Thursday, November 30, 2006

Holiday Seasons

After I deliver The (possibly dejected and certainly disappointed) Child to school I am going to get a formal start on the season by going to my favorite nursery (Fremont Gardens, owned and operated by my dearest and most long-running of friends) to buy paper white narcissus. I usually get these started right after Thanksgiving but with the travel and The Dog's illness and the weather....

Anyway, I will come home, fill a shallow bowl with pebbles and water and arrange the bulbs
just so, thus "forcing" them to bloom by Christmas. Which they will because paper whites are the most forgiving and co-operative bulb to force. And I love them. Within days they will start sending up long green stems and leaves, providing the only holiday decoration for a while. When the flowers finally bloom (which truly will be just before or on Christmas) their peppery-sweet scent willl swirl up and mingle with the other aromas of the season...the piney tree and the bowl of orange and clove pomanders...and it will smell like Christmas.

All that said, the season we are about to celebrate is Advent. You're not going to see any Christmas decorations or hear any Christmas songs around here. Not yet Not until Christmas Eve. Oh, sure, we'll get our tree this weekend. But it will sit out in the back garden, in a big tub of water, until we put it up on December 24th. The outdoor lights may be hung before then, but they won't be turned on. And I will be spending some time with shopping and card writing and festal menu planning because, of course, everything needs to be ready by the time the 12 days start. But it isn't Christmas here yet.

I know that just about everyone who celebrates Christmas gets started the day after Thanksgiving. And that's fine. But we keep to the church calendar....4 weeks of fasting (Advent) before the 12 days of Christmas. Advent isn't a fast on the order of Lent...although it used to be...but it is a quiet time, a preparatory time, a time of waiting and prayer. So we will have an Advent wreath and at dinner time will use a very dog-eared little prayer book to guide our family reflections.

I love Advent. I love that the first Sunday of Advent is also the start of the new church year. It is coming at just the right time because I feel the need of a new season, a fresh but quiet season. I could use a little renewal, a few weeks of "O Come, O Come Immanuel" before the big, majestic "Adeste Fideles" of the 12 day party that is Christmas.


It's Raining!

Pft. And le pft while we're at it. Also, macpft.

The good news is that school is starting 2 hours late, so The Child won't, perhaps, be too horribly depressed. She went to bed last night wishing and wishing with all her little might to wake up to a blanket of white. It did start precipitating around 9pm last night and at first the streets had a nice, icy sheen of white upon them. Oh. The joy. But all too soon it turned to icy rain and then just to rain and voila and le pft, just like that everything is back to normal.

In other news, I found a screaming deal on Christmas cards at my neighborhood drug store.

Long Overdue

Mr. Iwanski needs a little cheering up and at "Here's the Thing" you know exactly what that means.

Congratulations on your induction into the Exalted Order of Koihead.


Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Full Disclosure

I am not inspired.

There. I said it.

For some weeks now, I have been operating on a very low energy wave. I'm not sick or depressed. I'm sleeping fine, have a healthy appetite and am taking pleasure in the things around me. I have virtually no complaints about my life. The quotidian obligations of cleaning and pungling, while not always exactly rocking my world, do not weigh on me. I am doing, at least at the basic minimum, what must needs be done to keep house and hearth together. I am not sad, angry, frustrated or any other negative thing. Which is almost too bad. Anger, for example, is easily identified and therefore easily examined. What is the cause of this anger? What steps must be taken to restore the peace?

But what I'm feeling isn't so easily named. It would sound impressive to say I'm suffering from ennui but that suggests on-going annoyance and irritation, which is inaccurate. Nor am I simply bored because that speaks to a general lack of interest, which is not the case either.

So if nothing is wrong, why am I so lacking in creative impulse?

That's a dandy question. Let's think about it.

a) I'm not exercising. Never mind that this month has been first, far too rainy and is now far too cold. I'm not moving enough, which may account for why the humours are a little sluggish as well.

2) I'm not using my my mind. I haven't read a good book in months. I've barely looked at a magazine, although last night I did start reading a good article in an old Vanity Fair about Alice Waters and the birth of Chez Panisse. I also haven't worked a crossword puzzle. More importantly, except for blogging, I haven't been writing.

And as important as a) is, I think 2) is more to the point. My blog is a creative outlet, no question about it. But it is supposed to prime the pump. It's not the end all and be all of my creative expression. Except lately. It's good that at least I am blogging, keeping my hand in and all that. But I want to do more. There are even ideas glimmering in the shadows. But for some reason, just at the moment, I'm feeling very stuck.

So there.

Here's a good thing about me. Once I realize the nature of a problem, I usually act pretty quickly to resolve it. I've hit a slow patch. Well, fine. But there's little reward in sitting here wallowing, especially now that I've identified the problem as a general state of "stuckness". I shall now pull myself out of the Slough of Stuckness before I find myself in the muddy Ditch of Despair. For I haven't any boots.

I am going to write for a while.

It's a Dog's Life

What I Need to Do. Right Now.

Look, ma! An icicle!

It's another snow day. Still no serious snow around here but it's super cold, there's ice everywhere and they say another snow storm is on its way. The good news is that, typically, if snow is actually predicted we don't get any. The best snowstorms we've ever had have always been "gotchas".

But. I absolutely have to make a bank deposit today. So I'm going to bundle up, get some water, put gas in the car and go downtown (because we use a credit union and the branch is really the only place where I can make deposits. Isn't that silly?) I need to go now, while the sun is trying to shine and the roads are clear. Because the sky looks like a fleece blanket and if it does decide to start dumping I want to be safe and warm in my house and not trying to negotiate hilly city streets in all my snow-driving virgin naivete.

So off I go and then I'll come home and post about something that has nothing to do with snow. Promise.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Öluar Is Pleased

Snow day!

Although, before we get too excited, it should be noted that it is not so much snow as ice and that strictly speaking, not even that would prevent us from leaving home.

Here's our street:

The Child woke up at 8:30. "Mom? Why am I not at school?"

"Snow day!" I cheerily replied.


You need to understand the geography of Seattle. First, it is a city built on 7 hills (yes, just like Roma). Also, the "metro area" is a sprawling one. This means that parts of town get hit harder than others and that ice makes many of our major streets impassable. Because they are at a significant incline.

So while areas north, south and east of us got measurable snowfall last night and us not so much, we're all in this together.

The Seahawks played (and won) in the snow last night. Some fans were still trying to get home at 5am this morning.

The thing is, we get so little snow around here that even the natives, let alone the Californicating transplants, have no idea how to drive in it. I don't know how to drive in it. Lord, if I were out and about and it started snowing I would be so screwed. I don't even know how to put on the snow chains that I think I have somewhere. It's just not a skill one really needs around here. Which is why we are completely gobsmacked at the merest dusting of the white stuff.

I know all you Canadian and midwestern readers are laughing your heads off right now.

Once upon a time, when I was a nanny, it started to snow. It snowed so much that the mom was only able to drive a few hilly blocks before coming back home. She was a work-a-holic and kept hoping that the snow would stop and melt and she could go in. After about an hour, with a pretty impressive accumulation and no sign of let up, she told me I should probably try and get home.

I waited for the bus for a while and it became clear that it wasn't coming any time soon. My nanny family lived in the Ravenna neighborhood, which is just a smidge north and east of the University District. I knew there would be more bus options closer in so I started to walk. After about 20 cold, sloppy blocks, I stopped at a little restaurant and ordered the most delicous black bean soup I've ever tasted, had a glass of wine and rested. After sufficient warming and carbo loading, I set out again, finally gaining the U district. Where the bus stops were crammed with people waiting for the few paltry buses that had managed to get chains on.

