Thursday, November 30, 2006

Last Dance, Last Chance For Love

So no, I didn't make it. Luckily, I wasn't in it for the prizes--and I am so not a realist that while I still had perfect attendance I was worried about what I would do if I won the scary turkey painting.

I did pretty well, though. I only missed those four hellish days of our "vacation." And if I had shelled out $10/day for the in-room Internet at the Marriott Courtyard I wouldn't have missed those. But somehow on top of the bazillion dollars our two rooms cost, $40 was too much. At least in my addled "vacation" state.

And since I'm a glutton for punishment, I'm trying again.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Three More Totally Unrelated Things

I watched "House" for the first time in a long time last night and it was awful. Just awful.

I have the GI bug my kids had on "vacation." I thought I had had a very light case already, but I was wrong. I have it now. It is also just awful.

I'm rereading Gone With The Wind for the umpteenth time. It's wonderful. Next I'm going to watch the movie for the umpteenth time. I deserve it, because I'm sick.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Three Totally Unrelated Things

Giant Presidents' Heads
On our "vacation," we did go on one entertaining outing between all the fevers and vomiting and so forth. Now, we are unusual in that we have already been to Colonial Williamsburg too many times to count (especially NSBR), Jamestown a few times, Yorktown once, and Busch Gardens once. So we are, admittedly, scraping the bottom of the barrel. But Presidents Park has a certain schlocky charm.

Here is a picture of S. hugging JFK's tie because he was the first and only Catholic president (her idea):

Piano, Piano, Piano (Get it, Ergo?)
We are getting a piano! It is a Steinway console with a music rack just like this:

But in ebony satin, like this:

My parents are giving it to us. A friend of theirs inherited a grand and is selling this one at a good price. It is far too generous a gift, but I could not say no. I want a real piano so much (right now we have a Clavinova, which they also gave us. It's magnificent, but it's not a piano). And, frankly, my mother wants us to have a real piano so much. Her piano, the piano I grew up playing, is a Steinway console, so being my freakishly loyal self I consider it the best type of piano, preferable to a Steinway grand. And we'll have it for Christmas caroling! And the childrens' teachers will be so happy! Bliss.

Studio 60
No one is that bad at telling jokes. And I just wish they had made it that Tom couldn't tell a joke, or the rookie, or Sim...I wish they had not gone straight for a woman. It makes me hate Aaron Sorkin. It makes me want to boycott the show. But I want to know who the father of Jordan's baby is.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Back, and Worse Than Ever

I was, in fact, unable to post while on Thanksgiving "vacation." That word is in quotes because an experience so hellish cannot be described as a vacation without irony. I don't feel able to share most of the incidents that went into making it unenjoyable, but I will say that I am looking for a new pediatrician. Take the worst epithet you can think of, add an intensifying obscenity in front of it, and you begin to get a mild sense of how I feel about our current one. S. was diagnosed with strep throat less than a week before Thanksgiving, so when R. and M. developed sore throats the day after, I figured we knew what we were dealing with. I called the ped's office on Saturday morning only to be told "You'll have to take them to see someone down there." This despite past assurances that, even when home, once I had one strep case if someon else developed symptoms I could just call for a prescription.

Ironically, the extremely kind doctor at the urgent care center said he wouldn't bother to culture R. and M. "Even if it came back negative, I'd be inclined to give you a prescription, with strep already in the house." I smiled weakly at him.

So now we're home, and in addition to unpacking and finding a new ped, I just need to register the new car, junk the old one (after I obtain the title, which I never bothered to pick up after the loan was paid up), detail the new car, and entertain my mother-in-law, who arrives later today.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A Sad Realization

I am going over many rivers and through lots of woods today. When I reach the Marriott that substitutes for Grandmother's house, it may or may not have one computer with internet access in the lobby. Ain't got no laptop, aint got no wifi. So this may be the end of the line for me. I hadn't even come close to giving up yet.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

I am proud to report

That when you search Google for sausage kimchi bap, my blog is the first hit.

