Tuesday, January 31, 2006

SOTU Bingo

I won! I won!

The Child was poised with a double diagonal and had the President only uttered the words "small business initiatives" she would have skunked me. As it was, I slid in with "no child left behind".

The Child felt the speech overall to be boring but she enjoyed tallying the number of times W winked at people.

I was interested in/amused by the following:

Apparently, we are no longer engaged in a "war on terror". It is mostly an "offensive" and sometimes a "struggle" but it is not a war. (If it was, I would have won earlier).

In another semantic twist, there is no "domestic surrveillance", it is a "terrorist surrveillance program". That's bloody brilliant. Especially the 'program' part. "Officer, I'm wasn't speeding. I'm implementing my Vehicle Alacrity Program. And it's for your own good". The applications are endless.

It was fun when the Dems all stood to applaud when W mentioned the defeat, if you will, of his efforts to reform (destroy) Social Security, mostly because it was about the only chance he had to do any finger wagging. At the end of the day, after all his "mandate, political capital" crap, the "problem" of baby boomers will now be addressed by a bi-partisan commission charged with forging bi-partisan solutions. It sounded a little like he was saying they needed him but you could tell which way the olive branch was being extended.

I stand by my earlier Sam Alito/unmaking America stuff of a few weeks ago and I'm saddened by his confirmation. But the good news is that Smuggy McSmuggerson has to go to work every day knowing that the only justice who blows more than he does (58-42) is Clarence Thomas (52-48). That's something.

God help, I mean, bless, America.

Social Studies

The Child goes to an excellent school but it is our responsibility to enhance the learning experience. Thus we take her to movies and museums, play chess and read with her and it is why tonight she will be forced against her will to watch the State of the Union address.

This is Must See TV, regardless of my partisan feelings. If the Constitution, that venerable and endangered document, holds that the President owes us an annual speech then it is my civic duty to listen to it. It won't be easy. I suppose I haven't made much of a secret about my lack of respect for this particular President. I don't enjoy his condescending style of speech, although there is a delicious irony to hearing him talk as if he's the smartest person in the room. He's a shill for a dangerous mind-set and a war criminal but the immediate annoyance tonight will just be that he's such a Liar McLiar-Pants. I'll betcha that tonight we'll hear again about the success of "No Child Left Behind", despite his failure to fully fund it. We'll hear about how great everything is going over there in Iraq and then get a lecture about how we have to have the will to win the war on terror. I anticipate he will once again co-opt the phrase "culture of life". (By the way, this really annoys most Catholics because it's our phrase and it includes things like an end to the death penalty and no pre-emptive war. Which is so not what W means). He'll probably say something stirring about the rebuilding of New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina. He will propose some exciting programs like health care savings accounts and small business initiatives, especially as it might distract us from the budget (up for a vote this week) which seeks to make permanent tax cuts for the rich while further gutting assistance programs.

There's a little excitement going into tonight. Will he address the domestic surveilence thing? It's always fun to have an abuse of presidential powers justified as something for our own good. That's why we have to make provisions of the Patriot Act permanent, don'tcha know? Because with American citizens free to Google and make international phone calls, well, that just further threatens our safety and security, just as it was threatened on Sept. 11 and we freaking need to do something about that. (He won't say "freaking") The good news? With the certain confirmation of an independent justice like Sam Alito, we can all sleep better.

Watching the State of the Union is fun! Just make a game of it. Select a short list of phrases from the highlighed ones above (or add your own...I've only scratched the surface). Make sure all players have a different list. Give yourself points whenever the President utters one of your phrases. You also will want to draw the name of someone likely to get "cameo time" during the speech. Score extra points for shots of Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Sam Alito or John McCain. You can include Ted Kennedy but you only score if he is shaking his head in disgust like last year. If you want to make the game really interesting you can pick something you'd like to see or hear but probably won't. Possible suggestions are any acknowledgement of a "culture of corruption", a timetable for a pullout from Iraq, Michael Moore in the gallery with the First Lady or W letting slip that "Brokeback Mountain" made him cry.

If playing with children, as I will be tonight, you can adapt this game into bingo cards, with 24 phrases on a 5x5 grid. You get to mark the free space the first time you hear W mispronounce a word.

Obviously, this also makes a really good drinking game, and lord knows you might be tempted, but you don't want to get too wasted because John tells me tonight's "Gilmore girls" looks really good. God bless America.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Disruption #2

Even before the late night (early morning) trauma of wretchedness there was another hitch in domestic tranquility.

I was surfing between "Crossing Jordan" and the SAG awards. The Spouse had gone to bed. Suddenly he comes in, pulling on clothes, to tell me that the front door had blown open and The Dog was gone. The Child was in hysterics, wanting to come with us, but it was late and cold and pouring rain. I left before The Spouse did, armed with a treat and the leash, and started along one of The Dog's flight paths, praying to St. Francis. It was so dark and The Dog so black, I didn't really know how we'd find him without divine intervention. I got about halfway up a hill and then turned back, thinking I'd check an alley he also likes to frequent. Suddenly I hear The Spouse call out that he had The Dog.

When I met The Spouse he was alone. "Where is he?" I asked, "You said you had him". "He's already home", came the reply. Turns out that for all his "on the road" tendancies, The Dog is not stupid. It was a horrible rainy night. Before The Spouse even left the house he heard the jangle of dog tags, went to the front door and whistled and The Dog came running home from the house across the street. In other words, it took him longer to find me than it did to find The Dog.

Disruption #1

What was shaping up to be a really blissful night of sleep was interrupted around 1am by the shriek of The Child in pain. The good news, my adrenal glands work really well. The bad news, the cries were followed by unpleasant eruptions of various types and a fitful night of sleep. I barely slept at all because I stayed with The Child, which The Cat interpretted as an invitation to sleep on my head and purr as loudly as possible. Every time I moved her she came back. It's nice to be loved but sheesh. I returned to my own bed for a couple of hours but it wasn't enough.

The Child is in her bed, snuggling a hot water bottle and working on a take-home science test. I am feeling sloggy from a lack of sleep and the relentless rain and danky dark that is this morning isn't doing a lick to motivate me. It is times like these when I am so immensely glad for coffee and my timer for lo, at the moment I wouldn't mind just crawling back into bed myself.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Why I'm Taking a Long Nap

6 children.
1 very excited Dog.
1 pinata.
412 pounds of candy.
82 pounds of wrapping paper to recycle.
2 sessions dancing to "The Cha Cha Slide".
1 cheesecake.
4 frozen pizzas, one of which fell on the floor.
2 hours of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" (I love Johnny Depp).
3 bottles of wine (the In-laws joined us).
12 o'clock before everyone had settled down.
15 minutes of Steve McQueen in "The Great Escape" before falling asleep.
7 a.m. alarm.
3 batches of Belgian waffles.
6 children to prod into dressing and collecting toothbrushes and stuffed things.
3 girls to take to the Social Studies fair at school.
1 hour at Mass.
Nowhere near enough time to consume near enough coffee.

Poor thing, she's just exhausted.


Saturday, January 28, 2006

It's So Nice to Have a Man Around the House

Good ol' Spouse. He's fixing the dishwasher. Later he's going to take the worn backup battery out of the alarm system so it stops randomly beeping. And he made really yummy sushi last night. He's a good Spouse.

Why I'm Glad I Only Had One Child: Reason 642

Because I only have one child I only have to oversee one child's birthday party per year. Kid parties. Blech.

The truth of the matter is that there isn't a thing about today's event which demands a lick from me. There is one guest who is probably too young to really be involved and may be a drama queen but if she is I will bundle her up and take her weepy little arse home. Otherwise, it won't be anything like the days when party guests were small and ridiculous and needed constant supervision to keep anyone from being bored (the kiss of death at a child's party) or wounded.

And also unlike the days of old when there was an expectation of a theme and a detailed program including some craft or other entertainment that everyone would hopefully talk about for days afterward, we have now entered the realm where 'hanging out' is acceptable. There is a pinata to whack because who doesn't like that. Otherwise it's just presents, cheesecake and "whatever" until I feed them pizza in front of a movie. When the credits roll I will send them all to the other end of the house and The Spouse and I will camp out in the family room and watch "A Very Long Engagement". We'll feed them pancakes in the morning (or maybe even waffles) and send them away.

So what is the big deal? I didn't even have to make the cheesecake or the pizza. I think I'm having a post-traumatic stress flashback.

For the first four years of The Child's life birthday parties were a big, fun affair with family and friends. Kids attended but it wasn't a "kid party". It was like any other event, with great food and wine, except that people brought presents and there was cake. This was big fun.

