Monday, December 22, 2008


Sissy was felled by a foul gastric virus, so I spent the day at her house Saturday, babysitting. In addition to Sprite and chicken soup mix, I brought rubber gloves and Clorox.When I talked to her the next day- she was asleep when I left that afternoon- I told her "I went 'Nino' on your house's ass downstairs."
My mother, who was a little- okay, a lot- OC, cleaned every suitable surface with chlorine bleach. While this kept her house spotless, it also may have been a factor in the COPD that kept her bedridden for the last year of her life.So, kids, don't try this at home. Unless someone has the throw-up flu, okay?
"Oh, thank you. Jake's got it now. I think he was just too close to me."

When I arrived home, I found that Ro had put up the tree, cleaned, and decorated. She was having some friends over to watch "White Christmas', a holiday tradition for them. What a lovely surprise, having a shining and festive house, 'cause I was pooped.
And yes, all us girls did sing along with the Haynes:
"Sisters, sisters
There were never such devoted sisters-"
I waited until a particulary egregious example of Technicolor:
"Hey, Ro."
"'The Fifties were an oddly-hued decade..."

Why my Husband is the Best: leaving Sis's, I found I had a message from Cathy, the volunteer co-ordinator, that we were running out of filled food boxes and would have an emergency work party in the morning before the Holiday Store opened at 1:00 on Sunday.I swung by on my way to Mass in the morning (I have a key) and decided that if we set up before the work party arrived, they'd have just that much more time to fill boxes. So, I called him and he came over and helped me set up the tables with food items and back stock underneath. He made some boxes, as well, and I even had six filled before Cathy arrived at 10:30. The work party made about 140, to add to the 255 we already had, so they're good until Tuesday.
(I occurs to me that all this volunteer reportage might sound as if we're braggin' on ourselves, but it's not meant to. This is just what I do- if I bred corgis or flew jets or wrestled alligators, I'd write about that.)

I was washing dishes at Sissy's and Bubs comes up and beats a tatoo on my behind.
"Ouch!" I said. "What are you doing, Bubbie?"
"It's otay, Mimi. I just patting you."
Well, pat a little more softly, please.

Have I mentioned that MJ is a gastric reflux baby? Her Mimi thinks even this is adorable, because it reminds her of Uncle Brother and Auntie Ro when they were babies. But it's wearing her mom down, having to do triple the usual amount of baby wash. A lesser person would have cratered by now and invested in a big pile of Gerber T-shirts and just popped a new one on about eight times a day, but Sis is still dressing her in her Naartjes and Baby Gap and Gymboree, so she looks precious.
But damp.
I assure her that the second Morgie can sit up by herself this will stop, just like turning off a faucet.

Target comes over to do laundry and make some peppermint bark for her employer.
"I have a new most-hated Christmas song."
"Yeah- It's a Marshmallow World".
"That is pretty bad. Of course nothing can ever beat out The Christmas Shoes-"
"I haven't heard that once this year."
"I think that's because mobs of people converge on the radio station with torches and pitchforks, if they play it."
"So, anyway, there was this version by Sinatra and Dean Martin. They sound absolutely hammered."
"I'm thinking that to get them to record Marshmallow World, liquor was probably involved."
"Well, they sounded awful, like they were just fooling around. I mean, I know you're hugely famous and all , but people might remember you for this."
"I doubt that, darling. My most-hated is still "And So This is Christmas".
"With those atonal kids?"
"Yes- but to me it's more the guilt trip: Hope you're having fun here at the Hobby Lobby when people are starving, heartless b."
"You know what I like that a lot of people hate, though? Paul McCartney's "Wonderful Christmas Time"."
"Well, I think that has more to do with 'Sure, Sir Paul- you're having a wonderful Christmas time because you're a billionaire' than the tinkly tune."

Friday, December 19, 2008

Goes Around, Comes Around
"It's like learning to be a parent all over again, with him!" said Sis. "Ni would go in her room and play by herself for hours- and he won't stay back here and he always wants someone to play with him!"

Really, Mrs. Pot? Wants someone to play with him? I can't imagine where Mr. Kettle could have gotten that trait, unless it was from someone who used to insist I sit on the couch for hours and watch her concoct involved psycho-dramas using the Fisher-Price Farm.

These were usually about a very good little girl and her very naughty big brother, who got up to all sorts of shenanigans for which he was soundly punished.

Or the ongoing saga of Strawberry Shortcake and her posse of smelly friends...
Or the Fisher-Price dollhouse family...

I just can't imagine (smiling a secret Mimi smile)...
Good times.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Good Day at the Site
(and we deserved one, too)

