Friday, December 15, 2006


The reason I have not been posting this week is that, after many delays, I am finally closing on a new house, like next week!

What? Next week, you say? Like, as in, the week before Christmas?

Why, yes. Yes. In fact, it is.

*head explodes*

Friday, December 08, 2006

I Know He Was Not Switched at Birth

MOTHER: Would you like some milk?

CHILD: Yes, I want some chocolate milk, please. With chocolate in it.

MOTHER: Okay, I'll get you some chocolate milk.

CHILD: With CHOCOLATE in it. Chocolate milk. With chocolate.

MOTHER (handing Child a cup of chocolate milk): Here you are. Chocolate milk.

CHILD: With chocolate in it?


CHILD: Mmm. I like chocolate.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

An Addendum to My Previous Letter (See Below)

P.S. It is so nice to see that you finally shoveled and salted the walks throughout the complex today, six days after the snow-and-ice storm, and three business days after electricity was restored to the complex. Seeing as how much of the snow on the walks had already melted yesterday, it's nice to know you were still willing to put forth a half-hearted, belated effort to show you can pretend you want to keep your residents safe. And here I was fully on the point of buying an industrial-sized snow shovel and fifty pounds of salt so I could clear the walks myself!

I am sure that if my blind, partially deaf elderly next door neighbor who walks with a cane managed to work up the courage to try to walk more than a step past his front door over the past few days, he had great fun slipping and sliding around as he attempted to navigate the ice-encrusted walks. Way to keep an old blind man on his toes!

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Letter I Wish I Were Sending to My Leasing Office

To Whom It May Concern:

My husband and I will not be renewing our lease ending January 31st 2007. We are purchasing a house, and plan to vacate our current apartment by the end of January.

Incidentally, our new residence will have a fully functioning stove and microwave, and, according to our home inspector, does not appear to have faulty wiring that causes the power to go out in a drizzle, faulty plumbing that causes water to gush through the fan in the bathroom ceiling, squirrels in the ventilation system, a chronic ant infestation problem, or a chronic carpenter bee infestation problem, all of which were definite selling points compared to our current abode.

Thanks for nothing,

Ms. Jaelithe J.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Just a Note

To say that my electricity is back, but I have had a very busy weekend catching up on all sorts of things I couldn't do while I had no electricity, so you will all have to wait to read all the entertaining anecdotes I have been planning to share regarding my adventures in real estate until I recover from storm craziness.

I hope all my hometown readers are warm tonight . . .

Friday, December 01, 2006

Deja Vu

Read this.

Switch summer to winter; switch record highs to single digit lows; keep the whole half a million homes in my city without power, some possibly for days, thing.

Oh, and mine is one of them.


See you when the electric company decides my apartment is as important as the video store across the street . . .

Thursday, November 30, 2006

This Is Not Snow:

Click on the picture and look at the big version.

This is tiny balls of solid ice.

They are falling now outside my apartment. They bounce when they hit the ground.

(What do you call this? Is this sleet? Miniature hail? Any lurking meteorologists out there to enlighten me?)

The parking lot to my apartment was flooded with about an inch of water this morning from heavy rain. It now looks like a skating rink. Covered in tiny ball bearings made out of ice.

My husband is still at work.



Edited to add:
my husband is home and not dead. The car is also fine. Because I was not riding in it, obviously.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Eeep! I've been tagged, by Dana from Mamalogues, to write a post about five things people don't know about me. Hmm. But which people? Blog people? Real Life Friend people? Family people? Professional Contact people? I suddenly feel like no matter what I post, someone is going to comment and say, "But I KNEW that about you, Jaelithe. That's totally lame. Where's the good stuff?"

(Does the fact that I am having such a difficult time coming up with oddities and secrets mean that I live an utterly banal, unmysterious life?

Or does it mean that I am even more secretive about the few certain secrets I do keep than most other people?

Hmmm . . .)

Five things (some) people (probably) don't know about me:

1.) I attended a very swanky, expensive private school from sixth through twelfth grade. In fact, I attended the most expensive private school in town.

On scholarship.

The first day I walked into that school, I wanted to kiss the polished marble foyer floor. The library was the size of my previous school's cafeteria (which, incidentally, had a been a roach-ridden, poorly lit, unfinished basement). For the first several weeks of classes, I fully expected a choir of glowing angels to descend at any moment.

That is, of course, until the other girls in my class started calling me Bag Lady for wearing second-hand clothes.

By my freshman year in high school I figured out that if I wore black all the time people would think I was just being artsy and moody and wouldn't notice that I didn't have a walk-in closet at home filled with three months' worth of outfits from the Gap, Abercrombie and J. Crew. This trick did indeed work wonders for my social life, though I must say I rather tired of my high school photography teacher calling me "Johnny Cash."