When she started school, however, the expectations changed. She wanted a party with only kids and balloons and all that cool stuff. And she wanted to invite the girls from her class at school. There were only 5 of them but, until the arrival of the fabulous Cassie in 1st grade, none of them were nice to The Child. (There were a couple who would be nice when no one was looking but one of them, I never figured out which one, was the queen bee who declared The Child "out" and that was it. It never got better and it was one of the reasons we left that school). Anyway, it's The Child's 5th birthday and we invite the other four girls. It was a Madeline theme. I bought an over-priced package from some party catalog, which included all the decorations and favors and a craft that involved gluing a Madeline figure onto a purse. After years of hand-crafting birthday cakes I ordered one from a bakery so there could be a Madeline cartoon on it. The Child was vibrating with excitement. (Or as she called it back then, 'viberating').

Then the little brats showed up. One, who to this day I believe to be a sociopath, refused to participate in anything, repeatedly saying how "dumb" everything was. Although, now that I think of it, when The Child opened presents she mixed it up a little and declared the gifts "boring". Including the gift she'd brought. (No, of course her mother wasn't there witnessing this awful behavior. And sadly, it is so not politically correct to whack someone else's child up side the head. But oh were my palms itching).

Now I grant you that most children do not have highly developed social skills at the tender age of 5. (The Child did, but she's exceptional as you well know). All that was required in this circumstance, however, was to play nicely with others for the longest 2 hours of my life. And it just about killed me to watch my sweet kid, trying bravely to include and engage everyone, to try to instill some spark of excitement or joy into their experience only to be rebuffed by just about all of them.

As I relate all this to you I am getting pissed off all over again. I hate those girls. I hope they all have horrible acne in high school, make bad marriages and get fat.

No. I don't. I hope they will all be very happy. But I do hope that someday they each have ocassion to think back about how they treated my child and feel horribly, sick-to-the-stomach ashamed of how awful they were. Because she never deserved their shabby treatment.

Well, that was theraputic. I am actually looking forward to the party now because this one is being attended by people who genuinely care for my daughter. And I like them all very much for that. Very much indeed.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Girl Power

The Cantwell event today was a gas. 17 local women, all of whom have made profound contributions to life in Washington state were honored with the first Helen Jackson "Women of Valor" award. Helen was the wife of our late, great senator Scoop Jackson, who's legacy of commitment to justice and the environment is being continued by Maria today. I don't necessarily consider myself a feminist but there was a pretty groovy girl vibe in the room today. 17 amazing community leaders of all ages and races. 2 women senators from Washington. Senator Clinton. Our woman governor calling in to let us know that the civil rights bill had passed. It was rather inspiring. I wish I'd brought The Child after I saw other girls and young women in attendance. Maybe I just like seeing strong women with good haircuts and nice suits.

The event was so well orchestrated that I almost felt like I didn't need to be there. Just walked around the room directing people to tables, mostly. Everyone was in a great mood, the food looked decent and I ran into a woman from church. That was fun. And even though the awards ceremony went long, by the time the VIPs had been directed toward their private reception, there wasn't anything else to do so I got away early. Just enough time to get some balloons for tomorrow's party and the tuna and octopus for the sushi The Spouse is making tonight.

No, I didn't meet Hillary. All that separated us were 10 round tables and some Secret Service guys. But I got a few pictures.


Thursday, January 26, 2006

Thursday Miscellany

The diswasher isn't washing. Now I have to do everything by hand, including the supposedly clean stuff that is sitting in there with spinach crust all over it. Eeew.

Things To Be Thankful For
Hot and cold running water. Sheesh, it's not like I have to take my dishes to the river and beat them on a rock.

Birthday Fever

At 11:10am PST, The Child officially turned 12. I can't 'bebeeve' it. We were late to school because I let her open presents from Aunt Tracy and Nana. But what are you going to do? She doesn't get to open her family presents until tonight, when Papa can be there. She doesn't get her birthday dinner until tomorrow night because she wants sushi and Thursday is the crazy extracurricular day (Drama Club, then choir and we're not home for dinner until 7). Her party isn't until Saturday. And you have to start out your birthday doing something birthday-like. She took 19 mini-bundt cakes to class for the lunch-time party. This was the first time that she's had the wherewithal to help with the preparations. I love having a child who loves to cook and bake. Takes such a load off the ol' mater.

Piddly Stuff
For someone who doesn't have a paying job I sure have a lot of paperwork. I am astonished at the way it piles up, even though I try hard to practise the "touch it once" principle of paper management. Today I'm going to listen to the Flylady radio show and plug away at it all. There isn't a thing in the stack that will take longer than a few minutes to deal with but deal with it I must because just knowing it is there makes me feel itchy.

Note to Self
Get a shelf installed over the Viking, sooner rather than later. Charge cell phone. Now.

Project Runway
The fabulous Tim Gunn was fabulous last night. He was very bitchy about one of the models. I'd never seen him like that before. The evil Santino survived to design another day but it is more and more clear that he really isn't all that talented. Maybe next week he'll finally be out.
Nick threw a fussy queen hissy fit. Daniel is adorable. Chloe is so tiny I bet you could fit her in a shoe box. Love her.

Next Thing We Do
The Child used to say that all the time.

I am in a purging mood. Not the Lindsay Lohan kind, the "geez, you think we have enough stuff?" kind. It's a winter thing. Being in the house all the time makes me notice more. I am actually pretty good about flinging and decluttering. Nothing new comes into the house without something old moving on to bless someone else. But I still think I'm going to do 27 fling boogie in every room of the house today.

Blogging Tomorrow
I'll be posting late in the day. From 10-3 tomorrow I'll be helping out at a big fundraiser for Maria with her special guest, Hillary Clinton. We have to be vetted by the Secret Service and everything. It should be big fun, assuming the NSA hasn't actually been spying on me. If that's the case, I'll be blogging from GitMo or wherever it is they put suspect housewives. I'll keep you posted.

Big Decision
We have two Superbowl invitations.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Mama Gets Goopy

Because I am a big, dopey sap, the sort who cries at Hallmark commercials, it is only fitting on this, The Child's birthday eve, to reflect on some hightlights of the last 11 years.

First Boo-boo. 6 weeks old. Still loathe to put her down for long (and before those very groovy wrap baby slings were big), I am holding the baby while reaching up into a pantry cupboard for a tin of soup. A syrup bottle inches to the edge of the shelf, then falls. In trying to catch it I deflect it slightly but it appears to hit Baby on the head. She starts to cry, as do I. Panicked call to the pediatrician who tells me to come on over. As we live exactly 1 block from her office, all I have to do is put on some shoes, throw a blanket over my crying child and run like her life depended on it. Baby stops crying before we reach the hospital but I'm a mess. Nurses and pediatrician alike examine baby, who is fine and shows no sign at all of being hit. (Likely she was reacting to my freaking out). Medical staff turn all their attention to distraught mommy, who really needed to learn to relax. (Not that they told me that. They were very kind).

First Serious Boo-boo: 18 months. Falls in the bathroom. This time it's serious as she begins to boot even as I'm on the phone to the Doc. Diagnosis: mild concussion. I have to sleep with her, waking her periodically to make sure she knows where she is (which I appreciate but really, who, upon being abruptly woken up from a good sleep is immediately lucid? 18 month old babies, apparently).

Classic Toddler Phrases: "I can't bebeeve it!" "Oh, my yord!" "That's too 'picy for me".

Standard Tween Phrases: "What's the game plan?" "Here's what I think we should do."

First Profound Spiritual Insight: About 3 years old, reciting the Nicene Creed: "God from God, Light from Light, I wish I may, I wish I might".

First Argument with Mom that Left Mom Speechless: Also 3 years old, while I try desperately to get her down for a nap:

Mama: "Please, you need to take a nap!"
The Child: (Sitting defiantly on bed, arms crossed in fury) "I do not need a nap! I just need a day to myself!"

First Trip to Europe: 4 years old. Ate nothing in London but currant buns and declared that "London makes the worst Shirley Temples." (The bartender used ginger ale). 5 days in France, where she eats nothing but bread and chocolate until the 4th day, at a wedding dinner, where she consumes olives, cheese and duck in mass quantities. Also has her first glass of water wine. Plans to return the summer she's 14.

First National Tragedy: George Bush being appointed president.

Second National Tragedy: September 11, 2001. A few days after the attacks she spent a long time in her room, emerging with a Lego building. "Do you know what this is?" she asked. "It looks like one of the Twin Towers". "That's right!" she says brightly. "But see this? It's a diving board. I designed it so that if there were ever a problem, say, oh, a fire or something, the people up high could dive out into a swimming pool and be alright". We put the tower on the family shrine for a few weeks.