A big department store chain sent us about 20 folks from their corporate office here in Dallas for three hours yesterday, who lifted our spirits by turning out an amazing amount of work.
My group sorted and boxed up four food donations- three medium, one large and the group working with Dru whipped through the entire Toys for Tots delivery and various little donations that trickled in the door. The TfT items took up about 245 cubic feet and it was a lovely empty spot waiting for more gifts when they were through.
They didn't have to work quite as hard as my crew, because most of their stuff were manufacturer donations- a whole box full of the same thing- instead of sorting through thousands of various canned goods, but it was still impressive. We sort out the foods we're using in the food boxes, to keep on site, and we box up the other items to send back to the agency for further sorting, so it's a lot to remember.
One man, who I bet is an accountant, filed filled boxes in their proper spots and straightened up the whole food backstock area. It was beautiful, and even though the Key Club and the Young Men's Service League may wreck it today, I was very grateful. Makes you feel more efficient if you can find things.
I've never been able to figure this out, though I've seen it over and over again- sorting food in a group always takes on a race-against-the-clock atmosphere. I don't know if it's the challenge of emptying the box, or the grocery cart, or watching the block of filled boxes grow or what. But Man, the Classifying Animal, loves to sort food. I had a pack of young to late middle-aged ladies racing around the U like they were on a game show, shedding their sweaters and jackets and taking water breaks, like they were running a marathon. It never fails.
I regret to report that Kent (Jake's elementary school) gave Rosemeade (Sissy and the other's elementary school) a major beat-down in the donations department.
"So what do ya'll do, exactly?" I asked the boss.
"We're the team that designs the store label men's sportswear."
"So, this is like having Project Runway sort our food and toys?"
"Well, yes."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Consumer Alert!
But then the playfull fun of it all went out the frost
covered window. I found it a little off-putting that the first thing your "elf" asked us was what size photo package we would like to order. Nothing says The Joy Of Seeing Santa, like forced consumerism! And when I asked your elf if we
could just see you and take one of our own photos since they are
so expensive, she replied with a festive, "Yea, but ONLY 2." When she turned to you and told you we were "just visiting", I did not know this was Santa Code for "They are not paying us, so don't act like you care about them."

Bad Santa.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

'Twas the (staged) night before Christmas...

The Temple Telegraph sent a photographer out to our house one evening shortly before Christmas to take this picture, which appeared in the paper Christmas Eve of 1959. At least that's the date that I've got written on the back of my copy, but I question that- I think it might have been 1960. Since Bob is in Temple, doing research in the paper archives, I've asked him to look it up. Since inquiring minds want to know. (Update: my research assistant reports that it was 1960, so my instincts were correct. In '59, I still had a ponytail.)

I'm not sure how we wound up with this gig- who mentioned that a resident at Scott and White had five close together in age kids that would look good in a Christmas Eve shot- but here we are, in our co-ordinated nightwear, looking cute as puddin' pie.

Mom had knocked herself out buying matching red and white striped pajamas for the boys (luckily, the flannel nightgowns from our Grandma Bryce had already arrived for Nance and me), getting their hair cut, curling my sister's and my hair, cleaning house and making sure everyone was dressed in time. She hadn't intended to be in the picture herself, which explains her disheveled appearance and grim expression. Nothing like appearing in the pages of your small town newspaper in an old skirt, rumpled blouse, and no makeup to put a smile on your face.
The universal reaction of all my kids, to this picture, is "Wow, Nino looks pissed!"

Very unfair, too, as she was a beautiful woman. She's all of about 27 or 28 in this shot.

Nevertheless, I love the details in this picture, which I can remember as a kid. The inglenook fireplace with the pine settles, the Nile green curtains, the knotty-pine paneling, the brightly colored papier-mache nativity scene from Japan, the armchair in which I read a lot of books, Daddy's cool rolled-up jeans and green and blue tartan bathrobe. We had flannel scraps from those pajamas in the rag bag through the mid-60's. Somewhere out of camera range is a Christmas tree with those burn-your-house-down multi-colored fat bulbs, foil icecicles, and a china-head angel with a feather dress on top. I don't remember what random Little Golden Book Daddy is 'reading' to us, but I know it's not 'The Night Before Christmas'. The third stocking from the left, with the donkey and the little church and a name spelled out in seed beads? That's mine. I still have it.

Good times.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


These folks sent me their Advent/Christmas CD with a solicitation letter. It's my in-car listening for the season. It has an unassuming, un-orchestrated quality that is very appealing. The selections range from chant to Holst's "In the Bleak Midwinter". There is an especially charming version of "Silent Night", with simple guitar accompaniment. I'm definitely sending them the requested donation.
It's an interesting looking college- one of the ones that have sprung up from the realization of Catholic parents that instead of sending their kid to Notre Dame, et al., they could have sent them to Secular State U. for half the price and gotten the exact same education.

Re: college. Ro has bailed on her third, and according to her, last school. It's not higher education she minds, it's college life. So, she will be working full-time while she decides how to proceed from here and living here and paying us a little rent. Maybe some community college in her spare time...

Bob took his van to Denton to pick up 76 Marie Osmond porcelain dolls, which were donated to the agency for the holiday store. The donation was a kind gesture, but I fear we may have quite a few left over after Christmas. Now if they'd been Barbies...

Went by the Holiday Store to check on the Household Gifts and wound up working Family Night last night. That is always such fun- entire families come to sort food donations or fill food boxes and the little kids, who are too young to be regular volunteers, get such a sense of accomplishment from doing real work to help somebody. One young lady brought her youth group and she was one of those natural leaders, who are so great to work with. They immediately grasp what the project is and they know exactly how to assign their kids.
A few problems: they open on Sunday, so the store has to be laid out and stocked on Saturday. But unless they can make 550 food boxes by then, we'll still need an area for box filling tables.
As boxes get filled, we can estimate how much stock we'll need to finish and can then start moving excess food to the agency or storage, which will free up some space.

But thanks to a generous donation from a company,we have large cartons full of bagged snacks everywhere. We'd stack them, but they're heavy and the bags contain liquids, so you can imagine the possibilities. We might move some of them into storage and bring them back as needed. Extra work for the CSR's, but that's what they're there for. We also need someplace to put the bagged school supplies (we package the leftovers from August and make them a freebie for the holidays). Gee, it's tough when your problem is you have TOO MUCH stuff, thanks to the kindness of your community...
I'm working again tonight and Wednesday.

