Monday, December 31, 2007

Something this campaign will never do! Except this one time.

So Mike Huckabee had a press conference in Iowa today, in which he announced to a group of reporters that he is Taking the High Road. Yes sirree, he's going against the conventional wisdom that says if your opponent uses negative ads, you go negative on their ass, too. Such behavior is beneath the Huckabee campaign, I tell ya! Because Iowa voters deserve better!

In fact, he said, I'll show you exactly how low I will not stoop! Here is the negative ad that we are not going to stoop so low as to [pay to] put on television! And he proceeded to show the reporters the negative ad that he'd decided was beneath him to show.

So the ad gets exposure that costs him nothing --- because he's better than that. Riiiiight.

To their credit, the reporters laughed out loud.

The Obligatory Resolution Post

In years when I've belonged to a gym, January was the worst time EVER to be there. Like clockwork, all the New Year's Resolution crowd joins up in the first week, and proceeds to hog all the treadmills and elliptical trainers and stare vacantly at the Nautilus equipment. Gym etiquette, that useful code of conduct that makes sharing workout space less odious, is not for them. They'll leave a towel and water bottle on a machine to claim it, then stroll away in search of reading material, which will stay unread as they end up shouting into their phone instead. They'll take up entire locker room benches rather than stow their bag beneath. They won't put the weights back when they're done. They'll take long showers, and chew gum in the sauna. They'll jam hallways, especially those who've joined in pairs and can't be silent, let alone apart, for a single minute. All this for their pathetic -- what, three weeks? -- of effort to become less gross. By mid-February, things are usually back to normal.

I learned to thoroughly disdain the selfish, silly, rude, chit-chatting, new outfit-sporting, you-go-girl New Year's Resolution exercise crowd. So you can imagine the self-loathing with which I announce that in 2008, I plan to:

1. Move more.
2. Eat less.

Obviously that's just the "lose weight" resolution broken down to its necessary components (and there are no other necessary components. Put down the stupid magazines already, and go for a walk). I have no idea if I'm going to lose weight. But I do need to move more and eat less.

It will be very easy to keep those two resolutions; ease which speaks not of my strength of will or character, oh no! -- but of how little I am moving, and how much I am eating, lately. Simply put, I disgust me. I resolve to disgust me less.

You will be pleased to know that my other resolutions are relatively vitriol-free. For example, I hope to:

3. Get more sleep. It is just stupid, this business of staying up late when I don't really have to and then feeling like crap in the morning. I won't resolve to get eight hours every single night, just as I won't resolve to grow wings and fly to the moon. But I do plan to get more rest.

I will also:

4. Floss. I do this already. It's a bonus resolution I throw in so that I can say I'm keeping one, instead of despairing entirely of my worth as a human by early February.

Also, I should:

5. Wear more makeup, more often. I'm lucky to have a pleasant enough face (those who know me IRL, please indulge this harmless delusion) and good enough skin so that I haven't felt the need to use a lot of makeup for most of my adult life. I had a good run, but let's (har!) face it, it's time to call in reinforcements. I don't look like Jodie Foster anymore; I look like a train wreck. Or maybe like Jodie Foster's pudgy, long-forgotten, can't-afford-highlights cousin after a train wreck. In any case, my Clarice Starling days (that first scene, where she's jogging on the FBI training course? looks just like I once did) are done. Sniffle.

I'll never be one who won't be seen by anybody until she's "put on her face" -- that's just silly, not to mention it's a bad example for my daughters. But still, a tad more effort than none is warranted. 'Nuff said.

So here's to the New Year.

You go, girl.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

"It's all mixed up!" :(

After we put the girls to bed, we usually have -- oh -- ten to fifteen minutes of relative quiet. Then, on about one night in three lately, the Bean will holler at the top of her lungs for one of us to come to her. I don't know if she drifts off to almost-sleep before some need or other jerks her awake, or if she's still awake and just seizes upon an excuse for company.

Sometimes it's an accusatory "YOU FORGOT! to put lotion on my hands/put Chap-Stick on my lips/any number of other things" in which case I reply that we can do it in the morning, so go to sleep, you! Other times, her need is more emotional, less defined, and worth paying real attention to. Those moments before sleep seem to give her worries a voice.

Last night, when her frantic cry had me pause Ocean's 13 (grr) and dash up two flights of stairs, it turned out she was sad because "I really miss my friends a LOT!" We talked about how many days are left of school vacation (and believe me, you aren't the only one counting 'em, kid). She was glad to know it, but still distraught. "It's all mixed up," she said. "When I'm at school, I really want to be with you! When I'm at home, I miss my friends! It's all mixed up!"

It's OK to feel that way, I said. It means you like being at home and being at school, and that's good! And it's normal to miss people who make you feel happy. I feel mixed up too sometimes, I said. When I go on a Big Trip to see my friends, I'm always excited to go, and really glad to visit them. But as soon as I'm out of the driveway, I already miss my Bean. So sometimes grown-ups feel that way, too.

But oh, that Bean! She doesn't like mixed-upness. She really wants to feel things in the right order. She's a reflective, sensitive child, but she doesn't like her emotions out of control.

And she's so like me, it just floors me sometimes. I've been observing this since she was 12 months old, putting crayons in a box in deliberate order, all point up. I see so many similarities in our personalities that I'm extra careful not to project, or to just assume we are alike, but how much clearer could it be when she says "Mommy, I just like the days to be the way they usually are!"?

She likes vacation, yeah yeah, but she's positively jonesing for her routine. I understand, Bean, I do. One regular schedule, returning shortly!

I just ache for her when she feels like this. I want to give her tools that make it easier for her to go with the flow. The world is so much kinder to people who can just roll with stuff! But I know full well, having the personality I do, how hard it can be to "let go and let be," or whatever the saying is. See, I'm so disinclined to it, I don't even know the saying!

In the meantime, I thought it would be good to breach the school/home divide. This morning I told the Bean she could choose any friend to invite over on Monday. She chose Kevin, her "favorite boy friend." Kevin's daddy says he (Kevin) has been asking about the Bean, too. Ruh-roh ;).

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Of movies and memes.

Over Christmas we watched the third movies in two trios.

The Bourne Ultimatum is fun -- all those Bourne movies are great suspense/action films and we need (read: I want) more great suspense/action films. There is so much crap in this genre! But maybe we've had a bit of a break since one of those responsible for a good bit of it has gotten into the government business. (Does that still stike anyone else as just colossally funny? He seems to be doing a decent job of it, so whatever... but damn. Arnold Schwarzenegger is the Governor of California! I mean really. I've watched some of the "special features" on the DVDs of his movies, where he explains "what they were trying to show" with his character, and, well... yikes.)

ANYway. Matt Damon is fine, fine, but the supporting cast makes this movie more than a star vehicle. I'm becoming a David Strathairn fan (a little late, I see, as he's been working steadily for decades). He played the harried D.A. in the unremarkable Fracture, but I like his look so was happy to see him as the CIA dude hunting Bourne down. Joan Allen is terrific as well. I love her in the Bourne movies, but check out Off The Map for a total change of pace. She's amazing. So yes... see Ultimatum. It's well done, and precisely what I wanted after a run of serious dramas.

We also watched Pirates of the Carribean: At World's End. And -- well, I love the makeup and the effects and the premise and the concept, and Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow is all kinds of clever, quirky pirate fun -- but. I must be some kind of dummy cause I can't follow the plots of these movies. They're too long, I can't understand what anyone's saying, and I've fallen asleep during each one. So, yeah. Old Fartitude, here I come. But the Pirates movies, while definitely sort of cool, haven't wowed me overmuch.

In other DVD news, the girls got Season 2 of The Muppet Show, which is an honest to God riot, and some of the best television ever produced. Statler and Waldorf heckling Milton Berle? Comedy gold.

So there ya go.

Meme time. This one is honorably pinched from the lovely Patois at whee! allthewayhome. Since my brain is watery post-Christmas mush, it felt almost like exercise or something. Want to do it too? Consider yourself tagged. The idea is to come up with something in each of these categories that begins with the first letter of your name.

1. Famous Singer: Siouxsie Sioux
2. Four Letter Word: shit
3. Street: Sesame
4. Color: scarlet
5. Gifts/Present: silver
6. Vehicle: scooter
7. Things in Souvenir Shop: souvenirs
8. Boy Name: Scott
9. Girl Name: Suzanne
10. Movie title: Shrek
11. Drink: shiraz
12. Occupation: sous-chef
13. Celebrity: Susan Sarandon
14. Magazine: Smithsonian
15. U.S. City: Springfield
16. Pro Sport: soccer
17. Fruit: strawberry
18. Reason for Being Late to Work: stalled subway
19. Something you throw away: singed suppers
20. Something you shout: STOP!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

O Blessed Day After

I hope everyone had a good time of it over Christmas. Even I managed to enjoy myself. But I'm also glad to have it over with.

Today is delicious. There is nothing in particular to do. Errands that could be done; nothing that has to be done. Laundry has backed up but I can do it tomorrow.

I slept late.

We were painting with the watercolors from Santa, but the girls abandoned me to go set up an "awesome awesome" train track with their uncle in the playroom. They don't sound to be squabbling yet. Uncle's holding his own.

I finished a little painting of balloons at the kitchen table by myself. It's a masterpiece. I should hit the craft show circuit! Not.

It's chilly out but not punishingly so. We might get outside for a walk. The weather is calm. I am wearing my excellent new socks.

All is well. Here's hoping the same for you and yours.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Happy Festivus!