Cutest Thing She Ever Did: Impossible to say.

Sweetest Thing She Ever Did: Ditto.

Most Maddening Thing She Ever Did: Too many choices.

The Child is exactly what I meant when I told The Spouse I wanted to have a baby. Sometimes I'm asked why we had only one and not that it is really anyone's business, the truth is that she was so exactly what I'd hoped for that I felt it would be greedy to ask for anything more. She is a great kid.


Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The Child Chef

Tonight was The Child's night to cook dinner. She was making Creamy Spinach Soup and Fontina Toast. She's been working from Rachael Ray's "No Repeats" cookbook and of course, Rachael is famous for 30 minute meals. Well, The Child is still learning and so it's usually more like an hour. Which is fine.

She started to cook dinner and I was noodling around on the computer. I smelled smoke but didn't even bother to look around. I figured that it was just the oven pre-heating for the toast. The Spouse came out to get a glass of wine and amps up the fan, making some comment to her about the importance of ventilation. "I'm just heating some EVOO," she says, in Rachael-speak. (EVOO - Extra Virgin Olive Oil). I swing around and smoke is billowing out of a stock pot. EVOO has a low smoking point.

"NO!" The Spouse and I shout in unison. He pulls the pot from the stove top. She makes a boo-boo face. Snaps to The Spouse. He didn't yell at her. He patiently explained that you don't heat your oil until you're ready to cook. He tells her that it's ok, every chef has burned oil at least once. (Which really was the best thing he could have said because learning to cook is all about making mistakes. Where do you think "brown butter" came from?)

Alarms went off, fans got amped up even higher, doors were opened to the 40 degree night. She dumped the oil and got out another stock pot, then went back to some chopping. "And that's why I have to do mise en place," she says. That's my girl. Dinner was delicious.

To Infinity and Beyond

Disney is acquiring Pixar for $7.4 billion.

I don't have a universal loathing of Disney. I cut my teeth, so to speak, on "The Wonderful World of Disney" and will admit to counting some Disney films on my personal Top 100 Films list. I about plotzed when I saw the stage version of "Lion King". But still. There was always something so wonderfully renegade about Pixar. This business deal consequently leaves me a smidge disappointed.

But hey, according to the deal John Lasseter will be the head creative Honcho of Everything and Steve Jobs, who just can't seem to make a buck, gets a mess o' stock. Which suggests that, since Disney needed this deal more than Pixar did, the quality of films we've come to expect from Pixar will not diminish. At least not immediately. This is important to me as The Child is still their demographic.

So slap a set of mouse ears on the bouncing desk lamp. The times, they are a 'changin'.

It's About TIme

It has taken me 30 days but I finally figured out how to get my Jane Austen action figure to hold her copy of "Pride and Prejudice" like she does in the Archie McPhee catalog. That is a load off.


Monday, January 23, 2006

How I Almost Met Martin Sheen

The cowards over at NBC have cancelled "The West Wing". Once they moved the show to Sunday night you pretty much saw it coming. It's too bad, though. Last night's episode, about a nuclear power plant accident, was excellent. The writing was great, the back-and-forth between the two campaigns about how to handle it was fun. Plus, I love Jimmy Smits so much and I was really hoping to see at least one year of a Santos presidency.

But alas, all good things come to an end. I am in mourning but this too shall pass.

Did I ever tell you about the time I almost met Martin Sheen? It was a Sunday, about 13 years ago. As Mass was starting there was this terrific buzz in the Cathedral but I was sitting in the front and couldn't figure out what was going on. Then came time for the Liturgy of the Word and the reader, who was vested and sitting in the proper place, continued to sit. There was a little movement behind me and this guy goes up to the ambo, puts on a pair of reading glasses and starts to read the Scripture. It was Martin Sheen. He did both the Old and New Testament readings but when he wasn't reading he was sitting behind me. Right behind me.

This was 'way pre-West Wing but I loved the guy and of course, had a lot of respect for him as an activist. Martin Sheen. And he was sitting right behind me.

I could barely focus on the homily because all I could think about was that at the Sign of Peace I'd be shaking his hand. Which would make me one degree of separation from everyone he's ever worked with. I'm was starting to get nervous and hoping that I would remember to say "The peace of Christ" instead of "Loved you in 'Apocolypse Now'" when it hit me. I wouldn't be greeting Martin Sheen because I was the dismissal leader. I'd be leaving Mass right after the homily, going out with all the people preparing to come into the chuch, to lead them in a reflection on the Scriptures.

Now I'm nervous for a completely different reason. Part of the liturgy included me going forward to receive the lectionary from the reader. But Martin Sheen was the reader. He was sitting behind me (had I mentioned that?). Did he know to go get the book? And if he did then at least I'd sorta meet him which would be great but more to the point, what if he didn't know? How was I going to get the book? Should I just go up to the ambo and grab it? Would someone on the altar platform know to bring it to me? Was I going to look like an idiot in front of a thousand people, one of whom was Martin Sheen?

Long before Martin Sheen showed up at Mass and was invited to read there was a designated reader who knew the post-homily drill. As soon as Father started the dismissal blessing she got the lectionary and so I went forward to receive it and calmly led out my little group of catechumens. Of course, they spent most of the time talking about how exciting it was that Martin Sheen had been in our church. And that's how I almost met Martin Sheen, who would someday become president.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

The Spouse: Disappointed No More

The final: Seahawks 34 Carolina 14

The Seahawks (Blue State) didn't just win, they spanked Carolina (Red State). Shut 'em down. 'Twas a drubbing. 3 turnovers. Mmmm, turnovers. I think they were apple.

Moonlight Serenade

The party last night was superfantastic. Yvette was taking pictures so hopefully I'll have something to post later this week. The transformation of the school cafeteria was nothing short of magical. It really was like going back in time to a grander, more elegant era. I really should have been born in the '40's. Except, you know, for the rationing and the war and the Nazis and stuff.

Fair Weather Fan Checking In

When I was in high school my posse would meet in a park after church on Sunday and play touch football. This provided tons of muddy, hysterical fun. But otherwise, I think football is a horrible, grinding, violent sport and I never watch in the regular season (more of a baseball gal). We do go to a Superbowl party every year, for the food and the half-time show, which is honestly most of the reason anyone goes to a Superbowl party.

But Seahawks are in a championship game today. If they win they will go to the Superbowl for the first time ever. The energy in town is palpable and I have been sucked in.

Back in 1979, I was a senior in college and the Sonics went to the NBA championship. I loved basketball back then, back when it was still relatively pure and a team was still a team, not a collection of egos to be managed. Lenny Wilkins was the Sonics coach and he was handsome and cool. Good times. In the final championship game my friend Johnny and I were on the phone all night talking about the plays and barely daring to voice what was abundantly clear, that our team was going to win the championship. (Side note: I don't remember why we weren't watching the game together. I also don't know why I didn't throw off the idiot boyfriend I had at the time to be Johnny's girlfriend instead. He was much cooler, much smarter and he was the one who introduced me to both Bruce Springsteen and The Clash. We can be so stupid when we are young).

The Sonics did win and it was a big, psychic high in the Emerald City. I don't understand a lick about group psychology or why it is that thousands of people who have nothing to do with it plug all sorts of energy into something like a championship win. It's not like we're all going to get millions of dollars, bottles of champagne, a ring or a trip to Disneyland. It won't change a thing in our lives, a line of our resumes or help us lose that last pesky 5#. Nor, it is worth noting, will a championship win bring an end to war and poverty or stop the spread of AIDS. And yet, though we won't gain a thing from it we all suddenly care, The Spouse and me included. The Twelfth Man has swelled in size over these last weeks and if the fans have anything to say about it, those other 11 guys are going to the Super Bowl.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

My Day

In case you are wondering what I'll be doing all day, let me state, for the record, that I am not at all sad to be excluded from this little Ring party. Actually, I'm perfectly welcome to sit in if I wish but I'm not a fan. I read The Hobbit when I was a kid and loved it but I could never get past the first 3 pages of The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien was big when I was in college and I did sometimes feel a little left out but seriously, I just didn't get it. I was more of a John Milton/C.S. Lewis/Charles Williams kinda gal.

I saw the first movie but would sum up the story as "A bunch of hobbits spend 2 hours running away". Seriously. All they do in that movie is run away from stuff. Meanwhile, there's Gandolf. I was under the impression that he was some great wizard but all he does is tell the hobbits to run away and then he runs away with them. What is that about? Powerful wizards are supposed to do powerful stuff, aren't they? (In response to this charge Dave said that sometimes running away is the brave thing to do. Which is probably deep and true but for my money, give me a tough guy like Albus Dumbledore. Now that's a wizard).