The Fire Next Time

Just started listening to Bruce Springsteen's Seeger Sessions album, and it is awesome. I know, I'm a little behind (an expression I can never use without thinking of a corny belated-birthday greeting card with a picture of a baby's butt). What I lack in punctuality I make up in enthusiasm. My favorite cut is "Mary Don't You Weep," not only because of its rousing vocals and outstanding fiddle work by Soozie Tyrell, but also because of its peculiar appropriateness to this season of the liturgical year, when the readings are full of eschatology in anticipation of Advent and the eventual Second Coming. I confess my ignorance freely: although I always loved James Baldwin's title The Fire Next Time, I never knew its source--

God gave Noah the rainbow sign,
No more water, but fire next time.
Pharaoh's army got drownded,
O Mary don't you weep.

And I consider myself something of an aficionado of spirituals. I'm also reminded of the vogue Take Six was enjoying when I was in college (at least in a capella circles), and their very different but similarly excellent version of the song.

O Mary don't you weep
Tell Martha not to moan (Martha, don't you moan)

Monday, November 20, 2006

Notes From All Over

My Idea of Hell
David Blaine has a new stunt planned. I really don't know what to say other than I'm so glad I'm not David Blaine.

Mmmm, dim sum
Can't be beat as a Sunday treat. The five of us plus BIL and SIL got out of there for $60 plus tip. My only complaint is that some of the cart-pushers walk up and say inquiringly, "Octopus?" while others say something in Chinese. And we are willing to learn the Chinese names, but no one will provide both names for a thing in a single session. My assignment for next time is to learn the Chinese name of "Shark fin dumpling" because we couldn't secure any this time. But we thought we had learned the name of the bun with the creamy yellow filling--Dan Tot--only to be presented with a tartlet crust holding what seemed to be basically a raw egg. When we finally secured the item we had been thinking of, we asked what it was called. "Mexican bun," we were told.

Oh, and we all tried chicken feet. Simultaneously, for bravery. And now we never have to have them again. I'm kind of disappointed. I had hoped that we would discover that we adored chicken feet, and then we could get all kinds of street cred with the cartfolk. But it was not to be. Chicken feet are a lot of fat, and a lot of barbecue sauce, and a lot of small, uncomfortable, hard-to-manage pieces of bone and connective tissue.

Literary Lions
I happened to catch wind of the fact that last night's Simpsons would feature Michael Chabon and Jonathan Franzen (to my delight, Tom Wolfe and Gore Vidal also appeared), so I made a point of watching it and let the kids watch with us. I haven't watched the Simpsons for many, many years. It is still funny. Something for everyone--slapstick, satire and allusion.
I laughed hardest at the banner above the entrance to the "Wordloaf" conference: "Warning, Philip Roth may be moody." Do we think perhaps Mr. Roth declined a spot on the show? Although I also enjoyed Bart's enthusiastic summing-up of a day of Vermont sight-seeing (esp. given that I've spent some time in Middlebury): "Lisa, we learned so much! Did you know that candles are made by losers?"
This morning NSLR asked, "Can we stay up to watch the Simpsons every Sunday night?" "Well," I said, "You can if it's particularly educational." "What was educational about last night?" "All the literary figures."
S: What are literary figures?
MV: Writers.
NSLR: Right, like Tom Wolfe. And those other guys.
MV: Michael Chabon and Jonathan Franzen.
M: And Rice.
I had no clue what she was talking about, and then R. reminded me that **SPOILER Chabon said to Franzen, "You fight like Anne Rice!" END SPOILER** It was peculiarly like the seemingly random but actually relevant things that Sunny Baudelaire says.

What Have We Learned?
TomKat's wedding proves once and for all that Armani does make a "novvy blue tuxado."

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Treasure Trove

If you, like me, have a fondness for 60s-style illustration art with or without irony, look here.

