Saturday, December 30, 2006

Everyone enjoying their holidays? What are your plans for New Years? I'm getting all dressed up. I'm even wearing my gold shoes. I've been so busy catching up with friends and taking some R&R that I have hardly had time to post. I'm thinking of a writer's New Year's Resolution. Do you guys have any?

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Easily the best Christmas present I received this year was from my loving brother: this charming politiki mug - half peanut, half Jimmy Carter. Can anyone top that?

Which present was the most difficult to access? We found the Barbie quite challenging. What do the packagers think is going to happen to these dolls? My son’s Robo-reptile gave us a good fight too.

I still have fruitcake. It’s the classic, brick-like fruitcake, but I like it. There’s just so much of it! Any takers?

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Darn it! I hate it when this happens.
I've lost a present.
The irritating part of it is that it is a big present. About a month ago, I bought a lovely leather jeacker for my teenager (who never reads this blog.) Where did I stash it? There are only so many places for an item that large. Sometimes it doesn't pay to buy too far in advance - except it was an excellent sale price.

If I stashed it at your house, will you let me know?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Pomegranate martinis & old friends -
great combo.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

I have bought two things recently that I apparently haven't had need of in a while: flour and stockings. These were not for the same event, although both were brought about by the holiday season. I will let you decide what that means about me that I haven't bought flour or stockings for the last couple of years.

The experience of buying each was similar. The last time I bought flour I think there were two choices: flour and self-rising flour. Of course I was in a rush. I thought I could just grab a sack and run. (hhmmm, put that sentence in a different context... - nevermind. My mother might be reading.) Anyway, there I was looking at rows of flour: regular, self rising, organic, whole wheat, bread, cake, and various combos of those. sheesh!

Same with stockings: control top, reinforced toe, sandal foot, 4 sizes, 3 shades of black, a variety of textures and seams. When I was trying to put them on I was reminded why I haven't purchased stockings in two years.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Here is my darling daughter as Sarah the shepherd in the church Christmas play. She's being interviewed about the star she saw. Do you see the cute star behind her? And Joseph having trouble keeping in character?

Now you see the secret behind the authentic smell of our nativity stable.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Last Thursday evening - and afternoon, I attended one of my hometown's finest musical performances: The Senior Chorale's Patriotic Holiday. Last spring I posted about my mother and her 60 back-up singers, expecting my small blog-o-sphere to read it. But my mother, as mothers are wont to do, forwarded my post to all her senior hipster friends who are on-line. They forwarded it to their children and wow - my stat counter jumped off the hook for a couple of days. So now I know you've been checking for my Chorale Post. Sorry I've been delayed. This year I am planning to send off a more formal article to the local paper to see if they'll run it. But for now, here on my blog, I will write my more personal review.

You know what makes the Bowie Senior Chorale (BSC) such a delight? It's not just the talent and enthusiasm of the singers. It isn't the ambition of the totally charming director. It's not the nimble fingers of the beautiful pianist Paula Sparks (yes, she's his mother.) The heartfelt solos by Janet Beck and Ernie Wittsey were wonderful, but they weren't the secret of the choir's success. It's not even the amazing talent of my mother. Of course, none of these hurt, but their success as entertainers lies in something less tangible.

The BSC is a joy because of the relationship between the choir members and their director. At first glance, the youthful Craig Sparks might not strike you as the logical choice to direct this venerable gathering of singers: too young, hair too long. But do logical choices ever produce greatness?

When the choir members took to the risers in their red bow ties and poinsettia-ed scarves, their holiday spirit was barely contained. Sparks, wearing Advent purple, was trying to keep a composed lid on his effervescent pride. As soon as they began performing, you could feel their affection for each other.

Sparks and the singers seem to bring out the best in each other as was evident in Sparks' original arrangement of "The Star Spangled Banner." He seemed to have custom composed the piece to highlight the talents of these singers. They seemed to want to show off his talent by delivering his arrangement flawlessly. I'm a believer in singing the National Anthem whenever given the chance. If, however, you ever get to hear the BSC perform their signature "Star Spangled Banner," stop singing and listen. You'll be impressed.

Sparks' other original arrangement, "Armed Forces Medley," not only provided the most moving portion of the show, but also highlighted the mutual delight the choir members and the director share. Sparks introduced the piece with the "juicy backstory" of the rivalries and allegiances that, rather than nearly preventing the performance of the piece, solidified its place in the Chorale's repertoire. I was so moved to see the pride in the veterans in the audience who stood during their branch's song. Dare I stir the rivalry? I couldn't help but notice that the marines, though fewer in number, stood at the straightest, squared-shoulder attention during their tribute.

You simply have to see this group perform to understand the playfulness of their relationship. The director tries to challenge them with Rachmaninov's "Hymn to the Virgin Mary" - in Russian and they heckle him when he can't recall the title of one song in a medley. They jazz up "Sleigh Ride" with sound effects of jingling bells, cracking whip, and even a whinnying horse. Their soulfulness singing "Shenandoah" brings tears to my eyes. The mischievousness of their encore piece, "Your a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" delighted everyone in the audience. No wonder the choir has almost tripled in size since Sparks took over. It looks like so much fun.

The audience's enthusiasm and adoration of the choir was almost total, with the exception of my dragged-along eleven year old son, freshly grounded until Christmas for academic infractions. Ignoring his sullenness, I eavesdropped on the ladies behind me who marveled at the many charms of the director. “He has such a nice vocabulary.” “Look at him move!” and “He hot!” (I think they might have meant that literally, but I know others meant it another way ;-)

I thought of an idea to interest my son. I told him to look at the chorale members and see if any of them looked like what he imagined his schoolmates might look like in 50 years. He sat up. Ernie caught his eye. “That one with the beard is Jacob. Two behind him is Matthew. Next to him, Colin. Over there is Alex.” He saw them differently now. By the time the Chorale got to the Grinch song, even my sullen boy was won over. Now that's a magical performance!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

There is simply too much deliciousness in the world to be thin.

My workaholic, silver-haired neighbor brought me some yeasty bread, still warm from the oven with a side of chocolate chip pecan cookies.

My Irish-Brooklyn neighbor brought me some Irish Soda bread, fresh from the oven.

I know my other Martha Stewart neighbor always delivers melting cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning. My mother has gumdrop bread ready for me. I just tried Anne's fruitcake recipe which will have to be the topic of another post.

Don't you think it is not only good manners, but also gastronomically wise to eat fresh baked goodies immediately to enjoy their peak freshness?

Friday, December 15, 2006

Are there any gifts from the song, "12 Days of Christmas" that you'd actually like? I guess I could manage the 5 golden rings. I'm not that big a fan of birds. Maybe the pear tree.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

It's easy to get so busy your head is spinning, isn't it?
A lot of my recent busy-ness has been fun: holiday preparations, my daughter's chorus performance, new career opportunities. Some has been frustrating: school conferences, sick kids, deadlines. Some of my busy-ness is ordinary domestic stuff - groceries, laundry, bills. The motherhood parts have been interesting lately watching them learn responsibility and deal with new emotions.

It's nice to find a moment every now and then to be still.

I hope you enjoy the fun in the bustle of it all.

Monday, December 11, 2006

At what point do you give up on ketchup emerging from the bottle in a restaurant? How aggressive is still within the bounds of appropriate table manners? This was my lunch dilemma today. I didn't want to make a scene with all the slapping. My knife was already dirty, so I didn't feel insertion was an option. Could I stick a fry in the bottle?

I was Christmas shopping today in an artsy old textile mill redone into shops. I try to resist the urge to buy too much for myself, but do indulge in a reward or two. Today I bought the word PEACE to place on my mantle. It was bent metal painted red and sprinkled with fake snow. When I picked it up, I was surprised at its heft. Although it wasn't very expensive, it was more of a burden on the long walk to the car than I had bargained for.

Do you find that peace, though appearing to be affordable and accessible, is more difficult to bring into your home than you realized?

Sunday, December 10, 2006

I have had a theatrical weekend.
Today, Peggy & I took our third grade daughters to the Washington Ballet's Nutcracker. The Warner Theater is so impressive inside with it's gold ceilings and crystal chandeliers. The Washington Ballet presents a unique version of the Nutcracker. Bits of Americana are laced throughout the scenery without detraction. The waltz of the Cherry Blossoms with the Dewdrop Fairy was optic confection. The sultry Arabian coffee dance was replaced with an equally steamy Anacostia Indian duet. One of the party guests in the background of the opening scene was guest “dancer” George Stephanopolous. No kidding.