So I kept walking. My trip to work was a multi-bus affair so I figured I'd just make it to the main stop, the one that would get me straight home. It was up above the freeway. When I finally got there, after about another hour of snow walking (which is harder than regular walking, btw), there were no less than 60 people jammed into the tiny shelter. And they'd been waiting a long time.

So I kept walking. Now I want all you Seattlites, former and current, to pay attention to this. I walked from the border of Wedgewood, all the way through Ravenna and the U district. I finally made it Wallingford. It was about 3 hours into my hike and it was still snowing. Hard. I stopped somewhere along the way and got a coffee. I was hoping to pass a ski shop because I was seriously going to buy some cross country skis or some snowshoes, but alas. I kept walking, another 2 cold hours or so until I got to Greenwood and my friend Peggy's house. She was home. Thanks be to Öluar. She gave me hot things to drink and eat and we watched the news, which was full of snow reports. Peggy, being from Colorado, was mystified. "But there's only 8 or 10 inches on the ground. What's the matter with you people?"

"Don't you have snow days in Colorado?" I asked.

"Sure. If it gets to 2 feet or something. But this is nothing!"

Well, not to her, but in this hilly land full of snow novices, where the county owns all of 3 snow plows, it's big deal. A shut-down-the-city-and-pray-to-God-you-have-enough-toilet-paper-in-the-house-because-you-aren't-going-anywhere big deal.

But like I said, that's hardly the situation this morning. I've got to put gas in the car and go to the bank. I think it'll be fine.

Meanwhile, The Child has gone out to not build snowmen and not go sledding with the Mead Street gang. Because it's a snow day.


Monday, November 27, 2006

Here We Go Again

And this time...well, the All-knowing They say the Seattle metro area will get up to 3 inches of snow tonight. The difference between tonight and last night is that the ground is dry and it is even colder. Plus, the current flakes are much smaller and blowing by at a much more determined pace than the lacksidaisical plashing that those fat wet flakes were doing last night.

The Child was busy dancing in said snow. The Spouse warned her that she'd better finish her homework anyway. "Do not tempt Öluar, the snow god," he warned. "The surest way to make sure there is no snow tomorrow is to not do your homework tonight because you don't think you're going to school".

So she is. Doing her homework, that is. Something to do with hobbits.

Also, in a stroke of completely random serendipitous hooha, I got an email tonight from my long-lost college room-mate. I can't wait to find out how she found me. More to the point, I'm so thrilled for the opportunity to get back in touch. SPW was one of the truly important friends during my formative years. She moved to New York after our junior year and we tried to stay in touch but then she got married and had babies and well, you know, it was before the internets. It is so going to rock having each other's email address.

Mushroom ravioli in broth, bruschetta with chevre and a big green salad for dinner tonight. Yum.


Poodles at Work

No sooner did I confess my complete lack of will, chutpah and general avoidance of good old Puritan work ethic than I received an email from JP, reminding me that some people work very hard for a living. This has inspired me to mend my ways. I will, in a minute. 3 minutes and 39 seconds to be exact.



I do not know what is wrong with me. I have no will to do any of the things I should be doing and it's now less than an hour before The Child must be retrieved. It's crazy, I tell you. I'm going to set my timer in a minute and blow myself away with how much can be accomplished in 45 minutes. But before that happens I would like to say, because I'm not sure it was remarked on quite enough, my family is pretty cool. Too many people go into the holidays dreading the time they will be forced to endure with people who, all things being equal, they wouldn't spend 2 minutes talking to at a cocktail party. I on the other hand, always leave our little get-togethers with the feeling that the time was too short. So, because I like my family members so much, I have formally inducted all of them into the Exalted Order of the Koihead.

Because they rock.


Reports of Our Blizzard Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

Today was not, as I predicted, a snow day. The Child, as expected, still tried to work it:

"But what if more snow comes? See those clouds?"

Well, sure. It snowed in November. It rarely does that. So anything could happen because it already has. But the roads were clear and dry.

"Trust me," I tell her, "if it starts to snow hard I will come get you from school".

"My head hurts".

With absolutely no warmth whatsoever I gave her a couple of Tylenol and told her to get up.

"I don't have a shirt and I can only find one sneaker".

I dig a shirt out of the clean laundry that I didn't put away before we left on our trip. "Here. And I suggest you find the other shoe".

"I think I'm sick, mom. My nose is stuffy and my throat is sore and my stomach hurts".

"You are not sick," I said. "and it is not a snow day. We're leaving in 10 minutes".

"Fine!" she retorted, with all the distain of which she is capable. Which is plenty.

The ride in was rather fun, though. Snow was blowing off the hood of the car and sliding down the windows. It was like we were generating our own little blizzard.

Then I came home and opened the fridge to get the peanut butter I have to smear on The Dog's pills to get him to take them. This is what I found:

A bowl of fresh snow. Probably laden with all sorts of poisonous trace elements but it looks, well, pure. She can have snow ice cream for a snack this afternoon. What the heck.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Scenes from a Sunday Night

The Child, making the mundane task of unloading the dishwasher more exciting by pretending to be a rock star.

The actual snow on the actual deck which actually began to accumulate before it stopped snowing. The Child will, I assure you, be very disappointed when she gets up tomorrow because she is so counting on this as a trend. The Dog, however, will be very happy if this horrible cold white stuff is gone by morning. He does not enjoy being wet and cold.


It's Snowing!

I'm serious. It started about half an hour ago. It isn't sticking because it's been raining all day but still. The Child is beside herself and I am trying to help her guard her heart. I know she's already convinced that tomorrow will be a snow day. And it won't. But she's gone out to play with the neighbor kids and hope springs eternal.

Also, I've been thinking about this song ever since Thanksgiving evening, when we watched "Nanny McPhee", with Emma Thompson and Colin Firth. Delightful film. Lovely ending.


Here's One You Couldn't Possibly Have Seen Coming

This one goes out to Dana. Released in 1989, it comes at the tail end of the decade we celebrate and is a splendid example of the female singer/songwriter thing that was beginning to happen on a level not seen since the likes of Joni Mitchell, if you ask me. But you didn't. Anyway, it doesn't spring to mind as a classic 80s song but it sure is a classic. And just right for a Sunday afternoon.

Waiting Tables

These weekends get me nostalgic. I'm remembering my sojourns into the world of food service. In 1981 I worked as the lunchtime seating hostess at a Greek restaurant. I eventually also learned how to wait tables. Sometimes we'd get really slammed and I'd have to help out one of the waitresses or it would be that weird nether time between lunch and dinner, when all the day people had clocked out and someone would wander in looking for a cup of coffee and a bowl of avgolemano soup.

I have always been grateful that I had this job experience. The owner was an ass and his brother, the head chef, was a sexist pig but most of the staff were really terrific people and we had some pretty good times.

Toward the end of the decade I did some more restaurant work. I had a "real" job by then but there was a wine bar/restaurant that I frequented and just before the holidays one of the bartenders quit to take another job. I volunteered to work the bar on the weekends, for tips. The owner also paid me in bottles of wine from the little shop attached to the restaurant. It was a pretty sweet gig. During the all the Saturdays from November through January I poured wine, served up soup and once in a while got to manage the complexities of full-blown table service. It was even better that time because it wasn't my job. I had the freedom to screw up. Which I hardly ever did. I also made really good tips, much to the chagrin of the other bartender (who I had briefly dated) because a) I was a dilettante and 2) my lunch tips were more impressive than what he got at dinner. (That's because charming and adorable trumps cool and efficient every time. So there. Neener neener).

Amusing story: I did once piss off a chef because I didn't put my order ticket where he liked them to go so he "punished" me by ignoring the order until my customer was getting steamed. I placated the customer (comped his lunch, for one thing) and got through the afternoon but when the head chef found out what happened (she was also a friend of mine) she tore him a new one and made him apologize to me and from then on he was my lap dog. Neener neener again.