I very much want this:

I have the Bastien-LePage Joan, an art nouveau Sarah Bernhart theater poster Joan, and the "Buy War Bonds" Joan from the national archives. But now I know that I need a gamine Joan.

I have had this obsession--since I became Catholic I learned to call it a "special devotion"--to Joan of Arc ever since I was about 6. My mother went antiquing with a friend and the friend came home with a very romanticized Joan of Arc lithograph. She told me who it was and I was hooked: a young woman who wore armor and saved France! How cool can you get?

Saturday, November 18, 2006

In Fairness to the Menfolk

Two people have arrived here searching for "Though we adore men individually," and of course you remember what comes next. (Link for those who don't).

So I thought I would share these wise words from my writing idol, Rebecca West:

"Another vice incident to woman at present is spiritual pride. She has found the first steps of man's journey upwards quite easy. He had pretended they were difficult, so he gets what he deserves if woman assumes that all the other steps are just as easy, and that the government of empires is as easy as getting a university degree."

And she knew Mrs. Pankhurst.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Our New Car!

If there is a bell or a whistle, this baby has it. Well, it's a 2005, so no Bluetooth (!)--but GPS, DVD, power everything, camera in the back for parking and backing up...and before you think maybe we spoiled ourselves a tad too much I'll just say these two things:

  • My mother described our old car (you know, the one in which I got a literal kick in the ass a week and a half ago) as "squalid."
  • NSBR's Dad has a BMW and his brother and his wife have a Mercedes and a Lexus. If R. wants the fanciest used minivan ever, ever, I say let him have it.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Warning: Child Anecdote

M. thinks that she is the first person in history to experience much of what she does, so she frequently explains it to me. "We had a fire drill today." "Ah." "That's when you practice what you would do if there was a real fire." "Yes."

So last night she brought me one of the last candies in her trick-or-treat bag, a packet of plain M&Ms. "Could you open this for me?" As I opened it, she said, "These are soooo good." I tried the same technique I use with adults who are telling me what I already know, to the same no avail. "Yes, aren't they?" "They have chocolate inside," she explained, "and crunchy colored shells on the outside." "I like the peanut ones even better," I flailed. "And they have little Ws on them," she added.

"Actually, they're Ms, M."
"They are?"
"Yes." As gently as I knew how, "That's why they're called M and Ms."

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Kids Book Meme

Mark what you've read in bold, italicize what you own.

Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak we also own this in French, oddly enough
Love You Forever by Robert N. Munsch
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
The Mitten by Jan Brett
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
Where the Sidewalk Ends: the Poems and Drawing of Shel Silverstein by Shel Silverstein
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Stellaluna by Janell Cannon
Oh, The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss
Strega Nona by Tomie De Paola
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see? by Bill Martin, Jr.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss and this in Latin
The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by John Archambault
Little House on the Prarie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne
The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner
Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan
Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli
The BFG by Roald Dahl
The Giver by Lois Lowry
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardine
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry (Erica says she has my copy maybe but I’m not sure)
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh by Robert C. O’Brien
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister
Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
Corduroy by Don Freeman
Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg
Math Curse by Jon Scieszka
Matilda by Roald Dahl
Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume
Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary (Noah goes on kicks where he rereads all of these)
The Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White
Are You My Mother? by Philip D. Eastman
The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
The Napping House by Audrey Wood
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Seuss
Basil of Baker Street, by Eve Titus
The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper
The Cay by Theodore Taylor
Curious George by Hans Augusto Rey
Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox
Arthur series by Marc Tolon Brown
The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes
Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton
The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown
Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar
Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish
Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard Atwater
My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett
Stuart Little by E. B. White
Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
The Art Lesson by Tomie De Paola
Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina
Clifford, the Big Red Dog by Norman Bridwell
Heidi by Johanna Spyri
Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss
The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare
The Watsons Go to Birmingham1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis
Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney
The Paper Bag Princess by Robert N. Munsch

Halfway There

We've made it to Day 15 of Nablopomo, and since November is one of those handy months that hath 30 days, that means we're halfway done. Have I posted every day? Yes, and I'd estimate at a conservative average of 150 words a day. Have I written the approximately 3,000 words required to finish my novel? No, why would I do a thing like that?