Seinfeld was great stuff.

For my next Festivus miracle, I shall brave the grocery store. I hope my strength to weight ratio is up to the task.

Edited to add link to the Seinfeld video in case it doesn't work in place. It's about six minutes of the episode in which Festivus: A Holiday For the Rest of Us! was introduced. Good times.

Off to prepare for the Airing of Grievances...

Friday, December 21, 2007

Perhaps you misunderstood.

When Mitt Romney said he saw his father march with Martin Luther King, Jr., he didn't mean he saw it, he meant that he "saw" it... in the sense that if you close your eyes and imagine something, you can "see" it. Like, oh, visions of sugar plum fairies. That kind of thing.

Oh, you thought he meant it really happened? No, silly! It's a figure of speech! Figurative, you know? Like when you say something "is," but you don't mean that it is in real life, you just mean... well, it depends on what the meaning of "is" is.

Yeah. Like that.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


funny pictures
moar funny pictures

I'm not one for sickly-sweet kitten pictures, and at first, I didn't like LOLcat-speak all that much. But it's growing on me. When browsing, I sometimes really do LOL. If you're one of the two people in the internet-surfing universe who hasn't seen the site, check it out, s'fun. Then you can tell that one remaining person about it, and they don't have to know it was almost the other way around. You're welcome.

Oh yeah, "Fracture"

Last weekend we saw a movie I have already almost completely forgotten about. Fracture stars Anthony Hopkins as a super-intelligent, super-successful mechanical engineer, who discovers his wife is having an affair with a hostage negotiator, and shoots her in the head. Ryan Gosling (gosling... isn't that cute!) plays the up-and-coming, cocky young prosecutor who gets the case. He's almost out the public service door on his way to making the big bucks for a private firm, but he takes on this One Last Thing, because it looks open-and-shut.

Surprise: Complications ensue. The defendant refuses counsel and acts as his own attorney. He appears to have planned things in advance. Our prosecutor is in deep. Will he nail this one, or wreck himself trying? How much of the trial has the husband orchestrated? Will he get away with it?

This courtroom thriller is not heavy on character development, not meticulously concerned with plausibility. Hopkins could do this role in his sleep... even gives a nod to Hannibal Lecter with a couple of otherwise unnecessary flares of his nostrils. Gosling is OK. He seems to have done mostly TV stuff before; at least I'd never seen him in anything before this. There was something a bit jeuvenile about him for the role, but it isn't a deal breaker. Rosamond Pike (remember Miranda Frost in Die Another Day?) plays Gosling's supervisor at the new firm, and, oddly soon, his girlfriend, too. Whatever.

In its favor: Fracture isn't too long, and it's paced well enough so that you can't get hung up on the plot holes until after the credits have rolled. It is entertaining while you're watching it, and nothing about it is outstandingly bad (ouch, faint praise!). It's likely to be the legal thriller that nobody's seen or heard of, if you're standing around Blockbuster with a couple other people saying "what do you want to watch?" "I dunno, what do you want to watch?" A decent compromise choice.

Against: It has no staying power whatsoever. While you might not regret the just-under two hours spent watching this movie, you are likely to forget all about it within hours after ejecting it from the machine. Which, if you're prone to becoming obsessed with "how come he didn't..." or "that wouldn't have worked because..." is probably a good thing.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Microsoft Office. GRRR.

I am beginning to see why everyone who knows anything about computers hates Windows so much.

Things have been crashing around here ("here" = "my desk") lately. Last week Explorer kept crashing. I reinstalled it.

The other night I couldn't open Excel directly, yet it would open if I clicked on an existing worksheet. I shrugged and kept going.

Last night I couldn't open Microsoft Word, either the program itself or through any existing document.

That is NOT OK.

Mr. Sandy really wishes I would calm down and stop swearing when stuff like this happens. But I get so angry I can barely think, and obscenities are all that will come out of my mouth.

I was running Windows XP with Office 2000; evidently it was time to upgrade to Office XP. I did that today.

Now, Outlook crashes every 10 minutes and Explorer crashes every time I try to sign into a site (say,, which is oh, kind of USEFUL THIS TIME OF YEAR).

So I follow the link for "more information" on the error message. It tells me I need "updates." I download the updates. It requested my Office XP disc. I put it in. It downloaded and installed updates. I have no idea what they are or if they'll solve any of my exponentially multiplying problems.

(Yes, I have a firewall, have done a virus scan, etc.)


I'm sorry to yell at you. It isn't your fault.

But all you people who know anything about computers and won't touch Windows unless you absolutely must: I am beginning to see why.

And while I'm on the topic of fucking stupid things that computers do, or stop doing, without your knowledge or consent or having done anything to cause said change in function: Why the fuck does Blogger stick two carriage returns between paragraphs, when all I put there is one, and ALL I WANT THERE IS ONE? Because if I'd wanted two there, I'd have fucking well put two there myself.

Bah. I should probably be where people are not.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Leader of the Band

Hey, Dan Fogelberg died Sunday (advanced prostate cancer). He was only 56.

While I wasn't a huge fan of his music, I do remember his album Phoenix was one that my parents deemed acceptable for me to own as a young teen. (They confiscated Bruce Springsteen's Born To Run, and left me with Dan Fogelberg's Phoenix. Which lyrics do you think I know by heart, to this day? Parents can be so stupid.)

I just listened to snippets of it on Brought back memories of youthful angst.

RIP, Dan. RIP, youthful angst.


We've got a little, child-crafted Advent wreath at home -- I think there must be a Biblical requirement that these be astonishing fire hazards -- and church is decked out in its purple finery. The third Advent candle was lit yesterday, but we didn't go because a second snowstorm in four days dumped on us, even though it isn't even honestly WINTER yet, and even though winters on Cape Cod are allegedly SO MILD YOU WON'T EVEN MIND THEM. Not that I exactly missed going to church. But I could have done without the additional 4 inches of wet snow, which has now frozen solid.

But I digress.

Christmas grumpiness notwithstanding, I am aware what it's Really All About.

Imagine: You are 35 weeks pregnant with your first child. You're as big as a friggin' house, and you haven't had a comfortable night's sleep in weeks as your very skeleton painfully protests its expansion. Childbirth is nearing. Angel, schmangel, you're still a bit afraid. Carry a baby for nine months yourself, angel, then tell me to be not afraid of its exit, mkay? You know the first birth is the hardest. You try not to wonder if you'll live to see your precious babe; many women don't, even strong young women such as you are. You take comfort in familiar things... preparing your home for the baby, staying close to your mother and sisters, aunts and cousins, women who will help you get through it. You're excited. God's child! It's still hard to believe this is happening to you. But it is, as baby will remind you with a solid kick in the gut any time your mind wanders.

Then your husband -- a kind and gentle man, but sometimes, honestly! -- comes home from work with the news that you have to go to the... how shall we say... humble? little burg of his birth, for a census, or some such nonsense. That means hauling your enormously pregnant self onto a donkey and bouncing directly on your already smooshed bladder for several days' travel. No, it can't wait till the baby comes, Joseph says. Pack up quick and say your good-byes, darlin', cause Ceasar says be counted, or else. Hey, maybe there'll be time to hang with the in-laws, if they still live around there. What? Why are you looking at me like that?

Oh. My. God. You want me to WHAT? you say, and not for the first time this year, to be sure.

But you go. It isn't Joseph's fault; there's no sense taking it out on him, but if you don't see another Roman for a while that'll be just fine with you, thank you very much.

You get through the journey. Joseph accommodates your frequent pee breaks with grace. You can tell he's getting worried about where to stay given how crowded Bethlehem will be, and you keep each others' spirits up as best you can.

By the time it becomes clear you will be giving birth in a STABLE, you are so tired of the travel, not to mention the donkey, that you can't even worry any more (although you will be careful in future not to say "what else could go wrong?!"). Also, you're in early labor, and you just want shelter. ANYWHERE.

Joseph does the best he can to get things clean and ready.

Contractions begin in earnest, and it seems you are not alone, after all.

Everything is all right. It hurts, but it is all right.

Jesus comes, and he is the most beautiful thing you have ever seen.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


I still haven't chosen a picture of the girls for a Christmas card.

I have no idea what I'm making for Christmas dinner, and the only feeling I can conjure about it is "whatever." I have uncharacteristically opted to buy rather than make dessert for Christmas Eve dinner at my SIL's house. Nobody notices or cares either way.

The girls will get so many presents from their grandparents, and such a spectacular present from their Daddy, that I didn't even bother getting them anything myself. What's the point? So, I am almost done with all the obligatory errands. Except, what do you get a kindergarten teacher who's going to get 44 other stupid little presents?

This feeling usually passes, but right now? If it were up to me -- which nothing ever is -- I would skip the whole damn thing.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Something possessed us to do a stuffed animal inventory the other day. Now I know why the house feels so crowded.

The girls came up with:

a rhinoceros
an alligator
a stegosaurus
a zebra
a sea lion
a crocodile
a cow
a seagull
a titmouse (heh heh, you said "titmouse")
a goose
a chicken
an ostrich
a wolf
a gorilla
a camel
a caribou
a snake
a mouse
a platypus
a moose
a starfish
a bumble bee
a smiling blood droplet (Yes. A gift from their uncle, who got it for giving blood.)
a kangaroo
a lobster
a giraffe
2 jaguars
2 caterpillars
2 sharks (1 hammerhead, 1 Great White)
2 hippopotami
2 white tigers
2 white seals
2 leopards
2 pandas
2 unidentifiable creatures
3 monkeys
3 polar bears
3 horses
3 lambs
4 cats
4 fish
4 penguins
5 frogs
6 elephants
6 ducks
7 bunnies
12 dogs, and:
17 teddy bears.