Already broke my resolution. We only have 8' tables in the garage, so the Enchanted Forest had to go on one of them. And it looked a little sparse- so I bought two more Made in China trees at the Hobby Lobby. And some more birds. And some butterflies. And some LED mini-lights. Which are at least ecological, if you don't count the manufacturing and shipping them from across the world. It's all set up and ready to decorate when Nini gets back from Austin.
They were here yesterday and we discussed putting my little Tyrolean creche in, but she vetoed that. The Holy Family needs their own space on the end table.

Went to IKEA to buy our fourth living room bookcase and found a wonderful step-stool, which makes not only a fine library stool, but can also be used as a seat by the little ones at the coffee table. If it warms up today, I may take my four-pieces-of-bare-pine-screwed-together-made-in-Poland end table outside and give it a couple of coats of the stuff with which I refinished the top of the coffee table.

I regret to announce that Nini, who is a freak of nature in so many wonderful respects, has inherited her mother's inability to spell. Anything. She reads like a champ, but there's a disconnect somewhere from the seeing to the putting it down on paper. They do not get this from me, btw.

I forgot my tote when I was babysitting and Sissy brought it out to the car for me. She saw the open bags of bears in the back and asked about them. When she spotted the one that was made out of the leftovers from Morgan's afghan, she gave me the Big Bambi Eyes that got her so many things as a kid and said 'Morgie needs a bear!" So Morgan has a bear and I'll work up one more fast to make an even decade for Mother Bear. I like to dedicate the work on these and other charity projects as a prayer intention.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Not-Me Monday, Musical Edition

I was not in such a hurry to get to the Saturday night show that I unwittingly locked my keys, with the clicker on the ring, in the car.

I did not discover that I had done so until Ro came backstage to say 'hi' to old friends. We didn't both search my tote and purse several times, as if that would make the keys magically appear.

I didn't call my long-suffering spouse at home, make him search for the spare key and then come get me so I could do same. We did not conclude that the spare key was in Austin with Brother.

While I was waiting for him to pick me up in the cold, windy parking lot, I did not wave cheerfully and frantically at a perfect stranger in a van similar to his.

We did not return to the school, call roadside assistance, talk to some guy in India and then wait half an hour for the locksmith. I did not doze during the interim and he did not listen to Albert Campion on CD.

When the locksmith arrived and was jimmying open the door, the theater department head and the theater tech teacher did not drive up in her van on their way home, to investigate the shenanigans in the parking lot. This did not give them more evidence that though they love Mrs. B. and value her skills, she can occasionally be a big doofus.

When the keys were retrieved and the battery was tried, my spouse did not immediately detach the clicker and make me put it in my purse. I did not get a little lecture about keeping it there.

We have not been married so long that fortunately we both have about equal lists of Stupid Things that We Have Done That Highly Inconvenienced the Other Person.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Remember when the enormous crack appeared in the guest room ceiling last August? First, we got the foundation fixed.
("Didn't we just do that?"
"Yes, when Ro was in the first grade."

Then, we had a father-son team come in and replace most of the ceiling and texture it. Next, we finally removed the last backing of wallpaper border from the walls and Bob painted the room and the ceiling. Finally, we moved the furniture back in from the living room, which is when we discovered that the foundation repair had busted a pipe under the house and the seepage had reappeared along the front wall, soaking the new carpet and pad and peeling the veneer off the IKEA bookcases. But no books were damaged- whew!

So, we shoved the bookcases to the other side of the room, turned off all the water to the house and called the plumber, who couldn't really do anything in the black dark and agreed to come back in the morning. The leak was found and repaired and the plumbers recommended a water-damage crew to look at the carpet.

There's now a blower system under and over the carpet, making it undulate up and down and a de-humidifier whose hose runs into the washer drain. They have to operate non-stop for several days to insure that the carpet dries and doesn't mold. It's really kind of interesting. We sympathize with flood damage victims who have it about a million times worse. They check in on it everyday and the technician said that he was sure I could turn it off on Sunday evening for a couple of hours while we have a family dinner. Even needing expensive upkeep, it's still home.

Marge's friend Davy- the one who visited with her in AZ when Morgie was born- will be in town and wants to see where she grew up and meet more of the family. I'm making the most homely thing I can think of: beef-noodle casserole. With salad and broccoli, the family vegetable, and applesauce cake for dessert.

In addition to all the home repairs, I hauled the coffee table onto the back porch and re-finished the top. After twelve years of hard use, it was due. It needs a top coat of polyurethane, because the stain+poly finish product didn't quite get the job done, but it looks very nice. Close enough for government work, anyway. If I give it a quick coat tonight, and another in the morning, it should be dry by Sunday evening.

We have two super groups coming in todayto the Thanksgiving site- two batches of the Young Men's Service League and the women's sorority that was there last Saturday. I'm in charge the whole day, as poor Cathy picked up a box the wrong way and wrecked her back. I no longer pick up anything heavier than a box of 'Helpers'- I figure that's what the guys are for.
In addition to the ongoing packaging of plasticware, we have six big boxes of candy from somewhere- I heard a dentist, but that makes no sense- to bag up for Christmas. It's always good to have that to put in the boxes, even if it's a little Halloween-themed.