All of this is to say that I have a very important "fall back" skill. If I had to - God forbid - but if I had to, I could always get a restaurant job.

It is also my belief that everyone should be required, by law, to work in the food service industry for a minimum of 3 months, just to get the perspective. Because while I'm sure we could all tell stories of wretched service and rude waitpeople, it is also a really hard job and most of us don't appreciate that fact near enough.

And the tag on this video is wrong. This song charted in 1980.

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I must confess that this weekend's video tour is partly self-serving. The Parent Association is putting on a Karaoke night next weekend and we've decided that it's going to be an 80s theme and costumes are encouraged. So I'm doing some research. I borrowed the dress Martha Stewart wore for "Wild Thing" and now just have to accessorize. Which is everything when we're talking about the 80s. So please know that as I'm putting up these videos I'm paying especially close attention to the details so that I can represent this decade as authentically as possible.

Also, I would like to say that while James Broadbent has forever changed the way I think about this song, it is still a classic.

By Request

Jon emailed all the way from Texas (wait, that's no big deal...) to request this song, which he considers the epitome of the 80s. I would agree that the sound is quintessential 80s, we've got our pretty boy in a suit and the clothes and hair are nothing short of classic. Here's the thing: I have never heard this song in my life nor have I heard of this guy. So, there you go. You learn something every day.

Here you go, Buck:

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Hey There, Handsome

Back in the 80s, it really helped if you were pretty. Especially if you were a boy. This is one of the things I appreciate about the era. Now, you might say that being attractive is always a bonus in the music business and you'd be right but there just seems to be a disproportionate number of pretty boys in 80s music. Not that I'm complaining. Plus, I am a sucker for a guy in a suit.

The Importance of Good Communication Skills

(That has got to be the most uncomfortable outfit in all of video history).

Aimee Mann is a goddess.

I'm Happy to Report

Mr. Puppers has tested negative for parasites (you wanted to know that, didn't you) and has been given some meds to help calm his tummy. He was very perky on the walk to the vet and he barked happily at the other doggies. Thank you for your concern.

I Have Actually Done This

The riding on the Metro part.

Form and Substance

I love talking with my neices about music. I love that they listen to really interesting bands and that they appreciate the classics. (Jane, for example, is very big into U2's "War" album at the moment). All our talk about 80 music and videos compelled The Spouse and I to share with them a classic example of the form, even though it is a spoof. It wasn't made in the 80s but it represents everything that was good and true and pure of the time. And besides "The 80s didn't come to Canada until, like '93". That's according to the star of the video.

The second I saw this video I wanted to play it, but was going to resist. But I got over that as soon as JP sent me the clip.

Robin Sparkles "Let's Go to the Mall"

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Just an Observation

This is the fourth weekend that I've done this video thing. I really didn't intend for it to become a bit but, you know, "by popular request" and all that. And certainly, one weekend hardly mined the deep, rich ore that is '80's videos. (Even though I do think that I pretty much got all the quintessential ones nailed that first weekend).

Anyway, since I'm sorta commited to doing this for a little bit, I spend a bit of time each week searching YouTube for videos and saving them into my favorites. And I also find myself oddly resensitized to 80s music. If I hear a song on the radio (or in an elevator or a super market because yes, 80s music is now canned) I am wont to stop and scribble down the name with an "Oh, yes, how did I forget that tune. (I am also of the mind that I will soon have to revamp my top 100 songs list because something tells me that the 80s are not represented properly).

This is one of the songs I couldn't believe I forgot but once remembered has been hummed frequently.

The Picture of Health

The Dog is going to go to the vet in a minute because of a weird retching thing and, you know, that gas issue. I think he's actually fine now and suspect it was the travel that affected him more than anything else but better safe than sorry. And The Child, who I adore, is a frakking drama queen and much as she would completely freak out if there were something wrong with him, she "needs to know". So off we go.


Thanksgiving Addendum

Booger Blogger got tired of load pictures yesterday but here are just a few more for fun and then I'll get back to playing VJ.

This is Mr. Mortimer Chantilly, who is the head cosmetologist at Berry Berry & Diggins Mortuary. He's been at that post for 29 years, after tragically losing his entire family when he was only 12. This loss, and the shoddy work that was done on his family, inspired him to go into this line of work and he was renowned for his gift. My father told me all this yesterday, when he called to inform that poor Mr. Chantilly died very suddenly and as there is no one to do his makeup, he will be cremated. (My father is, I've decided, a strange little man).

(Also, check out The Child's's so fun to have older cousins to help glam you up!)

Here is Mr. Chantilly, bonding with The Dog, who found something oddly familiar about the moustache.

Speaking of oddly familiar, the only time The Dog went completely nuts was when Martha's family was doing "Wild Thing". That long, curly black wig on my BIL's head just freaked pup out. I think he thought BIL was wearing a relative. Also, it is worth noting that my BIL is a easily the most conservative of us all and works as a pastor. Because he always surprises me (us) when he does stuff like this. (Likely a lesson in there about not judging books by their cover or something like that).

And this is my neice Emily, who I don't talk about much because I don't see her as often so I'm not as close to her as I am Mols and Jane but she's a lovely girl and I just thought I'd mention that.

Back to the music.

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Friday, November 24, 2006

We Think We're Really Funny

My family operates on the premise that if you laugh enough, you will burn all the calories consumed at the Thanksgiving table. Thus, after a bit of time to digest, there was a flurry of excitement as folks changed in to costume and collected props. The smell of greasepaint was in the air and the crowd murmered in anticipation. Or something like that.

Dame Judi did a lovely recitation of James Whitcomb Riley's "The Bee Bag", attended by my father, taunting the poor little child who used to be a brownie, with the "bee bag that the fairies stoled away".

Thanksgiving 2006, the year my father came out.

Our family was the Bhygollhys, Indira, Priti and Raj "Call Me Roger". (We are fond of characters that involve accents). This year we took a poke at outsourcing. When we introduced ourselves at table we wore headsets and interrupted our own introductions to say things like "American Express, how may I help you". (Raj works for Dell, Indira has an afterschool job on the help desk at "Toys R Us").

For the talent show, Raj invited the audience, "in the spirit of fostering multicultural understanding", to ask us questions. These we fielded with other "customer service" pet peeves. The first question, for example, was if our water was drinkable. Unfortunately, Raj could not answer the question because the asker did not have her account number. The second question was for me, wherein Mols decided to get an answer to the water question. Sadly, I had to put her on hold. I didn't even hear The Child's, I mean, Indira's question because I was, of course, softly humming "hold" music. After a couple rounds I finally had an answer for Mols, but in a stroke of bad luck, we were disconnected just as I started to give it to her. Namaste.

This portion of the holiday is not a competition and there is no voting, prizes nor yet even bragging rights. But, if there had been some sort of objective measurement, a laugh meter or some such, the top prize may well have gone to Martha Stewart's family, for a very hysterical and perfectly choreographed lip-synched rendition of "Wild Thing".

Martha's eldest daughter is now married. She and her husband, in the guise of the Van Poofbegone's, did some magic tricks. Really, really impressive magic tricks.

This is Audrey Hepburn's family. Rapping. White people. 'Nuff said.

As an added bonus, Jane and Mols did a lip-synced version of the terribly amusing little number from "Spamalot", entitled "The Song that Goes Like This", the lyrics of which you can find here and a smidge of a sample can be found here (#8).

The show most delightfully over, we enjoyed pie. And then someone, a child perhaps, asked my sisters and I to do our 3 Headed Singer routine. Taking themes and musical styles from the audience, we improvise a song, each of us offering up one word at a time. It had been a while since we'd done it but we didn't suck. We certainly cracked ourselves up.


Speaking of Women in Leather

Everyone needs a good anthem or two. This was one of mine. It still is. It is one of my favorite karaoke songs.

