Wednesday, April 30, 2008

toodle-oo, hussy

Two cute license plates seen out and about in Hyannis today:

TOODLU on a little silver sports car, and

HUSSY on a British racing green roadster.

Both driven by big burly guys.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


You'd think as Mommy and Supreme Protector of two little blonde girls, that I'd find the photography of Joshua Hoffine, full of horror and terrified little blonde girls, repellent.

But my inner Stephen King fan really, really likes it.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

"Deception" - not so much.

I was kicked out of the house today so the girls could do secret stuff with Mr. S. for my birthday. "Aren't you going to a movie or something?" said the Peanut, ever subtle. Well, you don't have to ask me twice, kiddo -- seeya! (Later, the game is to say "tell me what's the secret!" and she'll whisper in your ear "what's the secret!" and crack up. That's a joke she came up with about a year ago, when she really couldn't keep a secret any other way.)

I was the only person in the whole theater -- I hope this theater isn't going out of business, because that isn't at all unusual for an off-season matinée. In this case though, maybe it was because everyone else already knew what I didn't until I'd given up the two hours, which is: Deception just isn't very good. I like Hugh Jackman, and I like Obi-Wan, er, Ewan MacGregor. And I like a sexy thriller probably better than the next guy -- especially if, like today, there isn't a next guy. But I like 'em a lot better if they're sexy or thrilling. Deception tries, it does, but falls short on both counts. I looked at my watch (Indiglo!) twice.

In a nutshell: MacGregor plays a shy accountant who gets pulled out of his shell by a slick lawyer (Jackman) who takes him places and tells him stuff. Our bashful hero learns about a secret sex club, which he is kind of getting to like, until he falls for one of the women he meets, and she disappears. All is not as it seems, which you might've gathered, by, um, the title of the movie.

With very low expectations, you could be mindlessly entertained by this; plug in higher standards and you might be actively disappointed. I give it a heartfelt "meh."

No complaints about having the afternoon off, though, even if I don't yet know "what's the secret."

Sunday Free Association

You say _____ :: I think ______

New words every Sunday at Unconscious Mutterings.

  1. Thug :: big

  2. Slurp :: stop!

  3. Alley :: back

  4. Sweater vest :: geek

  5. Targeted :: shopping

  6. Snazzy :: sparkle

  7. Oy! :: Hey!

  8. Jury duty :: courthouse

  9. Low fat :: yogurt

  10. Responsibility :: mine

Apologies to geeks and/or sweater vest wearers who would be offended by the association. I don't know where that came from! I like vests a lot - a fleece vest is part of my winter "uniform" (jeans, turtleneck, fleece vest -- every day. Yeah well, I do mix up the color scheme from time to time.). Something about the phrase sweater vest, though, strikes me geeky.

Also, I guess it's obvious we just did a run to Target... there's a brand new one in Wareham, MA that needed investigating. We went in search of a sunhat and a windbreaker for the Bean, and found neither. We did get three pair of shorts, two shirts and a watch for me, "dress" sandals and sunglasses for the girls. I noticed an L.L.Bean outlet in that same new plaza (down with cranberry bogs! up with shopping!) that needs investigating too, hopefully without the offspring in tow.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

I'm a what, now?

I stole this from Your Neighborhood Librarian, who I wish was my neighborhood librarian.

You Are a Question Mark

You seek knowledge and insight in every form possible. You love learning.

And while you know a lot, you don't act like a know it all. You're open to learning you're wrong.

You ask a lot of questions, collect a lot of data, and always dig deep to find out more.

You're naturally curious and inquisitive. You jump to ask a question when the opportunity arises.

Your friends see you as interesting, insightful, and thought provoking.

(But they're not always up for the intense inquisitions that you love!)