I like that the girls have been given so many cool and/or unusual stuffed animals, and relatively few battery-sucking plastic toys. Bean loves all of her critters, but never attached to one in particular. Peanut has gone through several favorites, though she didn't relinquish the others when a new one got the top slot, so she eventually had quite a few companions in her crib. One night she was singing louder than usual after lights out. I poked my head in her room and said "Hey! Time for sleeping!" and she said, all indignant, "it's this one's birthday!" as if I were interrupting honest festivities with some crazy unreasonable request. "Oh," I said, "well, um, keep it down." She cracks me up.

The caribou has actually been around since before we had children. When Mr. S. and I were first dating, he considered a post-doctoral fellowship in Canada. Good grief, I thought at the time. I knew I was going along, if he pursued it. Yet it was still sort of early in the relationship to be declaring such things. Quitting my job and following him to another country might've seemed, if not overeager, at least premature. So I made a big show of talking him out of it. CANADA? I said. Aren't you cold enough here in New England? Move to Canada, you'll be shoveling caribou droppings out of the driveway along with the snow every morning. In fact you'll probably have to get a pet caribou to sleep at the foot of the bed and keep your feet warm at night. You'll have to leave extra time to get to work in case the caribou migration is blocking the road...

...I went on and on. It was caribou everything, for a while. I even looked online for caribou steaks, but I wasn't much of a cook in those days, which is a post for another time. Anyway when I happened across a little stuffed caribou, it was a no-brainer to get it for him, even though I'm not a stuffed animal person really, and even though it was stuffed with potpourri, and I'm not a potpourri person really, either. (I came across it at the cosmetics store in one of those huge Outlet Village places, where they sell off all the leftover promotional items from various makeup lines. There was a whole barrel of potpourri-stuffed caribou, can you imagine? Why those things didn't fly off the Origins shelves at retail, I can't fathom.)

Anyway I put the caribou in Mr. S's driveway and made like it had migrated down here to be with him so he wouldn't have to head North. He didn't go to Canada, and I didn't have to let on that we'd be getting married eventually anyway. The caribou (his name is Virgil) has been stowing away on various trips with us ever since. We had to keep a close eye on him during the elk rut in Rocky Mountain National Park one year, but he's mostly no trouble.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Yeah OK, so it's beginning to feel like Christmas.

This weekend even I felt a little Christmassy.

Yesterday we and another couple took our children to see a local production of The Nutcracker. Now, I'm not a ballet person. I can't review the production. I've no idea if it was great, or awful, or terrific given what they had to work with, or what. For me it all amounts to prancing and twirling. Granted, it's impressive prancing and twirling, with sparkly costumes. Ayuh. Two hours of it.

And how do you explain the story? I should've prepped in advance. It's completely bizarre. Who the heck would give a little girl a nutcracker for Christmas? Weird. And I guess the story of the battle of the mice goes back a long way. Rodents Of Unusual Size, Mr. Sandy whispered to me when they appeared. Indeed.

Anyway. The girls were champs. The Bean waited a full 20 minutes before asking "when is it going to be done?" She did enjoy it overall. The Peanut was more transfixed... completely still, eyes wide open, and clapping every so often. It was really fun, watching them taking it all in.

We had a really great time out to dinner afterwards. The girls and our friends' children are now old enough to sit together at one end of a table so we adults can sit at the other and actually talk amongst ourselves. It is awesome. Takes some of the sting out of their not being babies any more.

They're still young enough to buy the Santa thing though, which is cool because today we had a visit with the man himself. Peanut asked for "an Edward" (one of the Thomas and Friends engines. Santa will probably deliver on that request. Hopefully Edward will not be coated in lead paint). Bean wants a piggy bank. I think Santa can handle that as well.

I'll never forget the year Bean was 3, and all she wanted for Christmas was a ChapStick. She was delighted with the other things that Santa brought, but when she got to the ChapStick at the bottom of her stocking, she just lost it with joy and excitement. "CHAPSTICK! JUST WHAT I WANTED!"

Here's to keeping it simple.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Million Dollar Baby

I hate boxing.

I hate tearjerkers.

I can take or leave Clint Eastwood.

I loved Million Dollar Baby, which is all those things, but a lot more. It's about character, grit, redemption, and a different kind of fight than happens in the ring.

Hilary Swank plays Maggie Fitzgerald, who came to L.A. from nothing, and trains to be a fighter in her every spare moment. She wants Frankie Dunn (Eastwood) to train her. He "doesn't train girls." But Maggie is no ordinary person. Working out late into the night on her birthday, she lets fly when Frankie asks her "what are you doing here?"

"I'm 32, Mr. Dunn," she says, "and I'm here celebrating the fact that I spent another year scraping dishes and waitressing which is what I've been doing since 13, and according to you, I'll be 37 before I can even throw a decent punch, which I have to admit, after working on this speed bag for a month, may be the God's simple truth. Other truth is, my brother's in prison, my sister cheats on welfare by pretending one of her babies is still alive, my daddy's dead, and my momma weighs 312lbs. If I was thinking straight, I'd go back home, find a used trailer, buy a deep fryer and some Oreos. Problem is, this the only thing I ever felt good doing. If I'm too old for this, then I got nothing. That enough truth to suit you?"

He relents.

There wasn't a bad performance in the whole production. Swank earned that Best Actress Oscar and then some. Eastwood was great. Morgan Freeman (Best Supporting Actor) was excellent as Scrap Dupris, a retired fighter who manages Frankie Dunn's gym.

So this is probably yet another movie that I'm the next-to-last person in the movie-watching world to have seen, especially as it won the Best Picture Oscar. But just in case you're the other one: do see it.

I will say that after Crash, Lonely Hearts, Brokeback Mountain, and Million Dollar Baby over the last few weeks, I'm seriously overdue for a movie that makes me laugh, or has explosions and car chases and/or some good old fashioned gratuitous nudity. Enough with the serious dramas for a while.


And by the way, what's so great about boxing? Yes, there's tremendous athleticism. Yes, there's strategy and grace. But it still boils down to two people stepping into a ring and beating the crap out of each other until one of them is too hurt to stand up. The idea of paying to see it is repellant.

Yet unlike most people, I have --in real life, not for sport -- hauled off and punched another adult in the face, hard enough to bruise my knuckles and knock him flat out. And I have to say it felt fucking great, and that I would do it again, under the same or similar circumstances. So I know that instinct, and the primal satisfaction from acting on it. If I felt that anger all the time? Shoot. Boxing might be just the hobby for me.

Maybe humans need boxing.

Friday, December 07, 2007

She doesn't like this, either.

Dinner did not go well for our Peanut yesterday. This morning I was trying to figure out what else to make her -- give her some choices, let her be part of the decision, all that empowering stuff. If she's part of the process, she'll more happily partake of the results, goes the parenting logic.

Me: Peanut, what other dinner foods do you like, besides pasta and pizza?

Silence. She's thinking. Eventually:

Peanut: I like sauce, and cheese.


So much for parenting logic.

Here's what she rejected last night, though everyone else looooved it:

Shrimp Lo Mein

1/4 c low sodium soy sauce
1 lb. large shrimp, peeled, cut in half
8 oz. lo mein noodles
2 T peanut oil
1 large onion, thinly vertically sliced
4 c. broccoli florets
2 c. bell pepper strips -- whatever color you want; I use up what's in the crisper
1 T minced garlic
1 T minced ginger
1/3 cup unsalted cashew pieces

Combine shrimp and soy sauce, put in fridge.

Cook the noodles. While the water heats,
Cut/prepare all the stir fry ingredients.

Drain the noodles and toss them with 1 T peanut oil so they don't stick together in one depressing clump. Set aside.

Heat 1 T peanut oil in a wok (large skillet would do).
Stir fry onion 4 min., add broccoli and peppers for another 3 min., add garlic, ginger and shrimp/soy sauce mixture, stir fry until shrimp pieces are done (about a minute).

Add noodles and nuts, combine well.

Voila. It's really, really good, unless you only like pasta and pizza (or turkey burgers or hot dogs).

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Whatcha readin'?

I installed this nifty widget on my sidebar that shows what I'm reading. It comes from, which is a great site; the blog widget's a tiny fraction of what it does.

Seems I can't read just one book at a time. My book groups read things monthly, and I always have longer-term or additional reads going too. So the list will change every few weeks, and maybe I'll post more about books than I have been, or maybe I won't.

Sometimes I don't have much to say about 'em. For instance, I recently finished The Sea, by John Banville, and although he's obviously a very good writer, and there is rich vocabulary and a certain intriguing rhythm to this novel, its characters are vile and/or inaccessible, so the book left me feeling appreciation but also a sort of distaste. Hardly a wholehearted recommendation. Yet it won the Booker prize, so what the heck do I know.

At any rate you can expect that George Washington bio to be weighing down my "currently reading" list for the next decade or so. After I read David McCullough's John Adams, which was wonderful, I was so enthralled with the joy and virtue (!) of reading Presidential biography that I made an informal vow to read one a year, starting with Washington's. And... that was probably 5 years ago now. The biography of Washington that I chose is a miserable slog compared to John Adams. I am too stubborn to quit it and get a more readable one, too easily distracted from it to ever get through the dang thing.

Do you like to read? What's in your stack?