The Child can sing it, too, which is important because,as the Thanksgiving holiday reaffirmed, passing on traditions is very, very important.

And yes, for you totally music geeks, Joan Jett first recorded this cover in 1979 but this version charted in 1982. So don't get huffy.

The Neices

Jane Austen is a big fan of All 80s Weekend. Mols, not so much. We were trying to come up with some sort of code whereby I can alert Mols that she might find a video interesting. But now I've decided that it will just be up to Jane Austen to tell her. Jane, who was born in 1987, claims to be all about the 80s. We had a good talk about music videos, about how the medium was so new in the 80s and there was a lot of experimenting with what could be done and how, actually, a lot of music videos really sucked BUT that the music is so good it doesn't matter.

This might be an example of that. I really like this song. I liked all those Irish/Scottish/oy! laddie/Celtic bands. This video, however, makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

Beginning the Weekend

I wasn't into this band in the '80s, probably because I looked at their fans and figured I wouldn't get it. I was probably wrong about that. I understand how their look managed to influence an entire subset of that generation (and beyond). What I don't get is why their fans seem so pissy and mournful because I think these guys sound just about as perky and pop as they come.

Random Thanksgiving Day Pics

I've decided that I have to start carrying release forms with me, given that I was frequently saying things like, "Great shot. That's going in the blog".

The Dog. Who was very well-behaved (and a little gassy).

Surprising Martha. She was the only one who didn't know New Jersey Cousin was joining us.

New Jersey Cousin - a very delightful woman, btw, with whom I did not get to spend anywhere near enough time but who is a faithful and very supportive lurker on my blog.

Audrey Hepburn, playing with her food.

Jane Austen, Mols and The Child

My "strong, silent type" nephew, Hottie McHotterson (Audrey's son).

The Child and Grandpa having a chat.


Thanksgiving Dinner

sFirst, you have to cook it. Emma, who heretofore would like to be known as Jane Austen, was of great help to her mother and I. She peeled potatoes.

She also managed to stir gravy and yams at the same time. She's in college. We're very proud of her. (Except that she's 19 and still hasn't registered to vote. She got an earful about that but has promised to be registered by the next presidential election).

(I had some darling photos of her here but Blogger ate them & won't let me put them back. Blogger's a booger).

Sometimes my multi-talented Mols joined the cooking fun. There was much bursting into song and Audrey Hepburn had to keep shushing us. We get a little enthusiastic when we do show tunes.

Here's Audrey, giving my yams a taste test. Funny thing about our holiday menu. There are always yams, because it is tradition. Only about 3 of us actually eat them. (They were good this year, though, even though I ended up skipping the homemade marshamallows and doing an orange-balsamic vinegar-maple syrup mash thing. Yum. To the 3 of us that eat them, that is).

Audrey made a splendid feast although the turkey took longer than she had planned which meant people were getting testy because the meal that was supposed to start at 2 didn't until 3 but my job was to to give her stirring words of encouragement, because even though people were ready for more than black olives and baby corn, one certainly doesn't want to serve undercooked turkey. Audrey held fast and besides, the gravy was taking its own sweet time thickening, despite repeated applications of cornstarch slurry. It was like it knew. And when the gravy magically came to the proper thickness the turkey was ready. And it was delicious. As were her mashed potatoes and dressing (and stuffing) and all the other delectable things that were spread out on our very long table.

Also, my other sister, Martha Stewart, had a plan to make aprons for all the moms but things, like life, got in the way of that project so she just went into her stash of vintage aprons (which number in the 40s...she really is frakking Martha Stewart...I mean, seriously, who do you know that collects vintage aprons?) She chose them according to each woman's style. Mine is a fab 50's retro, black and white graphic thing with a little trim of lavendar on the pockets. I heart my apron so much and I plan on wearing it every day when I do housework. It is super fantastic.

And then, because this was the point of gathering from all four winds, we gathered around the beautifully decorated and laden table, held hands for grace, sang the Doxology in 40 part harmony and tucked in.

Pass that perfectly roasted turkey and gorgeously thick gravy, please.

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Safe and Uneventful

This what you wished for our return trip. This is what we got. No rain, hardly any traffic, even half-way decent music on the radio.

The Spouse is at work, poor baby, The Child is parked in front of the TV and frankly, I could do with a nap. But instead I'm going to take a shower and go out foraging for groceries and a bottle of nouveau beaujolais because it is that time of year and there's nothing I like better than turkey leftovers with a glass of nouveau beaujolais. Of course, the bugger of going to someone else's house for Thanksgiving is that one doesn't have turkey left-overs, which is why one has to go to the supermarket and buy a turkey breast to roast so that there will be turkey leftovers. (Note to Dame Judi: Two more arguments for your superfantastic "Thanksgiving in Summer" plan. A) Everyone would increase their chances of having turkey leftovers on Thanksgiving proper owing to them preparing their own birds not to mention 2) the boon to the economy with a potential of 5 additional turkeys being purchased each season.)

So there you go. I love you all and hope you're still full to the eyeballs with sage and onion dressing. Pictures and full report later.

Oh, and because there are people who have to work today, I think we'll start All 80's Weekend a little early. That will give you something to look forward to, now won't it?


Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving Day

It is pouring rain. Audrey Hepburn lives near a creek which is, at the moment, a swollen river roaring in the general direction of the sea. The Child has been warned to stay far away from the banks, as it is her habit to frequent the creek as often as possible when she is here. Not this time.

The foundation for the fragrance of Thanksgiving is being laid, melting butter, celery and onions. The top notes of turkey will be added shortly. Meanwhile, The Dog is playing with Mols and we are listening to Fiona Apple. The Child is out with Uncle and Cousin Nate, getting extra chairs for the dinner table. The Spouse is perusing Audrey's video collection.

I am thankful. I am thankful we are here at all. A 2 hour trip took nearly 4. We were late to dinner and I thought, I really did, that The Spouse was going to have a stroke at the wheel and we were going to careen off the wet, sloppy freeway and crash upside down in the median. Kinda like the one accident we saw that explained at least 1 hour of the torturous 10 mph crawl down frakking I-5. In the HOV lane. It wasn't pretty, friends. The Spouse ascribes to the school of thought which suggests that the more you bang on the steering wheel and swear at your fellow travellers, the faster you will go. You'd have thought, evidence quite to the contrary, that he'd have relaxed int0 the "nothing to be done about it" Zen of it all but no. Next year...well, actually, there's a good chance that there will be a family meeting about next year. Dame Judi is firmly of the opinion that we need to declare our own holiday, sometime in the summer, and give up trying to convene everyone from 4 or 5 points in the worst possible of weather. Early polling suggests that her suggestion will not only reach the floor but be approved by an overwhelming majority. Bi-partisanship, indeed.

I should go see what needs to be done in the kitchen, plus Emma wants to play the Muse for me because she just saw them in concert at the Paramount and they have a song that "totally bashes George Bush", as Mols gleefully put it.

I am thankful for my beautiful neices and my lovely sister.
I'm thankful that everyone is in a perky mood this morning.
I'm thankful that the little play we put on for the folks last night made them happy (although they laughed when we were trying to be poignant).
I'm thankful that my New Jersey Cousin, who is very dear, is going to be here today and that her arrival will be a surprise to some family members.
I'm thankful that my sister is a good cook.
I'm thankful that The Child remembered that I had ordered a pumpkin pie from school so that I was in time to go pick it up since I kept The Child home with me yesterday because we had a lot to do.
I'm thankful that Emma has switched from Fiona Apple to U2.
I'm thankful that my sister has the internets.

Hope you and yours have a lovely day and that there is enough left-over turkey for sandwiches. It's all about the sandwiches.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

2 Thankful Things

The world's longest French fry and a t-shirt from one of mom's blog buddies.

(Just for you, Stacy!)