2.) In my life thus far, I have been in six car accidents in which the car I was a passenger in was totaled. I was not driving in any of these instances; the accidents happened with several different drivers, and each time it was not the fault of the driver I was riding with.

The first time, I was riding with my father and we were hit from behind by a taxi in the middle of a downpour. The second time, I was riding with my mother and we were hit from behind by a teenager driving a new sports car coming down the highway off ramp. The third time, I was riding with my father and a man driving in the oncoming traffic lane had a heart attack and died, and his SUV swerved into my father's car and smashed it into a guard rail. The fourth time, I was riding with several high school friends of mine coming home from visiting a haunted house for Halloween, and we were hit at an intersection by a speeding drunk driver. The fifth time, I was coming back from the grocery store with a college friend of mine and we were hit by an old lady who ran a stoplight. The sixth time, my husband had just picked me up from work; we were stopped at a red light coming out of a parking lot and a college-age guy in an SUV rammed us at 40 mph from behind; he was speeding and claimed he didn't see the stoplight or the cars stopped in front of him because he was talking on his cell phone.

I've been a passenger in three other minor accidents where the car was not totaled.

And once a car actually flipped and flew through the air OVER a car I was riding in on the highway, but the car I was riding in was not hit.

(Oh, and I'm not sure this one counts, but my mother was in a car accident when she was seven months pregnant with me.)

3.) I am terrified of driving. (Note that I can drive, but it terrifies me.)

4.) I once quit a job I needed and liked, loudly, in front of about seventy-five co-workers, after a self-important manager practically everyone secretly hated falsely, publicly (and rudely) accused me of lying. My co-workers actually cheered for me as I walked out. It was one of the best moments of my life.

I have quit two other jobs based solely (or, okay, mostly) on moral principle. One, because of religious discrimation against a co-worker, and another, because my boss was embezzling from the (non-profit) company.

5.) I can't stand a certain sound that is made by certain types of rough surfaces scratching on cloth. It makes me want to rip my own teeth out. It's like fingernails on a blackboard to me. Only actually, I'd prefer to listen to fingernails on a blackboard. However when I hear someone making this sound, by, say, scuffing their booted feet on a carpet, I generally clench my fists and do not say anything, because I want people to like me and not think of me as that insane woman who yells at people for scuffing their feet.

And yes, this does give me a special level of understanding when it comes to my son's reaction to the sound of my blender . . .


Edited to add: Woah, did I forget to tag someone? How lame. It was midnight when I posted this, though. I tag Raquita, only because she hasn't posted in a few weeks and I want to hear from her again (only if you have time, though, lady), and Stephanie, because, well, I get a feeling she probably has some interesting answers for this one . . .

Sunday, November 26, 2006

This Just In: Peace Termed Offensive, Divisive

Um, I don't even know what to say about this.

Is a ban on "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" next?

Hark! The herald angels sing
Glory to the new born King
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled
Joyful all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With angelic host proclaim
Christ is born in Bethlehem
Hark! The herald angels sing
Glory to the new born King
To the new born King

Wait-- "Let There Be Peace on Earth"-- that one by Sy Miller? That's on a bunch of Christmas albums, and it's EVEN WORSE:

Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me,
Let there be peace on earth, the peace that was meant to be.
With God as our Father, brothers all are we,
Let me walk with my brother, in perfect harmony.

Let peace begin with me, let this be the moment now,
With every step I take, let this be my solemn vow,
To take each moment and live each moment in peace eternally.
Let there be PEACE ON EARTH, and let it begin with me!

What about "Silent Night"-- doesn't that one have that word in it, too? "Sleep in heavenly--" GAH!

That's it-- THAT'S IT! We have to ban Christmas music altogether, people. We're at war, after all, and that means we can't have any mention of, well, of, that, that word that begins with the letter P, okay? Because it offends people. It divides people.

In fact, I heard from this that every time someone says that word out loud, Baby Jesus cries. For real.

Maybe we should just have it removed from the dictionary.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Let the Hate Mail Commence at 10:30 P.M. EST

***Shameless self-promotion to follow***

Tonight I will be joining Kristen from Motherhood Uncensored, The Mom Trap, Cool Mom Picks, etcetera, on her BlogTalkRadio show.

So, listen already. The show begins at 10:00 p.m. EST / 9:00 p.m. CST, with the debate I'm participating in to begin at 10:30 p.m. EST / 9:30 p.m. CST.

Bobita and I will be debating infant circumcision.


blog radio

Monday, November 20, 2006

Goodness Gracious

Where have I been?