Things That Make Me Cringe Like a Vampire Before a Crucifix

The Sound of Music

The sight of two metal forks with their tines stuck together (Yep, that's odd. Who knows why, but I can't stand it. Plastic forks are no problem, but metal? makes me whimper.)

The department store women who lunge forward to spray perfume at potentially unsuspecting shoppers as we try to walk by.

Kenny G.

That poster of a kitten clinging to a branch, with the caption "Hang In There!" Ditto the one of a puppy in a basket next to a bunch of flowers, captioned "A Hug Would Make My Day."

Those freakishly smiling kids on Barney (I have seen this show a total of: once. It is nightmare fodder.)

The phrase "keep your eyes peeled."

Laura Ingraham's voice (don't know her? Cut some aluminum siding with a band saw in an enclosed space. Same effect, without the tiresome politics.)


Motivational/inspirational posters displayed without irony. I'm always caught off guard when I see this actually happens. Fortunately there is an antidote for this one.

Wearing sandals lighting candles by the sea

Happy Hanukkah, all!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Urges Probably Best Left Unsatisfied

* the one to throw car keys down a storm drain just to hear the "ploop" sound they'd make in the water

* the one to cut off the long skinny braid from the back of a coworker's otherwise relatively normal-looking head (what, he's young Obi-Wan Kenobi now?)

* the one to yank the teenage mall rat's pants down the rest of the way

* the one to throw it in 4WD and bomb straight down the median

* the one to blurt out "oh come OFF it" during the sermon

Friday, November 30, 2007

LakeFieldRidgeFarmOceanView Estates

Been driving around a bit today, noticed some subdivision names.

They irk me. All these nature words rendered meaningless at best, and actually absurd in some cases ("Pine Woods Estates," which hasn't seen a full-grown tree since long before its first cookie-cutter "colonial" was slapped up.) The ones with "estates" tagged onto the name bug me especially. To my mind, a property (save those in probate) is not an "estate" unless it has more than one outbuilding, no visible neighbors, and a full-time staff.

I imagine developers must have a name generator sort of like the lottery draw machine -- big transparent spheres of swirling ping-pong balls with words on 'em that are or were vaguely relevant to the geographic setting about to be mowed down. They pop the first word out: Lake, Pine, Mountain, [somebody's name]'s, River, Bay, Ocean, Hill. Then the second word: Woods, Field, Farm, Ridge, Hills, View, Heights, Crest, Pines. Then they can pop out another word from the second word batch, either to make it a three-word name ("River View Heights") or to fix a combo that makes so little sense even the developer won't go for it ("Pine Pines" might have to be changed to "Pine Crest"). The final option is whether or not to tack "Estates" on the end. It appears this is only mandatory if the development is a trailer park.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

What the?!

Here's a thing.

Rhode Island Hospital has just been fined $50K for its third "wrong site" surgery of the year. Last Friday, an 82 year-old person needed surgery on the left side of their brain. Incision was made on the right side, and whoa! You meant the other right! Patch that up and start over!

This has happened four times in the last six years -- all brain surgery patients. My God, these poor people. After the third time, the hospital hired a consultant to help them figure out how to prevent it happening again.

(Come again? Hire a consultant? To tell you how to drill the correct side of a patient's head? I'll take that job: YOU PAY REAL CLOSE GODDAMN ATTENTION TO THE PATIENT'S CHART. Thank you. That'll be [exorbitant fee here].)

Procedures were reviewed, policies were implemented, blah blah blah. Then: it happened again.

WHAT? How hard can it be? It's not brain sur... oh. It IS brain surgery. Be fucking careful, for God's sake!

Obviously the article in the Globe isn't the whole story, but what other side of the story could there be, to make this understandable?

Note to self: no intracranial bleeding in Rhode Island, ever.


So proclaims my Peanut to everyone she sees today. Including the Bean's school bus driver, a lovely man who greeted the news with appropriate joy. And the FedEx truck driver. And various people walking their doggies. And the doggies. She's going to be a riot at the grocery store.

Well, it is her first day. If she's still broadcasting this bulletin in the new year, I'll tell her to cut it out.

But about time, eh? She's three and a half. I was beginning to wonder if toilet training would ever hold more than passing interest for her. She didn't seem as motivated as the Bean was. Bean also started at three and a half, but once she decided to go for it, she was done within a week. She used to cling to me for dear life as she sat on the Big Potty, but she was so determined. Peanut? She didn't care so much. She's definitely happy about it, but she didn't have such intensity behind the effort. She'd be smiling and singing when she used the potty, smiling and singing when she didn't. Either way was fine with her for a few weeks. So the Road to Underpants has been a longer one.

Either way, you get there. Needless to say, I'm quite proud; but I'm also pleased by what the process shows of their personalities. The Bean, we've been saying since the day she was born, is "such a serious Bean!" Of course she's also a very funny Bean, but it's clear she's got focus and determination, and gets joy from the results. The Peanut is perhaps more flexible. She's definitely not going to let anything get her down for long.

It is so cool to see their personality traits developing and serving them well in these and other endeavors. Today the potty, tomorrow, who knows?


Hm. Best put a change of clothes in the car, just in case.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Brokeback Mountain

A few weeks ago I finally got to see Brokeback Mountain, the 2005 film directed by Ang Lee, and based on the terrific short story by Annie Proulx. It's the last story in Close Range, her book of short stories set in Wyoming. And hot damn, is it good.

Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal give powerful performances as Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist, who meet when they take summer jobs herding sheep. One maintains the base camp, the other spends the night higher up Brokeback with the sheep, coming down to camp for breakfast and dinner.

One thing, as they say, leads to another, though Ang Lee doesn't rush things. They fall in love. And yes, there's the sex scene. Hot damn, again.

At the end of the summer they go their separate ways; Ennis to his wedding, Jack to the rodeo circuit and eventually south to Texas, where he too marries. Four years go by. Ennis and his wife have two daughters, Jack and his wife, a son. Jack sends Ennis a postcard -- how 'bout a visit? Ennis sends back: You bet. When Jack shows up, they are on fire for each other.

"Friend," said Jack. "We got us a fuckin situation here. Got a figure out what to do."

Well. It's a tragic story, really. And although it's a cliche to say that the location is itself a character in the story, the sense of place in this film is essential. Up the mountain it's so beautiful it hurts to look at; down, it's so bleak you can feel the dust in your own eyes. Or maybe that's my friends' new hi-def TV. In any case the symbolism is important. Up there be love. Down there be life.

Who knew Heath Ledger was this good? Gyllenhaal too. They're both amazing in these roles, as is the supporting cast in theirs. The screenplay is excellent. Not once was I mentally interrupted by a wrong note, as sometimes happens in dramas, something strikes me slightly off and it takes a moment to rationalize or forgive the flaw and get back into the film. Not in this movie; not once.

See it, if you haven't.

New. Improved?

Stop & Shop has recently installed a "self-scanning" system in most of its Cape Cod stores and probably elsewhere. Not the self-check out, which has been in place for years now, so we consumers are used to the idea of doing stuff for ourselves. This is the next step in fully automated, employee-free shopping: a scan-and-bag-as-you-go, pay-at-the-end system. No humans required.

Here's how it works, in theory: You enter the store, get a cart, scan your card at the stand, pick up a handheld scanner and some bags. Proceed through the store, scanning items as you put them in the bags. Done shopping? Head right to a self checkout, scan an "end of order" barcode posted there, scan your card again, pay the total, return the scanner, and scram, smiling at the time you saved bagging as you shopped, while the rest of the poor consumer schmoes shopped the conventional way and are now stuck staring blankly at the latest cover photos of Brangelina while they wait for a cashier to become available.

Here's how it works, in reality: You enter the store, get a cart, stop just inside the door with said cart while you get out your card. Wait for people ahead of you to pick up their scanners. Scan your card at the kiosk. It doesn't work. Try again. It doesn't work. Try again. It works. Pick up a handheld scanner. Get bags. Empty plastic bags don't stay open in the cart, so you use paper. Open up a few paper bags in the cart. Head to produce section for squash. Select a lovely squash, grown, oddly, without a bar code. How to scan it? Park squash in top of the cart (getting crowded up there with a scanner and a child and a squash), because you don't want to bag it till you've scanned it. Look around for a scale. Find one on the opposite side of the produce section. It doesn't work. Find one that works. Someone is using it. Wait till they're done. Put squash on scale, and key in the PLU code... um, there's no sticker on the squash. Look up the code on the handy chart over the scale... is it under b for butternut, or s for squash? Key in the code. Print out a bar code. Scan the bar code. Put squash in bag. Repeat for every item of produce you need. (I did learn to select all my produce first, pile it on top of the protesting child, then go to the scale to print labels all at once, but still, the idea that this is a timesaver? is just silly.) Proceed through other aisles. When bagging cans, rearrange produce items already bagged, so they won't get squished. Midway through shopping, run out of bags. Go back to scanner stand for more. Resume shopping. When finished, head to a self-check out. Scan card. Scan end of order bar code. Hear buzzing noise. Repeat. Hear buzzing noise. Scan end of order bar code first, then card. It works. Pay the total, return scanner and unused bags, and scram, wondering 1) if you really saved any time, or if you're the schmo, and 2) if Brangelina are still the picture of family bliss.