So while the boys have their marathon I'm going to hang out, read the new issue of O magazine, do my nails, give myself a facial and maybe eat some bonbons. I have to glam up because tonight I'm helping out at the 8th Grade Dinner. It's a '40's theme and the organizers have turned the cafeteria into the grand ballroom of a New York hotel. I am going to be the receptionist and manage the wait staff. I have this terrific black suit with a pencil skirt and a sheer apricot blouse which will be set off by a fabulous hat and shoes. My lipstick and nails are going to be painted red and I'm working on a Katharine Hepburn-y voice. (This requires additional practise because sometimes I start to sound like Tim Gunn). I've got to do something about my hair and The Neighbor said she'd set it in pin curls for me because apparently that's how you create that Veronica Lake sort of wave. I can't wait. I love playing dress-up.


Boys in the House

The Spouse is so excited. He's having a Lord of the Rings party today. He's invited some other guys who are similarly inclined and they are going to watch all of the movies, in order, all day. He had ham & cheese coissants and coffee for the first arrival. There are frozen pizzas for lunch and he just put a big ol' batch of Payson's Papa's Chili in the crockpot for dinner. It is so cute.

Because he reads this blog (as do some of the other attendees) I have to be careful about what I say. Actually, I think The Spouse anticipates a prolonged essay on the theme of his general geekiness but I'm not going to. I might tell them they are geeks but none of them are. They are actually all really cool, really funny and frankly, really good-looking men who are getting together to watch some movies and drink some beer.

What is charming about all this to me is that this is really the first time in our married life, I think, that The Spouse has arranged something with the guys in our lives that didn't include the families. And that's important because men, straight ones at least, tend to be very weird about friendship. Listen to them talk and most of them will talk about some guy as a 'friend' who they last saw while in high school. At least that's what The Spouse tends to do. His friends are all these guys who remember his first bike while my friends are women I see on a regular basis. Then there are 'our' friends, which include some couples and families, who come to all our dinners and parties, the people we hang with at the coffee hour after church, that sort of thing. But the fact is that a lot of those people, the ones with whom we spend the most time, the ones who are truly the core of our community, include really great guys who could hang out anytime provided someone troubled to arrange it.

I don't know that any of this is operating today. Now that The Spouse owns all the Lord of the Rings movies he figures it's just time to watch 'em all in order and do so with like-minded individuals. But it's still really cool that he did this and I hope they destroy the Ring of Power in time.

Friday, January 20, 2006

For The Record

I spend a good amount of time on the Internet. Sometimes when I'm poking around I will start with too broad a search and wind up in some oddly unhelpful places. One time a friend sent me a link to a website and I couldn't open it. So I typed in the url (because she usually sends pretty funny stuff and I didn't want to miss anything) and I added or left out a letter or something and wound up on this foreign webpage with pictures that were, shall we say, not at all nice. I just wanted to go on record with all that because I use Google a lot.


Out of the 6,457,321,412 theories of child development currently available, one posits that every 6 to 12 months (or so) a child cycles in and out of equilibrium. Disequilibrium isn't bad and it's opposite good nor are the "off" years solidly hellish or the "on" years strictly blissful. Simply, during periods of disequilibrium a child is coming into a new level of awareness, facing the challenges that come with any new phase of developmental growth. This just necessarily makes things more fraught for both parent and child. Eventually the kid gets a handle on things, leading to the more pacific period of equilibrium. Around here it seems to be the odd numbered years that are toughest and the good news is that The Child turns 12 in a week.

There are signs that we are trending according to form. Since Christmas The Child has been more mature, more mellow in her responses. She's been more organized in her school work (which is so huge), more easily accepting responsibility for herself and her stuff. She's taken on cooking at least one dinner a week (this week she's doing two). It's been a lovely reprieve because she really can be a lot of work.

I say this fully aware that I myself was a bit of a challenge. I was never one of those rotten, sneaky kids. (In fact, my mom has told me that sometimes she wished I'd be a little less forthcoming). But I did have a 'tude. I was rebellious in attitude, always questioning why rules were in put in place (given that they were all so very stupid), why I had to do things my peers didn't. I was pretty sassy, partly because I hadn't figured out where being funny ended and being disrespectful began. (I don't know that I have it down yet but now I'm a grown-up so I get away with more). The Child seems to have inherited these traits and frankly, on balance, I'd rather have that then one of those cherubic faced Eddie Haskell types. But it can get exhausting dealing with a person of such strong will and spirited temperment.

The Child was supposed to be born on the 15th of January but she hung around until forced out with a castor oil cocktail and I've always seen her refusal to be born on time as a sign of her general MO. She likes things her way, in her time, with her embellishments and one of the great challenges of her young life is learning that the world doesn't always accomodate that.

I grant you, these qualities of strength and determination are wildly wonderful. I think they are especially important because it's starting to look like The Child is going to grow up to be blonde, willowy and beautiful. Having a strong mind behind that pretty face is a gift. But the gift, Grasshopper, must be used for good and not for evil and the fundamental task The Spouse and I are presented with is helping her figure that out. To do that we have to set intelligent limits (as opposed to shooting our mouths off in the heat of the moment) and hold an unflinching line where flinching will not do. Doing so guarantees that she will argue, plead, justify and, if necessary, challenge our authority again and again. We then must stand firm even as we are told how unfair, cruel and dense we are.

Last night I was watching "You've Got Mail" for a little bit. There's a scene where, after she's been forced to close her bookstore, Meg Ryan's character is standing in the door, looking back in the empty shop. She remembers dancing there with her mother, with this sweet ghostly image twirling through the room, loving mom spinning a 6 or so old daugher. And I started to get all weepy because we are already passed that stage. I can't easily twirl my gangly legged child any more. As swiftly as the early years passed, these tween-to-teen years are coming at us even faster. Crap, in 2.5 years she'll be in high school. Just makes me go cold sometimes.

That said, there have been times when for a mere nickel I'd have sold The Child to the first gypsy that expressed an interest and I'd have thrown in a goat to sweeten the deal. But that aside, I love that my girl isn't one of those boring kids with all the verve of pudding who don't give their parents any grief because they aren't really interested in much of anything. I'm starting to see glimmers of the woman The Child could become and like what I see, even though this morning she couldn't say a word to me without rolling her eyes.


Thursday, January 19, 2006

Mike! McGavick for Senate. NOT!

I know groups sell mailing lists. But since we give money to assorted progressive non-profits and activist groups, not to mention the Democrats, I gotta wonder how I got on the mailing list for Mike! McGavick, the Republican who's running for Senate against Maria Cantwell. (I'm also wondering what's with the ! after his name but to each his own).

I received a very amusing letter from Mr. Mike!, complete with an "issues survey" (read "push poll") and just had to play along. Push polls are a fascinating piece of writing. You must frame a question in such a way that the respondent has no choice but to side with you. For example, a push poll doesn't ask "If the election were held today would you be most likely to vote for George Bush or John Kerry?" It asks, "If the election were held today and John Kerry were a accused of eating his children would you be likely to vote for him?" This accomplishes two things: 1) a poll that necessarily favors Bush because no one is going to admit to voting for a child-eater and b) suggests to an undecided voter (with an obviously weak mind) that John Kerry might actually eat his children.

So anyway, I'm looking over this survey and it's got great questions that reduce complicated questions into simple 'yes' or 'no' constructs. And they just seemed so funny to me because of who was asking. 'Cause when a Republican asks "Should Americans be willing to give up more privacy and freedom if it makes us safer from terrorism?" a Democrat can't help but answer 'no' while adding "And the President should be impeached for spying on Americans without a warrant". I mean, he asked.

The question I think I liked best, though, was "What is a bigger threat to our future: economic uncertainty or low moral and ethical standards?" Those are my choices?

Let's see: jobs being outsourced, plants closing, unemployment hovering around 5%, pension funds going bust versus "Desperate Housewives" being a hit show. Yep, Mike!, I see what you're getting at. (I've always thought that if you think a movie or tv program is offensive then you just don't watch it. Silly me).

The accompanying literature made it clear, you see, that McGavick is the kind of Republican who really thinks most of our problems can be reduced to a lack of morality and that more government influence in these matters is the solution. Well, Lord knows that the GOP has done a particularly fine job of modelling this. I think of DeLay and Scooter, Frist and Abramoff...yep, a veritable pantheon of virtue. This is the party that should be dictating morality to the rest of us.