Well, I know I've used this excuse before, but it's still happening: I've been trying to buy a house for the first time. We had one offer accepted, only to have it fall through due to what I can only describe as seller insanity (more on that later, when I have time for a good three-page post. Heh). Now we're working on another offer.

No one mentioned to me by the way (and I'm glaring at YOU, everyone) that this house-buying thing was a full-time job. My apartment is starting to look decent to me, and that's scary.

I've also been working on a work project that is, of course, currently deciding to take 1/3 again as much time as my client originally projected it would. As all projects invariably do. So I'm not sure why I even feel the need to mention that it's taking more time than I thought it would. But with that on top of our recent adventures in real estate-- forget you people-- I feel like my son is shortly going to forget my name. Aren't I, um, a stay-at-home mom? I thought I was . . .

Anyway, my birthday came over the weekend, and I turned 25 again.

(I have decided, as of this year forth, that I shall turn 25 every year until I am 60. All right with you folks?


You say 26 is not old and I should shut the hell up? You say I'm an addle-pated uppity whippersnapper who is too big for her britches? La la la I can't hear you.)

On my birthday, no presents were lost. We weren't kicked out of any restaurants. And I didn't get food poisoning. So, all in all, I'd have to say, this was a huge improvement over last year!

However, the most momentous event that happened on my birthday was that my mother called me.

My mother called me on my birthday, for the first time in seven years.

The evening before my birthday, being an evil daughter, and a connoisseur of the sarcastic tone, I had formulated a wicked plan to call my mother late in the evening on my birthday. After waiting all day for her not to call me, I would call her myself, and, the moment my mother picked up the receiver, without even giving her the opportunity to say so much as "Hello," I would say,

"Mother, I am calling you to give you the opportunity to wish me a Happy Birthday."

Don't you see? It was perfect. The righteous irony would drip from my voice. The weight of seven years of daughterly disappointment, elegantly compressed into a single sentence, would barrel through the telephone line in a hundredth of a second, and, upon reaching the receiver on the other end, the smooth cover of seemingly polite words would uncoil in an instant to unleash a flattening blast of mother-guilt. Like a molotov cocktail, wrapped in silk.

It would be, in fact, exactly the type of brilliantly executed, impossible-to-dodge guilt-trip my mother herself is famous for.

But then, she called me.

Boy, that really knocked the wind out of the sails of my revenge ship.

In fact, it made me feel kind of guilty for plotting to guilt-bomb her . . .

Ah, touche, Mom. Touche.

Friday, November 10, 2006


When I came home from giving a work presentation on Thursday, I found my son playing outside with his babysitter. He wasn't playing ball. He wasn't riding his new tricycle.

He was trying to put the fallen leaves back on the trees.

"I fix the trees, Mommy," he said, in a very serious tone. "The leaves fall down. All the leaves are down on the ground. I fix them."

How long will this sweetness last? How long can it last, in this world, in a boy?

It's times like these I want to wrap him in an impenetrable armor of love, freeze him in love, preserved, in his untarnished innocence, like a butterfly in amber.

But I can't. And I shouldn't try.

(And I can't.)

But I can write about it.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

No More Mrs. Nice Lefty

Okay, remember my last post? The one where I was being all democratic and non-partisan, giving you links to local board of elections sites with information about the candidates and issues involved in today's election, encouraging you all to vote no matter your affiliation?

Yeah, see, here's the thing about true liberals (and note that I didn't say Democrat-- I said liberal), the thing that makes it so hard for us to "win": We value other people's opinions. We appreciate diversity. We believe in the power of democracy. We want everyone to have an opportunity to have their voices heard.

Embracing a diversity of opinion and promoting everyone's right to participate in their own government are core liberal values.

That's one reason why, if you're a liberal, underhanded, illegal tactics like this are gonna piss you off.

But you know what? I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that I believe most of my conservative friends should be pissed off by this too.

Because I know many true conservatives out there also believe in honesty, and fair elections.

So I ask you, my readers, all of you, for the sake of democracy, or, if you won't stand for democracy, dammit, then in the name of upstanding Americans' univerally acknowledged loathing of having their dinners interrupted by telemarketers, spread the word on this news today. Let your friends who have yet to vote know that the Republican party has been conducting a deceptive, illegal telemarketing smear campaign against Democratic candidates in a last-ditch attempt to make voters angry at the Democratic party, calling voters incessantly and attempting to pretend that the annoying robocalls naming Democratic candidates have been paid for by the Democratic candidates themselves, when in fact the entire enterprise has been funded by the Republicans.