Saturday I helped my friend Anne enjoy her birthday gift of tickets to the Billy Joel based musical, "Movin' Out." Really is was more of a modern ballet than a traditional musical. I had the impression it would be more like "Mamma Mia" than it turned out to be. In this performance, however, all the music was performed by a band with one lead singer. The stories revealed in the dancing portrayed the effects of the Viet Nam war on the soldiers an those who loved them. Some of the scenes were quite touching. One dance bordering on pornographic made me squeamish sitting next to my 13 year old daughter. The band was a lot of fun.
I think tickets make a wonderful gift because the memory of the shared event always fits.

Friday, December 08, 2006

It's happened, just like my optometrist predicted. All of the sudden I can't read a book. My eyes have just rebelled. The only thing that settles them down is the reading glasses. I am trying to learn how to wear them. It is an adjustment my young mind is forced to make for my middle-aged body. rats.

I'm test-reading a Christmas present. Very good too, but I can't tell you the title in case I'm giving it to you ;-)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

4:30 in the morning was not early enough for a Wii. The roll-out of this product has me a bit irate, if you can be a bit irate. I sent Nintendo a nasty gram, not that it will make any difference. Their website suggests that I continue to go to stores at their opening times and continue to call and check back - as if I have nothing else to do in the two weeks before Christmas. Nice gameplan from Big Business. The thing that irritates me the most is that I will still buy the damn thing eventually.

On a brighter note, I finished the puzzle - with a little help from my friends.
I began my new venture of part time pre-school art teacher AND I got another freelance writing assignment. All cool news.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Here's a variation I found of one of my favorite holiday recipes. I got this version from a great baker, so I know it's delicious.

Christmas Cookie Recipe

1 cup of water
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup of sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup of brown sugar
lemon juice
4 large eggs
1 cup nuts
2 cups of dried fruit
1 bottle Crown Royal

- Sample the Crown Royal to check quality.

- Take a large bowl, check the Crown Royal again, to be sure it is of
the highest quality, pour one level cup and drink.

- Turn on the electric mixer...Beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy

- Add one teaspoon of sugar...Beat again.

At this point it's best to make sure the Crown Royal is still OK, try
another cup.. just in case.

- Turn off the mixer thingy.

- Break 2 leggs and add to the bowl and chuck in the cup of dried fruit.

- Pick the frigging fruit off floor...

- Mix on the turner.

- If the fried druit gets stuck in the beaterers just pry it loose with a

- Sample the Crown Royal to check for tonsisticity.

Next, sift two cups of salt, or something.... who giveshz a sheet.

- Check the Crown Royal.

- Now shift the lemon juice and strain your nuts.

- Add one table.

- Add a spoon of ar, or somefink.... whatever you can find.

- Greash the oven.

Turn the cake tin 360 degrees and try not to fall over.

- Don't forget to beat off the turner.

- Finally, throw the bowl through the window.

- Finish the bottle of Crown Royal.

- Make sure to put the stove in the dishwasher.

Cherry Mistmas

Monday, December 04, 2006

I stuck in one of those Christmas marketing traps. My son, as half of the children in America do, wants the Nintendo Wii for Christmas. Everyone is out. No one knows for sure when their next shipment is coming. No one is letting you reserve one by paying in advance. The clerks who have been able to say how many are in the next shipment have only said a low number, like 6. What are my chances? The on-line sales are either sold out at regular price, or the bidding is around $600. I'm not doing that. I'd rather wrap up a picture of one.

Why do they do this every year and then act surprised?

I have heard that the local Wal-Mart will have 11 Wiis on sale when the doors open at 6am this Wednesday.
How early do you think I should be? I wonder if there will be a line? Should I make my son come stand in the cold with me? It's the only thing he's asked for.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

I have a couple of fun new holiday drink recipes for any festivities you may have coming up. The trick is finding pomegranate juice. I was delighted to stumble on some sparking pomegranate juice at a Trader Joe's. (I love that store.) I thought it might be fun to mix it with champagne or vodka.
I was right.

I polished up my fancy glasses and we tried them each way. I dropped in some pomegranate seeds to a garnish. I like it better light on the juice.

You could do the vodka variation like a martini, strained over ice, or on the rocks.
I have no idea if the champagne I had was “good” champagne, but this effervescent spirit was easy to overdrink. So remember to pace yourself.

I was thinking of calling the fizzy one a “Pomegranate Sparkler.” I was considering calling the martini version “Persephone's Bargain.” Whaddaya think? Too obscure of a reference?

What else are you guys drinking this season?

Bottom's Up!

Friday, December 01, 2006

I've made a tactical error in my Christmas preparations. I'm thinking about cards and lights and fruit cakes and school art projects and dry cleaning and shopping and all that stuff.
Then I opened a new jigsaw puzzle.
Everything has to wait now. I can't walk by it.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

We had fun up in the mountains over Thanksgiving – well mostly. My oldest looked good around the campfire, but was not thrilled with the lack of shower and hot tap water. The really dark night was also a bit creepy for her, but it did make for great star gazing.

Shortly after roasting the marshmallows, my youngest & I even saw a shooting star. We were unprepared for authentic s'mores, but found the toasted sugar puffs were tasty between two chocolate chip cookies. I've heard s'mores are good with peanut butter, but I haven't tried it yet. How do you make s'mores?

My son enjoyed his first real hunting trip, although this picture is about as close as he actually got to the guns. The hunting party we joined had “a buck hanging” when we arrived and he marveled at the butchering of it. My son only saw a couple of does, which were not considered fair game. It was fun to watch him soak up the experience.

We drove ATV's up to the top of the mountain. The view was spectacular. The weather was perfect. I even drove the nicest ATV, I called it a hillbilly Harley, up to the top. So fun!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Jesus has been shattered. It happened this afternoon. I was washing some dishes when I heard it and said, “That sounds like something broke.”
My youngest, overwhelmed with sadness, had dropped the hand painted, porcelain baby Jesus onto our hard, tiled floor. She just stood there staring.

She was determined to heal the tiny savior, but Elmer's wasn't strong enough and there were simply too many little pieces. Neither could she bring herself to sweep him into the trash.

We weighed our options. She could call her grandma in Ohio and commission a replacement, which would not arrive in time for Christmas. That simply was too long a wait. We need Jesus now. So we've decided to go shopping for a new Jesus. Our old Jesus was too fragile. Besides that, he was blond. We need a much more durable, realistic Jesus for this family.

Monday, November 27, 2006

On Thanksgiving Day my family ditched the traditional sweet potato casserole and red jello and met up at the National Native American Museum. My daughters and their cousin stared up at the cool ceiling in the main hall and spun around until they couldn't walk. Can you see my family waving to me from the fourth floor?

On the second floor was a library with a trove of resources. My sister-in-law was able to find photos of her ancestors who really looked like her family. My kids enjoyed playing the computer games in the library with the fantastic view of the Capital. It would be a great place to do some research.

My youngest and I tried our hand at "weaving" little bracelets.

Before I went into the museum, I would have told you that I could name quite a few Indian Tribes. After spending a few hours in the collections, I would now tell you I only knew a very few tribes. I also can't help feeling a little sickened at the oppression wrought by my ancestors on these people. I'm so glad they are such proud survivors. They have so much beauty and wisdom to share.

Did you know that Native Americans, the folks that were here first, weren't even allowed to practice their own religion until 1934 - banned by the people who came here for religious freedom? I guess that "freedom of religion" was the freedom to worship the way the party in power worships. I guess we're a couple steps better than that now, but some days I don't think we've made much progress.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

In an implusive burst of holiday spirit, I bought ingredients for a fruitcake at the grocery store. I've never made one. I've experienced the concrete variety and I've tasted delicious ones.

Does anyone have a good recipe or website with one? (That's how impulsive I am sometimes: buying ingredients with no actual recipe in mind.)

We had a fun Thanksgiving weekend, but more on that later. Did everyone have fun? If not, do you have any good stories at least? I'll be making my round of blogs soon. I'm looking forward to catching up.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Real of fake? Which do you prefer?

I mean Christmas trees.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Leaf raking work out. Fortunately I don't have so many that I hate it. It's kinda zen-like. Are you sick of raking, or do you enjoy it a bit?

