound like," with such varied answers as the Dead, Dire Straits, U2, seventies television theme song...which brings me to my other hearty recommendation,

Josh Rouse "Nashville." Same thing, every song is good. And in the "what does this sound like" department, how many singer-songwriters these days are sounding like The Smiths, which Rouse does in "Winter In the Hamptons"? As I was listening to "Streetlights" I said, "Not-so-big-R., this guy must be our age. Who else would allude to Journey by mentioning "streetlights people" in a song?" And he said, "Oh, I don't know, I think that's a common expression." But apparently these critics agree with me. And ol' Josh was born in 1972 (title of his last album), so I say bingo.


Do you ever discover that you were dreading something only after it's over? This particularly happens to me with doctor visits. I mean, you would think by now I would recognize that I have...issues...with them, but I am capable of mind-blowing denial. We saw the endocrinologist a month ago, but couldn't meet with his on-staff dietician until today because she was on vacation. So for a month I've been saying, "It's actually good that we have a month to come up with questions and figure out what we need to learn from the dietician," and "So this weekend I'm going to type up a list of questions and write down what not-so-little R.'s been eating." But meanwhile, apparently, the freak inside of me has been saying, "The dietician is going to say you are a bad mother," and "One percent milk? What will the dietician say!"

What did the dietician say? All good things. "Wow, you guys have already got a handle on this!" "I have to say, anyone who makes her own granola probably doesn't need nutritional advice." "No, his cholesterol is fine, the RNP is on crack, look at his HDL/LDL ratio." (She didn't actually say the RNP was on crack.)

As we were walking to the car, not-so-big R. said, "So we're still winning," which is totally, sadly, the way we relate to this. And everything. We married each other because we're both like Scoop in The Heidi Chronicles (shout out to ergo), grading everything and keeping track of points.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Now I'm Really Excited

As a birthday treat, S. and I are planning a trip to American Girl Place in New York. I was already looking forward to it, because let's face it, unrestrained consumerism, especially with a wholesome girlpower angle, is fun. But I just discovered that the American Girl Revue, the 70-minute musical show that will form part of our entertainment that day, was written and composed by none other than Gretchen Cryer and Nancy Ford, who wrote the landmark feminist musical "I'm Getting My Act Together and Taking It On the Road." I strongly suspect I am one of maybe ten people under the age of 50 who owns the cast album of this show on vinyl, as well as the sheet music.

*Side note: I also discovered that Jon Cryer of Pretty In Pink and Two and a Half Men is Gretchen Cryer's son! You can imagine how dirty my house is right now with this kind of internet mining going on.

Excellent Band Name

United Colors of Gutter

Just saw it on the front of a truck.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Harry Potter redux

Well, I totally lost control and finished it in one 18-hour orgy.
It was really good.
And I'm really sad.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

So I'm managing to read only a little bit each morning and evening, staying disciplined in the middle hours of the day to keeping life in order and even working on my own book.

Two years ago when book 5 came out and I devoured it in two days, I felt like an addict--hangover from reading until after midnight, damaged relationship with my visiting mother-in-law, regret when it was over so soon and no more books on the horizon.

Just wanted to mention, though, that I am falling deeply in love with Albus Dumbledore. That's all I'll say right now.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Allow me to heartily recommend...


The way it works is, you post something you want to get rid of, and someone else wants it and you arrange for them to pick it up. Or you post something you want, and someone else has it and wanted to get rid of it and you go pick it up. Etc. So far I got rid of an oddly-behaving boombox and a full-size metal bed frame by the first method, and a stack o' potty seats by the second.

But the best? Last weekend my area Freecycle had its first seasonal "Free-For-All": spread your stuff out on the ground and then go scout everyone else's stuff. No cash, no bartering, just take what you want provided you brought something. I scored a bedside carafe (with the little glass that covers the top) a food scale (much needed in this new regime of carb-counting) and--drumroll--

matching shabby chic light fixtures, painted metal floral chandeliers, one big and one small, to replace the one big and one small hideous teak-brass-and-giant-light-bulb seventies fixtures in my bedroom. Hooray!

McSweeney's Link

Anecdotal Leads For News Stories Reporting the End of the World

Another Catchphrase

I think it was two years ago the WSJ had a little human interest article on the voiture de ballai, the van that picks up cyclists who poop out during the Tour de France. In what I feel is characteristically European lack of tact, the van actually has a broom lashed to the top. The article quoted the long-time driver, who sagely said,

"There are many tears in the ballai."

R. and I like to say this quite frequently in a heavy French accent. I think a hand-rolled cigarette clutched in the corner of one's mouth would add to the effect.

Anyway, it has definitely acquired the status of a family aphorism.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Red Tape Musings

That wasn't the title I originally had in mind but I can't remember the one I came up with in the car.

I don't deal well with bureaucracies, and medical ones are my least favorite kind.