Thanksgiving Eve

Many things to do today: errands to run, things to bake, stuff to pack. The plan is to be ready to hit the road as soon as The Spouse gets home, hopefully by 4 at the latest so we can, hopefully, get to Dame Judi's by 6. Tonight the family will gather for a belated celebration of Judi & Sean's 50th wedding anniversary and then we'll have our traditional Thanksgiving show. Turkey and such tomorrow.

It gets a little Walton's Mountain when we're all together for Thanksgiving. It started years ago, when we put on an improptu show. The menfolk sang "My Girl". The womenfolk dressed like church ladies and sang a warbly hymn. The children dressed The Child, the youngest girl cousin, as a mermaid and they sang "Under the Sea" while The Child wiggled her hips and made fish faces. Good times. That was also the year that my sister, Audrey Hepburn, greeted me in the morning with, "What's your name?" and we all started inventing other personae for ourselves.

Now it's tradition. Every family shows up with a new identity and each family does some sort of riotous (to us) skit or song or other mayhem. I can't tell you who we're going to be this year until after, because some family members lurk on my blog. I can tell you that we think it's funny. Although, to this day the best bit we ever did was the year we were Fat Angus, Margaret and Wee Bit McShagg. We put on our Scottish accents and for our entertainment we were a human bagpipe. You had to be there. Some of the neices still call The Spouse "Uncle Fat Angus".

The whole alternate personality thing has taken on a life of it's own. No longer content to make up funny names, people now include costumes and props. That Czarina video? We made that the year we were Russian immigrants. I dressed up as the Czarina. The Spouse...I forget his Russian name but he was manager of a borscht factory. And The Child was Ludmilla and danced in the Bolshoi. We dressed her in a tutu and big heavy workboots and she'd do this stomping plie thing all over the room. And the video was my pilot for a cable access program. We crack ourselves up.

But back to more serious matters. I'm tired because The Dog was throwing up last night. It sounded a lot worse than it was but it made me get up to tend to him. Which involved cleaning up so no one else would have to and petting him until he seemed ready to come back to bed. And then, because I'm a mom, I kept worrying that something was wrong and sitting up to pet him some more until I was well sure that he was sleeping again. He's fine now. He was chasing The Cat at 6:30am, just like always.

Oh, big news! It is The Dog's birthday today. He's 2. Happy birthday to him. He's coming with us to my sister's because none of the other plans I tried to make for him came through. We probably need to come up with a name for him, too.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006


It's really windy today and the front door just blew open. That's a bad thing because The Dog, who usually acts like he loves us to pieces, really hates us and wants to escape from his brutal life of eating, sleeping and eating some more before he sleeps. So when the door blows open, he seizes the opportunity and runs for it. This always requires grabbing a treat and the leash, saying a quick prayer to St. Francis and going out after him. Which is tough because if I run he thinks we're having one last game of chase before he's free forever. But if I just saunter along calling, "Here boy! Treat!" he ignores me and keeps running. You can almost hear his little paws tapping out "Freedom! Freedom!" So anyway, I'd just gotten out of the shower and while I was dressed and had shoes on, my hair is still wet and really, the last thing I wanted to do was get some exercise because, sheesh, we've already been for a walk this morning.

I heard the door slam open, jumped up from my desk and sorta slipped a little (because a rolling chair isn't really the best launch pad in the world) and I caught my hand on the bookcase to steady myself, while still moving toward the living room and I whacked a glass carafe with my pinky, sending the carafe bouncing to the floor along with the glass fisherman's float that sits on top of it to keep bugs out of the wine. As all this is clattering to the floor and bouncing around I ran to the front door and slammed it shut and locked it against future breezes.

And The Dog was just sitting on the couch looking at me with an expression that said, "Geez, lady. I'm sleeping here. Keep it down".

My finger really hurts.

Things to be thankful for, besides not having to chase The Dog down the street: there was no wine in the carafe so I don't have to mop and also, apparently French glass doesn't break.

In other news, my child hates me. Again.

Teenagers are not known for their searing logic skills. Everything is about them. I know that. But sometimes I still step right out onto that minefield and start picking daisies. La di dah.

This morning she was angling for some extra jobs because she wants to make money to buy papa and I Christmas presents. Which is adorable of her. So we start brainstorming. Except that I don't have any intention of paying her to do things she's supposed to do, like keep her room clean or unload the dishwasher. There's stuff people have to do because they live in a family. It's not glamorous, it just is. Fine. So I start suggesting things like mopping (which I hate to do) and such and she's pretty jiggy with it but then she says, "And I've been thinking. You know how you credit me with $10 every time I detail the car? Well, I'm thinking you should pay me half and keep half". Right. The reason she is credited $10 is that detailing the car is the way she's "paying back" the $500 frakking dollars she owes us for the car window she broke this summer. So I calmly remind her of this fact and suddenly she's got her fangs out and she's screaming at me, "Why do you always throw that in my face!?! Can't you just let it drop!?!"

I take a deep breath and point out, very logically, that I never bring it up except when, like at this moment, she forgets why she's in this whole car detailing situation in the first place. Which results in her going into her room and slamming the door.

Except it's time to go to school so I tell her she needs to get her stuff and in the process I ask if she has all her homework and she snarfs out, "Yes" and stalks out the door. In the car I ask if she has her homework folder. "NO! It's at school! I have my homework, ok?"

Not ok. At this point I'm about to slap her from here to tomorrow but I just grip the steering wheel a little tighter and say softly, "I do not appreciate that tone of voice. It is very disrespectful."

"Well, maybe if you would just trust me..." she begins.

"Do you have any missing assignments?"

"What? No! Well. Yes. One in math and one in lit."

"No TV".

"MOM!!!! That's so not fair! I did the work, I just couldn't find it at the time and turned it in after class".

"Where was the homework?"

"Around. In my desk or whatever".

So I remind her that this is precisely why she has a homework folder because I know she does the work but she has to be able to find it when it's called for so that she gets the credit.

"I'm just trying to help you help yourself", I say. And I'm still keep a calm tone.

"Well, it doesn't help me when you yell at me about it!" she yells. "Stop yelling at me!"

This is me. Not yelling at her. It's too early in the game to give up but seriously, I am having a devil of a time cracking the code. Kids.

And finally, yesterday The Child and her team-mates were presented with championship trophies. In a moment of pure poetry, she also received a volleyball t-shirt from Jlow which has a big dragony creature spiking a volleyball at a bunch of frightened rabbits. This is perfect because when they play community ball their team name is "Spikers" and their school mascot is the dragon. How did she know?

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Just a Little Thing

I learned the most helpful and delightful thing this morning over at Bad Alice's, specifically by following this link. There you will learn about virtual "stones"...represented like this:


which you can leave when you visit a blog. And why is this meaningful, you ask? Because sometimes I read posts that leave me commentless. Either there's too much to think about and I don't want to be hasty or it's just said so well that there's nothing meaningful to add. But, especially when I'm visiting friends, I like them to know I was there. I mentioned as much to Charlie in a comment recently, to which he replied that a quiet smirk would suffice. I believe he means this:


for lo, I've seen it often enough on his comments. But whether a smirk :o) or a stone (o) I am very happy to have some bloggy shorthand for those times when I'm neither sufficiently clever or sassy enough to leave a comment.

And also, apparently someone has declared this week "delurker" week, which means that those of you who come by but don't leave comments are invited to come out of the shadows of Blogtopia and say "hi". Or leave a stone. Or a smirk. Whatever. I know you're out there. "Delurk" this week, won't you?


Monday, November 20, 2006

What the...

I had a grocery bag on the floor, left from Friday's shopping excursion, into which I had put the things I need for Thanksgiving (not much as we are going to Audrey Hepburn's and all I'm bringing is yams (with home-made marshmallows) and a loaf of bread (an herb braid which I expect I'll be making on Wednesday morning). Anyhoo, I was fixing on moving it into the "root cellar", as we poetically refer to the garage and I noticed 3 big, fat russet potatoes.