Plus I admire the obvious comedy of the former CEO of Safeco Insurance stating that consumers are partly responsible for spiraling health care costs because we go along with it when our docs order "unnecessary tests". Seriously. (Pesky ol' mammograms). This from a guy who made $3 million last year plus $4.5 million in stock and stuff. Oh, and the company also pays $1.8 million a year for naming rights to our baseball stadium. Apparently things like that don't impact insurance costs.

McGavick strikes me as a perfectly decent rich guy who lives in a tidy little world where everything is black and white and where all our problems would be easily solved if we would just trust nice, decent rich guys to tell us what we need and don't need. Which is one way of looking at the world, to be sure. But that's not really my recipe for good governance. I'll be sticking with the Cantwell ticket, Mr. McGavick, but hey, love the baseball stadium. Good luck with that ! thing.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Just to Prove I am Really Not Like Those X-File Guys

"Gilmore girls" was good last night. Lorelei didn't break up with Luke although the wedding is postponed and that isn't good. Logan the Suck-up is going to get a second chance with Rory, which I don't like because he's just a spoiled rich boy with no direction and a ton of ego and I don't believe he would know what love is if it hit him upside the head and left a mark. But they didn't ask me.

On "Commander in Chief" nuclear war with North Korea was averted. They probably heard about Geena Davis' Golden Globe and misunderstood.

Remember how excited I was last week because that evening meeting got postponed? Well, the meeting is tonight and I'm trying really hard not to let it bum me out because that would be petty and stupid. I just hate evening meetings. It will be the best thing about the empty nest when The Child is all grown up - no more PTA! To be truthful, I'm pretty much coming down on the side of not going. It's about the auction, which I am involved in up to my ears with anyway, and as I don't have a role for this evening (that would be different) and as I am still snuffling a smidge of contagion, I may plead illness. I bet if I go into school early with a stack of completed procurement forms (which I have already in the car) and a Kleenex for dabbing my nose I'll be able to finesse it. Just thinking about not leaving my house of a dark, rainy winter evening makes me feel good inside. And then I can watch "E Ring" with The Spouse and "Project Runway" with The Neighbor. (Although we gave The Neighbor the Contagion from last week so I might have to pray for the demise of Santino all alone).

Last night I painted my nails ruby red. They totally match the stone in my wedding band. It's much better than last week when I did my nails by lamplight and the dark polish I used turned out to be black. I wore it for a week because I'm lazy but I'm really not that goth. Ruby is better pour moi.


Ramble with Me, Won't You?

It appears that my mind is trying to outsource my blog writing to my subconcious. Last night I kept dreaming about writing my blog and for some reason the post was going to be about swimming the English channel. I spent quite a lot of time in Google Images trying to find the right picture. In fact, I spent more time googling for pictures than I did actually swimming the channel, which in the dream I had apparently done.

I had fallen asleep, you see, toying with espousing what can only be described as a conspiracy theory. I hesitate because I'm not like those guys in "The XFiles". Although I suppose when an average, run-o-the-mill, middle-aged housewife with no history of mental illness or drug use comes up with a conspiracy theory you gotta wonder what the heck could be going on in the world to make her go there. I digress.

Sam Alito shouldn't be confirmed to the Supreme Court for the fundamental reason that he doesn't believe in Constitutional limits on presidential power. You thought I was going to say something about Roe, didn't you? But see, as the Neo-cons well know, Roe v. Wade is just a flash point. A conservative nominee necessarily raises the flag on that one so everyone spends a lot of time arguing the finer points of stare decisis etc. etc. etc.

In reality, Neo-cons don't care one way or the other about Roe. They are not as rigorously "pro-life" as they'd have you believe. In the kitchen of politics, abortion is a flaming brandy sauce...lots of whooshing and heat and singed eyebrows but it's just a distraction. The dry hunk of roast whatever that they are planning to cover with that sauce is where you ought to direct your attention because what they really want from a conservative court is the ability to unmake America. (See, told you it was a conspiracy theory).

The beauty of our system of government (and it is still beautiful in theory though we screw up frequently in practise) is that no one branch is more powerful than the others. You saw the charts in your social studies text; you know how this is supposed to work. Checks and balances. No king. Congress making laws, President signing laws, Supreme Court making sure laws are consistent with the Constitution. All good. But if you have justices who believe that the powers of the President cannot or should not be limited then, friends, we don't have a democracy anymore.

Of course, what the Neo-cons didn't count on was a leak that the President had ordered domestic spying (an illegal act and an impeachable offense. Ask Nixon). All of a sudden something theoretical has become actual at the worst possible time, the confirmation hearing of a conservative justice. Senators asked about Alito's views on presidential powers because, with Senate investigations into the matter, this could easily come before the Supreme Court. Which again, is why Alito shouldn't be confirmed because we don't want more justices who will look at something like this and say, "Privacy, schmivacy. He's the President, he can do what he wants".

The good news is that some people are paying attention. The bad news is that it's not enough. It will be interesting to see if the moderate Republicans get together with the Dems on this one and save us all, though the spin certainly suggests they won't. But I'd hate to see Alito confirmed, even if it is by a slim margin. Confirmed is confirmed and a life-time appointment is just that.

For you conservatives who are by now bleeding from the ears because you can't imagine what in the world is so wrong with our President having unlimited powers I'll just say two words: Bill Clinton. We should be able to agree on this: the President, any and every President, should have to play by the rules. And when he/she doesn't, we need an equally powerful legislature and judiciary who are willing to provide a remedy according to the Constitution. Period.

To end where I began, in real life I have crossed the English Channel. It was in a first-class car on a high-speed train through the Chunnel. C'est magnifique!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

On The Mend

There certainly is something to be said for getting up in the morning, putting on clothes and eating breakfast. Add a couple mugs of fresh hot coffee to that equation and you have a really fine start to the day. I highly recommend it.

That was about as normal as the day got, however. Our church is hosting some sort of ministers conference this week and The Child's choir was singing the morning office. But during the prayer I kept noticing her slipping out of the choir stall and into the sacristy so I left to find out what was going on. No, she wasn't sneaking into the sacramental wine. She was pacing in the schola room, clutching her stomach and looking pale. And no, it wasn't nerves either. She loves to sing and the bigger the audience the better. So I brought her home instead of taking her back to school.

It might be argued by some that she was just looking for another day off. It's possible, but I have a hard time imagining her missing out on singing unless she really didn't feel well. She's a bit of a drama queen but she's not that good of an actress. Yet. Plus, I told her that if she went home she wasn't going out in the afternoon, she couldn't watch any TV and she had to read in bed. And she didn't balk at any of that. And, in the end, so what if she was just trying to get out of school? Every body needs a mental health day once in a while. But she is so going back tomorrow!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Advice for the Cold & Flu Season

It is stupid obvious but do yourself a favor. If you start feeling sick this winter, get into bed and stay there until you feel better. Don't be a martyr because that will just make you more sick. Go to bed and you'll be functional in no time.

I wasn't exactly overdoing it these last few days but yesteday was the first time I stayed in bed all day and believe me, it made a huge difference. I don't know if it was all the honey lemon tea or the Julia Roberts marathon on TBS but today I felt almost human again. Snaps to The Spouse for checking on me often enough to keep the tea replenished but not so often that he caught me crying during "Stepmom". Snaps to The Dog for sleeping faithfully at my feet part of the time. Snaps to The Child for playing elsewhere all day so Mama could just watch movies, sleep, watch movies and sleep.

Thankfully, what with it being MLK day and all, there was nothing to do today, either. Snaps to me for actually changing out of jammies. I am thinking tomorrow I may bust a move and put on makeup. I'm looking forward to that. It's good to be healthy.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Good Things about Being Sick

1. The Spouse has to (gets to?) cook dinner AND clean the kitchen. I don't have to, because I'm sick.

2. Sleeping until 10:30a.m. without a smitch of guilt.

3. Being found endearing when I spent the afternoon switching back and forth between the Seahawks playoff game and the original "Parent Trap". The Spouse saw this as a charming demonstration of "the duality of" my nature. I would maintain that it was because I was sick. But that's the sort of thing that keeps him around (I think), so I'll take it.

4. Honey lemon cough drops, like candy only helpful.

5. Needing to stay inside under blankies because of the chills because it is day 28 of the freaking rain and if I was feeling well I'd have to go grocery shopping. Thank heaven I went to Costco before the contagion set it and had a bag o' chicken in the freezer. (See #1)

6. Dibs on the TV. The Child, having started earlier, is feeling much better but she feels sorry for me so I can go into a room where she's watching the Disney channel and commandeer the tube without evoking the standard, "Because I'm your mother, that's why" line. And then she'll even watch with me and rub my neck. She's a good kid.