Today feels like Friday with no school tomorrow. Being the stay at home mom in the neighborhood, I'm the go-to girl for kid watching. I have a few extras scheduled for tomorrow and I'm sure I'll have a few bonus kids from the neighborhood. Even though it will be a loud day at my house, I'm glad kids feel comfortable here. I think I'd rather get my kids used to hanging here with their friends so when the teenage years hit hard, I'll see them more. That's the theory at least. They'll all be gone before I know it, so I try not to stress about busy kid days.

I helped in my 3rd grader's class today. It's fun to come in for art and story time. It's like being a grandparent: all the fun without the hassle of the responsibility.

Monday, November 20, 2006

My son attempted to change an air return vent cover for me. I thought it would be a simple job. He was working on it this morning. When I got out of the shower, I heard the pounding of a hammer and had to check out his methods. Obviously he had become frustrated not being able to sink the screws. I told him to drill holes first, or start in a different place. When I came back downstairs he had abandoned the project in frustration. I saw the kids onto the morning school bus and took a look at what I thought was going to be an easy task. Look carefully at the photo of his unfinished job. Do you recognize all the tools? The last tool he tried was his Harry Potter wand.
Isn't he a cutie?

Sunday, November 19, 2006

What do you guys thing about hunting?
I'm taking my kids for a weekend in the mountains. The guys in the party will be hunting deer. My son, who has no experience with this, will be accompanying the hunting party, although he will not carry a weapon due to his inexperience. I really can't take it back because he is so excited to go, even when I told him what time hunters begin their day.

I'm not planning to shoot any animals, although the target shooting was kind of fun. I will let my kids try that.

I'm thinking it will be a good experience, even if he hates it. Being entrenched in suburbia, my kids don't really have a feel for where their food actually comes from, not that we eat venison. I'm looking forward to some time in the quiet, dark mountains, regardless of the rustic conditions.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Talk about mixed messages.

Most often when I part company with my mother, especially if I am going somewhere unusal or with someone, my mom says,
"Don't do anything I wouldn't approve of!"
Be good."
She says this in a singsong kind of teasing way - especially when she knows I might be up to mischief.

Well, you'll never believe what she encouraged me to do today.

I assisted in the installation of a grab bar in her tub/shower. So Buck & I were in there, using all those tools. Can you imagine the double-entendres that are just way too easy? I'm not even writing them down.

So now when she says, "Don't do anything I wouldn't approve of," she has really lowered the "bar" for me!

I love you Mom!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Construction Girl was having a hard time behaving herself today. We were working on Anne's side gates, which posed several puzzles for "us" to solve. I bit my tongue a lot, but it's hard to do when you are talking about
loud screws
cheap screws
hot screws &
square screws.

"We" also fixed my sister's downed gutter, which had some hidden difficulties. But I don't think it'll come down again.


I was on the phone shortly after my daughter & her buddy came in from school. I thought they were setting out their homework, like they usually do. Instead, I found them scrubbing up rocks in the bathroom. When I asked why, they said they were selling them on e-bay.
Of course.
I'll let you know when the bidding begins.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

I started an aerobics class tonight with my 13 year old daughter. I knew she'd love it, even if I am worried about my delicate knees (see Mom's blog: bad genes working against me!)
Well, we were happy to see our neighbor walk in as a student. Then the teacher arrived. It's the same teacher I had for years over 10 years ago! She remembered me and says hello to those of you who used to take her class with me. She's still as cute as ever.

So it was
out out in in
pony forward
knee knee double

Like riding a bike.
It was good to see my daughter enjoying herself.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Well, I don't know how well I have to do on the GRE to get in, but I'm happy with the initial reports on how I scored. I had to look it up because it isn't a straight 100% scale.

Perfect score is 800. Every answer wrong is 200. I got 730 on verbal and 550 on math. 550 is 50th percentile. Fortunatley I'm not applying for a degree in finance. I rely on my dad, the rocket scientist, my CPA friend in Boise, and my walking buddy, the HTML geek, to get me through the math portions of my life. There was also an essay portion that seemed simplistic, so hopefully that will boost my overall score.

I have no idea when I'll be notified of admission to Maryland's Grad school or not.

I didn't get to be Construction Girl at all today. Buck was kind enough to let my daughter & her buddy "help" him. (Buck's the same guy who cans pears and grows tomatoes. He's good, isn't he?)

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Whew! Installing windows can be hard work. Buck chaperoned me as I installed a window almost entirely by myself. It was good to understand the entire process. For most of the rest of the windows, I prepped it and finished it, leaving the big middle to him. Wrapping the exterior trim with aluminum is the most time consuming part. Some of the trim was in bad shape, so I'm glad I didn't let it go longer. It was certainly easier when “we” could stand on the front porch. My daughter and her buddy got a little thrill out of it too. The new windows look so much nicer.

Caulking isn't as easy as it looks. My first attempt was a mess. It is tough to get it into the rounded crack of the trim work, plus my tired muscles and reaching up high made my hand shaky. The picture is not of my first attempt. My first attempt I had caulk up to my elbows. Buck was kind enough not to laugh his head off at me until I left the room. I felt like a kid “helping” mom cook.

I used the chisel, hammer, utility knife, and pry bar to remove the old trim, take out the old window, remove the plastic slides on the sides, and hammer in or pull out any leftover finishing nails. Oh yeah, and my old favorite, the end nippers were good for removing those too. I needed my pink toolbelt to switch off. No sawzall after all. And I couldn't operate the aluminum break without someone to anchor it down while I yanked the handle into place, so I didn't do the metal bending either.

The blurry picture of him is blurry because I leaned out my window just a hair too far and scared myself. gheez! So much to learn!

Buck estimated he could do 4 windows a day by himself. We did 6 together on Saturday. Woohoo! The upstairs is done. They are so nice!

I can't help him tomorrow (Monday) though because I'll be taking that GRE finally. Cross your fingers for me!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

I have been window shopping in the most literal sense today. This picture isn't even the whole pile.

My windows are old wooden ones that have been drafty for years. But the job is expensive. So I was lucky to make a kickass friend this summer who is helping me install them. OK, that is a stretch, I am helping him install them, like Dora to David Copperfield. But what a friend, huh?

Fortunately, the weather has been beautiful. Bodes well for a Construction Girl Revival Meeting. If you hear any “wahoos” from up here, it's probably me with the aluminum break – or the sawzall.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Have you ever tried to put ear drops in a cat?
Boy, are those guys an impulse purchase I regret!

Monday, November 06, 2006

I took my kids on a field trip to Philadelphia today. It was a bit spur of the moment, and lots of fun. I bet if I had planned it out better, it wouldn't have been so perfect. It was warm in the sun, but cool enough to use the furry blanket on the handsome cab ride around Independence Square. (I was relieved the driver had not recently come into a large quantity of Beefarino.) As we passed Independence Hall, the birthplace of our nation, my kids said, “Wow, Mom. I can't believe that right here they filmed National Treasure.” Oh well. I try.

We pitched two pennies on Ben Franklin's grave for good luck. I heard two pennies were the luckiest since he said “A penny saved is a penny earned.” He set up a library in Philadelphia. It cost 2 pennies to take out a book and you got one back upon its return. The grave had a lot of pennies on it. Probably overdue fines.

In Constitution Hall, I couldn't keep those frisky Declaration signers to leave me alone. I didn't realize how many of them were about my age in 1776. They were a very do-able group ;-) Fortunately someone had the good idea of bronzing them.

We ended at the City Tavern, built and frequented by our founding fathers in 1773. There was rabbit, duck, and venison on the menu among other delicious options. I wasn't in the spirit to try rabbit. Besides, I was still full from my lunch of a Philly cheese steak.

I was thinking I'd double duty and use this restaurant for my other blog. Who ever heard of a restaurant critic with three kids? When my youngest was running her finger through the candle flame, she crashed my iced tea to the floor. Later she picked the crispy sugar off her crème brulee and put patches of it on the back of her hand and pretended they were scabs. My son used the cinnamon stick in his hot cider like a kazoo. It's not always easy to pull off professional in my life.
Last night I enjoyed a cozy little family game night with the kids. We made s'mores in the fire place and drank hot chocolate. Have you ever played "Apples to Apples?" For those of you who haven't, you win by collecting the most adjective cards, so it is perfect for a former English teacher like me. I thought the collections were amusing last night. When we quit playing to watch "Extreme(-ly sappy) House Make Over," these were our adjectives.

my son - old & dangerous
my youngest daughter - tiny & misunderstood
Peggy - pretty, calm, & ordinary
Peggy's daughter - fabulous, loud, & important
me - expensive, creative, & hard

What three adjectives would describe you?