You excel in: Higher education

You get along best with: The Comma


The incredible story told in Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin, begins in 1993, when mountaineer Greg Mortenson was climbing down the Baltoro Glacier from K2, the world's second highest peak. He lost the trail and got separated from his companions. Disoriented, emaciated, cold and hungry, he wandered into the Balti village of Korphe, in northeast Pakistan. This is one of the poorest places on Earth, yet its people cared for him as for one of their own. Recuperating from his ordeal, Mortenson got to know them well:
As his strength returned, his power of perception sharpened. At first, in Korphe, he thought he'd stumbled into a sort of Shangri-La. Many Westerners passing through the Karakoram had the feeling that the Balti lived a simpler, better life than they did back home in their developed countries... but even after a few days in the village, Mortenson began to see that Korphe was far from the prelapsarian paradise of Western fantasy. In every home, at least one family member suffered from goiters or cataracts. The children, whose ginger hair he had admired, owed their coloring to a form of malnutrition... the nearest doctor was a week's walk away in Skardu, and one out of every three Korphe children died before reaching their first birthday.
Mortenson asked to see the village school, and was brought to an open area where eighty-two kids knelt on the ground scratching multiplication tables in the dirt with sticks. They had no school, explained Korphe's leader, and the government did not supply a teacher. At a cost of a dollar a day, the village couldn't afford to support one themselves.

Powerfully moved by the children's determination to learn under any conditions, Mortenson made them a promise: "I'm going to build you a school." Thus began a relationship that would change all their lives, and a humanitarian campaign that would change the world.

Without retelling the whole amazing story (read this book!), I will say that the tremendous effort to fund and build the Korphe school eventually grew into the establishment of the Central Asia Institute, of which Greg Mortenson is the director. Over the years, Mortenson has assembled a tough, diverse, capable team of dedicated people -- drivers, bodyguards, mullahs, suppliers, accountants, you name it. Driven to provide the world's neediest with basic education, he has overcome incredible obstacles -- everything from language barriers, passport trouble and interrogation by his own government, to floods and rockslides, to gunfire, imprisonment, and fatwas issued against him.

Working with local leaders and using local resources, CAI has built many schools, women's centers, and water projects in the poorest, most remote, most volatile and war-torn places in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

And you have to ask yourself, what better way is there to promote peace than this? What better way to fight terrorism than through balanced education? Through helping people out of poverty? Through promises kept, and genuine good will? Maybe that comes off impossibly naive. But reading Mortenson's story, you can see, it works, and for a tiny fraction of the cost of everything we're trying instead.

In any case, it is an uphill battle, in a time when West-hating Islamic fundamentalists with suitcases full of Saudi Arabian cash are building Wahhabi madrassas, "the most virulent incubator of religious extremism," at a truly alarming pace. This is where the militant jihadis come from. Many of them are children whose families have no other place to send them for any kind of education, as the Pakistani government appears to have largely failed its people in this regard. Room, board, clothing, learning, all paid for? It's too good to turn down for many.
"I don't want to give the impression that all Wahhabi are bad," Mortenson says. "Many of their schools and mosques are doing good work to help Pakistan's poor. But some of them seem to exist only to teach militant jihad."

...By 2001, a World Bank study estimated that at least twenty thousand madrassas were teaching as many as 2 million of Pakistan's students an Islamic-based curriculum... Not every madrassa was a hotbed of extremism, but the World Bank concluded that 15 to 20 percent of madrassa students were receiving military training, along with a curriculum that emphasized jihad and hatred of the West at the expense of subjects like math, science, and literature.
It's worrisome.

(It's worrisome and infuriating, when you look at where the attentions of our own government have been instead of to this most basic facet of the problem. One might wonder, if one were especially cynical, what's more important to this administration -- ending terrorism, or maintaining a "War on Terror." One might. Mortenson's book doesn't go there... that'd be me, wondering.)

Three Cups of Tea leaves off in 2003, as CAI staff are basically running the show in Pakistan, and Mortenson turns his primary attention to Afghanistan. There, the Taliban has been defeated for the time being, but the Americans have neglected to follow through on their promises of reconstructive aid. Message received by the Afghans: the U.S. government doesn't care about that part of the equation. Undaunted, Mortenson again risks life and limb just to reach the part of the country that most needs his help.

In the acknowledgments, Mortenson writes: "What motivates me to do this? The answer is simple: when I look into the eyes of the children in Pakistan and Afghanistan, I see the eyes of my own children full of wonder -- and hope that we each do our part to leave them a legacy of peace instead of the perpetual cycle of violence, war, terrorism, racism, exploitation, and bigotry that we have yet to conquer."

Amen, Greg, and God bless you.

Read this book, everyone. Buy it through

Monday, April 21, 2008

Peanut's Birth Story: 4 years ago.