7. Knowing that if my posts are incoherent or unamusing or completely without any decernible value it doesn't matter because I'm sick. I'll just get points for being upright.

Friday, January 13, 2006


We're infected. The Child started it.

As contagions go, this is pretty mild with scratchy throat and coughing being the worst of it. But I kept her home yesterday so as to not infect other innocent children and let her stay home today because a) I feel like crap, b) it's a three day weekend and 3) turns out The Child is 'way ahead on a school project.

The assignment is to read a biography about an artist or musician with whom the student is not familiar. In a completely wacky and radical move, the teacher has insisted that no research come from the Internet. As much as these kids are safely ensconced in a high tech world, it's probably good that they learn to use books for research. There could be a power shortage. James Frey did not write any of the books in question.

The Child picked Wolfgang "Rock Me Amadeus" Mozart. She has read one book and is working on a second. I've been sorta suggesting that she start making note cards or an outline for her report, affirming the beauty of working steadily on a project rather than leaving it until the night before, which was her mother's MO. She hasn't been doing that and I've had to shut up already because more and more that is my job. Anyway, turns out that she was to have chosen her subject by today. Since she is already doing the reading, I will back off.

Backing off: pretty much my job these days and even the attempt is giving me new respect for my parents. The job of parenting consists of keeping the child alive long enough to let it leave you. You have to teach it values. You have to teach it to think for itself. You should teach it to pick up after itself, how to clean a toilet and that it never killed anyone to write a "thank you" note. But at some point, which we are rapidly approaching, you have to start trusting that you've done a good enough job and let 'em go. Which is very difficult because you are always second-guessing yourself, not to mention that failing is part of the game. It can just be so hard to watch.

The Child walked when she was 10 months old. This is really ridiculous, by the way, because a 10 month old has absolutely no sense and no appreciation of spatial relationships. But idiots that we were, we encouraged those first steps, recording it on video for posterity. It's all there, the "come to Mama", the cherubic face, the pride as she pushes off from the coffee table and the frustration as she falls on her diapered butt. But she got up to do it again and again until she nailed it, until she didn't need me there to catch her.

One of The Child's leading characteristics is fierce determination. If she wants something I recommend that you get out of her way. I had nothing to do with that. Meekness is my middle name. Or maybe it's Tentativeness. Anyway, I had nothing to do with the spirit that The Child brought into the world. All I can do is help guide it to do good and not evil, pray a lot and stand aside.

Which is a long way from a biography about Mozart (talk about your pushy parents, by the way). Sometimes I think it's hard for me to let go because of all the advocacy I've had to do around her learning disability. But I think it fundamentally tough for any parent to let go. There is a delicate balance between being supportive and backing off. Plus we do bring our own agendas to the plate, for good or ill. And they are our babies. We love them. We don't want them to suffer as we suffered, even though making mistakes is part of life. And we worry about the mistakes. At some level we're going to be held accountable. I know that I blame George & Bar for our current state of affairs.

Anyhooha, parenting will be easy today. It will be comprised of chicken noodle soup, honey lemon tea and marathon veiwings of the Food Network. We might listen to some Mozart. I gave The Child some CDs to play while she read the other night. I asked what she thought of the music. "He's pretty good," she replied.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Scary Pudding

I've been listening to as much of the confirmation hearings as I can stand. It's a challenge. Most of the Senators can't get to the bloody point and it seems like time that could have been spent getting to the heart of Alito's views has gone to some sort of weird self-aggrandizement, with the Senators going on at length, presumably to demonstrate that they know enough about law to be asking questions of the nominee. Or maybe they just like being on camera.

There haven't been a ton of fireworks during the hearings (Spector had a little smack-down for Kennedy yesterday but that was, again, the Senators). Alito is a pretty cool cucumber. He's got all the personality and pizazz of a guy who calculates actuarial tables. He doesn't really joke. He sounds competent. He doesn't say things that make you go, "Wow, what a legal mind" (like Roberts did) but unlike Harriet Meirs, he at least knows and understands the law. It goes without saying that a conservative President is going to appoint a conservative nominee, so on the face of it, as conservatives go, he doesn't seem so bad. Right?

Wrong. I have a really oogey feeling about this guy. His very blandness is the root of it. Sam Alito is like a big, yummy bowl of vanilla pudding. Except that the pudding is full of raisins. There's more to this guy than meets the eye but since the Senators are wasting all their time blustering, all they're doing is skimming the surface. Find the raisins!

Adding to the overall creepy feeling about Alito is that he is clearly a guy who will say anything to be accepted. This is sad but when it comes to a life-time appointment it's also a little scary. He has gone on and on in praise of Justice O'Connor, who he would replace. But it is clear from his record that he won't be an O'Connor kind of justice. Further, there have been any number of questions about his position on abortion, affirmative action and presidential powers with their basis in some statement or ruling he made previously. The statement gives a clearly stated view of the issue at hand. And every single time a Senator says, "So is that in fact what you believe/meant?" the answer from Smoothy McSmootherson is some variation on "That was then, this is now".

First of all, I would much rather have some guy sit there and say, "Hell, yes, if Roe is challenged I'll do my level best to bring it down". Of course, then he'd be Robert Bork and even the Republicans would have to vote against him. But I have no respect for someone who lacks conviction or worse, someone who very much has convictions but hides them under the radar so that they don't interfere with his ambitions. Which is what Alito is doing. He's as much as said so. On a number of ocassions he has "explained" a position as being something he wrote on an application to get a job. In other words, he will say and do whatever in order to get what he wants. And what he wants now is a gig for life. I fear this is not a good thing for the rest of us.

In his favor, however, I will say this: Dude, who really remembers what they did in college? I totally believe that he proudly belonged to some right-wing, keep-out-all-the-women-&-coloreds organization while at Princeton but doesn't remember a lick about it now. I'm assuming a beer bong was involved.

I impressed a librarian yesterday because I could pronounce "stare decisis" and knew what it meant.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Behold, The Power of the Blog

Not 15 minutes after my last post the clouds parted (cue angelic music) and the rain stopped. Now if it would just work on Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie...

Too Much of a Good Thing

The Puget Sound record for consecutive days of rain is 33. It has been raining for 24 days and the forecast is for rain through the weekend. You do the math.

Don't you dare get me wrong. I am a Northwesterner bred and born. I like the rain. I actually need the rain. We had a drought back in '87, for example, that nearly drove me insane. It didn't rain for something like 6 months and I started getting very cranky. I need my dose of misty-moisty to balance the humors and keep my moss fluffy. Washington is the Evergreen State because it rains so much. We have a rain forest here, for crying out loud, and plenty of other wooded places that are fern-filled and dripping. All that green, woodsy, salmon-jumping Northern Exposure stuff? Credit the rain.

Rain in part defines the culture here. We supposedly buy and borrow more books per capita than most other places in the country. This is one of the few places left in the US where an independent bookstore has a shot at survival. We also go to a lot of movies, per capita. And that whole coffee thing? There's a reason Starbucks wasn't born in Miami. The point is that it rains in Seattle so we stay inside a lot and try to keep warm and dry. Hence the reading/movie-watching/coffee-drinking thing.

I love rainy afternoons, reading by the fire. I love my hot coffee. The sound of rain on the roof is on my list of top 10 favorite sounds ever. Walking hand and hand in the rain, puddle jumping with The Child, kisses in the rain...I have plenty of rain credentials and proud of it.

But 24 days with virtually no break is relentless, even for me. Walking the dog is on hold because we both get so disgustingly wet. Worms are floating to the surface of my lawn (and yesterday I saw two of them doing something unsettling. I was under the impression that worms didn't have to do that sort of thing. I mean, I'm happy for the worms, but it still wasn't something I needed to see). I won't work in the garden because dirty is one thing, muddy quite another. I can't walk to the freaking garage without getting soaked. It's January and grey and everything is dripping and I'm thinking 'enough already'. Rain is romantic, flooding is not.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Reprieve & Other Thoughts

I just found out that a meeting scheduled for tomorrow night has been moved to next week. This makes me so happy. I hate evening meetings. I go to as few of them as I possibly can. With a child in school there are unavoidable, "mandatory" meetings. They frown on you not showing up for Curriculum Night. But if I can be involved in a project without giving up my valuable TV viewing time, I am a happy camper. If they could only figure out a way to video conference these things I'd be all for it.

