Friday, January 30, 2009

Why I Love My Dog

I love my dog because he loves me. And not just me, but my entire family.

In fact, he loves us so much that when we're doing something, he has to be a part of the action. He absolutely cannot help himself. Whenever we move, or speak, or in any way alter the circumstances in the room (especially including going near the kitchen), there he is, desperately wanting to stick his big black nose in the middle of what's going on. Because movement and change greatly increase the chances that he will get what he wants, with his preferences listed in the following order:

1) food, or
2) more food, or
3) at least a pat on the head. (Which might eventually lead to food.)

Also? He has the sounds of all of our cars memorized and runs to the window as soon as he hears one of us turning down the street. He also recognizes the sound of my son's voice as said son says goodbye to the friend he walks home with at the top of the hill every day after school.

He is a very good dog.

But he also allows curiosity to get the better of him when it's not in his best interests.

Every morning, I get up, let him out, and refill his water bowl outside on the deck as he trots down the stairs and into the yard to do his duty. And I have noticed that whenever he hears me pouring water into his bowl, he will immediately think, "Oh! Human activity!" This causes him to stop what he's doing, mid-stream, and gallop back up the stairs.

Because, even though he must know he'll regret it within the hour, human activity beats out the relief of an empty bladder every time.

Not impressed? Well, how many humans do you know who are so loyal?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Small Correction

My husband is home from his business trip, and I would like to offer up a small correction.

You know yesterday, when I was complaining about the many years when my husband would toss and turn in a clockwise direction, stripping me of covers? And then suddenly the blankets started ending up on my side? And I said:

And I just assumed that his loving subconscious had taken my counter-clockwise spin suggestion to heart.

I would like to point out that I woke up a couple of times last night to feel him spinning counter-clockwise.

Let's hear it for the loving subconscious.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I Blame the Chocolate-Covered Green Onions

Throughout our long marriage, my husband has always been the covers snatcher. When he tosses and turns, he does it clockwise, which spins the covers onto him and away from me. I can't count the number of times I've woken up in the middle of the night, stripped of my blankets and on the verge of hypothermia. (Did I mention he also likes to sleep with the windows open and fan on, year-round? Oh, the things we do for love.)

Once I said to him, "You should learn to spin counter-clockwise. Then I'd have covers in the morning."

His response, "Why would I do that? Then I'd be cold." Then he ducked, because he correctly intuited that I was going to punch him.

We have been married a long time.

Oddly, though, in the past few weeks, the covers have been ending up on my side of the bed. And not just on my side, but spilling over all the way to the floor. And I just assumed that his loving subconscious had taken my counter-clockwise spin suggestion to heart. At least until he went off on a business trip this week.

Each morning he's been gone, I've found myself pulling the covers up off the floor on MY side. And not only that, last night I discovered a six-inch rip in the bottom sheet, my side, presumably from all my tossing and turning.

I blame the bizarre dreams I've been having. Because I'm pretty sure that chocolate-covered green onions and licorice recycling will do that to a person.

P.S. Since I wrote my pantyhose post yesterday, I've had four visitors who were searching for "pantyhose." Two from Beijing (different IP addresses, so presumably different people), one from Romania and one from the US.

Somehow I don't think they were looking for stories about pantyhose as it relates to manly Italian boxers.

But I could be wrong.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Farewell to Pantyhose

As part of the whole "simplifying my life" thing (remember my closet cleaning discoveries?) I am cleaning out the family sock bin downstairs.

This means getting rid of all of the unmatched socks. You know. All the adorable little novelty ankle socks whose mates you have been absolutely certain would show up eventually? Except that they somehow never did?

It is time to abandon all hope. Loner socks, I hereby cast you out.

And once I got that done, it was time for a decision about The Pantyhose Pile. You know. You probably have one yourself.

(Unless you're male, but perhaps... Oh, wait. More on that later.)

What I'm talking about is the tangled pile which contains a whole slew of panty hose, most of which have been worn one time and are probably perfectly serviceable.

Except when do I wear pantyhose?

It's not a fashion thing. I'm not like the women my daughter's age, who have never seen the need and go barelegged anywhere. I am originally a pantyhose person, partly because it's how I grew up, and partly because my Celtic ancestors blessed me with ghostly pale legs. (Thank you so much, Celtic ancestors.)