And then, after you vote today, go home, and do something nice for a neighbor who disagrees with your political views. And then think about what we all can do to overhaul this ridiculously corrupt two-party system. And leave your suggestions here, because I want to hear them. I am so sick, sick, sick of deceitful politicians on both sides of the aisle. This is supposed to be our government-- the people's government. I want to take it back.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Of the People, by the People, for the People

My fellow Missourians,

Please drag your tuchuses out of your home or office long enough to vote tomorrow.

Don't know anything about the candidates?

Senate Race:

Incumbent Senator Jim Talent, Republican
Challenger Claire McCaskill, Democrat
Challenger Frank Gilmour, Libertarian
Challenger Lydia Lewis, Green Party

List of candidates for all other Missouri races.

Now you do.

Don't know anything about the issues?

Missouri 2006 Ballot Measures

Now you do.

Don't know where your polling place is?

St. Louis County Board of Elections Polling Place Finder
St. Louis City Polling Place Finder
State of Missouri Polling Place Finder

Now you do.

Got kids? A job? A ton of stuff to do tomorrow? Hate standing in line?

So do I.

Suck it up. Vote anyway.

Vote tomorrow, or I hereby revoke your license to complain about the government until you vote in another election :P

Friday, November 03, 2006

A Couple Marbles Short

From checking out my referral sources on Sitemeter (for the first time ever, I might add), I just discovered that my blog is currently ranked NUMBER ONE on Google for the search term "A Couple Marbles Short."

I leave you, my dear readers, to interpret this information as you may . . .

In Which I Come Out to the Internet as a Comic Book Geek, Part II, with Pictures

What? You want to take my picture in this costume you made for me? You want me to stand still, look at the camera, and smile so you can get a good shot? Uh, right.

Did you forget who you dressed me up as already?

Wait a minute-- what is this contraption?

I guess even The Flash will sit still for a loud, brightly colored electronic toy.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

In Which I Come Out to the Internet as a Comic Book Geek

I would so show you photos of my son dressed up as The Flash, in a Halloween costume I made for him, with my own hands. I would totally show you right here, right now.

But Blogger won't let me upload any photos today. I have tried several times at different points in the day. No dice.

You're on my list, Blogger. Do you hear me? ON MY LIST. Right underneath home inspectors who lose your email address and phone number and therefore do not send you the rather significant, immediate-attention-requiring results of radon tests on your potential new home, but instead, just casually give them to your real estate agent who, not realizing you the inspectors never sent you said results, doesn't tell you about them either for three whole days.

Anyway, if you want to see pics of the cutest Flash EVER, and find out what comic book character I dressed up as, you'll just have to click the link to my Flickr account in the sidebar for now.

Friday, October 27, 2006

The City of St. Louis Would Like to Thank the Rain

I have to say, in my view, the wet field in the new Busch Stadium won Game Four.

But Game Five was all Weaver, Eckstein and Pujols (did you see Pujols throw that ball on his back? Damn).

Don't Tempt Fate

While reading this post over at Mamalogues I thought to myself, "Gee, I sure am glad my son almost never throws up."

So, guess what happened last night? All over the dinner table? While we were eating dinner?

Yeah . . .

Monday, October 23, 2006


I am sorry; I just can't seem to write here right now. My head is full of things to write about, but I can't seem to bring my thoughts together coherently enough lately to post. I would say I haven't had time to post lately, but that's not entirely true. It is true that I have been terribly busy over the past two weeks, but I have left a couple of marathon comments on other people's blogs over the last couple of days and I could easily have spent that time posting here instead. But for some reason, I nearly always find it easier to respond to other people's thoughts than I do to organize my own. And the truth is, I enjoy reading and responding to other people's work a great deal more than I do composing my own.

I am not giving up; I will return. I have just been under a lot of stress lately, with a new work project, the prospect of buying a house, and all sorts of other random challenges popping up lately, as they are wont to, where I least expect or want them.

(For example, my glasses malfunctioned the other day. One of the lenses, which has never been quite secure since I got this pair a few months ago, popped clear out. I tried to fix it with my trusty screw kit, but the lens wouldn't stay in. So I took a trip to the not-so-close store where I'd gotten the glasses, and tried to get them fixed there. They fixed the lens, but in the process, they obviously scratched my not-cheap designer frames. When I complained about this, the technician who had made the error proceeded trying lamely and rudely to minimize his mistake, attempting to make fun of me by saying, "Do you actually need glasses if you are going to notice a scratch that small?" It was two scratches, and they were not small. After I glared at him he agreed to try to fix them. He made them even worse. The new gouge in my frames was so bad, he rushed out of the lab to search the inventory surreptitiously for a replacement frame, and then, realizing they were out, sheepishly offered to order me new frames before even showing my old ones to me. It will take two weeks to get new ones. Then I will have to risk my expensive, "you're so blind we have to send out to the out of state lab for your prescription, and that will take three weeks" polycarbonate lenses in the hands of this assclown or one of his associates once more. Joy. All sorts of random things like that have been happening lately).