Speaking of outraged rhetorical questions, I am an even worse shopping blogger than I previously thought. Not only is that camera at Walgreens pretty sucky, it also doesn't exist. A couple of days after I ordered it I got an e-mail from Walgreens saying, "We don't have that camera--what, are you crazy? Why did you even think up such a thing?" I checked their website and the camera is still in fact there with its enthusiastic labels: "IN STOCK!" "Free Shipping!" "Easy Saver Rebate!"

The flu shot went fine. I filled out a long form with many questions and indicated at least twice that I had never had a flu shot before. When I got to the nurse she glanced at my form and looked at me, saying, "So you have had the flu shot before."
"Um, no," I said, politely not pointing at THE FORM, "I haven't ever had a flu shot before."
As it turns out, this was an attempt at the Jedi mind trick, because then she sighed heavily and said accusingly, "Now I have to ask you a bunch of questions!" These included was I allergic to eggs or chicken. Is anyone allergic to chicken? She also suggested that I "Stick around for 5 minutes in case you have a really bad reaction." So that was nice. I read my Elle (I subscribed to many flitty mags with airline miles recently. Will this keep me from buying them at the supermarket checkout? We will see. Sadly, no airline offers O, and that is a siren call hard to resist, since it has actual articles that keep me engaged for more than 20 minutes).

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

I Heart Jack Rudolph

But Harriet Hayes is leaving me cold. It's not her "homophobia" either; I feel like she's playing Matthew. Yes, I know he broke up with her.

I'm getting a flu shot for the first time ever today. I avoided it for a long time because my grandmother had a friend who had a bad reaction to a flu shot in 1976 and went into a coma from which she never emerged. But since I make all three of my children (two of whom are classified as high risk and the other has what my MIL calls a "weak chest") do it, I figured I should put my upper arm where my mouth is. Also if I actually avoided having the flu that would be great.

Went to the gym for the first time in a long time. For some reason I feel much cleaner after I shower at the gym than I do at home. Hmmm.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Today's Theme Is Narcissism

I am currently reveling in about $50 worth of drugstore beauty products. I bought them all on the advice of a single article in Jane magazine. (Despite the fact that Jane so agressively informs me it is for women in their 20s. At first it was a guilty salon pleasure and now I've actually subscribed.) It was either the October or November issue, and since I can't find it I can't give the author credit, but almost every one of these products is a home run. The best of the bunch:

  • Pantene Restoratives Time Renewal has done amazing things to my hair in two shampoos.
  • Revlon Skinlights Instant Skin Brightener. You squeeze this stuff onto your fingertips and think, oh no no no no no. Then you spread it on your face and you look 25 again. It's that simple. Why 25-year-olds want to look 15 I don't know, but there it is.
  • Neutrogena Sunblock Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch SPF 55 Lotion. Key words here being "Dry-touch." You know how all the beauty editors and dermatologists say you should wear sunscreen every day, even in the winter, and on your hands and everything and you say "Screw you" because even Coppertone sport is not something you want on your face 365 days a year? Behold this stuff, which has a light, normal un-coconutlike scent and you'd never know it was there after you rub it in.
Also, I have a new blog: The Reunions Project. It's my 15th college reunion in June, and I intend to be hot. So hot that all the guys who wouldn't look at me 15-19 years ago will be kicking themselves. Hot enough for at least one person to admit it out loud. Hot enough to make up for the fact that I was pregnant at my 5th and had a 2.5-month-old baby along at the 10th.

Anyway, The Reunions Project is the reincarnation of my triathlon blog. I did manage to run a 5K in October, I don't know if I ever mentioned that. And I may revisit the triathlon thing in the future. But right now it's all about the shallow.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Let's See, Let's See...