So I'm not morally opposed to pantyhose. It's just that I don't have a pantyhose wardrobe anymore.

Years ago, I used to wear them to work, and I had a bundle of them. Then I decided to trade in work for diapers and crayons (and later for work that didn't require pantyhose), so I wore them to church. And then I destroyed the joints in my feet and had to give up heels, and pants look better with flats than dresses and skirts do, so I pretty much gave up anything that needs pantyhose.

And even on the very rare occasions (fancy weddings, etc.) when I do need them, I buy a new pair, because I'm never 100% sure I have a pair that doesn't have runs, so better safe than sorry.

So why do I keep the old ones around?

As of today, I don't. Old pantyhose, yer outta here!

An aside that is only mildly relevant. One of the co-writers on the sports blog I write for is a young Italian boxer who's become kind of half-friend, half my fourth kid. (He says I'm just like his real mom because she doesn't like the thought of him boxing either.) And he is about as ferociously male and manly as they come.

But he's overcoming a multitude of injuries, and to keep the muscles warm and speed up the healing process, the doctor has recommended -- you guessed it -- panty hose.

A recent conversation:

Me: How goes the pantyhose?
Him: I actually found a better, less feminine one. Helly Hansen. So ha!
Me: What makes them less feminine? (Why am I asking this?)
Him: It's not as, uh, revealing. (Looser.)
Me: Okay, sorry I asked.
Him: Me too.

Before the internets, I would never have had the opportunity to have this kind of conversation.

And that probably would have been a good thing.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Totally Seattle Poinsettias

Two facts:

1) I have been watering my poinsettias with leftover coffee, and
2) They are all still alive.

I know I have already written about the fact that my poinsettias are still alive, so you're probably bored with this fact. But for me? It's kind of a miracle.

I usually buy poinsettias in December, then forget to water them, so that by the time I take them to the yard waste bin, the same day I take down my tree, I'm leaving a long trail of dried up leaves and petals between my living room and my garage.

And what I have left by the time I get to the garage are bare stalks, completely denuded of any kind of greenery or color, kind of like the ones Grinch left in the little Who houses. (Along with the crumbs much too small for the other Whos' mouses. But you don't want to get me started reciting the Grinch. We'll be here all day.)

But anyhoo. My poinsettias are not just alive, they are alive and kicking. I have almost killed most of them at least once by forgetting water, but when I remember, I just stick them in the window and water them with coffee and they come roaring back. A couple of them have even started blooming again.

In fact, they are doing so well that I'm starting to feel guilty about not repotting them, because their little bitty pots are all getting kind of smushed and crowded. But bigger pots wouldn't fit on my window sill, so I'd have to move them someplace where I couldn't enjoy them all day, and basically? What't the point of that? I'd rather keep them where I can see them and have them die sooner.

Because I'm selfish that way.

And so, in the meantime, I'm just continuing to water them with coffee and waiting to see how long they last.

For the record, I have no idea why I water them with coffee. It's something I read, somewhere. My memory is saying that I didn't even read it an official, plant expert kind of source. It was just somebody unofficial saying, "I water my houseplants with leftover coffee." And since I can't live without coffee every day, and I rarely drink the whole pot (and if I do, I generally regret it,) I figured, What the heck? It will make me feel less guilty than dumping good coffee down the drain.

I wonder if the person who came up with the idea lived in Seattle? I wonder if it would work as well in, say, Louisiana, for people who can't draw a circle with a one-mile radius around their house and hit at least seven Starbucks, plus a couple of Tully's? Or is this caffeine craving something poinsettias get from us, the people who raise them?

When even your plants become addicted, perhaps it's time for a 12-step program.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

When We Are All We Have

A few years back, my husband and I went for a long weekend in Puerta Vallarta. As we wandered through the town, I couldn't help but note that all the really good jobs belonged to the people who were fluent in English. Those who weren't tended to just scrape by. And I thought, "Y'know, anyone starting an English school here could really make a difference."

Fast forward a few years. Suddenly it's not just their country where a lot of people are just scraping by. It's ours too. And I realized, "It doesn't have to just be there."

And so, in a bit of New Year's introspection, I shifted my work schedule to weekends and signed on to teach ESL classes through our local social service agency.