Sunday was the Peanut's 4th birthday. Four years old! It's all true, what they say about it flying by.

It certainly doesn't seem so long ago that Mr. S. and I were mulling over the best timing for a second child. As a university prof, he has some flexibility to be home in the summertime, so to make the best use of that we were thinking that having a baby in May would be ideal. So we counted back 40 weeks from an ideal due date in May '04, and put "conceive child" on the calendar for early September '03. By the end of that month we were pregnant.

I know. What can I say, we're both planners by nature.

Pregnancy proceeded normally. I was lucky with morning sickness, not so lucky with heartburn and hip pain, but overall, I loved being pregnant, both times.

In mid-April, we heard that friends whose baby had been due at about the same time as ours had just given birth. They'd been prepared for a premature delivery, and everyone was doing OK. I remember reading the email of this news to Mr. S., and how he sort of freaked out -- it somehow drove home, more than my being right in front of him and as big as a mobile home, that our due date was fast approaching. So much left to do... paint the Bean's new room, get the baby stuff ready for the new arrival... tick tock, tick tock!

However, what he said was, "Whoa. You'd better start sleeping on a tarp."

I will NOT sleep on a tarp, I said, though it may have come out sounding more like "eh, bite me."

"OK, the kitchen floor then," said Mr. Nice Guy.

Very funny. Still, I decided that next laundry day, I'd go ahead and put down the extra absorbent layer under the sheets. This was a Friday night, I do laundry on Mondays -- the "tarp" could wait 3 days. With more than 5 weeks to go, there was no reason to believe we didn't have plenty of time for those measures, if not for painting rooms, and such.

You can see where this is going: My water broke at 5:30 that Monday morning.

Lying in bed with this just having happened... too soon, too soon!... I had to figure how to roust my husband into quick usefulness without scaring him shitless. He's a heavy sleeper, and doesn't do well at that hour. Also, you know when you're scared, and you hear the sound of your own voice being scared, and it makes you more scared? Well. I was pretty scared. I didn't want to hear how I'd sound.

Eventually I just said his name -- one calm but urgent syllable -- and instantly he was standing at the foot of the bed with a stack of towels. It was sort of funny, but at the time I was too freaked to say "Um... I guess you were right," and he wasn't quite ready for "Aha! I told you so."

We called the doctor, who said Don't Panic, but Get Thee To The Hospital. We called and woke my mother to come stay with the Bean. Then there was nothing to do for a while until she arrived. I took a shower and packed some stuff. The shower helped me stop shaking. I repeated a prayer for this baby coming too soon (why?!) -- ohplease ohplease, oh, please, let her be all right. I hoped her lungs were ready for prime time.

We got the Bean up and dressed and fed breakfast. Mom came, and it was time for us to go. And I kissed my smiling Bean in her high chair, and thought how we would never be the same family again -- how the next time I saw her, she wouldn't be my one and only any more. All that bittersweet stuff came in a rush. It's all good, of course you love the second child as much as the first, but before she comes, it's just hard to imagine how that's possible. The beginning of the Peanut's life signaled the end of my special, private partnership with my Bean, who at 20 months had no way to be prepared for that. Oh! Good-bye, sweet Bean!

And we were off. At Jordan Hospital in Plymouth, where Bean was born, they got me sort of settled, looked at my chart, and said well... you can't deliver here. You're not 35 weeks, you're 34 weeks and 6 days... and our cutoff is 35 weeks. To Boston with you!

Preparations were made for ambulance transport to New England Medical Center. In the meantime, the nurse tried to get an IV started. As usually happens with me, the first attempt failed. I get all woozy at stuff like this. It makes me dizzy, feel faint... lose consciousness...

...when a pregnant woman passes out in the hospital, alarms go off, and people get very upset. That little nap bought me a nurse escort in the back of the ambulance. Poor Mr. S. had to follow in our car, alone. That must've been harrowing.

Settled in a windowless room at NEMC, we had an ultrasound to evaluate how big the baby was. She looked to be about 6 pounds - good. We were asked if we were sure our dates were right. Without explaining how precisely we'd planned things -- it seemed somehow irrelevant -- I just said yep, we're sure. Since my water had broken, there was danger of infection; with a good sized baby and no reason to try to keep her in, the verdict was to get her born ASAP. So, by midafternoon Monday, we started Pitocin (labor-inducing drug).