Busy week ahead: the theater director at the local high school called and asked me to be the seamstress for "Beauty and the Beast", this year's musical . Everything is rented, but there may be some alterations and they need someone on site to do any repairs during the performances. Actors are harder on costumes than you might imagine. Can't be there all the time- conflicts with Thanksgiving program, but we're working around that.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Back to Work, Everyone
Okay- that was dreadful. I hope everyone took a day to recover.
It's time to get back to work, because there's not a moment to spare.
My personal plan:
  • Count my blessings and be grateful for them always
  • Find a new political party/help start one
  • Help Sissy and Jake with the kid's extracurricular education, focusing on real history, economics, civics and character development. There may be private school in the future.
  • Counter every example of PC and faulty thinking I come across. Yes, even if you're talking to a friend in Starbucks. Politely, but firmly. (This will be hard, as we are the non-confron family, but it has to be done.) No more letting the Left own the narrative.
  • Switch my charitable giving to outside the U.S. If people here want the state to take care of their every need, I can divert more funds to places that need them more. Okay, I'm still debating on this one- it might be a kneejerk petty reaction.
  • Never use the term "________-American " again. You're an American, period. I am also now Teflon to the terms 'racist, sexist, homophobic, divisive, selfish and Islamophobic'.
  • Campaign endlessly for election reform. No more ACORN. You register your own self. Voter registration ends a month before the election. You present a photo ID. You get a purple finger. Ballots are English only- if you're not literate in English, you don't vote. Every party gets a poll watcher. There will be no election night coverage: when all the votes are counted, the winner will be announced. It might be the next day. There is no early voting for national elections- make Election Day a holiday, if we need to.
  • Help sink the MSM.
  • Do it all without developing OBD, because that's counter-productive.

"In your day-to-day life, you must refrain from activities that advance the infrahuman tide of ugliness, barbarism and falsehood in our endarkened world."

-Robert Godwin

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Nini reminded me it's almost time to set up the Enchanted Forest. She has a number of suggestions for this year. I mentioned that someday, we'll have to let Bubs help us, but not for another couple of years, and that by then, she may not be interested in working on it. She gives me a Look.
"Mimi, I will never be too old to help you with the Forest!"
Oh, my sweet, sweet girl- if only that were true...

Bob got a recommendation from a guy at Lowe's for a carpenter to fix the guest room ceiling. Thank goodness, the whole thing doesn't have to come down, just the center panels. And they will re-surface it as well. He mentioned that they seemed quite eager for the job- they were at the house within two hours of his call. "It's the economy. People have probably canceled projects they were going to have done."

Speaking of someone who needs a job- after six months of retirement, the thrill of unlimited free time is gone. The days kind of blend into each other, which he finds disconcerting. I'm thinking the library could use some help. Or the food bank. It's not terrible- he's not in the kitchen alphabetizing the spices or color-coding the towels, but it's time to find something to do besides write the new book.

Tried out the "Orphans to Orphans" sweater pattern from Knitting for Peace. I've given it up though, because I didn't like it. Too much picking up of stitches and you wind up with the whole sweater hanging off your needles while finishing the last sleeve. I understand that the idea is to delete sewing seams, but I'd rather do them than cope with the weight. Plus, it has the cobbled together look of charity knitting done for speed and I'm not sure it's actually faster. Went back to a basic kid's pullover from the pattern book and it looks much better. Using up all the browns, tans and greens from the felted playmat.

Did I mention that the tourist costume was scrapped? Yes, we're going with an all-animal theme this year and Bubs is going to be an elephant. I claim no credit for the wonderfulness of this- it all goes to Tom Arma, who designed the pattern- that same one that we used for the mad monkey cuteness last year. Sis made a deal with me- she would make the bodysuit, if I would make the hood. I had done one already, for Jungle Book, so the construction wasn't unfamiliar. It was just a festival of handwork. She reports that just as I was afraid of- he hates the hood. "It huuuurts" he said. But she is holding all the cards- no hood, no candy. (I have mentioned before that my eldest daughter is the Madwoman of Halloween, haven't I?)

I do take credit for the flamingo, though, because I designed every scrap of it, except the hood base, myself. Best part? The out of control floofy pink net and tulle feather petticoat.
Sis has made Morgie a bumblebee costume- a yellow and black tutu over a black body suit. It has a flower headpiece.
Morgan, let me remind everyone, is three months and one week old.
And yet, she has a Halloween costume.
Because her mother is (see above).
It could be worse- Ni was a tiny little Elvis for her first Halloween. And I made the jumpsuit and cape, so I hardly have room to talk.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Something Light

because there's been enought grumpiness around here lately.

Last Easter, I gave Bubs a board book called ‘No, No, Yes, Yes”. That’s the whole text, posted over drawings of a baby being awful on one page and then good, in the opposite way, on the next. He didn’t like it much then, but now that he’s figured out it’s about a very naughty baby, he loves it, human nature being what it is. So Sissy has been reading it to him often. It’s right up there now with “I am a Bunny”, “The Wonderful House” and “Goodnight, Moon”.

When I was babysitting the other day, he wanted to have story time. But we were sidetracked by a hungry Morgan, so I suggested that he read to me while I gave Morgie her bottle. We climb up onto his bed and he chooses “No, No, Yes, Yes” and begins:

“NO,NO Baby- no food on head! Yes, Yes- food in bowl.”
“NO, NO Baby- no hurt the plant! Yes, Yes- dirt in plant.”
“NO, NO Baby- no eat dog food! Yes, Yes- eat a ‘nana.”
He glances up to make sure I’m paying attention. Oh, I am.
“NO, NO Baby- no toys in the potty! Yes, Yes- pee-pee in the potty. And poop.”
“NO, NO Baby- no rip out books! Yes- reada book.”
“NO, NO Baby- no hit fwiends! Yes, Yes- play with toys.”

