Friday, November 9, 2007

PhD as in Putty Head

Did you notice that the previous post contains my first ever link, even though I've been blogging for about a month now?

Turns out blogger has this nifty little thing, a tool bar, that sits right above the blank square where you type in your prose. It's sort of like impossible to miss. For a month.

Finally, Some Fun

If you're a parent to a tween, do you remember how much fun you had when Jerry Falwell outed the Teletubbies? Tinky Winky is purple and carries a purse!!!! Child, turn thy malleable head and get thee a truck (if you have a penis) or a doll (if you don't). That's sorta how I imagine Falwell would make those gender distinctions, anyway. This was such a long time ago, way back when in that other millennium, but damn that was good.

Finally, more fun for Mary!

Forget the Teletubbies, now our wee ones' souls face the great threat of a book, The Golden Compass.

My mother-in-law warned me about this book just last week. When I pulled out copy off the shelf, puzzled ("you mean Satan is in here?" ), she practically needed smelling salts.

Somebody get me a rosary, quick!

When That Job's Over

Someday John will be done cleaning the basement (see previous) and the importance of these items will undoubtedly return.

From Gourmet Sleuth, a list of aphrodisiacs. See what's cookin' in your cupboards tonight.

Aniseed, asparagus, almond, arugula, asafetida (Indian herb), avocado, bananas, basil, broccoli rabe, chocolate, carrots, coffee (of course because of that sleep/children issue), coriander, cilantro, fennel, figs, garlic, ginger, honey, mustard, nutmeg, oysters, pine nuts, pineapple, raspberries, strawberries, truffles (have actual magic power), vanilla and wine.


John is cleaning the basement.

He's emptied every drawer, each shelf. He's going through the piles of children's clothes: "Merrick, try on these rain boots. Scarlett, let's hold up Stryker's jeans and see if you're there yet."

Every old cereal box and Burger King trinket is getting tossed. All the "maybe we'll need someday" pots, dishes, bird-feeders, plant holders, picture frames, mugs, stereo speakers, and vases are receiving individual evaluation. Twelve Goodwill bags. Stuffed animals, stray game parts, Dora board games, Elmo slippers, and Polly Pocket airplanes, gone.

"Don't look," he advises.

He's re-organized the downstairs pantry, tossing out ten year old cans of beans, pickled beets, and mandarin oranges. He created a 'pet feeding center' and 'gift-wrapping station.' Imagine organized containers, ribbons lined up on a hook, rolls of gift-wrap cued by color.

There's a stack of labels tacked to the wall with a pen nearby so he (we) can create more labels as needed.

He cleaned the refridgerator. He brought the shop-vacuum in from the garage and put that to work. He washed walls and windows.

Today, he's putting up shelves and constructing a storage system for children's clothes.

And he asked me if I wanted him to work in his boxers.

Who needs chocolate.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Favorite Things I Can't Afford

While I was at Mississippi Market, instead of shopping I followed this woman and her daughter. They were decked out - head to toe to handbag -- in Oilily, one of my favorite clothing lines of all time.

Try as I might, I didn't find one single staple hole on this woman's clothing which means she didn't get hers at ValuThrift.

Mom and daughter just looked so darn cute that I posted a link to Oilily in my links list. The current collection means I may need to reconsider illegal organ sales (of course not mine, silly, one of the childrens').

The kid's tights probably cost more than my entire ensemble, but above such calculations, I'm very grateful for all the blessings in my own life, right?

Besides stalking rich people, I am now entertaining myself with the following project. I'm creating a list:

People Who Are More Successful Than I Am.

Please do feel free to offer suggestions. Actually, the endeavor means I must dash off to buy some more memory for my computer.


We're big believers in hooky around here and today is Stryker's turn.

It's 11:00 am and I actually haven't laid eyes on the child but I've made verbal contact once and have audio evidence that he's here.

First, I heard him race around the corner toward the kitchen, announcing, "I'm hungry and I need something that comes in a bag!"

Sound of Stryker racing back upstairs and then the Ellen show starts. Later, I hear him when he gets up to dance with her. Then, it's The Price Is Right.

Someone is having a perfect day.

And in a strange way, it's not unlike days-off I used to have as an 11-year old, only I had to feel rotten to get so lucky!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Hillary, Redux

This afternoon while driving-- okay, let's digress for a moment, shall we?

Driving and driving and then driving a bit more. Starting at 2:00 I go from work to; home (one quick hour of grading and I am nearly comatose which starts with C as in community college); pick up kids at school; drop off Merrick at new friend's house (this means parents could be running meth lab in basement but since I don't actually know them, ignorance is bliss); go to Red Balloon Bookstore with older two children; eat (what turns out to be dinner) at Bread and Chocolate (on the food pyramid or I will pull this trigger); head to evil conglomerate to find books unavailable at previously visited independently owned book store (only to be disappointed again, requiring that I buy three previously owned-now-lost Virginia Woolf books as salve); home, to discover Scarlett is "starving" despite gigantic cinnamon roll recently consumed, so we inject -- I mean, give her more carbs and sugar; to the Guthrie, only to discover that the child supervisor (who just landed plum Guthrie gig) is officially more successful than I am even though I have a 20 year head-start; to strangers' house to retrieve Merrick; home to check email (I mean blog), and later to head back to the Guthrie at an hour in which I should be mildly intoxicated.