What I like about it:
  • When I'm shopping for just a few things, and without children in tow, and using my giant flat-bottomed tote bag instead of grocery bags... under those circumstances only, it is faster.
  • The no-humans required part. More than once a well-intentioned cashier or bagger has said strange things to my children, and/or touched them. This is not OK with me. Frankly, I don't mind not dealing with store employees for that and other reasons, especially in flu season.
  • The endless variety of bar codes is kind of fascinating. Yeah, I'm reaching here.
  • It's cool to save an extra few dollars for using it, but the "incentive" period is over soon.
What I don't like about it:
  • The scanner racks are located just inside the store entrance. They need to be more out of the way so as not to create a big clog of people and carts right where it's least convenient to block the way.
  • If I misjudge how many bags I need, even by one, it's a hassle. Too many and I have to return the extras, too few and I have to come back, against traffic flow, to get more, which may be not enough again or too many, so repeat that as needed. I know the store throws away plastic bags that are unused but not untouched. The potential for waste bothers me.
  • Picking up and putting down the scanner a thousand times is a pain in the ass. You can't hold the thing all the time and have your hands free, so you pick up an item, pick up the scanner, scan, put the scanner down, put the item in the bag, instead of just picking up an item, putting it in the cart, and moving on.
  • The scanner makes a "ka-CHING!" sound at you every few minutes to advertise a product you can get for 50 cents less if you're using the scanner. I don't want anything to make a "ka-CHING!" sound at me every few minutes unless it is going to start spitting out hundred dollar bills. There is no way to turn off the "ka-CHING!" sound.
  • I shop the store systematically, end-to-end: produce first, dairy and frozen products last. But I don't want my stuff bagged in that order. If I bag as I go, I have to either rearrange things periodically, or shop for heavy products first, stuff I don't want crushed, last. But neither logic nor the store layout (coincidence, I know) dictates shopping that way. People say it doesn't make sense to load your cart, unload it to pay for things, then load it again. But packing-wise, it makes very good sense. I take things out of the cart and put them on the belt in the order I want them bagged.
  • Not my problem, I guess, but this system strikes me as a loss-prevention nightmare. I guess Stop&Shop figures they'll make up the difference in cashiers not hired.

Now, I'm the first to admit I can be reluctant to change. I don't store music on my computer. I am a text message virgin. I even still write checks to pay bills. However, I am not going to become one of those elderly grouches who complains about newfangled this n' that and how everything was better in 1952. I well know that new does sometimes mean better. DVD is way better than VHS. My Dell is way better than my PowerMac. My husband is way better than my ex-husband.

But since my shopping habits are formed -- nay, honed -- deliberately and for good reasons, I'm not eager to change them to make things more convenient for the store. Because this new system is not proving to be more convenient for me, which I'm falsely (and straight-facedly!) told is supposed to be the point.

Which brings me to my last objection: At least in some stores, the scan-it-yourself system is being rather aggressively promoted. If you express any reservations whatever about it, you are either outright pooh-poohed as behind the times, or met with affected surprise -- "really? No one else has said that" with "obviously, you are some kind of dolt" clearly implicit -- which I find insulting, both when it happens to me and when I hear it happening to other customers.

We bond, those other customers and I. We are not falling for it.

And yes, most of them are older folks... sigh.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Right, so it's Thanksgiving on Thursday. We'll just be cooking for seven, not too daunting.

Our menu's pretty ordinary, which is to say, all good. If it were up to me I'd just do a turkey breast in the slow cooker, but Mr. Sandy wants a whole bird, so Mr. Sandy is going to roast a whole bird. He's also going to make a new stuffing recipe with wheat bread and dates. I'm bringing the Pepperidge Farm stuff as a fallback. Everyone knows the stuffing is the best part of the meal, and there's no sense taking a chance on not loving it. This is no time to live on the edge, if you ask me.

"Traditional" ingredients I will not use include marshmallows (really, what the!) and canned mushroom soup. I mean, come on.

We'll have:
roast turkey, stuffing and gravy
cranberry jelly (yes, out of the can with a "ploop" into a dish, sliced to make the can rings less visible, but not fooling anyone)
mashed Yukon Gold potatoes
butternut squash
green beans

What have I forgotten? Dinner rolls. Do we need rolls? I guess.

Also, this year the Peanut made some cranberry "relish." It was easy and she's crazy-proud of it. Put half a cup of whole cranberries, half a (peeled) clementine, a third cup of applesauce, 2 t. sugar, all in a blender, and, well, blend. Put some cream cheese on Wheat Thins and dab some of this stuff on top. It isn't really relish if you puree it -- shouldn't relish be chunkier? -- but it's good.

And pies! I'll make a pumpkin and an apple tomorrow.

How bout you? What's your Thanksgiving dinner? And can you explain the marshmallow thing?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Everybody talks about the weather...

Noted and Blogged interrupts your regular program to inform you:

It is snowing.

I used to live in western Massachusetts, which I truly loved, but snow before Thanksgiving was not why.

When I moved here, I thought with happy relief of the relatively snow-free Cape Cod winters everyone (except fishers*) talks about, which one could make a case, if one were so inclined, have not materialized in my almost-a-decade on this fair peninsula. One could.

On the upside, we have had some remarkably warm Decembers before the blizzards dumped down on us. And a good foot+ of snow once a year or so is fun.

And, as we say here in New England, if you don't like the weather, wait a minute. Now, for example, the sun is shining.

We return you to your regularly scheduled program.

*why aren't they called fishers? Hunters aren't called "huntermen," and fishers aren't all male. While we're at it, why is a fisher cat called that, if it has nothing to do with fish or cats? Something to do with the French. Mais oui.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

License Plates Again

So the other day I'm headed east on Route 6 (it's what passes for a highway on Cape Cod) and I came up behind this license plate, on an older Mercury Grand Marquis going about 40 mph:


and I thought, this'll be kind of funny if it's some ancient person driving around with 1 on their plate, like they got the very first one.

And it was. This veeerrrrry elderly couple was doing a convincing imitation of the first drivers ever.

Actually I think there's a lottery for low license plate numbers in Massachusetts, and it's supposed to be random, but an inordinate number of politically connected people end up with 'em.

You never can tell what some people will buy.

Friday, November 16, 2007


Ever had a cat that didn't wake you up to be fed in the morning? Lucky you.

(If I stole this video from your blog, please let me know so I can say thanks and link to you. I haven't the foggiest idea where I first saw it...)

Dark Times

It's 4:17 PM as I type, and the sun is well on its way down.

I can remember a time when I didn't mind the shorter days, but in recent years I have felt it dragging me down some. High-latitude readers, help me out. What do you do to fight the blahs?

Also, here come The Holidays (dum dum DUMMMMMMM!). Not to be a total downer -- and this is probably a rotten thing to say, as a parent -- but just between us grownups? Christmas has become something I don't particularly enjoy any more. There, I said it.

I know, it's Not About Me.

And I don't mean to whine. Just to say to other folks whose favorite time of year this isn't: I feel ya. I do.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Saving your ass.

I hardly ever watch television, largely because I'm not willing to subject myself to loud, obnoxious and unrelenting efforts to sell me crap I don't want, don't need, and probably think the world would be better off without.

But I have to say, television adverts in other countries are better.

Imagine the auditions for this one, which aired in Canada:

Monday, November 12, 2007

License Plates

I saw a rather horrid vanity plate here in Not So Far Away today. It said:


Now why would anyone want that on their car? Even if it's a joke or a spoof, it seems, I dunno, like bad karma (har!) to carry that label around. The car's windows were too darkly tinted (probably illegally so) for me to check out who might've thought that was a good idea. For whatever it's worth, the car was a white (Chrysler calls it "vanilla") Chrysler 300, which I actually sort of like, in a cool-but-not-my-style kind of way. Ironically, Chrysler's tag line for it on their web site is "Vanity plates would be redundant." Well. In this case, one hopes not.

The next one I saw: BOOK. Delightfully benign by comparison. Book, as in read a book? or as in bookin' down the highway? or, probably, the driver's name or nickname.

Plates I like, seen when I lived in California:

42N8 K9

I also remember seeing a plate that said "OVER IT," and thinking that nothing could more clearly broadcast that s/he isn't.

Unlike tattoos, I can imagine getting a vanity plate, if I ever thought of the right thing to put on one. Oh, and if it didn't cost anything. So, um, never. I guess I take it back. Maybe I am over it.

Ah well. Do you have a vanity plate? Would you get one, if they didn't cost anything?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Well. That was odd.

I am on a trip to Not So Far Away. When my plane landed yesterday, our chief flight attendant gave his little talk about how we should stay seated still until the plane reached the gate, be careful opening the overhead bins in case things fall out, etc. Standard air travel babble. Then he said, "we love you all, and now I'm going to sing you a song" and proceeded to perform a passable rendition of this familiar John Denver tune:

"You fill up my senses
Like a night in the forest
Like the mountains in springtime
Like a walk in the rain
Like a storm in the desert
Like a sleepy blue ocean
You fill up my senses
Come fill me again"

And on one hand... geez, can't a person just deplane without some uninvited wackiness?

But on the other, it was an oddly lovely, funny thing.

Yes, it was Southwest Airlines.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Layer Cake

I've been meaning to post about Layer Cake (2004), in which Daniel Craig plays a drug dealer whose early retirement plans are seriously thwarted. (The title on the DVD is "L4yer Cake." Why the 4? I dunno. I know that there's a way to write in which numbers are substituted for some letters, but why it's used in this particular title, I have no idea, because the movie has nothing to do with computers or text messaging or anything like that. And now that I've yet again proved myself hopelessly unhip, please ask a teenager what it means -- or explain it yourself, but pretend you had to ask a teenager -- and get back to me.)