Now you have to understand that he’s doing a Jonathan Edwards "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” thing with the “NO, NO!”s and a preschool teacher encouraging voice with the “Yes’s”. I am simultaneously biting the inside of my cheek trying not to laugh, and tearing up at how unbearably cute this is. ‘Cause he’s a genius.

“NO, NO Baby- no run away! Yes, Yes, holda hand.“
(Oh, Mr. Pot, I’d like you to meet Mr. Kettle).
“NO NO Baby- no pull the kitteh! Yes, Yes, pet the kitteh.”

“Oh, Bubbie, that was wonderful. Can you read me another one?”

“I amma bunny. My name is Nick-u-las. I’m inna twee…”

Good times...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Reformation Day= Not a Celebration

Okay, this just makes me sad.
The Protestant Reformation is an unhappy fact of history. It doesn’t need to be celebrated.
I covered this last Reformation Day:

It's interesting, when someone is going 'The Reformation!
Whoo-hooh, good job, Reformers!" to ask them just what, exactly, it accomplished. Answers will
vary, but you almost always get these two: it
gave people access to the Bible, and it broke the monopoly the Catholic Church had on Christendom, letting people
'think for themselves' and find the church that 'suits' them. What if you flip it, though- and point out that it robbed millions of Christians of their birthright to the fullness of
faith, encouraging them to remove themselves from the
safeguards of the teaching authority of Christ's Church into the trial-and-error territory of individual interpretation of Scripture?Or that it forced Sacred Scripture into jobs it was never designed to do- carry the whole burden of spiritual
instruction, instead of sharing it with Sacred Tradition? Or that it deprived them of the Sacraments, those channels of grace that we can't imagine living without?

These folk, who I have no doubt are sincere, well-intentioned Christians who love the Lord and believe they are truly serving Him to the best of their ability, have gone down the “Hidden Christians” road. This is one of the strategies for coping with the unyielding presence of the Catholic Church and its implications for NCC’s (Non-Catholic Christians). In order for NCC’s to carry on in good conscience, the Catholic Church has to be explained away.

The “Hidden Christians’ theory, in its bare bones version, works like this: the Early Church, as outlined in the New Testament, grew and spread throughout the ancient world, in spite of persecution. A bogus church, that we now call the Catholic Church, appeared around the time of Constantine’s Edict of Toleration, when the church went mainstream, gradually becoming corrupt and an instrument of the state. At the same time, real Christians were forced underground. They survived, hidden and persecuted for centuries, keeping ’Bible Christianity’ alive until the Reformation made it possible for them to re-appear and save the world from the false cult of Catholicism.

They correctly recognize that a True Church would have to exist from the time of Christ. The problem is that none of their explanations will stand up to historical review without engaging in misinterpretations of fact-“Albigensians? I do not think they mean what you think they mean.” -outright denials of the historical record and bizarre conspiracy theories with no corroborating evidence.

My conversion was a case of reluctant obedience. I’m a Catholic, in part, because I couldn’t come up with an alternate solution to Matt 16 that didn’t insult my intellectual integrity regarding history, or even grammar, or make Jesus out to be a liar. What He said about His Church is simple, but uncompromising. If you’re a Christian who has to spend time constructing elaborate explanations about how He couldn’t possible have meant the Catholics- maybe another look is in order.

Friday, September 05, 2008

-the happier we'll be
Sissy is home for the weekend to househunt and we’re all sitting at the table, eating tacos and chips and guac, passing the baby around:
“So, did ya’ll see Marie Antoinette?”
“Yeah, I fell asleep three times.”
“I know- and I’m a horrible person but the only thing that kept me watching was the thought that the French Revolution was coming up soon. And then, they just ended it- “I’m saying good-bye now”. I was so pissed. But- you’ve got to watch the Special Features. They have Jason Schwartzman as Louis XVI doing “Cribbin’” at Versailles. He‘s in the Portrait Hall: “This is the painting room. Those are real paintings. And that chandelier? Those are real crystals. And sometimes I like to look at my real paintings through the real crystals. These here? These are my boys.” And they’re the busts of the kings of France.”
“Does he go in their bedroom and say “This is where the magic happens”?
“Of course!”
‘When we were watching the movie, I kept telling Jake “See that hall of mirrors? I’ve been there. And her little playhouse? I’ve been there, too.”
“I didn’t see the little playhouse.”
“Why not? Where were you?”
“On the bus, eating a gelato. I’d been traumatized by those five French guys who surrounded me.
They were all like forty-five and they were going “Hawrh, hawrh, hawrh, American girl.” It was like “Look, she’s away from her group! Cut her off from the herd!”
“I cried every day we were in Paris.”
‘But in Italy it was “Ciao, bella princessa!” They made you feel beautiful.”
“Yeah, it was "Ciao, bella princessa!"- here, let me feel your ass, even though you’re only fifteen.”
Rachel chimes in: “ Let me check to see if it is ripe.”
“And then we went to Switzerland. And the first bus stop- the bathrooms!! They were blinding white and all the stalls were little 10’ rooms with a real hat rack and an ashtray! We were like
(doing the arm raising, heavenly choir singing gesture) AHHHHHHHHH!
“I know- I was like “just go on without me, I’m spending the rest of the trip here.”
“You could flush the toilets with your feet!”
Brother: “Ya‘ll must have looked like the biggest yokels in the world. “Golllleeee! Flush it with yer feet! Lookie there, Ma! You kin flush this toilet with your feet!’ “
“Shut up. At least I didn’t have to sit there and hold my bag over my head with both hands like in France ‘cause it was too filthy to set it down. OR have to pay.”
“Yeah, what was it with those little old ladies in the restrooms? They didn’t do anything, just sat there in their black babushkas and gave you the Mal de Ojo if you didn’t tip them.”
“And the rooms at the inn in Switzerland! They had featherbeds and down comforters-”
“How terrible did we feel when we saw where the tour guide slept? It was a closet.”
‘I know! We had some trivial complaint about something and he said ‘Wait, let me put my suitcase in my room” and (Sissy jumps up and pace off half my narrow kitchen) it was about this big! The sink was over the toilet!”
Brother: “Oh- I’m so sorry the mint on your pillow was a little bit smished.”
“We felt like the biggest brats. We worried about that all through the rest of the trip.”
Auntie Marge, with MJ asleep on her chest, has scrunched down to accommodate her until she’s teetering on the edge of my office chair.
“Do you want me to take the baby? You’re about to fall off that chair.”
“Yes, please. She’s kind of breaking my back.’