(Wow, I just wrote a lot there, didn't I? Does this count as a post? I guess so. There you go, fans.)

(Now I am going to sleep, because it is already morning, and I have 50 billion things to do tomorrow).

Monday, October 16, 2006

Friday, October 13, 2006

Why You Want to Be My Sister

Remember why you wanted to be my friend?

Being my family is even better.

Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake with Cinnamon Apple Almond Topping

Chocolate Chip Tuxedo Cheesecake with Oreo Crust and Fresh Strawberry Topping

Happy Birthday, Little Sis.

(Oh, and by the way, if you're reading this on Bitacle? Bitacle's lying, thieving ways are why I'm not posting the recipes for these beautiful concoctions today. If you want to know how to make them, you'll have to visit The State of Discontent at its real home on Blogger at and ask me.)

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Chopped Liver

Today was my second half-day working in the office, and Isaac's first day alone with our new babysitter.*

I was worried that he would cry when I left this morning.

He didn't.

He did cry when the babysitter left this afternoon, though.

*John happened to have the day off of work the first day I went into the office, so Isaac stayed home with his dad that day.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Blub. Glub.

Ahhhhhhhh . . . applying for mortgage . . . searching for houses . . . sewing costumes . . . drowning in work from new project . . .

My latest project isn't even writing, you know. It's Search Engine Optimization Research.

I know, sounds fancy, right?

It involves spreadsheets. That is all I am going to say.

Anyway, if you don't see around me for a while, I probably:

1.) Pricked my finger with a needle and fell asleep for 100 years.

2.) Moved to some desolate unclaimed spot of land in the desert to build my own house out of adobe and straw.

3.) Got eaten by Excel.

But that doesn't mean I don't love y'all. Really.

By the way, did you notice that yesterday was my one year blogiversary? I should so have written about that, shouldn't I have?

Well, there's always next year . . .

Saturday, October 07, 2006

The Way Things Work

This evening after dinner, Isaac started begging me to go outside.

"It's almost dark outside already," I told him, showing him through the window. "We'll have to play outside tomorrow when it's daytime."

He sighed in resignation and hung his head. Suddenly, he perked up, and asked, "Mommy, where does the sun go?"

My first inclination, honestly, was just to tell him the sun was going to bed. As he would be shortly.

I mean, how do you explain the reason for sunsets to someone with minimal language skills and only the most basic, mostly subconscious understanding of things like spatial relationships and geometry? Who doesn't have the foggiest idea he lives on a giant (how big is giant?) spherical (what's a sphere?) object called a planet (what's that mean?) that spins around as it hurtles through outer space (where's outer space?) around a much, much more giant flaming (huh? why? what lit it?) ball of nuclear (what?) fusion?

So, yeah, I was on the point of making up a clever one-sentence fairy tale (or, okay, let's face it, stealing one made up by some mother of antiquity whose precocious two-year-old decided to ask her the same flabbergasting question), when I thought about a conversation I had earlier today with Andrea about how amazed I've been at the volume of convenient fabrications that have come out of my mouth since I became a parent

("If you don't eat that turkey right now, I'm going to eat it all myself!" Says the vegetarian mother.

"Thomas and Percy are too sleepy to play. They want to go night-night in their cozy plastic box now."

"Mommy can't stay next to your bed reading to you for another hour and a half because she has to go potty right now. Right now! I can't wait! Sorry! See ya later! Good night!"

"Turkey? Oh, no. That's not turkey. It's white ham!"),

and then Andrea asked if I'd read any of the discussion quasi-recently over at The Mom Trap about whether deceiving children for convenience's sake undermines a parent's credibility, and I replied that that when it comes to getting my child to eat I am willing to say just about ANYTHING

("Thomas and Percy LOVE to eat turkey. Didn't they tell you?")

but that I had in fact read that discussion, and the whole "never lie" idea was an interesting theory, really.

So, when Isaac asked me where the sun goes, in a moment of guilt over my no-good dirty lying parenting ways, I grabbed a big blue exercise ball and an enormous flashlight and attempted to demonstrate the basics of planetary motion for a pre-schooler.

I don't think he understood a word of it.

But afterward, he kept pointing the flashlight at the ceiling and saying ecstatically, "Look Mommy! I made the sun!"

Which really cheered him up after the whole not going outside deal.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

'Scuse Mama While She Gets Political for a Minute

Things that do not turn a person into a pedophile:

-Being a drunk. I suppose being a pedophile might turn you into a drunk, though.