I forgot to write about the putative 7-day itch, as the 7th day of NaBloPoMo was the rather stimulating election day. But as it turns out, in the world of consistent blogging the 12th day is the sticking point, as Fussy found out one day too early.

You don't care what I had for lunch, but would you like to know how I rearranged the furniture in NSBR's study? I bought an $85 bookcase at the Storehouse going-out-of-business sale and put it in NSLR's bedroom. I moved his tall and horrendous black particle board bookcase (which once divided his uncle's college-era studio apartment) out in the hall and started hefting it up the attic stairs. And then I thought, what if I could get this into R.'s study? With a lot of paint rubbing and a little windowsill gouging it was done, futon and desk moved to different locations and a wall magically opened up for the bookcase. And then...and THEN I got to move all the books about sports, and fly-fishing, and celestial navigation, and how to succeed in business by organizing your desk, increasing your memory power and never sending a resume, into that room and close the door! I even brought R.'s marble chess set, for which we have not had horizontal space since 1997, down from the attic and set it up on the shelf.

And he loved it, so that was good. In fact, it may have been the marital equivalent of a little Election Day in this, our 13th year.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Just Call Me LameGirl

Anybody want a crappy digital camera roughly akin to mine?

There's one at right now. $59.99 with $20 rebate, and free shipping.

The Big Apple Circus was amazing. But it was still a circus, and I say the hell with it. I like narrative, I think is one problem. I don't particularly enjoy seeing animals with four legs standing around on two. And clowns scare me. The children loved it, and seeing their laughter and amazement was totally worth it.

But the goody bags. Best. Goody. Bags. Ever.

Nylon back-saver style sports bags (this brings our count of giveaway drawstring sports bags in the house to 7). Polar Express DVD (want one?). M.'s favorite bubble gum toothpaste. Things that color your bathwater--if you like that sort of thing. Cookies, chocolates, peppermints, Pez. Shower gel, conditioner. Ergonomic mouse pad. That's what I can remember without looking inside again.

I love free stuff. I'm cheap, hence the crapola camera. Which I think I'm getting S. for Christmas, because it's a perfect first camera for a child.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Attempted Reader Participation

M. came to me just now while getting dressed for school. "Can you zip me up," she requested, indicating her periwinkle track jacket, "So I look a little more immotized?"

If you can plausibly tell me what word she actually meant, I will send you my extra copy of the 1965 Fowler's English Usage with dustjacket.

Sartorial Advice
Tonight the whole family is going to the opening night gala of the Big Apple Circus courtesy of NSBR's CEO. Research indicates that dress is business casual. M. is wearing this sweater with hot pink wide-wale courduroys, because you can make 4-year-olds wear stuff like that, even ones as stubborn as M. S. is wearing a navy blue argyle sweater from the Gap that is sold out so no picture, with matching knee socks, mid-calf chocolate brown boots, a knee-length denim skirt, and lacy hot pink tank underneath. R. is wearing this sweater with khakis, natch. I am wearing these pants in black with my periwinkle cable-knit cashmere sweater and black leather jacket.

So here's the question: plain-vamp buttery soft black loafers, or my black microfiber Audrey ballet flats from the apparently and sadly defunct Shoes With Souls?

As Thanksgiving Approaches
Is there any other holiday at which we are quite so surrounded with fanciful representations of the animal we are about to devour?

The Funny Part
I forgot to tell the funny part of the car accident story. My "valet" key chain ripped in half on Monday, so I was going around with just my ignition key. Our car has a safety feature that shuts off the fuel pump after a hard impact, and you have to turn it back on by accessing a really hard-to-find button behind a little compartment door in the back of the car. When the police arrived, they asked if my car was driveable and I could pull it into the side street. "Yes," I said, "but I just need to find the fuel shutoff switch and I might need your help."
"No problem, ma'am, just open up the back and I'll find it for you."
"Well, I don't have the tailgate key."
"You don't have the tailgate key."
"No. So I need to kind of climb in there from the back seat, but I wondered if you knew where the button is, because I don't remember."
"It's on the left."
It was on the right.
So picture me on all fours in the back of my station wagon, rooting around through a hole in the insulation above the wheel well, on the phone with NSBR as he tries to describe to me where the thing is, and the cop is poking his head anxiously in the passenger door, asking, "Have you found it, ma'am?"