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

These people have waaay
too much time on their hands. But do you even need to ask if I am going to make several of these?
Just for stash deletion, of course.
I'm puzzled that these folks seem to think that they've stumbled upon something unknown to generations of crocheters-have they never seen a ruffled doily before?- but find their mathematical enthusiasm endearing, except for the Global Warming hoo-hah.

I blame Living Crafts magazine, which introduced me to this. I just finished mine, and I must say that once I felted it in the washer, it was cute as puddin' pie in an organic fiber Waldorf kind of way. Just exactly the spot for these figures to play. I even improvised a forest floor for the woodland creatures.

And then I thought: why not a whole forest? Oh, I don't mean it would be as large as the farm, maybe two feet square after felting. Many greens and browns mixed, with a lighter leafy glad in the center of moss and gold. There might be a stream in one corner (the pond was the worst of the blocks for the farm, as I am allergic to color stranding, so it will be a little stream). And a cave of grey/green Koigu, left over from the rocks for the sheep pasture. And more rocks. And a hollow log, large enough for hedgehogs and rabbits. Shrubs, ferns, embroidered forest flowers and needle-felted mushrooms. But that's enough detail- have to leave something to the imagination.

It was obvious to me that this could get entirely out of hand- see the Coral Reef people- so I enlisted Marge as my accountability person. "Once I get the forest done- that's it, okay? No swamps, no rainforests, no beaches- understand?"
"Oh, they have a wonderful set of animals- a snake and a crocodile and a parrot and palm trees..."
"Okay- stop."
"- and a monkey-"

It's good to have a kid around who speaks your language and understands the Siren Song of Fibre. At least she won't be crocheting- knitting? could you knit them?- corals, as acrylics do not sully her hand. Ever.
We spent an hour in the Cascade section, laying out different color combos of skeins on the floor for her own blanket, completely engrossed, happy as only afficianados of something can be.

Monday, August 11, 2008

On Community

(this may be a bit disjointed, as the roof is swarming with workers, ripping, nailing and running the nail gun compressor. I should probably just go sit down and watch a movie, so the cats can sit in my lap, and stop freaking out.)

In the parish newsletter yesterday, there was some boiler-plate article about how our cohesiveness as a community enhances the Eucharist. Makes it 'realer' or something.
Now, ignoring for a moment that this is really close to that heresy whose name I forget about the holiness of the priest affecting the effectivness of any sacrament, the author is way off on community.

Community, as a wise spiritual teacher once said, cannot have itself as its object. It will fall apart if it does. A community is a group organized to achieve a goal. Let me give you an example. In years of volunteer work, I've seen disparate groups of people form many communities. Usually, these are short-lived- their goal is to sort a truckload of canned goods or toys or to fill food boxes. But they are communities nonetheless, at least for an hour or so.

I find that in any community of over five people, there will almost always be at least one natural leader, a troublemaker of some sort (the slacker, the ADHD kid, the klass klown, etc.) and the rest will be solid citizens. Pretty much like society in general. Which is why societies are only as strong as their littler communities.

This is why 'community building' exercises that the business world make employees go to involve reaching a goal. They're bogus, because they're not real goals, but they understand the principle, at least.

But the community college professor I saw on access TV in Arizona didn't. His complaint was that white people didn't have enough friends of color and that was unnatural and should be stamped out. Ignoring the universal evidence that preferring their own group is a human default position, he put the blame for A-A , Hispanic, Asian and Middle Eastern kids hanging in their own lunchroom enclaves squarely on the Anglo kids.

In his world, you pick your friends by a paint swatch, not by shared interests or likeability. Someone get that man a copy of C. S. Lewis's The Four Loves.

What he misses completely is if you give those kids a goal- win State, put on a play, kick the others choirs's asses in UIL competition, build houses for the homeless- they work together fine.

Community is organic.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Arizona Snapshots

Got back from AZ yesterday, just managing to miss turning into one of those Tortoise Women.