I have absolutely no idea why I bought them. Potatoes weren't on the menu this week.

It's odd that I should buy potatoes without a plan. But it is fortuitous. A glance at the menu shows that I neglected to plan something for dinner tomorrow, what with my excitement over tonight's feast and not really having to do much cooking Wednesday and Thursday, what with being with extended family and all. Potato and corn chowder sounds good, doesn't it?


Building Community

Of all the things I hoped to accomplish by writing a blog, expanding my circle wasn't among them. It never even occured to me. I have plenty of "real" friends, after all.

But now my blog is more than a vehicle for getting myself to write. It is a place, a neighborhood, full of friends who, despite being far flung in reality feel, in this little neck of Blogtopia, as if they live right next door. Just as in every neighborhood, people come and go. There are some with who you have merely a passing encounter or two, you nod in recognition and move on. And then there are the others, the ones from whom you, virtually speaking, borrow sugar, chat with over the fence and look out for.

I got think about it again last night after talking to Amy and Charlie. There we were, Charlie talking about his travels in America, Amy sharing life-changing news, both of them hearing me tell my family to bugger off as they kept pestering me to know who was on the phone ("Amy? Blog Amy?" asked The Child. "Charlie? Put him on speaker," said The Spouse. "Yes, yes, leave me alone! I'm trying to talk here!") And it wasn't "I've never talked with you before" weird, just like the time this summer when Edy called and we started in chatting as if we do it everyday.

There was an email this morning from Jon, telling me he was off to Texas and me responding that I hoped he'd have Interent access because I couldn't imagine going for two weeks without our near daily emails about everything and nothing. (We've talked on the phone, too. And he was with Ms. Healthypants, so it was a two-fer).

Tonight we're having dinner with Alan, the first blog buddy I've ever actually met. And I'm so excited to feed him cocoa-rubbed pork tenderloin and my infamous applesauce cake, to catch up and to talk about his brilliant new blog, knowing that hanging out with him will be delightful and comfy and we-do-this-all-the-time normal.

I think of our plans to go to the middle of the country this summer to cook for Edy and impose ourselves on Jon and the Iwanskis and to finally meet my darling poodle, JP, in Omaha. Geez, Omaha. Like that was ever a place high on the list of cities to visit before I die. But now it is. Maybe we'll even get to actually watch "Battlestar Galactica" together, forgoing our ritual Saturday morning "how much did you love last night's show" email.

There are the shoes from Edy and the cheese from Pat and I think, well, first I think that I really must bust a move and send those shoes back, but then I think "How lucky am I?" Finding all these people - and all the rest of you- was so random and yet, there you are, living your lives and connected to mine somehow by the stories you share, the observations you make and the jokes you tell. I want to be independently wealthy so I can visit you all, from O-town to Texas, plus all points in between and on both edges. And then I'd have to go to Canada and Europe and the UAE. And I bet most of you wouldn't mind a lick.

Strictly speaking, one should preserve a respectful distance, not assume too much, not impose. But at least with my little batch o' buddies, there is surprisingly little pretense. Even as we make our careful choices about what to share and what to hide, we tell a lot. We reveal enough truth about ourselves that actually meeting wouldn't be a shock. No one would redecorate or go on a crash diet. We'd have our beers and tuna sandwiches and chat away, with all our little in-jokes, as if we've known each other forever. It's a very nice thing, one of the things for which I will be thankful in this week of focusing on thankfulness.

All that said, I do now have to go dust and sweep, not because I think Alan will judge me harshly if he spies a dust bunny but just because that's what one does when one is having a friend to dinner.

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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Tee Hee

I just got off the phone from a wee chat with Amy and Charlie. How cool is that? I feel like I just bashed into the Speedy Mart to pick up a quick something or other and ran into, oh, I don't know, Lauren Graham and Steve Martin. Or like I was in some little restaurant and Chrissie Hynde and Ray Davies were at the next table and asked if I had salt. Or something like that. Makes me giggle.

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Closing the Circle

I think we'll bring this weekend's hit parade to an end with this little number.

I don't know the story behind the making of this video but I do think it is cool that they managed to put the emphasis on the song and not the movie, which happened all too often with songs that went to video after being part of a soundtrack. Not that the movie sucked, because it actually didn't. But you know what I mean.

And thanks to Red7Eric for reminding me that Chrissie Hynde married Jim Kerr after her Ray Davies period.


Why have I linked these two videos? Be specific.

I Feel Like Dancing

Goodness, how long has it been since you thought about this one?

One Guess Why I'm Playing This

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Heard Just Now

"Wow!" said The Child, "I didn't recognize you. You look skinny".

The good news is she was referring to how I look in a new sweater and not to one of the myriad, newly digitized photos in which I am, in fact, skinny. I will never take off this sweater.

Speaking of skinny:

Speaking of Two-Toned Hair

Well, I've scanned myself into the 1990s, so it's time for another break.

Speaking of Frisco

Dig this! You can find just about anything on YouTube. I really liked this song. "Jessie's Girl" is better, though.

I Love Technology

I'm working on this art project for my parents, which involves hours of scanning photos. I mean, hours. Turns out, if you're married for 50 years and have 4 kids who then go on to breed themselves you end up with a lot of photographic evidence. Thank God for digital cameras.

It's time for a dance break.

Not at All Obvious

Here's a little number that doesn't immediately spring to mind as a classic of the '80s but you have to admit that it's pretty cute. Give it up for Arsineo.

General Hospital

I was just over at JP's getting all the scoop on Luke and Laura's second marriage. I did not realize that this was going on and it made me sad because I was at their first wedding and had a wonderful time.

I got into "General Hospital" in the early '80s, the era of Luke and Laura, Frisco and whats-her-name, Holly and Scorpio and then Anna and Scorpio (who I just loved and adored and of course, their daughter little Robin is now grown-up, HIV positive and working at GH. I check in enough to know that). There was some pretty good storytelling going on in those days. And music. GH seems to have a big thing for doctors who really want to be rock and rollers (unless they are detectives (Frisco) or spoiled rich family-corporation-bound Quartermaines (Ned) who just want to rock and roll). One or two pop hits over the years came out of this "what will I be when I grow up" dilemma. And none of them, none of them was hotter than this one by Rick Springfield, or as I still like to call him, Dr. Noah Drake:

Breaking News! Breaking News!

It's 9am Pacific time and right this minute, right NOW, TomKat are in Italy getting married. No word yet on whether their daughter Suri and her birth parents are in attendance. Oprah didn't get an invitation but Brooke Shields did.

I'm sure they will be very happy, at least until, like Mimi Rogers and Nicole Kidman before her, Katie wakes up and says, "Good God, what have I done".

And so, we'll kick off all '80's Saturday with this little gem, in honor of the happy couple:

Friday, November 17, 2006

Friday, Friday

It's a beautiful day. We are experiencing a wee reprieve from the lashing rainstorms that have allowed us to break the all-time record for rainfall in the month of November. (And note, the month isn't over yet). Birds are chirping, the workers next door are hammering away at The Neighbor's and life is good.

This afternoon I'm attending a baby shower for Good Coach Amy, The Child is going to a sleepover and The Spouse is making fried chicken for dinner tonight. We'll be entertaining one of his "imaginary" gaming friends, who is apparently an actual person. Assuming this does not interfere with my optimal "Battlestar Galactica" viewing time, I'm sure it will be a lovely evening.

Also, I'm eating a really excellent chocolate-almond candybar for lunch. That might be a little foolhardy given that Iwanskifest resulted in a net weight gain of 3 pounds. Factoring in fried chicken and Thanksgiving festivities I should probably be eating an apple.