We never learn Craig's character's name; he is called "XXXX" in the credits. It's clear he's not your garden-variety thug. He considers himself purely a businessman -- dislikes violence, doesn't make enemies or snort the merchandise -- and having stashed away a boatload of money, now just wants out to live a comfortable life. Unfortunately the guy he works for wants one more job done, and wouldn't ya know it turns out not to be quite so simple. XXXX is supposed to buy and sell a bunch of stolen ecstacy, but the Serbs it was stolen from are both ruthless and really pissed off, and the jackass who stole it is in way over his head, a complete loose cannon. XXXX is also charged with finding the missing, drug addicted daughter of his boss's boss. He hates both assignments. These are the kinds of messy jobs he's specifically avoided, keeping his eye on a higher prize. But, whatcha gonna do.

Of course, complications upon complications ensue, and things spiral out of control. "Welcome to the layer cake," the boss's boss says in a pivotal scene. Whatever that means. Yeah, layers, social strata, I get that. But it still seemed a forced metaphor, and it distracted me. Mmmmm, caaaake.

Hm. That probably says more about me than about the movie.

In any event Craig is worth watching, natch -- you can see why Barbara Broccoli liked him for Bond -- and all in all, Layer Cake is pretty good, for a crime flick. The director, Matthew Vaughn, is the guy who produced the London underworld movies Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, directed by Guy Ritchie (aka Mr. Madonna, and isn't that marriage remarkably stable?). I personally preferred Ritchie's films overall (even though the accents are so thick we Yanks can't understand a third of what's said in 'em), because they have a kind of wackiness to them that Layer Cake seems deliberately to avoid.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

That's it, I'm finally dumping her.

I have had it up to HERE (OK, I'm short. But I've HAD it, I tell you!) with my doctor's office.

A regular prescription of mine has almost run out, and I need a few more doses to cover me until my appointment next week. A simple matter. The whole thing should take a total of maybe one person-hour, including my phoning it in, the receptionist taking the message, the nurse confirming and authorizing the scrip, the pharmacist filling it, and my going to get it.

I call at 9:30 AM. Get the answering service. The office isn't open yet (!). I leave a message.

Nobody calls back.

I call again at 1:50 PM. Get the answering service. The office is still closed for lunch (!!). I leave a message.

Nobody calls back.

I call again at 4:05 PM. Get the answering service. The office closed for the day at 4:00.

What the?!

Every time I call that office -- maybe three times a year? but it's enough -- something like this happens. Today's business is not a big deal. When I really hurt my back last winter (hoisting my large, elderly, drunk neighbor up off my front lawn -- next time I'll just call the EMTs and watch the show from my study window, thank you very much) that was a big deal. I vowed then to change doctors, and just never got around to it. But these things are best done before there's a crisis, and their unresponsiveness today is a reminder to get on it.

Much as I like my doctor on the rare (hypochondria post notwithstanding, I'm reasonably healthy) occasions I see her in person, this aggravation isn't worth it. Going to see her always means waiting at least an hour, even with a morning appointment booked weeks in advance. Which might be fine for docile and/or otherwise unoccupied retirees, but for us, it basically means Mr. Sandy has to take a whole day off work to allow for an appointment that shouldn't consume more than an hour of the day, including driving there and back. I definitely can't count on being out of there in time to meet the bus home from school, no matter how early the appointment is.


So I'm dumping her. I'll tell her why; I'll be calm, I'll be polite. I won't be apologetic, and I won't change my mind.

Oh, and irony: The prescription is for high blood pressure medicine. You can bet Nurse Stupid will advise me to "reduce stress in my life." Will do, lady. Will do.

Hear ye, hear ye!

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Saturday, November 03, 2007

Hi, my name is Sandy, and I'm a Hypochondriac

A partial list of conditions -- just the ones I can think of at the moment -- that at one time or another I have been convinced or terrified I might have:

acid reflux
anxiety/panic disorder
attention deficit disorder
Barrett's esophagus
bipolar disorder
blood clot
brain tumor
cancer: brain, cervical, esophageal, ovarian, skin
chronic depression
chronic fatigue syndrome
deep vein thrombosis
heart attack
irritable bowel syndrome
Lyme disease
metabolic syndrome
multiple sclerosis
Parkinson's Disease

Of those, I actually have had:
acid reflux
pregnancy (No, not currently.)

So does this make me a hypochondriac? It does, doesn't it! Oh, my, God.

It's funny, but it also isn't. There's a low-level background anxiety (disorder? is it? IS IT???) to all this that I wish would just go away. Humor helps. If I have a bad headache, Mr. Sandy might ask if the brain tumor is acting up again, and the out loud ridiculousness of the question dispels any silly subconscious worry. Same when I tell him I can't sleep because the esophageal cancer is keeping me awake. I know I don't have these things. The possibility still pops into my head sometimes. Knowing it ain't so doesn't help.

And some of it isn't silly. Hypertension is in my family, and I got it. Just the cards I was dealt. So on some level I'm waiting for diabetes and glaucoma and colitis to follow, and I'm scared! These conditions do happen to people, and some of them (the conditions, not necessarily the people) are awful.

And there's the whole self-fulfilling prophesy factor to consider. If you dwell on something, mightn't it come true? Huh? HUH? Isn't there a whole school (maybe "school" is putting it kindly) of thought (maybe "thought" is putting it super-kindly) that says you can make yourself seriously ill by thinking like this?

When I'm feeling fine, I'm quite reasonable. Here's what I think: That the simplest explanation is almost always the likeliest; that yes, there are conditions to watch for and do my best to prevent, but that worrying doesn't help.

In the middle of the night, with a new ache or pain -- that's a different story.

Gaaah. I don't want to be such a worrier! It's not really me, y'know?
Unless I DO have anxiety disorder.

I'd better go update my will, or something.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Tagged! The Dream Meme.

Thank you to Bunny for tagging me to do the Dream Meme! We share two dreams, as it turns out. Guess which ones, then check hers to see.

Part of the reason it’s taken a while to get to this is that it taps into a Long, Serious, Navel-Gazing Post that’s been lurking in the back of my mind for a while, the theme of which is that I have a graduate degree in geology, but I’m not suited to, not especially good at, and don’t like the jobs I’ve had as a geologist, so I probably won’t get back into it when I’m looking for paid work again. That means a “second career,” which feeds into all the hackneyed crap that’s been written and said about re-entering the workforce as a middle-aged mother with no tangible qualifications. I’m not ready to face it yet.

But for now, good grief, it’s just a meme, so I should relax and type, already. Instructions are to “write five things you want to be when you grow up. Big dreams that seem like folly, but in your heart of hearts are very real and dear to you. Things that maybe you have forgotten about in the ebb and flow and toil of the everyday, but that never really leave your soul. What would you do if anything was possible?”

OK, in my heart of hearts, I'd like to be a(n):

1. Nutritionist. I love it when I read something like “pomegranate contains anthocyanins, compounds which protect tissues from free radicals, have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties, lower risk of cardiovascular and neurological conditions, lower blood pressure, aid in oxidation of LDL cholesterol, and improve blood flow.” (Holy cow! I want pomegranates in my house right now! I want them to do the dishes and vacuum under the couch, too!) It makes me want to learn all about anthocyanins and how they do this stuff, and whether the hype is substance or hot air, and how much of it comes from the Association of Desperate Pomegranate Growers. I’ve also read that cinnamon has blood sugar-regulating properties -- that’s so cool! -- and a thousand other things about a thousand other mysterious compounds that we can get in good, whole, fresh foods. I want to know all that stuff -- I want to organize and store and relay and USE all that information instead of just reading it in Cooking Light and saying “huh. Nifty.”

2. Editor. This dream is a bit more than pie-in-the-sky. I do get to do some editing once in a while, and to my delight I’ve found that I’m very good at it. I can spot a typo, misspelled word or misplaced comma at two hundred yards, so that’s useful, but I’ve also got a very good ear for the right word, and a knack for questions of style, order, and consistency. I love this kind of work. You know how sometimes when you’re doing something that comes easily and seems kind of fun, like you might enjoy it for a hobby, or you can’t NOT do it, it’s hard to believe you’re being paid for it? No? Me neither. But this would be how an editing job would feel to me, some days.

3. From the sublime to the ridiculous: Rock star. Now of course you are thinking “but Sandy, as a geologist, aren’t you already a rock star? Ha! Ha!” But putting aside the fact that I wasn’t exactly stellar at geology, I mean rock star in the non-gooberish* sense. Specifically drummer, or bass guitarist. Do you ever hear a stretch of music that makes you put everything else down and just melt with it, become part of it? When that happens to me, I don’t mentally put myself on the lead guitar, or singing lead vocals. What makes me happiest is to get under the music -- find the bass line or the percussion, and groove with that while the other parts soar all around. I have some rhythm aptitude, potentially strong arms, and a definite need to bang on things, and I’ve heard enough stupid drummer jokes to know that this is all it takes to succeed in that business, right? So I think I’ll join a band and bang the bongos and be a rock star. Heh. That ain't workin'. That would, well, rock.