Here's a hypothetical question:

Let's say your a good looking guy in your 30's. You've spent the last 8 years or so focusing on your medical career. You're feeling pretty established but now you're ready to focus some of your energy on a relationship. You meet a girl at a party. She's attractive. You start talking and she says, "I'm really ready to move on to the reproductive phase of my life". Do you a) think, "Dang! And I thought this was going to be work!" or b) run screaming into the night? That's what I thought.

The Neighbor and I watched "The Bachelor" last night. It's not really my favorite reality show but The Neighbor and I always have fun. And this season is set in Paris and what's not to love about that? (If Jim Carrey made a movie set in Paris I might watch it. Especially if it also starred Meg Ryan, Cate Blanchett and Diane Keaton. And if John Cusak and Colin Firth were in it, that would be great. And Alan Rickman. If it was written and directed by someone like Woody Allen or the Coen brothers, that would be good. And then, if all the scenes with Jim Carrey were left on the cutting room floor, that would be one superfantastic movie. Yep, I'd definitely watch it then.) I digress. There was one woman in the 25 who -seriously- described herself as having "rotting eggs". Later in the program, after she - shock of shocks - didn't get a rose, she was complaining to the other non-rose girls about how she'd tried everything, conventional dating, online dating, blind dates and no man would have her. It was really pretty sad. She apparently doesn't see that her "rotting eggs" line is not her strongest lead.

In other musings, one of my new year's intentions was to read at least 3 books I've never read before. So far, I'm not doing so well. I'm currently re-reading "Pure Drivel" by the brilliant Steve Martin, or as we like to call him, The Child's New Daddy. The library is holding Barack Obama's autobiography and I have to pick that up. So maybe that will be my first "new" book. I was going to get a book called "My Prescription for an Anti-depressive Life" by Jonathan Adler, about the importance of design in your environment. It sounded like a fun read. But when I found the book at Barnes and Noble it was a) $30 and 2) a coffee table book. It had pretty pictures but I have lots of books with pretty pictures and I was looking for something to read. All it did was put me in the mood to re-read "Domestic Bliss: Simple Ways to Add Style to Your Life" by Rita Konig, who writes for British Vogue. And I probably will re-read it but then I'll just be re-reading a book (albeit a very entertaining one) and not venturing into new territory. Maybe I'll see if I can find "Helena" by Evelyn Waugh. Our priest mentioned it in his homily on Sunday and apparently it was Waugh's favorites of all his books. Of course, my favorite Evelyn Waugh book is "Brideshead Revisited". Time to re-read that, too. I'm thinking that reading 3 new books is looking pretty ambitious at the moment.

Speaking of ambitious, I labeled 3 boxes of invitations in 2 hours today at the Cantwell office. It's a new volunteer record. I am so getting that tiara. Maybe they'll present it to me at the election night party and I can wear it on TV. That would be swell. I also got all my ironing done this afternoon. Which is also tiara worthy.

I also have the '06 intention of being a better gardener. I was going to start cleaning up all the beds and potagers, just 15 minutes a day, but enough to have everything cleaned up in time for spring. But it has been raining here for 23 straight days. This is God's judgment on me for living in Seattle in January.

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Monday, January 09, 2006

Couldn't Resist

I wasn't going to say a word about Samuel Alito's confirmation hearing, which begins today. But on NPR this a.m. they were doing some analysis, as is their wont, and I heard the comment that "Judge Alito has been less forthcoming that Judge Roberts was" during his pre-hearing meetings with Senators. Less forthcoming than John "Watch me obfuscate" Roberts? How, I wonder, is that possible? Did he mime being trapped in a box? And if so, is he available for parties?

Also, there was a news item about a man in New Mexico who found a mouse in his house. He threw the little beggar on a pile of burning leaves in his yard. The "blazing creature", as the AP had it, ran back into the house and caught the damn joint on fire. Burned to the ground. Next time, I would recommend glue traps.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

At the Movies

The Spouse was in the movie biz for 10 years. He studied film, made his own films and worked on the films of others, some of which made it into the theaters. He loves the craft. He has never met a movie he didn't like. He can find something good to say about any film, even "Dude, Where's My Car". This is not because he lacks judgement. Rather, knowing the craft as he does, he can appreciate the effort that went into even a terrible film.

He quit the biz when we got married. It was a "feast or famine" lifestyle that would have been fine if it was just us, but not so much if we were going to have kids. And he was at the place in his career where if he really wanted to work he had to be in LA and neither of us wanted that. In recent years he's been making his own little films and working with other indie folks on equally small films and I think, on balance, he's happy with the way things turned out.

I have a less complicated relationship with movies. I know what I like and make no apologies. For example, I will likely die never having seen "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" and that's fine because my loathing for Jim Carrey makes it impossible for me to sit through what is a critically acclaimed film. Can't do it, not even for Kate Winslet. I like Brits. I like classic chick flicks (yes, that means Hugh Grant, Julia Roberts, etc.). I like action films but have a weird relationship to violence. I don't really like violence and so have never seen "Saving Private Ryan" or "Pulp Fiction" but I loved "The Usual Suspects" for crying out loud. I like dialogue. I believe any film is improved by the presence of Colin Firth, especially if he is in a wet shirt. I fundamentally find beautiful any film with a redemptive quality, like "American Beauty".

The Neighbor is something of a movie freak. She watches 'em all. She volunteers for the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) and gets preview tickets all the time. She goes to first-run films AND she subscribes to Netflix. She has probably seen every foreign film made in the last 20 years. She knew Jon Stewart was hosting the Oscars 'way before I did. She reads reviews in Slate. She is, shall we say, current.

Because we have a big screen tv and surround sound, The Spouse and I are not often in theaters. Unless it is an epic requiring a giant screen or a kid film which we are required to see, we are generally content to save the $412 price of a night at the movies and wait until we can put a new release on our Netflix list. But we pay attention. We usually know what's coming out, who's in it and more or less what the critics said about it (not that either of us really care about the critics. Although I did tell The Child that she was going to have to Netflix "Cheaper by the Dozen 2". I love Steve Martin but even geniuses make mistakes).

Last night after dinner The Spouse, The Neighbor and I went into the family theater and watched "The Hudsucker Proxy". The Neighbor had never even heard of it; none of us had ever seen it. If you haven't seen it either, you owe yourself the treat of Tim Robbins & Jennifer Jason Leigh in a brilliant little gem of a movie. If you like the Coen brothers, you should see this movie. (We didn't know it was the Coen's until the credits ran and then we all exclaimed in unison, "OH! Of course!") If you like fast paced dialogue, '50 era design and fashion or Paul Newman, you should see this movie. If you want to be amused, if you want a good story, if you want to feel great about how you just spent the last 2 hours, see "The Hudsucker Proxy". It is a well-crafted, fun story lacking nothing except Colin Firth in a wet shirt.

The Film Czarina gives "The Hudsucker Proxy" 4 out of 5 Koihead.


Friday, January 06, 2006

Twelfth Night

And so Christmas comes to a quiet end. Tonight we will sit down to a dinner prepared by The Child (she got a Rachael Ray cookbook for Christmas) and little individual Twelfth Night cakes (in this case, yellow cake flecked with orange zest). Whoever has the cake with the charm in it will be King or Queen of the Feast. The Neighbor is joining us. It should be a lovely meal, provided no one busts a crown on the charm. Or chokes.

It was a happy Christmas. God bless us, everyone!

Multiple Choice Question

Please take out a number 2 pencil and choose the correct answer to the following question:

Lorraine has sore legs. This is:

a) God's judgement on her for being a woman.
b) God's judgement on her for being a Democrat.
c) God's judgement on her for being a Catholic (because I don't think that counts as Christian to Pat Robertson).
d) God's judgement on her for believing in the separation of church and state.
e) God's judgement on her for thinking that science does nothing to inform faith and likewise faith has nothing to do with science -or-
e) because after weeks of inactivity she has started exercising again.

Did I leave anything out, Mr. Robertson?


Thursday, January 05, 2006

News Flash: Pat Robertson is Certifiably Insane

There's a man who stands on a street corner downtown in front of Tiffany's. (Location, location, location). He has weird placards about some apartment complex and the Seattle police and how they are all evil tools of Satan. He stands out there and yells all day long. He's nuts. And the amount of attention that he gets from the press in Seattle is exactly the amount that the national press should give to Pat Robertson. Zero. Crazy people are free to speak their crazy minds but the rest of us aren't obligated to take them seriously.

On behalf of all Christian's who aren't judgemental freaking nutjobs I feel compelled, once again, to apologize: sorry about Pat Robertson. Really.