I'll start fasting tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I've started a blog over at the Democratic Party website. (Those Democrats, seriously, they will let anyone in the club). I don't know that I'll post on it that often but it seemed like a nice way to get wonky when I felt like it without necessarily imposing said wonkiness upon you. Not that I won't still have my moments over here. I will. But it's a good outlet for me. You know how I enjoy my outlets. Any way, you're welcome to check it out here if you have nothing else to do.

And now I need to tidy up for aforementioned dinner guest. Just a few hours until "All '80's Saturday". I know that excites at least one person.


Thursday, November 16, 2006

Volleyball Photo Album

Here's what we saw a lot of this season. That's my darling Mac next to The Child. She's become a hanging out/singing pop songs/talking about everything sort of friend to The Child. She's a gift. Mac asked me last night what she should call me (since we're starting to spend more time together and she's not allowed to address adults by their first names).

"Auntie"? I suggested.

"Really, I can call you 'Auntie'? That's so awesome!" she said, all breathless and moved.

I love that.

And here you see The Child between scoring points. Note the nice long shorts

And wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles, I got this shot of her, right before she had her "biff at the net" opportunity. Check out that form. Note the poised toes. What a rock star.

This is the team. Please note that Bad Coach has NOT been inducted into the Exalted Order of Koihead. This is a mocking use of the koi. Most fitting.

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No Time for Losers 'Cause We Are the Champions. Of the World.

Turns out that going into the game last night, our undefeated team had already been declared the champions. The "playoffs" were no such thing, just a round robin exercise in "everyone plays, you're all winners". Starting at 5:30 there were 6 teams, 1 gym, 2 teams playing at at a time to 25. Long night. Dear Recreation People, let's do it on a Saturday next time. Thank you.

So. Our first game. Pretty much the drill as it's been all season. The Child and the other four "weak" players played bench while the starters slept-walked to a victory. (They all got a few minutes on the court). Then came the pizza and studying and it was finally our turn again.

By this time, Good Coach Amy and Good Coach Alex had arrived and were sitting with me. Bad Coach knew this. Maybe it had something to do with this, maybe it didn't, but in the second game The Child was subbed in pretty early and kept in. Coincidence? Perhaps. But I'll tell you what it really was: pure, unadulterated vindication.

By the time she came in we were down 1-7. The starters had been dreadful. I kept thinking, "This clown would rather lose with his starters than take a chance on winning with everyone". At one point I turned to Good Coach Amy and before I said anything she said, "I'm on it". "Just wanted you to see it's not just me", I said.

Finally, he subs in The Child. A ball comes right at her and she bumps it back with authority. We score the point. The team starts to rally. We even the score. The Child is still in. A few points later a ball comes into the second line and no one is there. The Child, who is playing the net, throws herself after the ball, nailing it before it hits the floor and popping it straight up so that it can be set and spiked for the point. Another ball comes, right at and just over the net and The Child jumps straight up and biffs it with one hand back over the net. Point. The crowd is, how you Americans say, going wild. Then, amazingly, it's her turn to serve and she's still in. She gets the ball over the net and our girls score easily on the return. She serves again - game point - and the other team, deer in the headlights, can't return it.

It was straight out of an Afterschool Special. The crowd was jumping up and down, screaming. People were thumping me on the back. The Child comes running over, practically in tears she's so thrilled, for lots of hugs and "atta girls". It was absolutely priceless. I couldn't have scripted it better. Bad Coach comes up, shoots me a look and says to The Child, "That's what you have to do if you want to play". Bastard. But it wasn't about him anymore, it was about my kid feeling like a million bucks because she'd shown him everything she's got.

She also saw some action in the third game and was again spot on every time. There was even a line call that was not unlike the one she messed up last week but this time she got it right. She even got to serve again, although our girls weren't able to return it. Still, they won the game.

When we got home we walked in singing "We are the Champions" and I had to give her 3 tabs of Valium to sky down. (Not really. And I don't think 3 would have been enough).

Y'all and your "hang in there" advice were spot on. If we'd bailed she would never, never had that satisfaction. And, if she ends up not playing CYO then she ends her volleyball experience on the highest of notes. Thanks again for encouraging her/us to keep playing. It was absolutely priceless. Wish you could have been there.


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

We'll Always Have Paris.

I am so upset I can't see straight.

(Stop reading now if you watch "Gilmore girls" and haven't seen last night's episode).

Like I said, I'm fuming. Lorelie and Chris got married. In Paris. Without Rory. And more to the point, Lorelie got married and it wasn't to Luke. Oh, sure. It sets up some interesting tensions for subsequent episodes but geez. Me no likey.

The good news? Watching the dinner scene, with the Eiffel Tower in the background, The Spouse confirmed officially that he wants us to go to Paris, by ourselves. It'll be the honeymoon we never had. So when we take The Child to Laval in the summer of '08 to spend time with Nicole et famille, we are going to go to the City of Lights. And other places if we have time.

And that's all I have to say. I have to start planning a menu for dinner Monday night with Alan and I'm feeling a little pressure to perform. I know he'll be delighted with whatever I serve him but there's a reputation to uphold.

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Oh, For Heaven's Sake

In my eagerness to post pictures of people eating ribs, I completely neglected to tell you about our first Iwanskifest miracle. After our hot dogs we sat down for a few hands of five card draw. The Spouse was dealing, one-eyed jacks and suicide kings were wild. I drew to an inside straight.

I never do that.

It was a miracle.

So. This is What it's Like to Be Home on a Tuesday

I received a "thank you" email from Philip, my volunteer coordinator last night. After 14 months of Tuesdays at "the office", I now have my Tuesdays back. This is a good thing but it feels a little weird.

The storm systems are giving us a break today. That's a good thing. It would be a better thing if it would hold off tomorrow as well, when we have to haul up to the northend, on the state's most jammed freeway, for a round robin tournement to finish up volleyball. But whatcha gonna do?

The Child went to her practise last night. At first she didn't want to but we had a little chat with Good Coach, who said she was going to come to the playoff game. She asked The Child if she'd be willing to play one more time and she said yes.

I'm proud of her. She's not a quitter. And, in the end and after reading all your fine advice, that seemed to be the fundamental question. Is she going to give up because Coach is a jerk? The answer is a resounding, "nope". Although, Charlie left a statement which bears repeating and which, I expect, will join my repetoire of motherly wisdom, and I'm paraphrasing here: "This is small beer and life is a big brewery". One does have to pick ones battles. And while, in the grand scheme of Things, 7th grade volleyball might not be that big of a deal, it's important to The Child right now so she soldiers on.

Coach did ask her last night what the problem was on Thursday (with me, that is) and she said, "My mom is upset that you don't play everyone fairly". He gave his standard excuse, which is that people who don't do well don't play. To which she responded, "Well, then why do you leave in players like J and N when they mess up?" To which he replied, "Go practise". He's a loser.

Funny thing about the playoffs. Usually, in this league, there are only 2 teams with winning records so they always just face off and that's that. This year they've decided everyone gets to play, regardless of record. Part of me is thinking it would be classic if we were eliminated by a team with an 0-6 record. Serve him right. But our girls are fighters and I'm sure they'll survive until the last round. And then that will be that. Thanks for all your comments and emails yesterday. You helped.

Yesterday was a tough one for The Child. She was suffering from a classic case of "No body loves me, everybody hates me". I found her eating worms when she was supposed to be doing homework and tried to talk to her about it but was rebuffed with the traditional "You don't understand what it's like to be me". No. I don't. I do remember what it's like to be a 7th grader, trying to find your way in the thickets of friendship and self-acceptance but hey, sometimes that's not good enough. Sometimes a girl just has to wallow. It wasn't anything that a plate of ribs and beating her parents at blackjack couldn't cure, though.