Friday, November 03, 2006

I've had pizza on the brain recently due to this press release I wrote for Ledo's Restaurant. I've been at the restaurant, watching the Oprah episode, going to viewing parties, and watching the stat counter on the press release and their website jump off the hook. It has been so fun, even if a little fattening. Last night my last thoughts falling asleep were “smoked provolone.”

So today at the deli, I was intrigued when the woman ahead of me ordered a hunk of smoked provolone. I live in such a friendly town. I just asked her, “Excuse me, but could you tell me what prompted you to order smoked provolone today?” She happily explained that she's a fan of the cooking channels and Oprah and she had just seen this thing on Oprah. I was delighted! We talked about Ledo's and how I was given the opportunity to write a local press release for it. The guy working the deli gave her a sample of the cheese which she share with me. I ended up ordering some too. I think those guys at Ledo's are onto something. It has just been fun to be part of the buzz.

What are your favorite toppings? Favorite cheeses for homemade pizza?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Did I ever mention that I hate Science Fairs?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Cheetah Mama's Growl Power!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

When my kids were 7, 5, & 3 we could all trick-or-treat together. Now that they are 13, 11, & 9, the age difference seems more skewed. My oldest daughter went with some friends as a band of back-up singers. She came in telling me the delightful fright created by some older teenage boys. It reminded me of when I jumped over a fence, one Halloween in the late seventies, to avoid menacing teenage boys. I was wearing a full length Little Bo Peep dress when I struggled over a chain link fence only to find out that my short cut was through a back yard with a protective Doberman Pincer. Yikes!

My son joined 5 other 6th grade boys and their brothers in another neighborhood. They were on a mission to collect a ton and came pretty close. That pillowcase was pretty heavy!

I totally enjoyed chaperoning my 9 year old, Susan, and Peggy's daughter, Dawn. They were both dressed as witches with black Heelies to make it look like they were flying. They started off fast, sailing up to the houses with their Heelies on. They told terrific riddles when asked for a trick, and often planned a surprise by hiding and jumping out when the neighbor opened the door. After a few blocks, they slowed down.

As we reached home, I explained about the chaperone fee. The chaperone gets first pick of the loot. Susan explained that she had not been aware of that fee. I snagged some Whoppers. I get most of the candy with nuts eventually anyway. We're saving Baby Ruths for Grandma. What do you snitch from the baskets?

We have so many cool neighbors who made the night an adventure. Lot of adults in on the fun. We had pumpkin ale with dinner, which added to the festivity.

I love carving pumpkins, but two of them got carved too soon. Look at the slimy moldy pumpkins Fern and Susan carved on Saturday. It has been a bit warm, so they rotted quickly. I had to throw them out in the morning before the trick-or treating. I like my white scarface pumpkin this year.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Another fall bike ride today, this one with more challenges. I went the other direction, into town to connect my laptop to free wireless at a bakery (router problems at home – I need tech support!) I didn't recall how many hills were between home and bakery. Plus, busy intersections, debris on the trail, and heavy backpack. I decided this was a ride that required a helmet. Anyway, the strenuous ride made the bakery an option: they kinda canceled each other out. I did see another deer. This time I only saw its white tail bounding away over the underbrush.

Another bike ride metaphor: sometimes it takes more risk and effort to go in a different direction.

Do you guys always wear your bike helmet? It just seems to take the edge off the joy of the ride. For me it depends on where I anticipate riding – and with whom I am riding. How much freedom do you trade for safety?

Sunday, October 29, 2006

(I hope Peggy doesn't get too mad about me posting this picture.) I wasn't organized enough to have fresh batteries for my camera for our Saturday night shenanigans, but since Peggy & I re-ran our last year's costumes, this will have to do. I first went to a family costume party that we all enjoyed. Then after I got my kids situated at friends for sleepovers, I went to hear my favorite local band, the Crayfish, at my favorite local restaurant, TJ Elliott's. I was nervous about going in, looking trampy in my black widow costume. The jitters I felt reminded me of high school. I felt much better when I saw the rabbi dressed up as Sergeant Pepper. We sat at the table with Death and Death's Kitty. There were witches and monsters, athletes and cheerleaders, greasers and flappers. The band had Bravehart, Gilligan, Father Guido Sarducci, and a drummer. As the Black Widow, I brought Dead Guy Ale from the Rogue brewery in Oregon for the band – and I still didn't win the costume contest. What are you guys going to be?

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Pride is such a cool feeling.

I bought this reading lamp-table that needed assembly for my bedroom. I knew I could assemble it, but just hadn't gotten around to it. I offered my son $5 to put it together. So while I was out at the Cheetah Girl concert, he took me up on my offer. He was so proud of himself that he was adorable. I was happy to see his enthusiasm. He said he might have assembled it quicker if he had realized there were instructions. He just dumped it out and looked at the picture on the box. Now that's a metaphor, isn't it? Who wants to follow the directions?

Now we have a cozy bedtime story chair. I'm reading “The Secret Garden” with my youngest. What a great story, although like so many good stories, it begins with tragedy and hopelessness.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Throw your hands up if you know that you're a star
You better stand up if you know just who you are
Never give up never stay down
Girl Power Girl Power!!
Cause we are sisters
We stand together
We make up one big family though we don't look the same
Our spots are different, Different colors
We make each other stronger
That ain't ever gonna change
Believe it mister
We're cheetah girls cheetah sisters

Well, last night's Cheetah concert was much more bearable than I imagined. I was surprised at how many songs I already knew – due to the Disney channel being on so much in my house. All the songs had positive girl power lyrics. No sex or drugs or rock-n-roll.

It wasn't the music that was cringe-inducing so much as the shrill excited shrieks of thousands of 8 year old girls. My & Peggy's daughters were not even aware of the shameless Disney channel plugs throughout the concert. The Cheetah Girls are what happens to rock stars who were brought up on Barney. The songs were all about girl power and who needs a man, except it seems the producers decided they better have all male dancers for the heterosexual norming.

It was a delight to see my 9 year old and Peggy's daughter have so much fun. They knew most of the lyrics and sang them passionately. What a thrill! I stood up and cheered and sang and danced right along with my daughter. I even kept shouting a request for “Cinderella” whenever the din diminished.

When Peggy gets her pics to me I'll post the picture of the Cheetah Mama t-shirt I got.

Do you remember what bands you liked at age 8 or 9?
I guess it was Shaun & David Cassidy for me. There was the Bay City Rollers. Oh, and Bobby Sherman – do you remember “Arizona?”

“A-ri-zo-oh-na, take off your hobo shoes...”

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Remember I told you about a writing assignment I had? You can now view it on at I was hired to write a press release because the restaurant is going to be featured on the Oprah show as having one of America's best pizzas. It was a fun assignment - especially since all our meetings regarding the article and its submission were at the restaurant. I have to lay off the delicious pizza for a while now though.
If you are still a Rush Limbaugh fan, you are reading the wrong blog! What a dick.
Read here

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

I saw the play "12 Angry Men" last Thursday. It starred Richard Thomas (Johnboy) and George Wendt (Norm!) I was wondering if it was improper Kennedy Center etiquette to shout out "Norm!" when Wendt took the stage. I just said it quietly under the applause.

The play is set entirely in a jury deliberation room for a patricide trial. The jurors, 12 white men in suits and fedoras, wrestle with the evidence to decide whether or not to send a 16 year old boy, one of "them," to his death or to acquittal. It was very thought provoking. One moment I found interesting was when this openly bigotted juror is ranting and raving. The audience laughed at the absurdity of his argument, but the laughter was quickly silenced as we all realized we've heard that line of thinking before and where it goes is chilling.

Have you ever served on a jury? I came close. I was selected for a trial of a woman, about my age at the time, who shot her abusive, cop husband in the face. I was the only one in the box who was the same age, race, & gender as the defendent. The prosecutor struck me when the judge gave "last call" on the jury. I always felt like she didn't have a jury of her peers. Have you noticed that a "jury of your peers" isn't a very accurate description - unless you just mean a human jury rather than a bovine jury or martian jury. Is this fair?