It's not something I've ever done before. But you know in Gone With the Wind, where Scarlett shoots the yankee who's there to pillage Tara? In the following months and years, when she's faced with a task that seems insurmountable, she reminds herself, "I've done murder. I can do this."

I've taught chess to kindergartners. I can do this.

I went to my first orientation, the general one for the social service agency, a couple of weeks ago. A Wednesday afternoon, during the workday. The room was packed, and with a beautiful and diverse mix of people. Rich and poor, male and female, native and immigrant, student and working age and retired. One man brought his three daughters, who sat in the back and cheerfully colored.

I had my first ESL training yesterday. That one was also packed. The teachers said that they usually get 20-25 people per session. Yesterday there were 35. It was a fun, high energy group, filled with caring and intellectually curious people.

It wasn't so long ago that I was lamenting the fact that so many are responding to this downturn by selfishly clutching their things closer and living in fear that they will lose what they have.

It's good to be reminded that this isn't everybody, and that even those who are afraid can reach out, and that there are plenty who seek to heal society's wounds through personal action.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

If You're Easily Offended, Skip the First Part of this Post

Once again, there goes my brain. And it's not just translation obsessions and weird dreams. (If you're a sensitive soul, or male, skip this part.)

Today I realized, as I was reaching for a top shelf, that yesterday I must've forgotten antiperspirant. But only on one armpit.

Explain this to me. Seriously. I'm how old? I've been using antiperspirant for how many years? How do you forget one armpit? I mean, it's automatic, right? Does anybody over the age of fourteen actually pay attention the the process of putting on antiperspirant? You do one side, and then you do the other. No conscious thought required. It's automatic. Except, apparently, when it's not.

(Sensitive souls, you may start reading again.)

I've decided my brain is going. But I've also decided that this is not necessarily a bad thing. Because I've recently started re-reading some of my favorite authors, and it's pretty much like I'm reading them for the first time. Oh, joy! Oh, rapture! New books!

I am really hard to please when it comes to books. They have to be well-written and well-plotted, and to have well-developed, non-stereotypical characters to boot. I'm pretty sure I'm mildly ADD, and when you combine that with my word-nerdism (word-nerdity?), which requires that the words feel right, I just can't get into most books.

And I also have very limited tastes, meaning that I think most literary fiction is self-important crap. I'd rather just read mysteries. And when your favorite authors (like Kathy Reichs, Jonathan Kellerman, Elizabeth George, Janet Evanovich) only put out one book every year or so, it's kind of hard to find books.

Which is why I am absolutely ecstatic over the fact that I've recently started enjoying rereading books I originally read back in the nineties. And the best part? I don't remember them at all! I'll finish one, again, and think, "Wow. That was good. I wonder what happens in the next book in the series?"

Plus, because they're not new and fresh, there's less of a wait at the library. And if I can't wait even that long, they're usually at Half-Price Books, which is right down the hill.

Who says getting older is a bad thing?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

My Brain Scares Me Sometimes

So since yesterday I have been mildly obsessing over whether I posted the incorrect French phrasing for "Yes, We Can."

Because the French aren't like you, or me, or other English speakers. When they say, "we" or "you," it's generally to a real, actual "we" or "you." When it's more generic, they tend to say, "on," literally, "One." As in, "Oui, on peut." "Yes, one can."

Long and unnecessarily drawn-out example: When I was in Paris at the end of '07 for the France-Scotland soccer game (which wasn't the actual reason for the trip, but it was the reason for the timing of it), the city was overrun by Scotsmen in kilts.

They call themselves The Tartan Army, and they're awesome. And generally drunk. I was standing next to one of them before the game at the hot dog stand (hot dogs which are, of course, served on baguettes) and he turns to me and says, "Ah been drrrinkin' since nine o'clock this morrrnin', but ah feel prrretty good!"

And I'm quite certain he was telling the truth. (Although the next morning might have been a different story.)

But anyhow. Onto my "on" story. I was staying in a hotel near the stadium. Since it was near the stadium, there were a lot of Scotsmen staying there too. (The clanking of bottles as the maids emptied the garbage in the mornings was hysterical.) The number of Scotsmen in the hotel probably explains why the fire alarm went off at midnight the night before the game.