I drove back over three days, in a rental car, which had XM Radio in it. This is something I'd never used before and it shot my plans for three days of Complete Silence to hell. (I love my daughter and her family, but they have a pressing need to have some sort of audio/visual stimulation going on at all times, as background. Even go to sleep to it. It's on even if no one is in the room.) Listened to a little Comedy on the way out of Phoenix, then Show-tuned it all the way to Tucson. There, I decided that the trek across southern AZ and New Mexico called for Folk, with a dash of New Age now and then. I might, just possibly, have to install this in my car.

What can I say about the new baby? Like the princess in the fairy tale, she is as good as she is beautiful. Bob took the camera with him to Colorado, so I have no photos at the moment. She managed, with Y. athleticism and no regard for life or limb, to swim her cord into a knot, so she was lucky to be a scheduled C-section. She was also a breech presentation (like mother, like daughter). She has long eyelashes, and a dimple, like her sister's. She seems to have O's equable temperament, unlike grumpy Mr. Bubs. She looks very much like both her siblings, but she has Aunt Marge's mouth. Getting to watch her unfold over her first ten days was a joy and a privilege.

The first evening we were there, Sissy pulled up some recorded music on the Tivo, so we could see Bubs dance to a piece of 80's techno. He became a tiny Michael Flatley, doing his own minature version of Riverdance. "Look at his musicality," said Sis "His feet are hitting exactly on the beat!" I would have looked, but I was laughing so hard, I could barely catch my breath. His dead-pan seriousness, and the intensity of his dancing was hilarious.

Unintended consequences: I'm sure the developers who order the landscaping in the residential areas were just trying to reassure their buyers: "Hey, it's okay. You can live here- not everything is completely-ass dead!". The problem is that all that extensive, lush sage and olive greenery (sort of) grows just high enough to obscure street signs, store signs and oncoming traffic when you want to make a left turn.

So, I get a call from Sis on my way into Dallas on Wednesday, reporting that she had to spend four hours in the ER Tuesday, because her incision opened up a tiny bit.
"What were you doing?"
"What? What was that?"
"Shopping?!? What were you thinking? There's no shopping in post-partum Caesarian recovery."
I tell ya- leave the premises for a day and people go shopping.

I took Bubs to his pre-school Open House, which he enjoyed quite a bit because it is Building Toy Heaven. A good-natured dad kept accepting the pop-bead ducks Bubs kept bringing him and made them into a long chain for him. Bubs just like to make sure he's thoroughly grasped a concept before he moves on. We've found that if we ignore the purple bruise on the yellow bruise on the green/black eye in public, no one else comments on it. They probably talk about us behind our backs, however.
There was a bunch of C.P. (Competitive Parenting) going on at Open House. Relax, everyone. Two-year olds are not supposed to know their colors yet. Seriously.

Driving out of town, I sidetracked to Taliesin West . I had been on the tour once before and didn't have time to go again, but I went a little wild in the gift shop. Bubbins is getting a big set of architectural blocks for his combined birthday/Christmas present. Ro and I hid them away, removing the temptation to play with them ourselves. Which would be tacky, yes? Unless we presented them as 'green, recycled' blocks...

What is it about great art that makes you want to be a better person?

On the way to AZ, Bob and I briefly visited Ro's new campus in Wichita Falls. The theater building was open, so we gave ourselves a little tour. Wonderful. Maybe third time will be the charm for her...

Marge and her friend Davy came by for a visit on the way back from California. They brought us their perishable groceries and taught me a new Scrabble game. He was such a nice guy and we were all impressed with his patience and amiability when Bubs claimed his as his instant new BF. Bubs even had a little tantrum when he couldn't accompany him to the bathroom. Bubs had been unconcerned when others, including Sissy, had cuddled M.J. But let his pal Davy hold her for a second, and it was 'Make Morwen go nigh-nigh!" He's such a guy's guy. Poor little scrap, surrounded by all these women.

More later...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

When Hair Worlds Collide
So, probably thanks to all the research for ‘Cabaret’ lying around the house, Ro and her friends decided to throw a 1920’s costume party for friends coming into town. And for her historical hair, she wanted finger waves.

In the hair sweepstakes, Ro won full, fine and straight. When she cut her hair for Locks of Love several years ago, her braid was as thick as her wrist. She just got it bobbed, prior to going back to college and was all set for a flapper ‘do.
A little too set, actually, because her friend Michelle decided Murray's Superior Pomade was the right stuff. Works on her hair. Before you could say “white girl, do not put that on your head”, Ro had become a Dapper Dan Man.
Forever…….. or until she grew a whole new head of hair.

The E-How Marge googled for her suggested olive oil and warned, too late, that the product “in the wrong hands (Michelle) or on the wrong hair (Ro) can be lethal”. Oh, really?
But olive oil didn’t work, because she had already gone through half a bottle of shampoo. And all I had in the house was weenie, ‘green’, save-the-planet dishwashing liquid.
“We need that stuff that kills seals” said Marge.
“Yeah, Mom-where is the DAWN?!? With the grease-cutting action?!?” demanded Ro, who did not want to go to college orientation looking like Alfalfa Switzer.

This was the worst family hair crisis since the Egg-Yolk Yellow Streaks a Week Before Rush debacle of 1998.