Monday, October 23, 2006

I've been having fun experimenting with apples this fall. I've tried two new kinds, York and Wine Sap that were both tart and crunchy and terrific in a pie or sauteed with butter, cinnamon & brown sugar. I made two pies. I've fried them to go on top of french toast. I've eaten them whole and in slices with peanut butter. I've enjoyed cider cold, hot & spiced, and with vodka.

I should probably just eat them whole and raw to avoid the obvious results of too much sugar, but I've decided to go with Greeny's theory of hibernation weight for the winter. I won't be putting on a swimsuit for a while. I've been cold. I should keep these apple pie pounds.

Anyway, most of my serving ideas are tried & true. Calling my recipes "experiments" is a bit of a stretch. I was wondering if any of you have any novel apple ideas to share. Do any of you have a recipe that doesn't use cinnamon?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Fried Oreos.
Do you think that sounds gross or great?
I saw them at a fall festival this weekend. Just the thought of it made my stomach hurt.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

In the car ride to NYC last week, Anne & I played a game I first heard on my mom's AM Talk radio when I was a kid: cross country bus trip. All you have to do is imagine you are taking a cross country bus trip, say from Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine. That would be days of riding with little to do. Given only two options, beside whom would you rather sit?
Try it.
Would you pick
Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert?
Brittany Spears or Paris Hilton?
Howard Dean or Dick Cheney?
Margaret Atwood or Maya Angelou?
Bill Clinton or Mark Foley?

Although some of those choices are tougher than others, I think I would pick all the first ones. Give me another choice to consider in your comment.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Care to enjoy a thinly masked, but extended metaphor with me?

I took a bike ride tonight in the last hour of daylight at the edge of town where the asphalt hasn't taken over. The WB&A runs along the edge of town. When riding through those trees, you can imagine what Maryland was like before the suburbs took root.

The sunset was beautiful. I could hear the stream running parallel to the trail. The trees were still in leaf, but all changing colors. I was riding through the change of seasons. I saw little brown rabbits and chipmunks and squirrels working hard to prep for winter. And then, at mile three, I saw deer: three does indifferently grazing right beside the trail, blasé to the pedestrians and bicycles on the path. They were a visual gift, and I gasped at their beauty and stillness.

Equal in biomass to the three deer and various other critters were the bugs. I think they were gnats. At times I rode through clouds of them. At first I was freaked out, trying to drive one handed so I could swat. Instead of swatting I had to cover my mouth and nose. I was so glad I had on my glasses (aging eyes!) The clouds of bugs were intermittent, worse where the trees were closest to the path.

When I looked down at myself, I realized I was covered in the bugs, like a human windshield. They threatened to ruin my lovely ride. I brushed them off only to be covered again. Finally, I just decided to ignore them and enjoy the scenery – that's when I saw the deer. They were so lovely.

I relaxed and only wiped the bugs off my face. I still had to cover my mouth & nose sometimes. I needed an assistant nit-picker at the end of that ride!

I passed other people out enjoying the path. I pointed out the deer to one family. Several said hello or some other simple greeting. One cyclist was talking on his cell phone. Another was freaking out about the bugs. I laughed and shouted over my shoulder at her, “bugs! bugs!” She probably thought I was a nut.

There is a gun club along the trail that has recently re-opened after long controversy over the protective walls that guard the trail. The gun club was there first – out in the woods. I did hear shots fired behind the wall. At the gates to the gun club, I passed a gathering of men with gray hair sticking out from under their ball caps, I imagine waiting for their brethren to gather for a mid-week gun meeting. They all extended a friendly greeting. I rode along with a smile, hoping the bugs didn't get in my mouth.

Don't you find that you can tolerate a few bugs without any problem at first? But suddenly lots of little tiny bugs are swarming you. At first you take evasive action. Then you just get used to it. The worst danger is behind a safety wall, patrolled by the morally conservative. You may as well just enjoy the ride. You don't want the little bugs to ruin this otherwise beautiful trek. You will eventually brush those teeny bugs all off – or pick them out.

Is it just me, or was that whole ride a life metaphor. Did any parts fit yours?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

I tried going to yoga tonight since the rain cancelled my son's lacrosse practice. But I must've had my wires crossed because there was no one where I thought the yoga was going to be. So my friend and I went out for a beer. It reminded me of when Peggy & I were headed for the gym and ended up eating cookies at the book store.

Nothing beats a good work out with a friend, huh?

Monday, October 16, 2006

I was tucking in my daughter, humming a folk song called "Blue Heaven" by Trent Wagler and the Steel Wheels. Cool song. Anyway, my daughter said, "Thanks a lot. I didn't have a song in my head and now I do."

I don't know if I ever don't have a song playing in my head. I usually can only bump it out with another one. Some are particularly annoying to have in your head, like the jingle from certain commercials, or some songs from musicals. I've had the new Indigo Girls songs stuck on replay in my head this week, until I got this folk CD and bumped them aside.

So what's stuck in your head today?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Autumn in the Alleghenies is spectacular – especially when toured on a private mountain. I saw West Virginia from a different perspective: riding on the back of an ATV. I had never been on one before and was glad I was with an experienced driver on some of those steep rocky parts.

That's my favorite mountain man on the top of his mountain. He was freaking me out because it was so windy he could barely stand out there and it was a genuine death drop to the valley below. After I took the picture, I crawled out on my belly to enjoy the scenery at less risk.

I couldn't help wondering about the geological forces that created those mountains. There is so much limestone up there. I suppose that means it was once ocean floor. Plus, parts of those mountains are hollowed out with canyons: Seneca Caverns, Smoke Hole Caverns, Luray, and Skyline.

I did shoot a couple of guns, but only rifles: a 22 and a 22 magnum. One of the smaller 22s had a bad scope, so I shot it with open sights and did better. I was shooting at paper targets tacked to a dead log. I hit the bullseye a few times too. I only shot the magnum once, but hit the bullseye first time. I have no desire to shoot an animal though. I suppose I could if I had too. I like to buy my meat in neat cellophane packaging that doesn't look remotely like the animal it used to be.

I saw a flock of wild turkeys and thought of my friend Peggy. Did you know Benjamin Franklin wanted to make the turkey our national bird, but lost the argument to the eagle. Some days I think the turkey should be our mascot. And just think of our national drink! (Do you call it a flock of turkeys or a herd? A covey? A murder? Bevy? Gaggle?)

I just drank some delicious apple cider from my requisite Apple House stop. I think I'll try one of Greeny's Apple Smasheds before I tuck myself in. I'll eat healthy tomorrow.

Friday, October 13, 2006

This weekend I am going to balance the bustle of the big city with the quiet of the Appalachians. Although probably not yet at peak, the fall foliage should be beautiful. And I'm looking forward to one of my favorite Virginia pit stops, the Apple House in Linden.

Meeting my reincarnated twin for coffee today, I wore as a jacket a brown corduroy shirt I just purchased in New York. She had on a new brown corduroy jacket.

My youngest and her friend from the neighborhood were playing “I betcha I can do 5 things you can't.” Her friend is a boy. I kept my ears open for that game. The adult version would be vastly different. I couldn't do most of their tricks. What can you do that most people can't?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

What fun we had in New York! I don't know where to start. The Phantom of the Opera? The guitar-playing cowboy wearing only his boots and his tightie-whities in the middle of Times Square? (Where was my camera?!) The bizzare shoes in Luis Vuitton? The expensive trip to the women's lounge in Tiffany's. The bicycle cab in the rain? The fabric stores in the fashion district? The delectable food at every turn?

I'm afraid no one in town mistook us for native New Yorkers. Although it took some initial urging, I convinced my daughter that she had better stand through the sun-roof of my soccer-mom van for the photo opportunities. My 13 year old and I were delighted with the tile work in the subway as well as the picture perfect standing room at rush hour. We had fun with the revolving doors. At Mood Fabrics, the elevator had an operator to open and close the double-layered door and pull the gear to ascend and descend - cool! The fashion parade on Madison Avenue -with poodles. The workers were putting up white lights in the trees and the vendors were selling roasted chestnuts.

On the way back from Phantom of the Opera, I was overwhelmed with the urge to sing songs whose words were only vaguely familiar to me in my Broadway opera voice, which only works with arms outstretched. No amount of talking could convince my daughter that this was acceptable behavior in NYC.