While doing THAT I was of course listening to NPR instead of communing with children and I heard this very thoughtful, well-rounded -- diplomatic, even- -- piece on how Hillary Clinton has (or maybe hasn't; it was that balanced) changed since her stern and uncompromising stint as First Lady. Lots of important men in the know were interviewed. Funny, how they were all men and the words "strident" and "rigid" kept popping up, in the analytical sense, of course: "other people say."

Stop it!!


So these guys leave us with the impression that Hillary has become more diplomatic. The rigid bitch has morphed into the masterful politician, mastered the art of the compromise and all that.

Remember last week when she was unable to convey what she thought of New York Governor Eliot Spitzer's plan to issue drivers licenses to illegal immigrants? She said a little yes, a little no, a playful yes, a friendly no. Pundits and politicians are still wiping the juice of their lips.

But the guys on the radio reminded us of how really awful the old Hillary was. As First Lady, she didn't play well with others , not at all. She was always the boss! She had this annoying habit of thinking she was right.

When President Clinton said on national TV that he might accept something less than the health care plan she was devising, she (that rigid, uncompromising bitch) immediately called her hubbie, demanded his public retraction and apology. Which she got.

This can be viewed as: A) asking your spouse to stand up for you B) standing up for yourself or C) as shrew-like control.

If you picked C you get to be an NPR commentator!

Do I even need to say it? Oh MY GOD. Bring back the uncompromising bitch. Shove some chocolate chip cookie dough down a throat or two. PLEASE.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Pinch Me

Can it get better than this?

Imagine an 11-year old, sweet and warm from a bath, under his down comforter (this is Minnesota) reading for those final few moments before bed. This would be my guy tonight. And his reading material? The front page of the Business section from The New York Times. He slides down the newspaper, pushes up his glasses, and says, "can I read out loud to you from my new calendar, the 2008 one that counts down Bush's last year in office? There are amazing quotes mocking his grammar."

There is a God.

Scarlett Discovers New Symptom


Perfect. Quite versatile and as impossible as 'tummy' for others to assess. This may be a more flexible weapon. Whereas the tummy ache seems to require a beginning and end point, dizziness can weave in and out of consciousness at all times--here one fleeting, disorienting moment and gone the next. Dizziness has both laser precision and an an ethereal, Victorian quality that suits, entirely.

I'm quite impressed. This may be my personal favorite.

That, and on Sunday--while dizzy, and with head and neck aches (distinct ailments)--Scarlett reported that she was experiencing diarrhea and constipation simultaneously.

Have I said how talented my kids are?

Monday, November 5, 2007

Best Intentions

A notoriously picky eater, Stryker has never quite been satisfied with the lunch he takes to school. Sandwiches? Stale by noon. Soup? Never hot enough. Pudding? The ice pack that keeps that cool casts a chill on his chips.

So imagine the thrill when I packed exactly right! He came home one day, replete, reporting a perfect lunch. I had melted cheese on a flour tortilla.

Every day, I assemble three lunches. Stryker's takes extra time. I put in cheese with precision (can't be too much or too little), fold the tortilla and microwave for 60 seconds. To insulate, I quickly wrap the tortillas in wax paper, a layer of paper towels, and then foil, nestling the treasure into the appropriate corner of his lunch box. He reports that this keeps them slightly warm, texture just right. I make two--one for Stryker and one to levy for trades or to give to his friend Henry, who likes them as well.

Last night, I asked Stryker what he thinks he'll remember from his childhood, what memories will stand out as definitive?

"The time I had a cold and a fever, and you left me home alone. I was all alone and I felt sick. I'll never forget that horrible feeling. Alone."

I was sort of hoping he'd think of those cheese tortillas.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

More Living On-Line

Today, The New York Times (lead article in Week in Review) ruminated on a “cultural confusion about private and public” that has extended to architecture. We hope for thousands to visit our MySpace page while prancing around in glass houses—literally, thanks to an architectural trend leaning toward transparent living. The article offered lots of hand-wringing and sniffing about privacy’s long good-bye, complete with this singularly insipid comment from psychologist Sherry Turkle (important MIT professor): “I can be in intimate contact with 300 people on e-mail, but when I look up from my computer I feel bereft. I haven’t heard a voice, touched a hand, for hours or days.”

Honey, I don’t think the computer is your problem.

Let me clear this up: the concept of privacy as an inviolable right, as something we hold and are therefore able to relinquish (or wrap up tight) is long gone and this isn’t news. Every 15 year old who makes her YouTube debut already has a different definition than her parents. My oldest is 11 and he thoughtfully constructs various versions of himself to the kids he meets playing games on-line. I got giddy when my blog profile hits topped 100; he got real. “Seven million people have watched Gary Brolsma." (He's the namu-namu genius on YouTube and if you haven't watched, be number seven million and one).

Does this kind of transparency necessitate a lack of intimacy, as Turkle implies? A friend swears his younger employees are hard-wired differently than those over 30—they think, emote, create and structure ‘self’ in all kinds of electronic ways. Is this malleable and importable self less desirable than the fortress we used to be? I’m not so ready to mourn. Privacy and intimacy are sort of High End concepts that change over time, and I hate to condemn the inevitable.

Bereft, I look up from the computer--and there's John's hand sneaking toward my thigh. Again!