-Being gay. Most scientific studies on the subject indicate that 98-99% of child molesters identify as heterosexual.

-Having been molested as a child. (According to multiple surveys, something like one in five women in the U.S. report they have been sexually assaulted at least once before the age of 18. Are 20% of adult women in the U.S. pedophiles? Uh, no.)

This has been a public service announcement. We now return you to your regularly scheduled fluffy little Mommyblog.

Pardon Me While My Head Explodes, Metaphorically

Hey, so, apparently my post about evilly destroying my son's avant-garde temporary art installation was deemed by the talented authoress of Bub and Pie to be worthy of a Perfect Post award for September.* What can I say? I'm verklempt (and I'm not even Jewish). But I didn't get the button up until today, because, DUDES. I am busy this week.

I have started a new contract project. I am trying to arrange a workable schedule for a (*GASP*) regular part-time babysitter so I can actually finish the parts of said project that require me to spend a couple of hours a week in an office. With grown-ups. Wearing office clothes. And makeup. And heels. All at the same time.

I have to train said babysitter tomorrow in the art of attempting to feed a severely underweight child with SI disorder who hates 95% of food.

I have been trying to work out some sort of crazy insurance issue with Isaac's OT provider. My insurance company is currently claiming the office Isaac's OT works out of is out-of-network, when in fact, the office is in-network, and has the current paperwork and network-provider number to prove it. Hmmm . . . Either way they are claiming they will only cover 20 visits per calendar year.

(Like I am going to let them get away with claiming my underweight child with severe eating issues only needs to see an OT to help with his eating for half an hour once every two-and-a-half weeks? When the OT herself wants to see him at least weekly right now, and his PCP agrees?

I don't think so, insurance bitches. Tiger Mama is now officially on the prowl. Tiger Mama eats deep-fried meaningless medical bureaucracies for breakfast, and often enjoys a refreshing frappe of the strained egos of ineffectual call center lackeys afterward to wash away the annoying aftertaste of red tape. I'm sure all my mothering readers out there have met Tiger Mama, so you know what I'm talking about.)

This week I have also been researching and calling several different financial institutions, because I am trying to find a fantastic deal on a first-time mortgage, preferably with low interest and low closing costs, despite having only average income and only decent credit, without paying tons of money to a broker.

(Stop laughing already.)

As part of this whole trying to get a great mortgage deal process, I have also been trying for weeks now to get one of the three major credit bureaus to admit 1.) that it does not know how to spell my maiden name, and 2.) that I, being an erstwhile bearer of such name, do in fact know the correct way to spell it. I spell my name correctly. Not them. Me.

(I told you to stop laughing, didn't I? Are you going to make me whip out my ruler, class?)

And, oh yes. I am still shopping for my very first honest-to-goodness, no shady landlords cuz I own it and that's that HOUSE.

I am looking for a three-bedroom, two-bath with a full basement, a garage or carport, and a fenced yard, with no major structural defects or health hazards, in a halfway decent neighborhood, for, oh, I don't know, less than $150,000?

Oh, okay, you can laugh at that one.

Or cry, if you live on either coast of this country, because that's actually POSSIBLE here in the Midwest! Ha! So there, you blue state suckers! With your five-star restaurants, and your critically acclaimed theatres, and art galleries, and good schools, and congressional representatives who don't enable child molesters, and . . .


*Okay, so, apparently, she actually liked a post I made back in August better, but, hey.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Sign I May Be an Internet Addict, #432

Tonight as I was getting Isaac ready for bed, he started flipping through a Baby Einstein book he has that purports to teach children about rhymes. As he turned each page, he said the rhyming words to himself out loud.

"Chair. Bear!"

"Mouse. Dollhouse!"

When he got to the page with a picture of a frog next to a picture of a log, he very clearly said,

"Frog. Blog!"

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Pardon Me While My Head Explodes

Yesterday I had a day-long, as in, from the moment I woke up at dawn til I finally slipped into blessed unconsciousness just before midnight, migraine.


The first time I ever had an actual, full-on, NO THIS IS NOT JUST A HEADACHE, THANK YOU, migraine, was when I was in my senior year of college. In the middle of film class while I was squinting at a grainy 1940s drama, trying to ignore a dull throbbing behind my left eye, I experienced a sudden sensation not dissimilar, I imagine, to what one would experience upon having a rusty iron spike driven into one's skull.

I saw rainbow halos around Gene Tierney. Not the pretty kind of rainbow halos either. I'm talking about the thug kind of rainbow halos that dismember fluffy baby bunny rabbits and send the baby bunny rabbit pieces to you anonymously through the mail, postage due.