I purchased a silver ring at Tiffany & Co. I didn't mean to, honest. It is a heart that looks like somone sat on it before the silver hardened. Although not obviously a heart at first, you can still see it. It's just uniquely squished. I'm wearing it on the ring finger of my left hand. Anne protested at first saying I should wait 'til I marry again. I disagreed. I don't want to wait that long. This ring is perfect for that finger.
I am in Times Square typing while my 13 year old daughter and my friend Anne sleep in. Surely they can hear my typing. Hopefully they won’t sleep too late. We’re in New York City! We have so much to see! So many places to shop!
Plus, it finally stopped raining.

We did hear, but only briefly about the plane crashing into a building not very far from where I am. I heard about it in four phone calls from Maryland, not from anyone here. Everyone here just went about their business. We saw it on one of the tv screens in Times Square.

Yesterday, Anne & my lovely daughter and I drove up to “the city” so Anne could get her semi-annual haircut at the Arrojo Studio in SoHo. For those of you who don’t know, the salon owner is Nick Arrojo who does the hair makeover portion of the show “What Not To Wear.” Nick’s a bit out of my price range at $400 a cut for new clients. Anne gets a better price, but it still ain’t cheap.

Anyway, my daughter is a big fan of the show. We had hoped to get an autograph and a picture, but weren’t sure how friendly and generous this particular celebrity would be.

Turns out he was charming, as was his staff. Anne pointed us out and he came over and shook our hands. We exchanged pleasantries and he joked with my daughter about her recently broken finger. He asked if we had a camera. My daughter is so excited about the potential bragging rights she has scored with her junior high girlfriends. Anne’s hair looks fantastic too.

We have had more fun I will tell you about, but right now the city is calling and we have to go. I have pictures!


Monday, October 09, 2006

I'm not a doctor, but I've seen them on TV. So I thought I'd ask your opinion on a new medical issue facing my daughters.

Have you heard of the new vaccine for cervical cancer? It's actually a vaccine against HPV (I think) which it is estimated that 80% of everyone has. HPV is usually asymptomatic, but does trigger cervical cancer in some women. Although men transmit the virus, they are not affected by it. So apparently, if you've ever had sex with more than one person in your whole life, or if the only person you ever had sex with has had sex with someone else - ever, then you are in the higher risk group to have this HPV.

They've just recently developed better testing to determine if you have the virus. If you get regular paps, then you should be fine. If you haven't, you should go. You can ask for a special test for the HPV. Most insurances cover it, especially if your doc thinks you might need it, which most people do.

Anyway, now a vaccine is available to prevent HPV. The thing is, it's too late for us. “They” are recommending it for girls who are not yet sexually active. But some people think we should teach our kids to only have sex ever with one person. I say, prepare for the worse and hope for the best.

So I asked my pediatrician today about it. She recommended against it. She said that in America, only about 500 women die of cervical cancer a year. Mostly the women who die from it do not have their regular check ups. When found in its earliest stages, the treatment success is very high. So she asks if it is necessary to vaccinate an entire population for those circumstances?


Plus, insurance isn't paying yet and it is expensive. She said it was a three shot series and she could order it for me if I was willing to pay in advance - $140 per shot.

So what do you think?
Would you vaccinate your daughter with the “first model year” of a vaccine series under these circumstances? Have any of you talked to your docs? I know a couple of you folks are nurses. I'd love to hear your opinions.

I'm leaning against it after talking to the doc. I think I have established good health habits with my kids as far as regular preventive care goes. Is it safe to assume she'll continue when she's an adult just because I do? I would certainly pay $420 to prevent my kid from getting cancer, but the vaccine is still new too.


Sunday, October 08, 2006

Here is the lovely sparkling Cinderella carriage I made for the play - with help from my friends with power tools and carpentry skills. The big wheels you see don't actually turn, but the whole thing was on wheels to roll around the theater.

The whole play experience was great for my kids. By the last performance they were really quite good. I was very proud. Many parting tears of sorrow were shed at the cast party - although they will all see each other by next weekend.

Doesn't the step-mother in the carriage look wicked? Actually it's hard to look evil when you are that cute and having that much fun. And you would never know that the harmless bird in the carriage was capable of pecking out eyeballs.

I am looking forward to having a weekend without the play though. It was a very demanding schedule. I haven't even had time to try Greeny's new drink suggestion: Apple Smashed. It is definitely on my to-do list.

Plus I have my first assignment writing for a fee: A PR release, but more on that later.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Do you have a friend who dresses like you? I know that we tend to be friends with people who are similar, so there are bound to be similarities in style among a group of friends. For example, lots of my friends wear Birkenstocks or similar sandals. Lots of my youngest daughter's friends have clothes with some amount of pink camouflage.

But I have one friend who almost always is wearing the same thing as me without planning it. For example, one day she sent me a funny e-mail where you answer a few questions and come up with a funny sentence like, “I danced with a pickle because I'm cool like that.” I could tell from her choices that she was wearing a white shirt when she sent me that. So was I. So for the school meeting we were both attending that night, I changed into a warmer, brown shirt. Guess what she had on? Yesterday I met her for a business lunch. Both of us had on black jeans, pale blouses, and black leather jackets. When we showed up at our sons' ball practice, we both had on jean capris and pink shirts. The only time we ever planned on wearing the same thing was for our Gold Shoe Girls Night. Now it's a joke that we dress alike.

What is up with that? Were we twins in a previous life?
I'm going to see her at my daughter's play today. I bet she's wearing jeans and a blue shirt.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Every stage of childhood has its pros and cons.

Last night, after Happy Hour with Peggy, we decided to take the “Happy” home to our kids in the form of fresh bagels & cream cheese for breakfast tomorrow from Panera. While waiting in line, a mother behind me was considering her options with an adorable two year old. The little girl was imitating the cool sound the industrial bagel slicer was making. The mom saw me turn around to see the source of the sound and apologized for disturbing me. She and I struck up a conversation about parenthood while her little girl just sang a happy song while she was waiting. I bought her cookie since my order was taking some time. It was nice to spread “Happy Hour” around a bit.

I thought about how I miss the adorableness of my two-year-old children. I don't want another, mind you. No way. Mine are bigger now and less cuddly, much less likely to just sing a song in public while they are waiting in line. Those are a couple of the cons of bigger kids.

I'm loving the pros though. Certainly the conversation is better. We enjoy the same music: no more Barney & Raffi – although I didn't mind Raffi too much. My oldest and I raid each other's closets sometimes. I can leave them home alone for short events. I do very little for their personal hygiene anymore.

My son, 11, has been doing current events articles for school. Today he said, “There's too much war in the world. I think they should make a woman president.” How can I not love it that he thinks what the world really needs is a mom?

My 9 year old daughter, annoyed that no one was available to help her set up her new airbrush tattoo kit that she got for her birthday, got out the screwdriver and set it up herself. She was proud of herself. I was proud of her too.

My oldest has been wrestling with forgiving her favorite TV character's big transgression: Lorelai broke up with Luke and slept with Chris. She and I (that's my daughter and I, not Lorelai & I) have had some interesting discussions on forgiveness. What is really unforgivable? What do you do after a huge mistake?

I love watching these kids wrestle with new ideas and speculate.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Can I practice a rant on you guys? (Of course!) It's like a practice argument. I'm just waiting for the opportunity. But since I'm hanging around different folks than I was a few years ago, I may not get the chance to spew, so here it is.

I read in the paper today about the 2 Nobel Physicists who have measured light and temperature readings to prove that the universe did, in fact, begin with a "big bang." I heard my dad, the rocket scientist, talk about their work years ago when it was still underway. He was excited about it back then, as has been the entire scientific community now. The article in the Washington Post said that when these brilliant and hard-working men presented their evidence, the scientific audience gasped and applauded.

I think that's great. I have no problem with this. Here's what I'm bracing for:

Those same religious right wingers who have been bashing scientists and denying scientific evidence are going to love this. They're going to say "I told you so." This is going to irk me. They are going to pick and choose which scientific evidence they are going to believe, when the same scientific research principles have applied to evidence that they think works against their ideas of God. I suppose in a way this is consistent for them, since they also pick and choose which verses in the Bible to support and wave banners about and which ones to ignore.

When I was a science teacher in a local high school, I often wore a cross necklace. Regularly I would have a student question me, "Mrs. E, how can you be a Christian and teach science?" I would tell them what I believe: it's not either/or. Science explains how. Religion explains why. Science just explains the order in which God created things. He was in control no matter how things began or how they will end. I don't know why so many people pit science and religion against each other.