And so we all assembled in the front lobby, a motley crew of elderly British tourists, French businessmen, the few Scotsmen who were sober enough to make the journey, and me. And there we sat for probably twenty minutes or so while somebody apparently made the rounds to determine that there was no actual fire. At which point one of the Frenchmen said, "On peut remonter?" Not the English version, "Can we go back upstairs?" but rather "One can go back upstairs?" And that's what sticks in my memory about that night. The usage of the word "on."

(I am such a word nerd. Have I mentioned that recently?)

So I actually spent far too much time considering whether I should title the post, "Oui, on peut," but it seemed way too impersonal, since the point is that we can all do it together. So I decided "nous" (we) is the best translation, but I'm not sure.

But I guess it's all for the good, because I got a hit on this blog yesterday from somebody in Brazil (native language Portuguese, or so I would assume), looking for the search string, "Oui nous pouvons yes we can." So I guess it was meant to be, right? Even sketchy grammar can be used for the greater good.

Other reason my brain scares me: My dreams lately. Last night I dreamed I was traveling around Europe with my husband and a chef whose great invention was chocolate-covered green onions. I am not making this up. I actually woke up wondering how that would taste.

And the night before... Wait, this one requires backstory. Our paper did an article on a guy who is fighting his $54 fine for not having a bag to scoop his dog' So I dreamed that I was walking my dog in New York with some kid, and my dog feels nature's call. And I don't have a bag, so I scoop it up with some soggy newspapers, which was all that was around. And I left it in what I thought was a garbage can, only to see the shocked look on the kid's face as he said, "You just put that in the licorice recycling bin!"

I said, "You recycle licorice here?" And he gave me a look like, "You mean you don't? You heathen!" And then I woke up.

As I said. My brain scares me. Anyone want to interpret?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

One Last Item Before Inauguration Day Ends

Older eyes (like mine), feel free to click on the comic for a larger version.

Oui, Nous Pouvons! (Yes, We Can)

I watched the inaugural speech on US TV. Then, later, I went to TV5Monde, the French channel, to see what the French commentators were saying. I got to watch much of the speech again, with Barack Obama speaking as a translator translated.

A couple of things.

1) I understood almost all of it! (Of course, it helped that I had already watched it in English, and Barack was saying pretty much the same thing -- also in English -- in the background.)

2) A French journalist captured it when she said that the speech spoke to the energy and the optimism of the American people. Because that about sums it up, doesn't it?

Without those qualities, we are lost. We have been lost, wallowing in pettiness and partisanship. It's about frickin' time somebody reminded us that we're all in this together.

I loved the fact that Obama didn't have to berate the Bush administration at all. All he had to do was remind us of the true ideals of this country, after which it was impossible not to think of how far we have strayed from them.

The best moment of the French broadcast came when they showed a shot of a gathering of African immigrants watching the inauguration in France, where the road to assimilation is even more difficult than in the US. A dark-skinnned immigrant, speaking in English with a very heavy French-African accent, hollered to the crowd, "Yes, we..." to which they shouted back, "CAN!" "Yes, we..." "CAN." "Yes, we..." "CAN!"

It's funny that Obama is one of our youngest presidents, because it feels like finally, at last, after many years, we have a grownup in the White House.

I hope and pray I'm right, and that we Americans are ready to accept the medicine we need to take.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Two Wheels to Freedom

It was one of those rare sunny Seattle days yesterday. Not warm, but definitely some rays. And so, at about 2:00, my 13-year-old son said, "I'm going for a bike ride."

This is kind of a new thing in our house. His older brother and sister learned to ride bikes in our old neighborhood, which was on the flat. This house is on a very long, steep hill, and we moved here when the youngest was not quite one. So up to now, he's never been much of a biker. Sure, he learned, on a camping trip when he was six or seven, but biking in this neighborhood, for all of us, has been more effort than it's worth. Until now.

He'd been on us for the last year or so to get the tires of fixed on the one bike that fits him (now that he's taller than both his dad and me.) My husband did, a few weeks ago. And now a whole new world has opened up.

I was kind of surprised at how much he's gone when it's not raining, until my husband said one word: "Freedom."

Oh. Right. I remember now.

A bike is what you have when your world is spread out across great distances, and you want to set your own schedule, and it's way too babyish to rely on mom and dad. A bike will take you to hang out at the mall with your friends. A bike will take you to the library. A bike will let you go to Target, three miles away, all by yourself, to buy a video game for your beloved "sensei" (karate instructor.) Your body is telling you, "it's time to be independent." Your wheels provide the means.