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Picture

I blogged about this picture in February, and finally managed to get it scanned.

By the way, I just noticed that Blogger has been dating my posts according to when I started the draft, not when I posted. So far it's not a problem for NaBloPoMo, there's at least one post every day; but, for example, the election day story is dated on election day, instead of the next day. I'll leave it because I don't want to be accused to tampering, but I'll be more aware from now on.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Good News and Bad News

Did you know that Coinstar now lets you redeem your coins for Amazon gift certificates with no surcharge? When I found out, R. had to restrain me from getting in my car with the coin jar and driving to the A&P at 11 pm. I was forced to wait until the next day. Now I have $34.66 to spend at Amazon. It reminds me of when I was living in New York and MP gave some money to a guy in Washington Square Park: "Now, I don't want you to spend any of this on food," M. said sternly.

I was in a car accident yesterday, which I did not particularly enjoy, despite the fact that we intend to buy a new car. It was just one more message from God that it's time to get rid of this one: the mysterious oil-eating habit, the hubcap lost in the high peaks of the Adirondacks, the oddly hanging bumper. Basically, it rained super hard all day on everyone's leaf piles, and then a crossing guard walked out into the street with her little STOP sign and I stopped. But it took me a really long time to stop. And then it took the van behind me even longer. Neither of us entered the crosswalk, so that was good. Then a guy in a pickup going the other way stopped to give the crossing guard some choice words, which I appreciated. "I wasn't stopping them," she protested, "I was trying to stop this lane." I explained to her (with cordiality surprising to myself, but I was not actually present in my body at the time) that when someone walks out into traffic, I generally stop regardless of what lane either of us is in.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Warning: Child Anecdote

We pull up outside the middle school.
M: Why are we here?
MV: I am here to vote.
M: What is vote?
MV: It's when we let the country know who we want our leaders to be.
M: Oh. Can I be one?
MV: You have to be grown up.
M: Can an old lady do it?
MV: Yes.
M: An old lady in a wheelchair?
MV: Yes, why?
M: I don't know. Can an old man?
MV: That's mostly who does.

I have voted and we're walking out. M., holding my hand, stops walking and looks up at me.
M: When will you find out if you're the leader?

Don't Forget To Vote!

We're clearly soldiers in petticoats
Dauntless crusaders for women's votes
Though we adore men individually
We agree that as a group they're rather stupid

Cast off the shackles of yesterday
Shoulder to shoulder into the fray
Our daughters' daughters will adore us
And they'll sing in grateful chorus
Well done, sister suffragette

From Kensington to Billingsgate one hears the restless cries
In every corner of the land, womankind arise!
Political equality and equal rights with men
Take heart for Mrs. Pankhurst has been clapped in irons again

No more the meek and mild subservients, we
We're fighting for our rights militantly
Never you fear!

So cast off the shackles of yesterday...
...Well done, well done, well done, sister suffragette

--Richard and Robert Sherman, "Sister Suffragette," Mary Poppins

Monday, November 06, 2006

Two Thumbs Way Up... the steamer method for hard-boiled eggs as vetted by Not Martha. They were perfectly cooked, marvelously easy to peel, and I love any method that leaves the hot water on the stove to cool off rather than awkwardly dumped in the sink and onto my unaproned front.