I slunk out of the lecture hall and staggered to the women's restroom, convinced I was going to hurl. What was wrong with me? Was I dying? Was it a brain aneurism? (I always knew I'd die tragically of a brain aneurism before I hit 25-- I just KNEW it!)

I wasn't dying, of course. I was being hazed. For initiation into the exclusive club of migraine sufferers. Ah, joy.

The migraines continued, at first randomly, then weekly, then, at the worst point, almost daily, for nearly six months. They seemed connected somehow to my vision; they were often triggered when watching movies on a big screen (so much for that "A" I was hoping for in film class) or when I spent more than an hour straight working at my computer. I saw several specialists and asked repeatedly whether my extreme nearsightedness might be a factor, and whether getting a new eyeglasses prescription or having corrective surgery on my eyes might provide some relief. A general practitioner, a neuro-opthamologist, and two optometrists all told me it would not.

I cut chocolate, coffee, tea, balsamic vinegar, parmesean cheese, asiago cheese, and wine out of my diet. I changed my sleep patterns. I tried to meditate. I took long baths. I took long walks. Nothing helped.

Then my glasses broke, and I got a new pair. The headaches all but disappeared.

I started eating chocolate again immediately, and attempted mightily not to wish chocolate-triggered migraines on all of my doctors.

Since then my migraines have been blessedly rare. As long as I keep my eyeglasses prescription up-to-date, I can go months at a time without experiencing one. Sometimes I even start to think they might never be coming back.

So, at first, yesterday morning, when I woke with a dully throbbing head, I tried to convince myself it was not a migraine. I was sniffly when I woke up in the morning, so I thought, hey, this is a sinus headache. I'll take a hot steamy shower and drink some peppermint herbal tea. That will clear up my sinuses, and the headache will disappear.

It didn't.

Around lunchtime, as the dull throbbing became more of a shrill hum, I realized I hadn't been getting much sleep the past few nights. Maybe it was a sleep-deprivation headache! Miraculously, my son fell asleep in my lap with no fuss whatsoever shortly after lunch. I decided to take a little nap with him on the futon.

When I woke up, my headache was worse.

Suddenly it occurred to me-- I'd had caffeinated tea or coffee every morning for the past five days until that morning, when, silly me, I'd tried to clear up my sniffles with herbal tea. Of course! It was a caffeine withdrawal headache. That was it. Look at me, an addict. What a terrible habit, making myself dependent on a certain drink ingredient every day to function. I told myself I would have to cut back on the caffeine. Right after I made myself a nice big steaming stoutly brewed cup of Earl Grey. To wash down some Extra-Strength Tylenol.

My headache stayed.

My husband came home to find me languishing in a chair under dimmed lights with my eyes half-closed while our half-naked child traipsed gleefully through our uncleaned house wantonly scattering plastic toys. Shortly after he arrived I shut myself in our bedroom, locked the door, and hid under the covers of my canopy bed, without a word.

Oh yes, Migraine was back, and Migraine was determined to punish me for forgetting that I am one of Migraine's Chosen Sufferers.

One of these days, I am going to figure out a way to kick that bitch Migraine's ass out of town.

As long as it does not involve giving up chocolate.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Cruel, Careless Mother Destroys Precious Avant-Garde Artwork by Child Prodigy

A Missouri housewife by the name of Ms. Jaelithe J was denounced by the international toddler arts community today for prematurely destroying a masterpiece temporary art installation completed just minutes earlier by renowned child prodigy abstract artist Isaac J, who is Ms. J's son. Child artists and art lovers everywhere will be shocked to learn that Ms. J apparently ruined the piece in full view of the artist, despite the artist's desperate pleas that his work be left intact.

Entitled "Ice Cream Railroad," the work, created with melted vanilla ice cream on a glass table top, depicted an abstract interpretation of the artist's grandmother and grandfather eating ice cream while riding on a train, according to Isaac, who was quite distraught at the sudden destruction of his most daring work yet.

"My picture, my picture, my picture! Mommy cleaned up my good picture! My picture is all gone," the boy genius is reported to have lamented, sobbing for nearly thirty minutes straight after the drawing was ruined.

The child artist's mother, apparently oblivious to the inestimable aesthetic value of the ground-breaking installation, seemed puzzled at the outraged response to her removal of the work. "Well, I told him it was a very pretty picture, but that Mommy needed to clean it up now, because melted ice cream just doesn't belong on the dinner table. I tried to explain to him that ice cream makes things sticky, and I told him if I left it there for too long it might attract bugs. Besides, how on earth were we supposed to eat breakfast the next morning off of a table that was half-covered in ice cream? Of course I felt kind of bad, but I told the boy that if he wanted a picture he could keep, well, he could always just use fingerpaints or crayons and paper."