For my Summer of the Bike, I was a bit older. Fourteen or Fifteen, I think. Ninth and tenth grade, before my friends and I had licenses and cars and jobs.

The phone call would come: "Wanna go bike?" The answer, always: "Sure!" And we'd be off, freewheeling through our town. We memorized all of the bike trails. We knew all the dips and potholes. We kept track of the safer routes that let us get everywhere while avoiding the heavy traffic. And we had...freedom.

It's funny. Our driver's licenses allowed us to go farther, faster. But I don't ever remember feeling carefree in a car. Not the way we did with the pedals under our feet and the wind in our hair (no spandex or bike helmets in those days!) as we cruised those miles and miles and miles. I miss those days, and I am happy for my son, even as I worry when he disappears for two hours at a time. But basically, I'm okay with this. Because I remember.

Maybe I should get myself a bike.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Tales From the Blogging Dungeon

I don't really have anything to say tonight, except that I really need to post something to get Clay Aiken off the top of the page.

(Note to Aiken fans: Please do not send me nasty comment spam. I am not comparing him to the last post I was desperate to get off the top of my page, which was the Unpopular Mechanic.)

(No. Really.)

I haven't blogged anything in the last couple of days because my WiFi router has suddenly kind of stopped working. And by "suddenly" I mean "gradually over the last few months," and by "stopped working" I mean "It's still basically working, but it crashes three or four times a day and I have to reboot it. Which is a royal pain."

I called Verizon about it, and the guy (who probably lives in a warm, tropical climate) said, "Uh... Maybe it's the weather?" Which made sense at the time, because we were snowed in.

Now, though? Not so much.

What this means is that I have two options: 1) keep running up and down the stairs to keep rebooting the modem, or 2) just move my laptoop downstairs and plug in the damn blue cord.

I suppose I have an option 3, which is "move my router-modem upstairs where I can attach it to both my phone line and my laptop," but given that I am utterly nontechincal and completely averse to change, this would be way out of my comfort zone.

Eventually I will go for Option 4, which is "Call the Double Super Secret Verizon line for grave and grim Unsolved Problems" -- which I've done twice before, and which really, really works -- and get them to send me a new router-modem. But I'm not there yet.

I am, however, loving the idea of secretly having this number, which is apparently only given out to people who have Serious Problems. Which I have had in the past, which makes me part of this Special Group. But I wouldn't consider this THAT bad. Just...annoying.

For now, I am blogging in The Dungeon.

For the record, I do not enjoy Dungeon Blogging. It's not that I hate my basement. I love its presence in my house. It's quite good for things like stashing both junk and the occasional relative who wants to spend the night.

What I don't like to do, though, is spend a lot of time here. I don't know why it really matters, since it's not like we get anything resembling sunlight this time of year. I guess it's just that I like the thought of sunlight. The idea that -- if I were upstairs and the occasional and incredibly rare ray would finally, at last, break through, as it did this morning -- I would be there to appreciate it.

For the moment, though? I guess I'll blog in the Dungeon.

But I'll do it at night. Just in case.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Don't Tick Off the Aiken Fans (Or: Why I Love the Internets)

So over on the other blog I write for -- the sports one -- I was lamenting the fact that my local team is actually choosing one of their players via reality TV. Seriously.

The players with the top four vote totals get to the final round, where the top player will be chosen by "a distinguished panel of judges." Who I assume will not include Paula, Simon, or Randy.

But toward the end, so I wouldn't be completely negative, I said something along the lines of:

And audience participation does get people genuinely interested and invested in the outcome. How else would somebody like Clay Aiken become a national star?

Which I thought was a pretty neutral quote. Right? So imagine my surprise when the first two comments came from rabid Clay Aiken fans taking me to task for implying that he wouldn't have made it big without American Idol. Like this:

Clay could have become a huge star without AI if he went to the right people-and he was ’spiffed’ up a little the way AI stylists spiffed him up, also. He did record two demo tapes, at age 19!!, that were incredible (you can d/l the songs from - most of his covers are better than the originals - songs from several different genres!!)-his voice was perfection and so was the production. His mother sold them to whomever she met up with. His fans just wished they landed in the right hands back then.