Also, I've made these before, but never really realized how good they were until Saturday night, when I served them warm and paired them with a lentil soup in which three beef marrow bones had been simmering all day. In this recipe, yeast rolls and biscuits meet, make beautiful love, and give birth to muffin-shaped offspring. Yum, and thanks to the actual Martha, or one of her 500 minions. (That would make a good Hopkins parody: "I caught this morning Martha's minion, kingdom of domesticity's doxy...").

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Lending A Hand

I have to--well, I offered to*--lead S.'s Brownie troop in song tomorrow in order to help them earn their "Making Music" try-it (a try-it is a badge, for the scouting virgins among you).

Have I picked up the guitar to practice? Yes, once. Do I play the guitar? No, not really. Did I tell the leader I play the guitar? Yes, because most people don't know the difference between me and someone who can play the guitar.

Just say a little prayer for me that I can sing all the chosen songs comfortably in the key of D.

*I call this Preemptive Volunteering. If, at the beginning of the year, I say, "Oh, hey, I play the guitar and I'd love to take charge of any music badges you have to do," then I stand a better chance of avoiding stuff like 100 cartons of cookies in my living room.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Notes From All Over--Now Rich With Allusion

  • What "tempts" a person who's never tried crystal meth to buy crystal meth? And then gives him the strength to throw it away?* And many, many more questions.
  • Remember the odd sock basket? I took away the basket and vowed that the sock pile would dry up: I would have the discipline to throw away the odd socks after a certain period of time, and I would be better about looking under beds and dressers on a more regular basis. So now I have the odd sock mess under my nighttable, which seems to be full of singletons that are unthroawayable, because they are half of everyone's absolute favorite pairs--NSBR's Smartwool, M.'s frog socks.
  • Guess what fashion item has gotten me the most compliments this fall? Not the new long swishy denim skirt, the outfit my mother brought me from Paris, my beloved suede jacket, the nifty green tweed blazer from L.L. Bean with Celtic Cross lapel pin M. de M. gave me. Nope, hands down the big winner is my navy blue hemp fake Chuck T.'s from Shoes With Souls (no link because link's not working. Oh no, did they die? Shoes with souls in heaven?) So thank you Ergo!
  • Someone please tell David Margolick that Jenny Cavilleri was not Jewish, but Italian.

*I may be biased because I hate Sudafed so much.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Too True

One of the things I fear if I were ever lucky enough to publish:

"You said, Mother, that criticism would help me. But how can
it, when it's so contradictory that I don't know whether I've written
a promising book or broken all the ten commandments?" cried poor
Jo, turning over a heap of notices, the perusal of which filled her
with pride and joy one minute, wrath and dismay the next. "This
man says, `An exquisite book, full of truth, beauty, and earnestness.
All is sweet, pure, and healthy.'" continued the perplexed
authoress. "The next, `The theory of the book is bad, full of
morbid fancies, spiritualistic ideas, and unnatural characters.'
Now, as I had no theory of any kind, don't believe in Spiritualism,
and copied my characters from life, I don't see how this critic can
be right. Another says, `It's one of the best American novels which
has appeared for years.' (I know better than that), and the next
asserts that `Though it is original, and written with great force
and feeling, it is a dangerous book.' 'Tisn't! Some make fun of it,
some overpraise, and nearly all insist that I had a deep theory to
expound, when I only wrote it for the pleasure and the money. I
wish I'd printed the whole or not at all, for I do hate to be so

--Little Women, via The Literature Network

Oh Yes, I've Been Here Before

Wow, this "every day" thing really comes up and smacks you in the head, doesn't it?

I have posted before about how NSBR and I are just ten seconds ahead of the trends, not enough so that anyone will actually believe us when our new crazes become nationwide. Not that it matters. And our information about what's new, what's in, what's hot is based on the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, not even the Village Voice or anything (well, occasionally the Voice), not even Daily Candy (well, occasionally...).