Anyone who's been down that road knows how much it sucks. I'd had it with the Bean, too. I don't know how to describe it. I believe labor is pretty damn difficult when it happens on its own schedule, but to force it... well. It's kind of brutal. By midnight or so I was breathing through pain and watching the contractions on the monitor. That would be kind of cool, like watching a seismograph during an earthquake, except that it goddamn hurts. Epidural time!

The anesthesiologist was a young woman who had the gall to complain about the width of my bra band. Why it was in her way, I have no idea; the epidural goes in the lower spine. I wanted to slap the bitch silly: I am EIGHT (slap) MONTHS (slap) PREGNANT (slap) and my BOOBS (slap) ARE (slap) HUGE (slap)!!!!. What the FUCK (slap) am I supposed to wear? What would be more (slap) convenient for (slap) you? But of course you can't say these things to the person who is about to poke a good-sized needle into your spine. You're verrrry nice to that person. Docile, even.

I do wish I had her name to send her a nice thank-you note for not paralyzing me despite being offended by the sight of my industrial strength undergarment.

In any event: numbness. Which was nice, considering the alternative, but also weird and horrid in its own way. I hated, hated, touching my legs and not feeling them being touched. Freaked me right out.

More and more contractions, dilation, blah blah blah. It goes on for hours, and eventually it's the next morning, and time to push her out. They have to back off the epidural for the pushing part, so you end up hurting no matter what. Labor is no walk in the park. But y'all know that.

NEMC is a teaching hospital, so when things got interesting, a student came in to observe. A tall, blonde, handsome student. He asked if he could stay and watch. I said okey dokey... but you're gonna have to help. Help? he said, unsure.

Heh. When it came time to push, I had my handsome blond husband holding back one leg, and the handsome blond med student holding back the other. The nurses were great, all the encouragement in the world. The neonatal docs set up a station to get my little girl all the breathing help she needed as soon as she needed it. We had a full and busy room, I remember that. Pushing was hard work(!), but everything went reasonably quickly.

My daughter made her appearance at 11:45 Tuesday morning. I was able to hold her briefly before she needed a breathing tube and was taken off to the NICU, but she'd be fine, fine. At over 6 lbs., she was a giant by preemie standards, even though she was a peanut by ours. She pulled out her own tube over night and they didn't bother to put another one in.

The med student was wiping away tears. It was the first birth he'd ever seen. I saw him in the hallway the next day, and he kept saying "you were amazing. Amazing. Thank you, thank you. Can I get you anything?" Funny. I asked him what he thought he might go into... dermatology, maybe? Emergency medicine, he said. I think he'll be a fine doctor. It's kind of nice to know he'll never forget the Peanut's birthday.

Mr. S. brought the Bean to visit, and she seemed so BIG! and full of love. I'd missed her!

Peanut did very well, and was transferred to Jordan for a few days. The baby next to her in the nursery turned out to be our friends' daughter whose birth announcement had prompted Mr. S. to make his smartass tarp suggestion less than a week earlier.

We brought Peanut home on the 28th, my own birthday.

Her early arrival has had not a single ill effect. Four years later, I can still glimpse in her face the adorable baby and toddler she was, but more and more I see the graceful, funny, incredibly happy little girl she's becoming.

I'm so proud of her. Happy Birthday, Peanut!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Sunday Free Association

Play the free association game on Sundays at Unconscious Mutterings!

This week's words:
  1. Questioning :: authority

  2. Immunity :: flu

  3. Online dating :: tedious

  4. Calcium :: supplement

  5. Dressing :: salad

  6. Bucket :: chum

  7. Stain :: blood

  8. Advanced :: degree

  9. Dramatic :: self-absorbed

  10. Self-medication :: desperate

I do this like the rules say: pretty quickly and without thinking, to the extent I can avoid it. Looking back over my responses, I really have to wonder where "chum" comes from.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Annnnnd... we're sick again.

Well, so much for the Winter Without Illness. It was remarkable, and we'll remember it fondly, but it seems we're now in the Spring of Snot and Tissues.