*I looked up goober, expecting to read "see: dork." But "goober" means "peanut." Who knew? Which brings me to:

4. Librarian. Really. Stay with me on this. Library Science is one of the academic Paths Not Taken that I’m kind of wistful about, and which I would consider even now if there were a local program. I love libraries, yes. (One of many reasons it was hard to get work done in college is that the dorm was too distracting, and the library was too tempting. I could wander the stacks for hours. Days. Probably weeks, with the occasional sandwich delivered by an unseen someone and cleverly left for me to discover next to a biography of the Earl of Sandwich! Hm. Too obvious, maybe.) But more importantly for a career choice, I’m drawn to the methodical, the systematic, the orderly (see my alphabetized spice rack? Right, well, maybe that’s a few blocks past “drawn to” and into “compulsive about,” so never mind). I’m jazzed by knowing how to dig up all kinds of information. I am delighted to discover a new reference. I think our nation’s libraries should be funded on the scale of, say, the space shuttle program. They should be hallowed halls, sacred places, repositories of learning both ancient and new. And they should be accessible and pleasant places, but that’d have to be someone else’s domain, because although I could love specialized or university library work, in a public setting I might be prone to becoming one of those don’t-touch-my-archives-till-you’ve-proven-you’re-worthy type librarians. Yikes.

5. Therapist. This has actually been suggested to me from time to time. I’m a perceptive, calm and thoughtful person, grounded, sometimes insightful, occasionally even wise. I listen effectively. I am supportive, open-minded, hard to shock. There isn’t much I haven’t heard. I don’t think there’s much I couldn’t help people through. In fact the only reason I don’t hang a shingle right now is for lack of honest credentials. Someone mail me some honest credentials, mkay?

In truth I think patience is my limiting factor here, and aside from the practical considerations of getting an appropriate degree and setting up shop, that’s what prevents me from pursuing this dream in real life. I wouldn’t be very good with addiction therapy, for instance, or with situations where people have more invested in complaining about the status quo than they’re willing to give up to make changes. I’m solution-oriented and not always very good at not seeing progress. Still, I know that I have a talent for listening to people and helping them with what’s on their minds, so it’s a possibility I never really let go.

So there it is. I know none of it (except the rock star part, and I even made that as uncool as possible) is particularly thrilling. It’s as if I get a chance to do a no-holds-barred dream list and all I can come up with is “um... so I’ve always secretly wanted to be an actuary...” But what I want, when the time comes, is a job that 1) taps my aptitudes 2) happens in a setting that suits my personality, and 3) adds some good to the world, for lack of a better way to say that.

Think how exciting your dreams will look by comparison! If you read this, and you want to do it, consider yourself tagged. Let me know where to find your list.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Meme of Twos

Tagged again! (I'll get to the dream one soon...)

Two names you go by:
1. Mommy.
2. Sandy. Not my real name, but enough people are starting to know me by it that it's sticking.

Two things you are wearing right now:
1. socks
2. I said socks. That's two things.

Two of your favorite things to do:
1. Drone on and on and on about how the deleted scenes from Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith should never have been deleted; the plot really could've used some substantiating in places, and Padme's character was up to more than we're led to believe in the final version, which is a long-ass movie anyhow, so why cut these scenes? Why?
2. Laugh.

Two things you want very badly at the moment:
1. my mother's recovery from back surgery
2. a good night's rest

Two favorite pets you have had/have:
1. Cat I had as a child, Mittens. Nice lil' kitty.
2. Cat I had as an adult, Sam-I-Am. He would not, could not, in a box.

Two things you did last night:
1. Made a Jamaican chicken stew that got mixed reviews. My Dad always raves about my cooking, but tonight I made pasta from a box with sauce from a jar, and he raved about that too, so I'm beginning to suspect he just loves being fed :). Mr. Sandy said eh, it was OK, but there are better chicken recipes.
2. Took the first step in my quest to see everything Daniel Craig did before James Bond: I watched Layer Cake. Review forthcoming. In the meantime I've just realized that the last time I went on a cinematic quest like this, it was Liam Neeson's fault, and Netflix hadn't been invented yet.

Two things you ate today:
1. Apple pancakes. Mr. Sandy makes 'em every Saturday morning. He is the best husband in the whole damn universe.
2. Ham and provolone sandwich on wheat bread with honey mustard.

Two people you last talked to:
1. The Peanut, who woke up crying and said her foot hurt(?). I'm guessing she had pins and needles. Or, as Steven Wright says, "I hate when my foot falls asleep during the day -- that means it's gonna be up all night."
2. Mr. Sandy, who asked me for magnets for something he's devised so that I won't have to keep the kitchen timer on the counter. Keeping the kitchen timer on the counter doesn't bother me in the least, but whatever. I did have magnets, so we'll see what becomes of them.

Two things you're doing tomorrow:
1. Visiting my mother at the rehab hospital.
2. Going for a walk by myself.

Two longest trips taken:
1. Mediterranean cruise.
2. Two weeks touring around Scotland.

Two favorite holidays:
1. Thanksgiving.
2. Labor Day.

Two favorite beverages:
1. Water. Really! I know, yawn.
2. Red wine. But not Greg Norman's Shiraz. Pffffft.

Two more people who will fill this out:
1. Donald Rumsfeld -- I've been tagging him for years, and he's flat out of excuses.
2. This means you too, Alberto Gonzales. I'm not taking no for an answer this time.

How 'bout you? Let me know if you do.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Dinner, or Supper?

Which is it in your house? I guess to some folks "dinner" is the midday meal. I always grew up with "dinner" and "supper" as synonyms for the late day meal, but calling it "dinner" much more often.

In any case it's been a while since I told you what we've had for dinner, and I can tell you're dying to know but you're too polite to ask.

OK, maybe not. But here's a quick, easy meal that my girls love:

Rotini with Prosciutto and Peas

1/4 lb. prosciutto -- I get the least expensive kind, cut in one slice. Some deli folks are better than others at judging how big a slice makes 1/4 lb. It doesn't matter precisely how much you end up with. A "heavy quarter" or a third is fine.
3 T extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
14.5 oz box rotini -- I use Barilla's multigrain. Other brands come in 1 lb. boxes so in that case just use more of everything else or not quite all the pasta.
1 cup coarsely grated Parmesan cheese
1 T lemon juice
10 oz. package frozen peas

Put the water on for the pasta.
While it heats, cut the prosciutto into tiny cubes. Brown it in a skillet.
Add the oil and garlic to the skillet, cook until garlic browns a bit.
Meanwhile cook the pasta. When it has about 3 minutes left, dump the frozen peas in with it. Drain all that and put it back in the pot.
Mix in the prosciutto, garlic, and oil, and add the cheese and lemon juice.

Voila. Not fancy, but tasty, and I like dishes with the veggies already in 'em.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Out of it

Hi. I've been out of it. But not as out of it as my poor mother, who had back surgery on Monday and has since been loopy on pain meds which have not always been working. The short version: it was bad. It's slowly getting better. There's a long road ahead.

In the meantime, I'm going to start a post category for "dreams." I remember a Dilbert cartoon in which the first frame has Alice talking in excruciating detail to someone (intern Asok?) about a dream she had; in the second frame, Asok (yeah, I'm pretty sure it was Asok) says there is nothing more excruciatingly dull than listening to another person talk about their dreams; in the third frame, Alice is gesturing animatedly and saying "but this was no ordinary grape, it was a seedless!..." and Asok is trying not to slit his wrists with the staple remover thingy. Or something like that.

None of the probable truth of that sentiment will stop me from relating this dream of the Bean's. She came into the bathroom this morning in her sheep PJs, arms outstretched, bottom lip quivering, holding back tears. I held her on my lap and she told me she'd had a bad dream, in which "we were in a parking lot, and [Peanut] took some steps backwards, and a red pickup truck was coming out of a parking place and it hit her, and she fell down. Then a man came out of the truck, picked up [Peanut], put her in the truck and took her away."

Poor Bean! She was so upset, it just broke my heart. I know precisely how she felt -- her dream sounded a lot like the kind I sometimes have. The kind I have to work out of my system by crying in the shower till I can face the day without holding my babies so close they'll wonder what the heck's the matter with me and why I'm squashing them and sobbing.

So we tiptoed into the Peanut's room to watch her sleep, so the Bean could see she was fine. That seemed to help. Then she was all about pretending to have blue hair with her PJ top pulled back over her head.

Me? I'd just woken from a dream in which I was flying around the country with Barack Obama, managing his campaign. Won't I be proud if he wins!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Meme, myself, and him

I have been tagged for a relationship meme. I'm an easy mark for this kind of thing, very assignment-oriented. So I'm turning in my answers:

1. Who's your sweetie?
Mr. Sandy
2. How long have you been together?
We met almost exactly ten years ago; that was the day, I knew he was my-ee-ine.
3. How long did you date?
About two and a half years before we became engaged.
4. How old is s/he?
Four months younger than I.
5. Who eats more?
You mean by weight, or by volume?
6. Who said “I love you” first?
That'd be me.
7. Who is taller?
He's 6 ft., I'm 5'4".
8. Who sings better?
Ha. I dunno. He was part of a madrigal group... but I kind of don't like the noises madrigal groups make, so it probably isn't a fair question.
9. Who is smarter?
He is. I'm no slouch in the brains department, but he's extraordinarily smart.
10. Whose temper is worse?
Mine. No contest.
11. Who does the laundry?
I do.
12. Who takes out the garbage?
Whoever notices it's full and empties it. We each do.
13. Who sleeps on the right side of the bed?
What are you saying, that there's a wrong side of the bed?
14. Who pays the bills?
I do.
15. Who is better with the computer?
He's better about how they work, and making them do things; I may have better Google-fu.
16. Who mows the lawn?
We each do, but he does it more often.
17. Who cooks dinner?
That's my job.
18. Who drives when you are together?
Almost always me. I like to drive.
19. Who pays when you go out?
It's all the same account anyway.
20. Who is most stubborn?
We can both be pretty stubborn, but we don't disagree about much.
21. Who is the first to admit when they are wrong?
Dunno... it's never happened. Har!
22. Whose parents do you see the most?
Mine, because they're closer.
23. Who kissed who first?
What is this, high school? Hmm. Maybe this thing got started in a high school.
24. Who asked who out?
Huh? We were 30 when we met. These questions had long since become absurd.
25. Who proposed?
Mr. S. did.
(You mean this meme is intended for married folks, and still has the question about who pays?)
26. Who is more sensitive?
Sensitive to what? I don't get it. So, probably him.
27. Who has more friends?
We probably have similar numbers of close friends, but I think I have more close-acquaintance-level friends. I could be wrong, in which case I admit it and I'll go back and change my answer to #21. I definitely have more online friendships.
28. Who has more siblings?
He's the youngest of 5, I'm the elder of 2.
29. Who wears the pants in the family?
We both wear pants, and there's more than one pair between us.