But I digress. This summer the New York Times ran a story called, basically, "Supermodels Able to Drink More Rose than Cosmos and it's still pink!" No, it was called "Rose the hot drink for summer." Anyway, I showed it to my father, pleased because R. and I had two prized bottles of rose we bought on our Napa trip (we suspected we had risen in the esteem of the pourers when we agreed to taste the rose. We're the kind of people who care if the pourer admires our taste.) And pleased because H. (R's sister) and S. (her husband) had been ordering assorted case lots of rose all summer and sharing most of it with us. "Look, rose wine is hot this summer," I said to my father, and he, with the social anxiety of working-class origins and an unshakable Baby Boomer suspicion of pink wine, said, "I don't think so."

But I continue to digress. I can't link to it because the online Journal is subscriber-only, but the WSJ had a story yesterday, "It's Hip to Hem: Sewing Makes a Comeback." And I am proud to report that I went right through that trend and came out the other side, long ago.

I like knitting, although I have several scarves languishing in various rooms of the house right now, and I have not graduated beyond scarves and hats to anything resembling the shaping skills of a sweater or even the stick-to-it-iveness of a blanket. I like the idea of sewing, and it is handy to have a machine and be able to run things through it--if, for instance, you like making felt Christmas stockings for all the new babies in your family, or even if you are sorry you ever opened that can of adorable felt worms, it's better to sew most parts of them than to glue everything. I like the idea of sewing, but can't bear very much of the reality of it.

I felt vaguely guilty about this until my mother began to plan her retirement. S. said, "Guess what! Nana says after she retires she's going to teach me to sew!" "That's great, honey," I replied, and it took a few days for it to really sink in, but one day I was driving by myself and I suddenly thought, Now I do not have to learn to sew, just in order to teach S. to sew! It had been weighing on me more heavily than I realized. I'm off the hook, I thought with increasing excitement. With any luck, by the time my mother no longer wants to hem the occasional pair of pants for me, S. will be able to do it, my mind continued evilly. S. has many sterling qualities I lack, and I think she may actually take to sewing.

Here's why I can't and won't do it:

1) My machine is old and quirky, and I'm not about to buy another one and then not use it.
2) There's no good fabric at the national chains, and the Mom-and-Pops are going out of business right and left. I hear there's good fabric in the city, but basically you get what you pay for, and meanwhile I could be paying for the labor, too.
3) Do you know how many sleeves you have to set in, and zippers, and long seams you sew and then discover one piece is facing wrong side out, before you get good? Too many. A person could be writing. Or reading. Or cooking. Playing the piano...

Here's why I don't believe it's a trend:

Most women in this town don't even make dinner (reportedly). They're going to make clothes?

I do make curtains. A cat could do that.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

I Am Woman, Hear Me Whimper And Gag

I'm sick. I have a sore throat, the kind of sore throat that comes with fatigue, headache, nausea and despair. For more details, see the headline and you'll get the idea. NSBR is about 18 hours ahead of me on this one, he's moved on to the congestion portion. I know I will be very sorry to have said this, just as I am very sorry I did not show him more sympathy about 18 hours ago, but I cannot wait to leave the sore throat part behind me.

S. just woke up and pointed mournfully to her throat. This should be a fun day. I have a parent-teacher conference at 9 a.m., and I suppose everyone will continue to want to eat regularly.

But I do have some good news. I just saved a bunch of money by switching, just kidding. They do need to retire those ads, since even my children use that line and children should not joke about discount car insurance.

The good news is that NSLR's best friend also did not make the basketball team. I know that doesn't sound like good news, but he's an uber-athletic tyke and I pretty much assumed he did make it/had made it until NSLR got home from cross-country practice on Monday. Even then, he waited until he'd been home for half an hour and sauntered down to the kitchen. "I'm bursting with news," he announced. And then did he lead with that? No: "Mrs. B says I can wear my Ninja hockey mask in class tomorrow!" Then it was "C. didn't make the team either."

Anyway, it's much more comfortable when your buddy is in the same boat. At least for me. As I asserted the other day, and as you can see here, MV is much more thrown by this than NSLR.