I felt terrible yesterday, skipped dinner and went to bed instead. Good thing too, because the Bean was up at 11:30 and every hour after that until I just finally brought her downstairs at 6:00 and let her watch videos. It's all she could manage, poor kid, and it kept her distracted and quiet so Mr. S. and the Peanut were undisturbed. Peanut slept until after 10:00 (!), so she's either fighting this virus off, or was woken up enough overnight to have needed to make up the sleep.

Bean and I went to the doctor first thing this morning, and sure enough, she has an ear infection, so we got her some medicine. Now, of course, she is perky and cheerful, while I'm still kind of woozy from the weird night we had.

Perky or no, she can stay home from school and rest up. She's had perfect attendance until today -- oh well. I'm such a waffler when it comes to making the call to stay home. When I had a "job," I'd have to be awful sick to call in, and I'd always spend the first half of the day second-guessing the decision, thinking of ways I could maybe make it in anyway. What a waste of mental energy.

Some days are just better spent still and quiet.

Monday, April 14, 2008

GAAAD I'm cranky.

The other morning, Mr. S. noted how I used to get up before him and generally need less sleep than he does, but that lately I've stayed in bed until he's out of the shower, sometimes longer.

"Well, there's no point in getting up any more," I said.

He thought I was joking, though he didn't get why it might be funny.

I wasn't joking - I was barely even exaggerating. And it isn't funny. There really is no point. All I need is to make a recording of the things I say any given day, then the next day, just set it to start playing throughout the house at some preset time. Given some easily accessible peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, it wouldn't make the slightest difference to the girls if I stayed in bed for most of the week, because all I really do with my time is tell them to pick stuff up off the goddamn floor. A recording can do that.


Today -- Monday, usually the best day of the week -- Mr. S. drove to work with both booster seats in his car. What usually helps me out of a bitter funk is to change context, get somewhere else for a while. But I'm stranded here, as sure as if my own car weren't right before my eyes. I hate sharing cars, I hate it, I hate it, I hate it.

And, my head hurts.

So, Plan A was to take the girls out for breakfast and do some grocery shopping, but Plan B is to mainline Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate and take a nap.

Mommy doesn't feel very good.

On the other hand, it is damn near impossible to stay cranky in the Peanut's company. She is amazingly cheerful, really almost all the time. I think some people are born with that; I wish I had been, too. It will certainly serve her well in this world. I've been watching her out the window as I type. She disappeared out of the yard... BIG no-no... went to the neighbor's yard. Hm. I called her back from the front door, in a Mommy is Not Pleased voice. Back she came, as fast as her little legs could manage it. I scolded her firmly for leaving the yard; that's one of our safety rules. "OK," she said, then, arm outstretched, "For you, Mommy." She'd brought me a flower. A dandelion, because picking other flowers is Not Okay, but a flower nonetheless. Sniffle!

OK. Plan C is to plop that Peanut in my lap and read the latest pile of library books.

I'm sure to need the Ghirardelli when the Bean gets home from school and they start bickering again.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Sunday Free Association

I've noticed some of the cool kids doing this free association game every week and it looks fun, so I'm in. Do it too! You know you want to. The words are posted at Unconscious Mutterings every Sunday morning.
  1. Silence :: blessed

  2. Wall :: pink floyd

  3. Killed :: interest

  4. Wishful :: thinking

  5. Poodle :: dog

  6. Sullen :: teen

  7. Do not disturb :: me

  8. Philadephia :: visit

  9. Anticipation :: wait

  10. Sidewalk :: street

Friday, April 11, 2008

Reading For Fun... Advil for More Fun

Bean's school PTA has a program called Reading for Fun, in which a parent comes to the classroom and reads a story and does a short craft project every Friday for a month (usually 4 Fridays, so you read to 1/4 of the class each week).

Reading out loud - to kids, to grownups, to myself, to anyone who'll listen (I used to read to the cat, when I had one) -- is one of few things I both love and am good at, so it really is fun. It's the craft stuff that gives me agita. I am a craft moron. The Reading for Fun gig requires you to come up with something seasonally appropriate that will hold the attention of seven kindergarteners for a half hour... but also has to be completable in a half hour, so, nothing too involved. Back in September when the mommies in charge of such things were taking names, I signed up for April. I had vague ideas of a story about bunnies, and of construction paper, glue and cotton balls. How hard can it be, I thought.