There ya go. I don't tag people for things... if you want to do it, go to town, and let me know you did so I can go read.

Friday, October 19, 2007

So where were we?

...before the gelato (ooooh, gelaaahto)?

Ah yes - not camping, is where we were.

Actually, I like camping. Some of my fondest memories are of camping trips. I've been a lot of places that way. Mountains and rivers and deserts and forests... all differently awesome, all wonderful.

Impossibly bright moon and stars on a cloudless New Mexico night, reflected in a shimmering lake black as the sky-- they aren't kidding when they call it the Land of Enchantment. Cowering in a tent during a deluge in Death Valley, of all places -- I think the night I camped there, the place got all its precipitation for the decade. Canoe camping along the Saco River, Maine (I hear this is something of a canoe freeway these days, but I'm talking 25 years ago). Hot springs in Thermopolis, Wyoming (is that a cool name or what?). Yellowstone and Rocky Mountain National Parks. Grand Canyon. NJ Pine Barrens. Adirondacks. Great trips, great memories. Stories to go with all of 'em.

One particular morning in 1989 I awoke at first light on a California beach, rubbed my eyes, rolled over to look out at the Pacific. And there were two beautiful naked guys. Blond surfers, getting into their wetsuits. I rubbed my eyes again. I decided to move to California.

Ah, youth.

So yes, camping can rock. Why then would I rather chew on tin foil than go canoe camping this weekend? Because the forecast is for a "100% chance" (hello? 100% is a certainty, not a chance) of heavy rain overnight tonight, and showers all day tomorrow. Damp sleeping bag, damp clothes, damp tent, damp firewood... then the temperature drops to the 40s for tomorrow night, so add cold to the damp, in case you weren't having enough fun already.

Also, I just can't crash on the ground and wake up well-rested the way I used to. And those pads for under your sleeping bag? They just suck.

I'll have to come up with a way to make it comfortable though. There's still more to see out there in the great wide world, and sometimes buildings just get in the way.

Trader Joe's Italian Chocolate Gelato

Let's see if this is any goohhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Wow.

Shhh. Nobody speak. Mommy's concentrating.

No sweetie, this is for grown-ups.

Right, like wine.

Better Him Than Me

Mr. Sandy has gone camping this weekend.

Canoe camping. In Vermont.

It is 6:43 AM. (If this doesn't get posted until much later, well, that's how it goes in Sandyville. Hopefully it means the girls are dressed and where they're supposed to be, not that I fell asleep drooling on the keyboard here.) He just pulled out of the driveway with the truck loaded up ... tent, sleeping bag, clothing, flashlight, food? I guess they'll stop for food on the way. I'm always about the food. Canoe, paddles, life preserver. Rain gear, I trust, based on the forecast. As we say in our house, he is "pants over diaper butt, ready to GO!" (Um, yeah. I'll explain that later, and probably badly, as a lot depends on the intonation and having a laughing toddler with diaper butt around to think it's hilarious.)

Camping this weekend. May I just say I'd rather chew on tin foil?

More later. Time to get those girls up.

Monday, October 15, 2007

*Now* it's fall.

I know that culturally fall starts Labor Day, and astronomically it begins with the autumnal equinox, but to me it still feels like late summer until some other things happen.

T-shirts are away, turtlenecks out; shorts away, jeans out. My summer "uniform" has given way to the winter one. The girls' drawers have been similarly rearranged. PJs with feet are back in play.

Mr. Sandy took the air conditioners out. The heat came on for the first time, and with it came the incriminating smell of burning dust. I'm a bad housekeeper, yes, I know.

Sunhats are put away. The girls wore fleece jackets to the bus stop this morning. We put Chapstick on their lips every morning now, and Vaseline every night.

The big canister of cocoa mix is out on the counter to stay for six months or so.

Stuff like that.

Oddly though, the pink impatiens are still going strong. That's good. A gradual change is better than if it were as though someone had thrown a switch. Maybe there's still time for me to dust a baseboard or two.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Mixed Movie Bag

Mr. Sandy and I watch a lot of movies at home because 1) we never go out and 2) knowing that, we splurged on a cool projecter and speaker setup. Now I can watch Star Wars 72 inches wide and loud enough to shake the foundation of the house. It is awesome. And it's paying for itself in babysitters not hired.

This weekend was kind of a cinematic mixed bag. Friday night we watched Lonely Hearts (2006), a 1940s period piece based on the true story of two Long Island homicide detectives (John Travolta and James Gandolfini) who track down and capture Ray Martinez and Martha Beck (Jared Leto and Salma Hayek). Ray and Martha, lovers posing as brother and sister, run a con in which they swindle young war widows they meet through the personal ads, and often kill them in horrible ways afterwards. There are no light moments in this movie. None. It's an awful story. One scene in particular contains some of the most disturbing sexual imagery I've ever seen, and I'm not prudish about stuff like that. Leto and Hayek crossed into some truly scary emotional territory to play those roles. Travolta's performance, as a gifted detective but damaged man with his own demons to confront, was terrific as well. Gandolfini plays a donut-snarfing stereotype; you mentally beg him to stop with the constant chewing, already. (Please! Just for ten seconds, could you not have something in your mouth! Gah!)

It's a very good film that I'm maybe not so glad to have seen.

For Saturday night I thought Steve Martin's Pink Panther (2006) could take us in the polar opposite direction. We looked forward to some silliness and laughs. I'm sorry to report that this one fell almost completely flat. There were a couple of weak chuckles, but the script was mediocre (it even tried to include a sympathetic/sad moment. Why, why?) and the bottom line is that somehow Martin's goofiness (think The Jerk) just doesn't fit Clouseau. Kevin Kline was OK as Dreyfus, but it wasn't enough. My favorite performance was by the heavy-lidded Jean Reno as Detective Ponton, assigned by Dreyfus to work with Clouseau and report on his whereabouts, but gradually changing his loyalties. He will reprise the role in the inevitable sequel, due out in 2009. John Cleese is going to be Dreyfus, which may make that worth seeing, but I have to say the overall effect of this one was to remind me what a true comic genius Peter Sellers was. As culturally dated as the Sellers Pink Panther movies are (Martin's Clouseau chats on the internet, and certainly doesn't have a "little yellow friend"/Asian sidekick, instead taking the occasional, mildly amusing jab at Ponton), Sellers's timing, facial and body language, and accent are just plain hilarious in a way that can't be topped. He accomplished more in two lines than Steve Martin did in all 93 minutes of this remake.

"I thought you said your dog did not bite."
"That is not my dog."

A matter of taste perhaps, but to my mind, Clouseau doesn't get better than that.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


I've told my girls that if they don't like something I make for dinner, they can ask me not to make it again, but they still have to eat it the first time. At the time, they agreed and choked down whatever it was that night. I figured my parenting mojo was working. Yay me!

Well damned if every dinnertime strategy doesn't backfire on me with that Peanut. The Bean, by far the more particular of the two of them in other ways, is so easy to feed. Peanut, not so much. Even the stuff she likes takes forever to get down her gullet. At two, she'd ask "what we have fo' dinnah?" and I'd say [whatever it was], and she'd wrinkle her little brow and shake her head slightly and suggest, "I don't -- like -- that?" And I'd think "my God she's gorgeous," then come out of my trance in time to say "Peanut, you DO like that. You had it two weeks ago and you liked it a lot." Now at three, she enunciates the question properly, and I still say [whatever it is], but now instead of hedging she just says "I wanted pasta!" Still gorgeous, but not so cute, especially after however much effort I've put into preparing chicken breast with herbed goat cheese and garlic (which they both ended up loving), or whatever the heck I've made. Then we get into the "Peanut, I don't listen to whining, go sit on the couch till you're done" loop.

Hence, the rule. Of course nobody likes everything -- that's OK, but you have to eat it the first time. The Bean is all over that (partly to show up her sister, I'm sure). She tries everything, likes most of it, explains what she doesn't like about some dishes (bbq sauce too spicy, texture of couscous too weird) and politely requests not to have them repeated. The Peanut, however, thinks she's playing me. She picks at meals she's always liked, and says she doesn't want to have them again. I can see her little goal is to whittle down the options until the only thing she hasn't rejected is: Pasta. And maybe turkey burgers. And chili (with "conebread"), and that goat cheese chicken, and pizza, and carrot soup, and flounder, and... actually, by three year-old standards, she likes quite a lot of different foods. She is just fixated on pasta.

At least it's whole-grain pasta.

Still, I see what you're up to, and it won't work, little one.