I suggested consulting Queen Beauty Supply, the local weave store, where the stuff came from in the first place, but was vetoed on the grounds of endless embarrassment.
Finally, Ro scored some Dawn and got her own hair back.
Enjoy other cultures, just not on your hair.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

The Wonders of Modern Technology
let us see Morgan Jane at 37 weeks prepartum, in screen shots. It's not perfect- we can recognize, reading between the lines, that she looks exactly like her siblings, who were frighteningly beautiful infants . Anyone else might think we were getting a puppy.
Still, what a blessing to new moms and dads.
Can hardly wait to see her, little clone child 3.0

Sunday, June 29, 2008

If You Could See Her As I Do

"I need gorilla boots” says James.
I’m confused. What self-respecting gorilla suit doesn’t come with those simian footies?
“Not boots, boobs. I want her to look more like a girl gorilla.”
She's wearing a dress and a hat and carrying a purse, but James likes to jazz things up. He's spent the last week, trying out looks for a minute-long walk-on as Taxi Man. Glasses? Mustache?
"Can I have a flask and he could take a swig out of it?"
"No. And take off that wig, you look like Albert Einstein."
But the gorilla does have a whole musical number, so-
“I think we could do that. Let’s go look.”
“And I pick Jeff up, so they shouldn’t smash in.”
Large, non-smashable gorilla boobs- got it.

We determine that, gorilla-suited up, James wears a 44” bra. The best I can do, at Ross, is a 42D.( Nobody wears a 44A unless they’re an Eastern European swimmer on steroids.) I also picked up a pair of 3XXX briefs, because James thinks it would be funnier if the gorilla had panties. You're deep in the zone if you're standing in the discount store on Saturday morning weighing the comedic merits of two pair of enormous Delta Burke drawers. Light blue with silver stars? Or lime green lace?

For the record: how to make non-smushable fake mammaries, gorilla or otherwise.
1)Measure the interior of the cup, lengthwise and crosswise. Measure the back of the cup, ditto.
2) Cut a circle of fabric, using the second set of measurements, adding a ½“ seam allowance. Cut a circle of fabric using the smaller of the first set of measurements, ditto. Fold these in quarters and snip to mark in fourths.
3) Run a gathering seam along the outer edge of the larger circle. Matching notches, pin the two circles together and stitch in a ½” seam. Trim seam allowance.
4) Cut a slit in the middle of the small circle and turn RSO.
5) Weight bags: cut a rectangle of fabric the width and depth of the fake breast. Fold this in half lengthwise and sew the side seams in a ¼” seam. Sew halfway across the open top. Fill the bag with poly pellets- about 1 cup, more or less. Sew the rest of the top closed.
6) To stabilize the weight, lay the bag flat and distribute the pellets evenly. Using a long needle and heavy thread, sew across the middle of the bag by hand.
7) Stuff the front of the fake with some fiberfill, then insert the weight bag into the bottom half. Continue stuffing with fiberfill until the fake is nice and firm. The back circle should still be flat. When it’s stuffed sufficiently, sew the slit in the back closed by hand.
8) Baste or safety pin the fake into the bra., weighted side down.
I only made one, so we can test it out and make improvements.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

The word for 2008:
This is going to be the year of Getting Rid of Stuff. Because there is way too much of it lying around, getting in our way, taking up our time, pressing heavily on our consciousness. Blame the car wreck, blame getting older and persnickety, blame anything you like- but it's going...going...gone.

It wasn't always like this. When we got married in 1973, we started out with our clothes, our wedding presents, a set of everyday dishes from my grandmother's garage, his stereo system, all our albums (remember those?), his electric typewriter and a portable TV on a stand, which was a gift from his folks. We still had some things stored at our respective parents' houses, but not much.

Then we aquired an entertainment sytem unit. And an unfurnished apartment for which we had to find furniture, including the small drawered desk that's been floating around our houses for 34 years as a kitchen workspot/sewing table/bedside table/kitchen island again. And a sewing machine, with the resultant bags of fabric, and notions. And an ironing board. And aluminum shelving for the books we were picking up at the resale places, the germ of the permanent office that he's had everywhere we've lived. Even if he had to build one in the garage.

To be joined by really nice bookcases. And then we had a baby, who needed a crib and a bureau and a changing table and a bathtub and clothes and books and toys.

Then we put almost everything into storage while he went to grad school. And while we got along remarkably well without a lot of it, it was like Christmas when we moved into our first house and unpacked all the boxes. Yay, our stuff is back!

Once we had a house, we needed a lawn mower and hoses and garden tools and a playhouse and a washer and dryer and refrigerator and a big boy bed for Brother, so Sissy could have the crib. And a larger entertainment unit. And the kids acquired more toys and books and art supplies and tricycles. And we bought more books. And a food processor.

Then we had to get bunk beds for the kids, so Miggs could have a room to herself.

After which we bought a larger house. And more furniture. And had another baby, who doesn't remember ever not having a computer or a VCR, with all their accompanying hoo-hah. Eventually, we'd have three. And everyone continued to acquire stuff.
Older relatives began to die and leave us things. Interests were picked up and dropped, but not always the paraphernalia. Oh, lots of things were outgrown and discarded, but a fair amount of things were kept for various reasons- sentiment and hard-headedness, mostly.
And we lived in the same house for two decades, without the impetus of a move to make us ask 'why are we keeping this?' and throw things away.

Finally, the time came when everyone grew up and moved out of the house. But no one moved very far, so it made sense to leave lots of their stuff here. And with the advent of Ni and Bubs, we just started the whole kid cycle all over again.

(Though we have never reached the same depths as my mom, to whom the hugely tactful architect she consulted about some renovations remarked, "I can see your grandchildren are very important to you" when what he really wanted to say was "Damn, woman! Show some self-control here! I mean- damn!".)

But no more. Everyone is getting in on the act.
Stay tuned...