The Depths of My Shallowness Revealed

The Neighbor and I watch "Project Runway" on Wednesday nights. We like saying "Auf wiedersehen" like Heidi Klum and our new game is trying to impersonate Tim Gunn. These pastimes amuse us. (I know: Reality tv is a tool of Satan...blah blah...bread and circuses...blah blah, whatever...you're either in or you're out).

'K so the challenge last night was to design a party dress for "one of NY's hottest young socialites" and I said to The Neighbor, "If it's Paris Hilton I'm going to plotz". When reality tv worlds collide! Well, for those of you who were reading Proust last night, the socialite was Nicki Hilton. (Nicki is Paris' sister for those of you too busy practising your Latin declensions to bother with such trivia).

Nicki and Paris are both famous for being rich and famous. They've done nothing, that I know of, to make the world a better place. Heidi Klum is at least married to Seal. (That's gotta count for something...have you seen his complexion?) Although apparently Nicki actually designs clothes or something which is, arguably, work. (If you can ever really call it 'work' when daddy's fortune bankrolls all your endeavors. Wouldn't a rich socialite designing clothes be more in the 'dabbling' category? Seriously, don't all proper dilettantes come from the upper classes? Poor people don't have time to dabble...This line of thought is actually getting too serious for me. If my dad had been the scion of a hotel empire I'd buy me a newspaper and call myself Katherine Graham).

I don't know these girls. I'm sure they are fine, compassionate human beings who do fabulously philanthropic things with the good fortune they were born into and anything you've heard to the contrary is just jealous gossip. I'm sure of it.

By the way, Nicki 'way picked the wrong dress in our opinion because we hate Santino. He has the head of a turd. I told you I was shallow.


My First Rule of '06

I was so looking forward to today because a huge chunk of it was going to be all for me. I had my little agenda all mapped out. Good little agenda. I love my little agenda. (Patting it's pointed little head).

Then I remembered a meeting at school. I considered blowing it off but did the responsible thing and checked in. It was very productive meeting and and I left around 9. The day is still looking pretty voluminous. Got home and remembered my commitment to walk The Dog when we first get home from dropping off The Child because both he and I need it. It was pouring rain but ding dong, I didn't start tubbing out over the holidays because I was eating like a pig (I really wasn't). I started tubbing out because I worked out 3, count 'em, 3 times in December. So off Dog and I went in the soaky, soaky rain. (I put my coat on the back of a chair to dry before putting it into the closet; it made a puddle).

By the time we bring our dripping selves back it's 10 o'clock and the day is admittedly starting to look a little less expansive but I still have until 3:45. And then I started answering the phone. Usually the only calls I get during the day are from telemarketers and thanks to caller ID I just ignore them. But not today. Every number was one I recognized. Every conversation was important. But it is now nearly 2 o'clock and that big, long day of mine is now, how you Americans say, shot. So that's it. New rule: unless the caller ID says it's school, I am going to try not answering the phone before noon.

I need my mornings! That's when I'm focused. I can write. I can do the homekeeping tasks, like book-keeping, that require some mental presence. Come the afternoon, other things engage my time. The Child, mostly. And making dinner. No, if I'm going to get anything non-parental accomplished in my day, morning is the time when that's going to happen. So that's my new plan. No phone calls before noon. If you're on fire, you'll have to email me.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Sha Na Na Na Na Na Live for Today

"Your shelf is askew," The Neighbor said.

I replied, "Yes. Yes, it is."

There is a little shelf just to the right as you enter the house. It's meant to hold a small bud vase or a few votive candles. But as it is askew, things slide off of it everytime someone opens or closes the door. The problem would be easy enough to fix, requiring maybe 5 minutes total, a drill and a level. I have all three of those components. (Note: the day I learned to use a cordless drill was one of the most liberating of my life. Suddenly an entire vista of home repair projects was open to me without having to wait for The Spouse to get around to it). So why has this little shelf been hanging by a thread for months?

Once upon a time we had some very dear friends who decided to leave Seattle and move to the Boondocks. Prior to selling their home they did a few things around the place to improve sales appeal. Like fixed up and got operational a second bathroom that they had been doing without even though they had 5 children. Like scraping paint off all the windows so the sashes would open. Like installing outlet covers and quarter-round and other little touches. In short, they finally got around to doing all those pesky little home improvement chores, making their home even more charming and cozy, just when they weren't going to live in it anymore.

This is a cautionary tale about people who wait to improve their lives. Just think of the implications if I was going to go all Oprah on you. But frankly, I just care, for the moment about where you live. It doesn't matter if you rent or own. Where you live is your home. It is - it should be, anyway - the place that nurtures you, encourages you, wraps its metaphoric arms around you even when no one else will. And that's why, even if you can't change the wall color or do anything about the crappy carpet, it should at least be in working order. You shouldn't walk into a room and think, "Man, one of these days I'm going to really have to putty that hole". Putty the hole today. Change the hardware on the kitchen cabinets. Touch up the paint. Cross the t's and dot the i's of your home because you deserve to enjoy it at it's best. Don't wait until you're leaving it to make it what you always wanted. Trust me on this.

For the longest time we had a gross shower. The bathroom used to be at the end of the house, then someone added a garage. Only they didn't remove the window. And the wall never was waterproofed. So it was gross and creepy and we lived with it like that for years. And part of what kept us from doing anything about it was the thought that someday, when we put a master suite on that end of the house, we'd be blowing through the bathroom anyway. Except, of course, someday requires first falling into a vat of money. Which could happen but in the meantime the shower was still gross. One day The Spouse put on his Bob the Builder hat, ripped out the gross window, rebuilt the wall and took me off to the tile store. And now our shower is very groovy and not at all gross. Although I realized this morning that really, we need to do something about the bathroom floor and there's tile left over from the shower....

The shelf in the living room is askew and today I'm going to do something about it because I believe in practising what I preach. I'm also going to dust.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Dancing Ladies

'Tis the ninth day of Christmas and things are slowing down and beginning to return to normal. The Spouse went back to work today, school starts tomorrow. I had determined that today would be given over, to the degree possible, to The Child's whims. At first she wanted to go downtown to spend her Christmas gift cards but within seconds that morphed to 'playing school'. How twisted is that? Her last day of vacation and she wants to play school. She actually told me yesterday, after one of the M St. gang puked all over her bedroom, "I sure hope I'm not going to get sick. I want to go to school".

This is either a significant breakthrough in the academic life of my child or the end is near.

She's been a joy this vacation. She has, I think, experienced one of those upward bumps in emotional growth. Suddenly, without any pushing, prodding or other intrusive parental pressure she's been focused on things like organization and helpfulness. She's suddenly brushing her hair 100 strokes each day and remembering to wear her retainer. She composed a list of "rules" for herself to keep her desk tidy. Last night we were watching Food Network and when she got up to get herself some water she asked if she could bring anything for anyone else. And then she asked if she could iron some napkins.

She's almost a dozen years old. I remember this time, with all those opposing forces striving within you, wanting to be grownup, wanting to stay little, wanting to fall in love and still thinking boys are kinda icky, trying to imagine what you'll be like as an adult and modeling, every once in a while, what you think that will look like. Anyway, she's just as cute a button and I like seeing her arrive at this new level, mostly because it seems like it is rooted in a secure place. Which is great because, let's face it, we're hardly out of the adolescent woods yet!

Monday, January 02, 2006


I'm done, I'm done, I'm done! 19 chapters and an epilogue ready to go before the editorial eye of a couple of friends and I'm done! Sure, there'll necessarily be a few changes and rewrites before I turn it over to the published friend who said he'd give it to his agent but boys and girls, after 10 years of sometimes more talking about it than actually doing it I have written my first book and I'm done, done, done!

Grab the Kodak, Mildred, the pigs is flying!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Watch Where You Put that Thing

We're getting a late start on Non Sans Jammie Redux as the first Sunday of the month is when The Spouse drives a van of senior ladies to church. But flexibility is my middle name, baby. We went to church and as soon as he gets home we'll revert to jammies and resume the Star Wars marathon we started last night. It had been a while since I'd seen Episodes 1 & 2 and I have some observations:

1) I still don't know what the hell George Lucas was thinking when he created Jar Jar Binks. That is NOT a character that grows on you.

2) I really liked Natalie Portman in "Garden State".

3) When Ewan McGregor was weeping over the dead body of Liam Neeson I started to softly sing "Come What May" because he was holding Liam just like he held a dying Nicole Kidman in "Moulin Rouge". The Spouse laughed.

4) Barefoot Bubbly is really a little too sweet for my taste. Should have sprung for the Veuve Clicquot after all. Which might be my first regret of '06. And if that's my biggest mistake in the new year I'll be doing pretty well.

Go have some coffee. You look like you could use it. Happy New Year!