Okay, then. I'm thinking, "Wow. Who knew there was this kind of overlap between soccer fans and hardcore Aiken fans? I kind of would have thought they'd be mutually exclusive groups."

Then one of our regular commenters said:

methinks some folks have “clay aiken” google alerts, and defend him in all corners of the internet.

Aha. I get it now.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

You Know It's Going to Be a Bad Day When...

You know it's going to be a bad day when Sherry Johnston, the alleged Oxycontin dealer and mother of the father of teenager Bristol Palin's new baby, appears in an interview to excuse her drug dealing whilst wearing your shirt. Or a shirt exactly like one you own. Which you still love and wore a couple of days ago.

And not only that, she looks better in it, because she has boobs and you don't.

(Oh, wait. Excuse me for being indelicate. She has a bust. Which I do not. Which normally I don't mind, because it would just get in the way. Or so I would imagine.)

And the worst part of this is, photos of her new grandbaby were apparently worth $300,000 to the new and unwed parents. And a source in the know said that having Grandmother #2 (who is 42 years old) be arrested for dealing drugs significantly upped the value of the photos.

Do we live in a great country or what?

Friday, January 09, 2009

Oh, Chalice! Oh, Tabernacle! (Or Maybe It Loses Something in Translation)

Have I mentioned recently that I'm a word nerd? I just love words. And in my recent Struggle to Be Bilingual (more on that later), I'm loving words in two languages.

This week I've been reading a book set in Montreal, in the French-speaking portion of Canada. The author tosses in the occasional French or French-Canadian word when nothing in English quite fits. One of these? "Tabarnac!"

I've heard it from other French-Canadians, too. I could tell from context that it's an expletive of some sort, but I had no idea what it meant until I decided to search out the actual definition.

Enter the multi-language word nerd's best friend, I love, love, LOVE this site. It's not your standard foreign-language dictionary. Enter in a word, and it gives you not just the definitions, but also typical phrases that include the word. And if even that doesn't give you what you need, you can ask a question in the Forum, where native speakers will give you context. It is unbelievably awesome. If you're a word nerd.

"Tabarnac" is French-Canadian rather than standard French, so it wasn't in the dictionary. (I can say with confidence that it is not due to the fact that it's an expletive. Please don't ask what tests I performed to allow me to say this definitively.) But the word was a topic of a couple of Forum questions and answers.

First, from an American English speaker:
A guy I recently met who is French-Canadian (and quite funny) says the word "tabernac" (spelling?) quite interpretation is that this is some kind of 'curse' en francais. Am I right, and if so, is there a direct translation for this to english?

Answer 1, from a French person, quoting from the Urban Dictionary. (Urban Dictionary is another one of this word nerd's great loves.)

Tabernac is one of the worst curse words you can use in French Canada. French Canada has a strong tradition of Roman Catholicism and this sacriligious word takes the word "tabernacle" in vain.

And, to make this even more interesting, another answer, this one from a French Canadian:

Please, don't ever think that we (French-Canadians) say always that kind of words. It is considered as a lack of education. Personally, I could say those words when I'm awfully angry. So, maybe once a year, not more.

Um...what?!? The word that comes from and essentially means "tabernacle" is referred to in the same way we would refer to words involing sex or excrement? I'm so confused!

Fortunately, it's the Forum to the rescue again, with a link to this article:

In French-Speaking Canada, the Sacred Is Also Profane: Quebecers Turn to Church Terms, Rather Than the Sexual or Scatological, to Vent Their Anger

If you're a fellow word nerd, you have to read the entire article. For everybody else, some of the highlights:

English-speaking Canadians use profanities that would be well understood in the United States, many of them scatological or sexual terms. But the Quebecois prefer to turn to religion when they are mad. They adopt commonplace Catholic terms -- and often creative permutations of them -- for swearing.

In doing so, their oaths speak volumes about the history of this French province.

"When you get mad, you look for words that attack what represses you," said Louise Lamarre, a Montreal cinematographer who must tread lightly around the language, depending on whether her films are in French or English. "In America, you are so Puritan that the swearing is mostly about sex. Here, since we were repressed so long by the church, people use religious terms."

And the words that are shocking in English -- including the slang for intercourse -- are so mild in Quebecois French they appear routinely in the media. But not church terms.