This morning she was in a much better mood. She even did her hair and, gasp, put on a little makeup. (I don't know where she learned how to do such a delicate job of applying makeup. Not having worn much myself until I was in my 30s, I sure didn't teach her). She looked very nice. And we talked, calmly this time, about the fickleness of middle school girls and I reminded her that no one can make her feel inferior without her consent (Eleanor Roosevelt) and that the trick is to not seek so much to be loved as to love (St. Francis). Oh, I'm just full of such bon mots. But it seemed to help and she was very chipper when I dropped her at school today.
My little trooper.

Now I must go face things and clean things and watch last week's episode of "Gilmore girls" so I'm ready for tonight. And The Neighbor returns home today from her sojourn in LA. Yippee.

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Monday, November 13, 2006

Iwanskifest: Day 3

And so Iwanskifest concludes, with the traditional singing of carols...(on the first day of Iwanskifest, my true love gave to me, a deep dish pie in a box...) and the consuming of ribs. They were yummy.

"Presents, presents!" chanted The Child, for like all good children, she looks forward to a visit from the Great Iwanski and his faithful helper, Miss Healthypants, who will leave their gifts of celery and mineral water. But we reminded her that he wouldn't come unless she was sound asleep.

"So, are we going to do this next year?" she asked.

Yeah. Oh, yeah.

Yep. That About Sums it Up.

Somebody get me an airhorn.

What Would You Do?

Remember last spring when I had a little chat with The Child's volleyball coach? Well, it didn't take.

The man likes to win. Who doesn't? But I have this crazy idea that sports for kids are supposed to be about 2 things: having fun and learning skills. Coaches have an important job. It is in their power to help encourage kids to do their best, learn some discipline, develop things like teamwork and sportsmanship and all sorts of other stuff that will inform them in later years.

Let me tell you something, this guy is never going to have some uplifting movie made about him. Herman Boone he ain't.

This has been his strategy for success this season: play the strong players; leave them in no matter what they do; sub in the weaker players at the serving spot so they won't actually get to serve; take them out after a minute, sooner if they mess up and make sure you yell at them for missing the ball or calling a line wrong; if a strong player messes up, leave her in because "it happens".

There are 5 girls, The Child among them, who he considers "weak". Now, for the record, none of them are that bad. They are all capable of serving over the net and returning the ball. Actually, their "weakness" is really only attributable to 2 things that I can see. None of them can serve overhand and none of them are able to spike the ball. Otherwise, they are just as capable as any other player.

Last Wednesday, Coach benched The Child. I could not tell what she had done. After the game she said it was because she was moving her feet. Moving her feet. The way she'd been taught when she first learned to play (by a woman who a coaching goddess, a woman about whom a movie would most definately be made). This made no sense to me but on Thursday, before the game, I mentioned it to the team assistant, a lovely young lady who is a grad of St. G's and earning high school service house by assisting the team. She is also a good friend of The Child's. Mac noted that she too had found the benching confusing and had a chance to mention it to the Coach. She came up to me right before the game to explain that it wasn't that she was moving her feet but that she wasn't doing it right. Well, ok. Sounds to me like a fab opportunity for Coach to, you know, coach and direct her in the correct form. It still didn't seem bench-worthy.

Then the game started and he was doing all the same stuff. He pulled The Child after 2 minutes and the ball had not even come in her general direction. She sat out the rest of the game. Game 2 she actually got to serve and got the ball over. She returned a bump. Then she missed a bump. Then she called a ball in when it was out. He angrily pulled her from the game. 2 or 3 playes later on of his pets did exactly the same thing. She stayed in with a "That's alright".

At this point, I got up and left the gym. I pounded a wall. I paced around. When I finally returned, it was to stand in the doorway, arms crossed, looking pissed. I didn't care. They had to go to a 3rd game and I spent most of that one in the hall as well.

As soon as the game was over I grabbed our stuff and left. Coach was coming toward me but I didn't even look at him. I was too pissed to talk. The Child had to use the bathroom and Mac came up to me to say that Coach had remarked that I didn't seem pleased. Mac responded that I wasn't. "Well, she should talk to me, then", he said. "She has," answered Mac. Meanwhile, Mac's mom came up and asked what was wrong. I told her and she said, "Well, you're right, he should play them all equally". (See, it's not just me).

So here's the thing: my head is in a bunch of places.

Part of me is thinking, "Fuggedaboutit". She's played the season and fulfilled her obligations. Let's just blow the playoffs. I have better things to do than shortchange study time, eat dinner late and drive all over town so I can watch my kid sit on the bench all night. What's the frakking point?

Another part of me says that life isn't always easy and you don't cut and run just because you aren't getting along with your boss or fighting with your husband or unhappy with a friend. I don't want The Child getting the idea that folding one's tent at the first sign of trouble is a great strategy.

But then I think that there is a place for getting out of a situation that is unhealthy. Sure, you work to make things better but if you keep hitting a brickwall then sometimes getting out is a perfectly reasonable, nay, healthy response.

Sheesh. If these sorts of situations are opportunities to learn something, then what lesson should I be teaching her? She's already told me that if he's coaching CYO this spring she doesn't want to play. She's also told me that she doesn't care about taking time outside of practise to work on skills because "He's not going to let me play so why should I 'bring it'?" And I HATE hearing something like that from her.

So the question is, do we bother with playoffs and if we do, should I say something to Coach or just let it lie and meanwhile, do everything I can (which is semi-considerable) to see to it that he doesn't coach CYO? And if I say something to him, exactly what should that be?



2 Storms

The weather service will tell you that November and December are typically our stormiest months. So far this year, I just heard, the pattern is more intense than usual. We are only getting a day inbetween storm fronts. We had a reprieve on Saturday but another one blew in yesterday and this morning it was, oh, what's the phrase?...blowing up a storm. Lights were flickering and while we didn't lose power, the server went down. And you know how Mommy hates to lose her email. The giant tarp that is covering The Neighbor's poor, pitiful house was billowing and slapping around and I had visions of it coming loose and covering our house.

But while it is still cold, the winds have died down, the server is back up and people are hammering at The Neighb's so the tarp has now been rolled back. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that they get the walls and roof on today so they can take down that big, scary thing.

Have I mentioned that The Child is a drama queen? She would NOT get up this morning. I took her coffee, as I'm wont to do and, speaking in dulcet tones, encouraged her to open her eyes and greet the day. She was having none of it.

The Cat was on her, she couldn't move. I moved the cat.

She was too tired and it was all papa's fault because he opened her door at 6am and she couldn't get back to sleep. I told her we were giving a ride to a friend and she had to get up anyway.

She was very grumpy. She sat up but she wouldn't get up. She started wishing the storm would blow out the power so she wouldn't have to go to school. And on and on and on.

I was going about my morning business, stopping from time to time to go back to her room and check on her progress. After about the 5th time I started raising my voice. By the time she finally got her sorry arse up and dressed, I was livid.

Finally, FINALLY, ready to go, I asked where her coat was. "In the car". Fine. We get out to the car and there's no coat. I gave her the keys and she went back to find it. Mommy's brain was leaking out the left ear. Fury will do that.

And then, she comes out with a frakking sweatshirt and an "I can't find my coat". Now, there was a time when I would have "made it all better". I would have gone in myself, gotten a coat and made sure she had it on. I used to be intimidated by things like scowling school secretaries who wonder why you would send your child out in a November storm with nothing but a sweatshirt. I don't care anymore. Without a coat, she won't be allowed outside for recess. Not my problem. Without a coat, there may be those who contemplate calling CPS. Also, not my problem. She's almost freaking 13 years old. She can hang up her bloody coat so she knows where it is. If she can't find it, tough.

In her prepubescent mind the problem was resident with only one person. Wanna guess who that would be?

Happy bloody Monday.