Well. The last week in March rolls around. I never got a call from Reminder Mommy, who's supposed to let you know your month is at hand, but I didn't need it. I was already in a cold sweat. So many books! So few project ideas! I scoured my girls' bookshelves for inspiration.

I chose One Duck Stuck, by Phyllis Root, illustrated by Jane Chapman. Basically, a duck gets stuck in the muck by a marsh, and different animals come along and try to help her out. It's got counting, it's got rhythm and rhyme. It's got a refrain that lets the kids participate... one side of the table says "help, help! Who can help?" the other side says, "We can, we can!" S'fun.

As for the craft, I first imagined just a duck on brown paper (muck), and crayons - go to it, kiddos, anything goes.

Then I got thinking it would be cool to do it kind of 3D, so they could fold it in half, open it up and the duck would be standing up behind and in front of some marsh grass. Hm.

It became a mission.

I traced and scanned a good picture of the duck, printed a bunch and cut them out. Fringe cut in strips of green construction paper made marsh grass. For the muck backdrop (substrate! you can take the girl out of sedimentology, but... oh nevermind.) I folded a piece of brown construction paper in half the short way, and in the middle-ish of the fold, made two, 2" cuts toward the open end, about 1.5" apart, so I had three flaps in the fold. Folded the outside flaps down on either side of the smaller, middle one, made a crease, then put them back up. Opened up the paper, pushed the middle flap out to make a little stand, and pushed the two big ones inward to make kind of a shelf. Voila, a 3D backdrop for the stuck duck.

Then I worried it was too complicated. But all the little cherubs had to do was gluestick the duck to the muck and some grass to the duck and anywhere else they wanted, and color at will. Then fold it up for backpack transport home where they will open it to oooohs and aaaahs.... if they haven't overdone the glue stick and sealed it shut.

By which time, thankfully, I'm long gone. Because as fun as this is in theory, it is damn tiring in person. No matter how well it goes, all I want afterwards is about a half dozen Advil and some total silence.

Notes to self: Next time be sure to explain that Glue Sticks Are Not Swords. Also, bring tissues. There was a snot explosion today that makes me shudder to even think about. My Bean must have an immune system of steel. I doused everyone in hand sanitizer, but now it is all I can do not to boil all the crayons. Hm. Would that work?

Help, help! Who can help?

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Oh, I get it. It's only a blog if you, well, post every so often.


Well, I've been tired. Every night I go to bed (too late, yes, but still) expecting some form of sleep to occur. I do fall asleep eventually. Then I have these long involved dreams, and in the morning I don't feel the least bit rested.

Last night, for example:

I was in grad school, writing a combination novel/thesis which I had to submit to Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. I knew it was incomplete and utter crap, but I was hoping they couldn't tell because, well, they're actors, even if smart ones. Which isn't to dis actors, just that it wasn't a thesis in acting.

Then I was riding on the back of a motorcycle, being driven to a party by a man I don't know, but who is kind and stops when I am feeling too dizzy and scared to continue. After a rest I get past my fear of riding on the bike, and we go on. We ride past a deli, outside of which men on ladders are putting up giant letters to spell "HOUSTON," but they're spelling it wrong.

We get to the party, which is hosted by a guy who makes fancy, whimsical signs out of scrap wood. My college roommate is there, doing some sort of project with glitter glue. She's looking for a color called Emerald Square. I sort through dozens of shades of green... how 'bout Emerald Triangle? Moss? Olivine?... there seems always to be one more tube of green, but I can't find the only one she needs.

Still at this gathering of kooky artist types, I somehow agree to or get suckered into helping someone's son get to the school bus every morning. It soon becomes clear that I also have to locate, dress, and feed him every time, and he's always lost in some irresponsible household mayhem. Also there are always cars blocking his family's driveway at crazy angles.

And with that, I wake.

So after all that subconscious anxiety plays out in various scenarios -- last nights' at least lacked wild animals or serial killers -- I just feel weird in the mornings these days.

My kingdom for a couple nights' dreamless slumber.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Search no more!