Anyway, the church I attend now does not support the kind of black and white thinking that so irritates me about many Christian churches. So I might not have a conversation about this outside of Blogger.

Thanks for letting me rant.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

How good is your record keeping?
Mine was recently challenged - and failed. The University of Maryland Grad school application stumped me on some residency questions.
How do you know the first date of issue for your driver's license or your voter registration? I can tell you when this one was issued, but not the first one. I e-mailed the voter registration board. I guess I'll have to contact someone at the MVA too. I know the year for my driver's license, but not the date. The computer application wants the month and date.
To quote my friend Anne, "sheesh!"

Any suggestions?

Monday, October 02, 2006

I'm going to learn how to shoot a gun. Do any of you know how? Here's my thinking.

If you use your imagination, I bet you can think of a situation where you would kill someone. In some life circumstances, killing is much more commonplace than my well-fed suburban life. So far, I have never truly contemplated murder. I hope those terrible circumstances never do align. But answer me this.

If you had decided that killing someone was the best course of action, whether you decided in a split second or planned it out, wouldn't you want to be sure you did a complete job? If you failed, I expect that the surviving person would be rather pissed off, maybe even vengeful. They would know you were trying to kill them for sure.

If I ever got to the point where I decided to kill someone, I'm sure the circumstances would be rather alarming and certainly dire. The Bible does say there is a time to kill, so if any of you reading this are thinking, “I never,” - think again. I hope that time never comes for me or you. But if one day I'm faced with do or die, I want to be able to do. I would hate to fail. I might also hate to succeed.

Even though I have been exercising and am fairly fit for a 41 year old woman, I don't know that I could count on brute strength. Poison is not necessarily reliable or expedient. I'm certainly not up for the knife action. I think shooting would be the best option. The problem is that I don't know how.

I don't ever want to own a gun. I don't want one in my home. I'm not a fan of the NRA. Reality is, however, not always what I want or in my control. Guns are everywhere. So is evil. If I'm firing at evil, I want to hit my mark.

So I'm going to take a few lessons from a couple of friends who offered. You can mess with me, but not my kids.

Now you guys probably all think I've lost it, slipped over the edge. With my luck, someone I don't like is going to turn up dead and this blog is going to land me in court. I hope not. I was a girl scout though. I want to be prepared. It's like learning CPR – actually maybe it's the opposite of learning CPR. I hope I never need either skill.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

I am in the taxi-driver phase of motherhood. Sometimes I have to hire extra drivers. This past weekend has been the first weekend of the play. My daughters and the carriage I built all performed beautifully. So we were doing lots of theater things this weekend, plus a lacrosse game thrown in for good measure.

Plus, today my baby turned 9. Nine years ago today I almost died, but that's another story. All is well now. Gifts received were roler blades, Heelies, Barbies, make-up, and Cheetah Girls Concert Tickets. Her piercing shriek upon opening those reminds me that I want to take earplugs to that concert.

The hecticness combined with this blasted lingering cold has lead to less exercise, fast food, and comfort food. Tomorrow doesn't bode much better as I am hosting a dozen 3rd graders at the roller rink for a birthday party. Ice cream cake from Cold Stone.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

What is it with people who stand still on escalators and moving sidewalks? Do they normally just stop walking? I can see if you are ill, but that never seems to be the case. Recently in the airport, I was anxiously exiting toward the garage to pick up my waiting vehicle and go home. I almost stepped onto the flat conveyor when I realized the healthy looking young man ahead of me was setting down his suitcase, blocking the passage. I swerved around and kept walking on the regular floor, passing him easily.

Same on the escalator today.

Am I too much in a hurry? Is no one else on a schedule?

If I had one super power, it would be apparition: the ability describe in Harry Potter to just transport yourself instantly to another location. I suppose if I had all my travel time back I'd just get more stressed by all the other things I was now trying to accomplish in the new found time. I do love a road trip with a friend.

I see the metaphor here of enjoying the journey more than the destination, but the standers get on my nerves sometimes.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Have you ever given someone who asked for your phone number the wrong number so they wouldn't call you? If you did, did you wonder who they might have called when you transposed those digits? Well, you no longer have to annoy people by giving out their number as a decoy.
Someone very smart has developed a Rejection Hotline. I read about it in the latest issue of Washingtonian Magazine. Instead of giving the creepy guy in the bar some hapless person's number so they won't call, you give them this hotline number. When they call, they hear
"Hello, this is not the person you were trying to call. You've reached the Rejection Hotline." It goes on to list possible reasons why you might have been directed to this number. It's hilarious! The Maryland number is 410-347-1488. Their website has over 80 phone numbers to choose from. I guess you couldn't hand out an 800 number at a bar.
Did you know there is now a national "Get Over It" day? They mention it on the recording.
If you call, let me know what you think.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Have I worried on the blog about the fattening of our town? I know I've had that conversation at least with my Mom. Our town has recently rushed out to enjoy the dual openings of Rita's Italian Ice and Cold Stone Creamery. Tonight I took my kids to Cold Stone. All my steely healthful resolve evaporated when those perky teenagers offered me a free taste test. What could that hurt?

Do you remember that Seinfeld episode where the frozen yogurt wasn't really fat free and everyone who was scarfing it up gained weight? This ice cream I had tonight was too good to be true. They claim it is sugar free, made with Splenda. It was cake batter flavor and it tasted just like the beaters I got to lick if I was one of the lucky ones. As one of four kids, to get one of the two batter beaters was quite a coup. That victory was sweet. The ice cream I had tonight tasted just like that delicious memory. Could it really be sugar free? Certainly the chocolate chips and graham crackers that I had added in weren't sugar free. So I probably shouldn't have it too often. It sure took some of the sting out of that gastronomic memory.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

I spent a quiet weekend in lovely Burlington, Connecticut visiting old friends in their beautiful new home. They just acquired a new dog that entertained and amused us. My friend was torn between charmed by this chihuahua-dachshund mix, and remorseful over the burden she just impulsively adopted. It was a great lesson for me to witness.

Saturday we went to the Wadsworth Antheneum, an art museum with quite an impressive collection. They had at least one original piece of almost every artist I've ever heard of and many I hadn't: Monet, Pissaro, Van Gogh, O'Keeffe, Rockwell, Gauguin, Dali, Cole, Picasso, Calder. They also had the impressively intact mummified remains of an unidentified Egyptian: hennaed hair, teeth, leathery black skin. It was creepy and intriguing to think this ancient person was walking around on the other side of the world thousands of years ago.

It is fascinating to see the wide range of artwork that is considered great. Some of it I find beautiful and provocative. The import of other pieces eludes me. Looking at the collection with a friend, however, made for great conversation and speculation. Some of the historical and religious events depicted in the paintings were obvious. Others made me want to research the story. Mostly I like to imagine the lives of the people portrayed. The still lifes and landscapes were wonderful, but I find people to be the best subject of art.

Friday, September 22, 2006

A day on the couch and a big bowl of a friend's fabulous, homemade, personally delivered soup has put me on the road to recovery. I have weekend plans with old friends, so I'm glad I am feeling well enough to proceed with them.

"Akeelah and the Bee" was terrific. There is a powerful quote in the movie I've listed below. Do you think there is some truth in this quote?

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond imagination. It is our light more than our darkness which scares us. We ask ourselves – who are we to be brilliant, beautiful, talented, and fabulous. But honestly, who are you to not be so?

You are a child of God, small games do not work in this world. For those around us to feel peace, it is not example to make ourselves small. We were born to express the glory of god that lives in us. It is not in some of us, it is in all of us. While we allow our light to shine, we unconsciously give permission for others to do the same. When we liberate ourselves from our own fears, simply our presence may liberate others."

- Marianne Williamson in Return to Love: Reflections on a Course in Miracles

Thursday, September 21, 2006

I hate being sick. There's too much to do. The only medicine that helps also knocks me out. So I'll be on the couch today. At least I have a good new movie to watch: "Akeelah and the Bee."

P.S. I love my dad. He's the best tech support around, among other positive attributes.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

I've decided I'm going to apply for the job of cosmetics color namer. What fun it would be!