Or, in other words, if you're in Quebec, feel free to discuss bodily functions and bedroom activities.

But whatever you do, don't mention the Tabernacle!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Here Is Where I Offer Updates and Corrections

Update/Correction #1. Yes, I do actually know that Epiphany is on Jan. 6, not on January 5 as stated in a previous post. And the worst part is, I didn't write it just once, so I can't claim a typo.

See, what happened was that I got it stuck in my head that Epiphany was on Monday. In fact, the part of my brain that was sure it was Monday was SO sure it was Monday that it even looked up the date to put it in the post. And that part of my brain never connected with the part of my brain that contains the "Epiphany = Jan. 6" knowledge.

It was kind of like the time -- when my older son was about two -- that I went to the ATM and my mind had the following two thoughts, both of which make perfect sense when taken independently:

1) I'm only going 10 feet, so I can leave the keys in the ignition, and
2) To keep my child safe in his carseat, I'd better lock the doors.

And this was back in the days before cell phones, and my husband was at the store where I couldn't reach him. Fortunately I knew the name of the store, and the bank kindly allowed me to look up the number in their phone book and use their phone. (Yes, phone book -- that's how long ago it was.) I called and described my husband to the clerk, who tracked him down and told him to come meet me at the bank with the spare key.

In my defense, I was in grad school at the time and had a two- and a three-year-old. Even so, I'm kind of amazed I still have three kids. And not only three kids -- the original three, even. Life is full of miracles. Amen.

Fortunately no lives were similarly put at risk by my above-mentioned Epiphany error. That I know of.

Update #2. Okay, so I probably shouldn't talk about another instance where my family is really...unusual in the same post where I talk about absentmindedness putting a young child at risk of grievous bodily harm. Because mostly my family is pretty much like everybody else. Except not always.

You know that bag I described yesterday that just made my day, with the lost Christmas presents in it ? Well, after I wrote the post, I dug down further in the bag, just in case, and discovered another, smaller bag. Similar to the one that had my stuff in it. So I opened that up, and guess what I found?

Presents that I had bought for my husband. Also for Christmas 2008. A Chieftains CD, a Springsteen CD, "Jesus Christ Superstar" and "Paint Your Wagon" on DVD. Same year, same bag.

Don't ask me, because I have no idea. But I think we need to find a new place to hide presents.

Or, no, I take that back. We only need a new place to hide presents if we want to actually find them before the holiday in question.

Otherwise, we're totally good.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Dearest Husband

This is a real and actual email that I just sent to my husband, who is currently stuck in another state due to highway flooding.

[Dearest Husband]

(Okay, that wasn't in the email. He knows it's to him because it went to his email address. I just added that for the benefit of you, dear reader, so you'd know who I was writing to.)

So remember last year, when you were really disappointed because there was a whole bunch of stuff that you got for me for Christmas that had bizarrely disappeared by the time the actual day rolled around? Stuff which by now I had completely forgotten about?

Guess what I found in the closet in a giveaway bag? Things like Grinch jammies and a Beckham book, maybe?

Heehee. This is like the Christmas you give me after Christmas as a reward for surviving your relatives. :-)

Love you lots!


So the story is, I decided to clean out the closet. ("Walk-in" currently being a gross exaggeration.) And tossed in the back from the LAST time I cleaned out the closet were three (yes, three) bags that I meant to give away to charity. Except that they got buried and I forgot.

This is kind of like the best Christmas ever! Because I get presents, but I don't even have to entertain! OR travel, even!

P.S. Now you know how often I clean out my closets. Which would be "not often."

P.P.S. If you're one of my husband's relatives? I love you and of course am not talking about you. It's called "poetic license."

P.P.P.S. Except that since it's prose, would it be "prosaic license"?

P.P.P.P.S. Now that I am thoroughly confused, I think I'm just going to go put on my Grinch jammies and read my Beckham book.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Don't Tick Off the God of the School Superintendents

You know back on December 17, when I was all smug about my son's school district calling a snow day when we didn't actually have any snow?

I'm never going to do that again.

The snow hit the next day. It finally melted enough last night to reveal the final missing newspaper. (There would have been a lot more except that my dog is awesome. Seriously, we could turn him loose with a brandy flask in the Alps to search out missing skiers. Or at the very least the kids could send him and the flask out to me in the driveway as I'm spinning my wheels yet again, trying to escape our neighborhood. I mean, it's not drunk driving if you can't actually move your car for two weeks, right?)