Also, although I feel confident that my friends and family would tell you I really am a nice person at heart, they would also feel constrained to agree that I am really terrible at controlling my tone of voice and facial expressions. So the anxiety and, let's face it, hostility that I bring to, say, a conversation with an insurance company (or today, a pharmacist) help make the bureaucratic hell a foregone conclusion. Which came first, the red-tape chicken or the MomVee bad-attitude egg?

And there is so, so much more of this to come.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Joke of the Summer

So, a couple of weeks ago we were cooking dinner at the beach. The club has installed new gas grills for everyone to use but Big R. stubbornly sticks to our little Weber full of hardwood charcoal. There weren't a lot of people down because it was pretty windy. All our smoke headed for the porch despite our best efforts and it did seem to concentrate on the one group of people eating pizza at a picnic table. We tried to correct it to no avail.

Anyway, then this guy walks over to the pizza-eaters and yells heartily, "So, you guys getting SMOKED OUT here? Looks like you're getting SMOKED OUT!" They shrugged, shook their heads and tried to continue eating their pizza, but this dude continued to shout his favorite phrase about 12 times, until he finally convinced them to move to the upper deck. Then when they got up there he loudly said things like, "This is much better, you're not getting SMOKED OUT! Boy, you can really get SMOKED OUT down there."

Now, normally in a situation like this R. would be sanguine and I would be writhing with humiliation. But I broke through some kind of wall and roles were reversed. So while R. finished cooking the steak, I stood next to him whispering things like, "Gosh, I hope we didn't smoke those people out." And while we ate I said things like "You know what, honey? Tonight after the kids go to bed? We should smoke some people out." When I could say it, because I was laughing until the tears ran.

And now I can't stop. I told a lot of our friends, so now whenever R. sees someone he hasn't seen in a while, they say, "Hey, smoked anyone out lately?"


Sunday, July 10, 2005

Dorothy Parker, You Said It


If I had a shiny gun,
I could have a world of fun
Speeding bullets through the brains
Of the folk who give me pains;

Or had I some poison gas,
I could make the moments pass
Bumping off a number of
People whom I do not love.

But I have no lethal weapon-
Thus does Fate our pleasure step on!
So they still are quick and well
Who should be, by rights, in hell.

--Dorothy Parker

Yeah, have I mentioned how much I hate doctors?
I'm in the anger stage now. Clearly.

Friday, July 08, 2005

It's not too late!

33 Things to do before you're 10...or whenever.

Not-so-little R. will be 10 in September, so...

1. Roll on your side down a grassy bank--check.
2. Make a mud pie--well, he's definitely played in the mud
3. Make your own modelling dough mixture--yes
4. Collect frogspawn--no. Today's kids don't do nearly enough roaming around town, and we live in a swampy, creeky town so there's really no excuse. I never did it either, though.
5. Make perfume from flower petals--no.
6. Grow cress on a windowsill--no, but we've grown other things.
7. Make a papier-mache mask--no.
8. Build a sandcastle--many.
9. Climb a tree--many.
10. Make a den in the garden--no.
11. Make a painting using your hand and feet--yes.
12. Organise your own teddy bears' picnic--no. I'm sorry, but some of these are just more girl things than boy things.
13. Have your face painted--yes.
14. Bury a friend in the sand--yes, buryer and buryee.
15. Make some bread--yes.
16. Make snow angels--yes.
17. Create a clay sculpture--yes.
18. Take part in a scavenger hunt--no.
19. Camp out in the garden--well, at the beach club.
20. Bake a cake--yes.
21. Feed a farm animal--yes.
22. Pick some strawberries--apples.
23. Play Pooh sticks--yes.
24. Recognise five different bird species--and how.
25. Find some worms--yes, although only S. will touch them.
26. Ride a bike through a muddy puddle--you betcha.
27. Make and fly a kite--make no, fly, yes.
28. Plant a tree--no.
29. Build a nest out of grass and twigs--probably.
30. Find 10 different leaves in the park--maybe not quite 10.
31. Grow vegetables--yes.
32. Make breakfast in bed for your parents--still waiting, dude.
33. Make a mini assault course in your garden--I don't even know what this really means, but it sounds like a boy thing. I'm sure he'll get right on it.

Link courtesy of Dawn

Thursday, July 07, 2005

A Bit of Fun

Apparently my brain tends slightly toward the male profile.

Just don't tell my husband that while he's taking a sip of anything.

Say A Prayer for London

For some reason this picture really spoke to me. Unfortunately I can't find the bigger frame version, in which I swear he was carrying an umbrella. Anyway, he makes me think of Mr. Banks from Mary Poppins, and he looks like Mr. Banks--stoic but a tad overwhelmed, as if the world is too much with him.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005


While we were on our non-vacation helping-in-laws-move trip down south last weekend, not-so-little R. was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes (the insulin-dependent or "juvenile" kind).

I may or may not write more about it later--if I forget, remind me to tell you why I am so angry at one Dr. J. of our pediatrics practice--but right now I'm just done. We managed to get home last night and spent most of the day with doctors, but avoided hospitalization.

A whole new life of finger-sticks and injections lies before us.

More later.