I had to (and I use "had to" loosely) buy a new blush today. Because I'm a sucker for good service, I also bought eye shadow. So today I wore "smouldering plum" and "teddy bear browns." You can imagine how cuddly and delicious I looked. The woman behind the counter said I looked "doe-eyed." I told her that was exactly the look I was going for. I just hope no one shoots me!

My favorite lipstick shade was discontinued: "Just Georgeous." I always felt gorgeous in it. I was a great everyday shade. This summer at the beach I asked Julie & Mom to pick out a shade of lipstick for me. I showed them my array and they declared them to all look the same. That's because I have been trying to match the discontinued shade and haven't quite found it.

What are some of your favorite color names?

Monday, September 18, 2006

Hey friends,
I have begun this other website endeavor that looks promising. I'm going to try using AdSense on the adjoining blog. I hope it doesn't affect CG. So if one day ads turn up here, I'm not selling you! Give me a day to figure out how to keep it only on my Restaurant Bytes blog.

Speaking of which, on that website, which is still just a baby website, we have a drink recipe contest. Guess what the first winner was? My blueberry cooler! Thanks Greeny! Boy, the competition was stiff! Anyway, one of my partners in this project will be featuring the winning drink recipe in his restaurant. So if any of you have a great idea for a fall drink, I'd LOVE it if you would post your entry on (Find my blog under “The Dish.”)

OK. That it for my commercial. I'll try not to do that, but I know you guys have good drink recipes.
Pros & Cons of Dancing with the Old Drunk

Old guys have actual dancing skills: twirling, rhythm, spacing
No pestering for phone number
No ass grabbing
Says thanks for dancing with him

Keeping him from knocking into musicians
Bad breath & teeth
Getting held close to that big belly
Younger guys in pub realize we're available (time to leave!)

Saturday, September 16, 2006

My children danced on a stage at the Kennedy Center today - and got paid!

Peggy & I took our small group to the Kennedy Center's Open House in DC. We were treated to a free concert of a group called “Wild Magnolias.” The picture in the brochure had the guys all in these full feathery and finery costumes. However, we saw them performing in t-shirts and jerseys. Alas.

Their music was fun though. Their instruments were all percussion and their style was New Orleans Mardi Gras. Too bad they didn't even know what Mardi Gras meant. They couldn't even identify when it was Mardi Gras, although they insisted they never missed one. It surprised me that these obviously talented artists were so disinterested in learning more about the actual meanings of their words and style. Oh well. They were fun and they were performing on the stage at the Kennedy Center, so I guess their mediocrity was not inhibitive.

They were at odds with the dozens of red blazered women volunteering as ushers. The musicians were encouraging us to stand up and dance – a bunch of totally sober white people – and the ushers were asking the standers and dancers to sit down. What is proper Kennedy Center etiquette here? I actually saw an usher tap someone and ask them to sit. So we finally all had to stand.

The little kids got off easy. They stood up to dance without much prompting because the music was so infectious. Dancing is just their natural response. You couldn't feel sleepy or irritated. You had to wiggle, had to clap.

My kids were less sure of taking the stage. My son, however, has been acquiring a taste for being the class clown. He was trying to persuade one of his sisters to go up with him. I told him I'd give him $5. That was just the prompt he needed.

He took the stage with a dance style that was influenced by “Dance Dance Revolution.” He was wonderful. I was so proud.

My youngest saw the potential profit and asked if I'd pay her too. She wasn't brave enough to go first, so I only offered her $2. Of course she was adorable in her pink skirt and cowgirl boots.

So how much would I have to lay out to get you to dance on the stage?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Things I Love:
Daybreak walks with a friend
Sleeping in on a rainy morning
Hot strong coffee on my porch swing
Reading a good book with a snuggly child
Finding the exact words to describe my thoughts
Proud smiles on my children's faces
Boa constrictor hugs
Hot sand and cold drinks
Strong arms and sore muscles
A clear starry night
Traveling to new places
Talking to strangers
Wine and conversation with friends
Getting and 80% on my practice math test today!
Finding a new song to sing loud with the windows rolled down
Christmas morning
Changing seasons
The smell of my parent's house
Laughter – especially when it gets a bit out of control

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Is romance impractical? Are Romance” and “Practicality” opposites? Do you find that men or women are more practical? More romantic? Can something practical be romantic? I guess it depends on how you define everything. Sometimes I'm afraid that I cave into my desire for romance and then the practical side speaks up and wrecks everything. I'm full of questions. Do you guys have any answers?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

For my daughter's 13th birthday, her dad threw her a party at his house. He hired a couple of pretty, perky women to run a make-up demonstration and pedicure/manicure session. I got to help with the toenail decorating. It was fun.

When I arrived, the six 13 year old girls were soaking their feet. I joined the circle as the hostesses were distributing four lotions to smell in order to select which they wanted. The pastel creams had these names: Happiness, Harmony, Dreamy, and Romance. Happiness, I noticed was yellow. It smelled a bit too strong for me. I don't think I'm good with Happiness. The Harmony, in blue, was a boring scent. I liked the pink one and thought it might be nice to smell "Dreamy." When polled, every 13 year old selected the purple one: Romance. It was perfect. They are still young enough.

Monday, September 11, 2006

The newest grocery store in my town is having a grand “re-opening.” Is it two years old? It seems like it just opened. They were giving away iPods to random customers and had banners waving in the parking lot. The differences are cosmetic. The floors in the produce section and the bakery section, the two ends of the store, are now wood laminate instead of industrial looking tile. The veggies and fruit are meticulously arranged in lovely displays. The lighting in those areas is also changed. Instead of fluorescent, the lights are more like a restaurant, long drop down incandescent bulbs. It's like mood lighting for the melons and buns.

I've heard that grocery stores can be good pick-up places (although it's never worked for me.) I was wondering if they were going to start sponsoring singles night at the grocery story since they've installed mood lighting. It just seemed weird.

So I was wondering if people could have a “grand re-opening” for themselves? Do you have to give away prizes? Can you hang out a banner? How often can you get away with it before people start thinking your crazy? Sometimes the changes are just cosmetic. Could you post an “Under New Management” sign for major changes? Maybe you just start a new blog.

In another setting, I had several people say to me “Change for the sake of change is wrong.” I believe that staying the same for the sake of staying the same is at least as wrong.

So how about you? Is it time for a change? Have you finished re-modeling?

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Has it been 5 years?
Will any of us ever forget exactly where we were when we heard the news? How shocked? How horrified? sickened? furious?

I'm not always current with my music, but I just recently was listening to Melissa Etheridge's "Lucky" CD. Although I didn't notice it at first, she has a 9-11 song that was both eye-opening and powerful. On her website she admits that she really toned down her anger in this song so that it would be heard. If you get a chance to listen to this song somewhere, take a moment and do.

Tuesday Morning
Melissa Etheridge

10:03 on a tuesday morning
In the fall of an american dream
A man is doing what he knows is right
On flight 93

Loved his mom and he loved his dad
Loved his home and he loved his man
But on that bloody tuesday morning
He died and american

Now you cannot change this
You can't erase this
You can't pretend this is not the truth

Even though he could not marry
Or teach your children in our schools
Because who he wants to love
Is breaking your god's rules

He stood up on a tuesday morning
In the terror he was brave
And he made his choice and without a doubt
A hundred lives he must have saved


And the things you might take for granted
Your inalienable rights
Some might choose to deny him
Even though he gave his life

Can you live with yourself in the land of the free
And make him less of a hero than the other three
Well it might begin to change ya
In a field in pennsylvania


Stand up america
Hear the bell now as it tolls
Wake up america
It's tuesday morning
Let's roll

Saturday, September 09, 2006

My eight year old seems to "get" me the best of my three children. Either that or she's still too young to be embarrassed by me.

She and I were heading out for a quick grocery run. We were all out of our Easy Bake Oven mixes among other things. We were the only two making the trip and she suggested we crank up our current favorite song, "Soak Up the Sun." She likes the windows down and the music loud, just like me. My other two don't usually like all that wind and rhythm. She wanted to take advantage of their absence and I was delighted to indulge her (or was she indulging me?)

I'm always surprised at how well this little girl remembers lyrics. She's singing right along. My oldest cringes if I perform any step that might be construed as dancing. I may not be the world's greatest dancer, but I don't think I dance as badly as say, Elaine.

I'm edging out of the years where I'm raising cooperative, adoring children and edging into those trying teenage ones. I know these are phases and stages. So I will cherish little moments like these as they come by.