A lot -- really, an astonishing lot -- of people seem to come across my blog searching for the lyrics to this song:

They find my blog in that search because of this post. But those searchers don't care about that post, or probably anything else they'd find in the semi-anonymous blog of a 40-something stay-at-home Mommy, and I'm starting to feel badly for them. They click, they see that post, they make that Marge Simpson noise, they click back to their search results. Frustrated souls, never finding the lyrics to that damn song, but it's stuck in their heads anyway and all they can do is sort of hum.

Well search no more, folks, here are the words to:

The Riddle Song

I gave my love a cherry
that had no stone
I gave my love a chicken
that had no bone
I gave my love a story
that had no end
I gave my love a baby
with no cryin'

How can there be a cherry
that has no stone?
How can there be a chicken
that has no bone?
How can there be a story
that has no end?
How can there be a baby
with no cryin'?

A cherry when it's blooming
it has no stone
A chicken when it's pippin'
it has no bone
The story that I love you
it has no end
A baby when it's sleeping
has no cryin'

That's all I know of it. I assume "pippin'" means, basically, stewing till the meat's off the bone. (EDIT: D'oh! Anonymous commenter tells me that "pipping" is breaking the eggshell when hatching.)

I also assume that the baby was drugged.

Playground Joy

After realizing -- d'oh! -- there was no school today, we turned back home and decided to make first trip of the season to: a playground. That sounds fun! Isn't it nice that it's warm enough to go! We've missed playgrounds, haven't we!

We choose a destination. I get my book and a cup of tea, imagining that while the girls play, I will turn my vitamin D-starved face to the sun, sip, and read a chapter or two.

How quickly I forget... and oh, the sinking feeling on remembering.

First, the playground equipment. Even the newer play structures have to be given a once-over. Winter conditions can weaken or break things, and chances are good they haven't been inspected yet. So if the equipment is metal, is it a) rusted, or b) a burn hazard in the sun? If wood, is it a) a splinter hazard, or b) pressure-treated, potentially leaching arsenic into the two most precious bloodstreams in my universe? If plastic, is it a) mysteriously sticky or b) cracked in such a way as to be sharp, or a pinch hazard?

Then, the layout. Do I have a clear line of sight to the girls? Is there any place here an adult could conceal themselves? When did I last check the sex offender registry?

And always, the problem of Where The Bathrooms Aren't. Most playgrounds don't have 'em. When one of the girls inevitably hollers from the highest point, "MOMMY! I HAVE TO PEE!" I do not want to be scrambling around with her, saying please hold it, please hold it, while I'm looking frantically for a building, or a port-a-potty, or a tree, or any kind of cover, a clump of tall grass, for cryin' out loud. I like to have a deli cup, perfect for this type of emergency, ready in the back of the car, along with extra clothing, first aid kit, wipes, paper towels, hand sanitizer, sunscreen, bug repellent, and water. In short, I like to come prepared. But today I'm not, so I hope the girls don't have to pee.

All this, before we even get to the other parents. And on their account, a wee rant: What is it with mothers (in my experience it's almost always mothers; grandparents and fathers tend to say hi) who return a friendly greeting with a blank stare, or worse, the once-over-and-away look? What is your problem, exactly? Life is so freakin' miserable you can't squeak out "hello"? The pole up your ass is too long? Maybe it's barbed, and/or rotating? No? Just your disposition? Well fuck you. And if your dog -- that is a dog, yes? not a rat? -- takes a crap in the playground sand, you are going to hear about it from me, bitch. Here's a little deli cup you can use to scoop. You're welcome.

The Wind Between My Ears

Shortly after noon today, as on every school day, we got our coats and shoes and the Bean's frog backpack on, and walked up the street to the bus stop. Where we waited. And waited. And waited. Until a glimmer of something came into my consciousness... something makes sense about this, but what is it, what is it? Fuzzy, but coming into focus in my mind's eye, a notation in my calendar:

It's not as if it's even cryptic. The Bean is in afternoon kindergarten, so a half day in the schools means she doesn't go. Very simple. Half day, meaning, no school. But it only works if I look at it.

One wonders why I keep a calendar at all, for all the good it does me with these half days. I'm just glad I didn't rush the girls to the car and drive her to school... it wouldn't have been the first time.

Well -- all is not lost, just my sense that I know what the hell is going on in my own life, which, frankly, I'm learning to do without.