(Note to my kids. And the police: I am kidding.)

I have to admit, I feel kind of responsible for the six separate snowstorms (yes, count 'em six, in an area that usually gets maybe one a year) which paralyzed our city. I think I brought down the wrath of The God Who Watches Over the Poor School Superintendents Who Have to Make These Decisions Based on Flawed Information and Then Get to Take Crap Over It From People Like Me. And believe me, he's not a god to be trifled with.

I am sorry, Seattle. I swear I will never make fun of stupid excessively cautious school decisions again.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Grabbing an Irish Memory

I realized today that I never actually sat down and wrote about anything that happened on our family Europe trip from last March-April. And since this is the only place I ever write about personal stuff, if I don't write about it here it's lost forever. So let me tell you a quick story about Ireland.

My husband, youngest son and I went to Dublin on our own after we sent our oldest two back to school. (My older two and I went to London because their break was earlier than their brother's, then we met my husband and youngest in Paris a few days later. After that we sent the older ones back to the States on their own. A bit nerve-wracking, and hooray for text messaging!)

But anyhoo. One night we took the train out to Dun Laoghaire (pronounce Dun Leary -- isn't it obvious?) for a nice dinner on the coast, where we were the only diners, for most of the night. We had some great seafood (except for my son, who else) and then took the train back.

When we got to the Dublin station, my son, who was almost thirteen, a little mischievous and very high-energy, took off galloping down the up escalator. (It's not like it was a big deal -- it was late and there was next to nobody in the station.)

Unfortunately he didn't see the station police at the bottom. They yelled at him, and he sheepishly turned around to come back up. At which point I -- who had just been getting ready to gallop down the up escalator behind him -- very surrepetitiously turned around and quietly made my way to the other escalator.

I think he gets this from his father.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

The Post In Which I Try To Cheer Myself Up Whilst Going Through "Stop the Cavalry" Blog Hit Withdrawals

Tomorrow is January 5. Aka, Epiphany, aka Three Kings Night. Aka, Twelfth Night.

(And does anybody else think the word "twelfth" has the most idiotic spelling of any word in the English language? I am not young, and I write and read a lot, and I still have to look it up. Where the heck does that "f" come from anyway?!?)

But I digress.

What does January 5/Epiphany mean? It means that after tomorrow, Christmas is officially over. Which means that A) I have to take down my Christmas tree, which is never nearly as fun as putting it up, and B) my blog won't get "Stop the Cavalry" hits for another year.


It's addictive in December. My Sitemeter numbers go up whether or not I've actually written anything, let alone written anything good. It's numbers for nothing, out of nowhere, for no good reason except having something in the right place at the right time. It's like the housing bubble. Or the stock market bubble. Or [insert whatever way you've taken a financial bath in the past few months here.]

But, like all the other bubbles, these falsely inflated numbers must come to an end, and they do. Every January.

Again, sigh. I guess now I have to actually work to inflate my Sitemeter stats. Where's the fun in that?

Fortunately for me, I have an ace up my sleeve. A year or two back I stole the Soccer-and-flower motif from, of all places, a cookie website. (Yes, those are actually cookies.) And I don't feel bad about it, either, because when you click on the picture, it hot-links back to the original website. So it's free numbers for me and free publicity for them. Win-win, right?

Goal for 2009: Figure out new and creative ways to get results for no work.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Trusting Your Gut. So To Speak

A bit of advice:

If you're ever on a long road trip, and you haven't eaten all day, and the only place your caravan stops happens to be 7-11, so against your better judgment you buy a hot dog, and as you're pulling away and taking your first bite you realize that it's still cool in the middle and has never actually been cooked, but you're starving, so you eat it anyway, but even as you're munching you find yourself thinking, "I wonder if I'm going to regret this?"

Just fyi? Yes. You will.

Oh, and also? If you stopped by here a few nights ago and read my musings on some funny things that happened in the world in 2008, apologies. When I re-read the post, I realized it was even too crude for me, so you know it was bad. It has since been deleted.

If I've made you curious, here's the article I linked to. Feel free to use your imagination about which stories I chose to comment on.

(But for the record, I really have eaten Rocky Mountain Oysters.)