Despite this sad incident, Isaac maintains he will not be daunted in his quest to create thought-provoking yet accessible art installations for his adoring fans. In fact, he is already working on a new project involving shredded cheese and carpet.

"Some people, especially from the previous generation, just don't understand the true spirit of post-modern art," a source close to the artist said. "But Isaac won't ever let that stop him from trying to enlighten them."

Update: Nominated for a September Perfect Post Award by Bub and Pie! Thanks!

A Perfect Post

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

What Have I Gotten Myself Into?

So, I am sewing several components of my son's, my husband's, and my Halloween costumes this year.

I forgot one thing, though.

I suck at sewing!

I also do not own a sewing machine. So that means I have to sew everything by hand. With my suckitudinous sewing skills.

Minor technicalities, right? Right?

Saturday, September 16, 2006

My Mother Would Be Proud

Today I went to a fabric store looking for fabric for my family's Halloween costumes. I found just the sort of fabric I was looking for to use in two of the three costumes, on sale for half price. Exactly the yardage I needed was all that remained on the bolt.

I walked into a resale store next door looking for a cabinet to store some of my husband's DJ equipment in-- something I could refinish to look decent. I didn't find anything suitable, but I did find two brand-name, never-worn skirts in my size with the original store sales tags still on them, on clearance for 99 cents each.

Later, after dinner, I went to the mall so Isaac could play with the Thomas the Tank Engine tracks at the bookstore. While my husband watched my son play with the trains, I wandered into a favorite store of mine to browse for a birthday gift for my sister. I can't tell you what I bought there, and I can't tell you how much it cost, because my sister knows this URL. But let's just say-- 75% off? Oh, yes. It was so cheap I feel like I have to buy her something else, too!

Yes, the gods of discount shopping were smiling heartily upon me today.

Tomorrow, I am going house shopping.

Shopping gods, do you like cheesecake?

Monday, September 11, 2006

More Beautiful

than anything I might have pushed my tired mind to write today is this quote from my son:

"Icicles are stars crying."

I believe the reason good poetry is so powerful to so many of us adults is that it forces us to think, once more, like a child.

Thursday, September 07, 2006


My electricity just came back on 20 minutes ago after being off for two hours.

Was there a storm? No.

Was it raining in my neighborhood at all? No.

Were there strong winds? No.

Was it so hot today that everyone was running their AC at full blast and the power grid got overloaded? No.

Do I have any effing clue why my power went off for two hours in the middle of the afternoon on a calm, mild, sunny autumn day? Did Ameren give me any information whatsoever about why the electricity was off when I called them?


Did I mention this is the second time my electricity has gone off in the past five days? No. Because I am getting so used to my electricity going off for more than an hour at least once EVERY WEEK that it hardly even seems like a bloggable event anymore.


Oh, that's right-- when my stupid lease ends in January. Assuming I have managed to pull something like $2,000 in closing costs and $5,000 in down payment out of my, um, hat by then.


Sunday, September 03, 2006

They're Going to Get Along Splendidly

"Hey, Cammy!"

"Yes, Isaac?"

"I just had a lovely idea concerning an entertaining use for these nice new Botanical Gardens membership umbrellas our parents received this morning for being such responsible lovers of nature."

"I'm listening! Do tell."

"Let's whack this tree!"

"Oh! What an excellent idea, Isaac! Yes, do let's!"

Two-year-old conversation simulated. No trees were seriously harmed during the making of this blog post.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Cool Water in the Desert

Some recent happenings had me thinking a lot about certain painful events from my past. Last night I found myself up late while the rest of my family slept, looking at journals and letters from years ago.

It's amazing to me how much a life can change over the course of a decade. As I looked back at some of the things I wrote as a teenager, I felt amazed at how vividly I still could remember some things, and how many other things it seems I'd almost completely forgotten. Perhaps, in some cases, chosen to forget.

Last night I also sent an email to an old friend of mine, a person I've known since childhood, who once, before I foolishly let spaces in miles and years come between us, was as close a confidant of mine as any friend I've ever had ever has been.

Once upon a time, in those primitive late 20th century days when email and the internet were still newfangled, I was quite the prolific writer of handwritten letters. In the email I sent last night, asked if my friend still had some letters I'd written by hand almost ten years ago, and, if so, if it wouldn't be to much trouble for me to get some copies in the mail.

I wasn't certain my old friend would still have the letters. In fact, I felt like a bit of an idiot, asking this person I now rarely speak with to find something so obscure.

Today, that friend wrote me an email that said of course the letters had been kept. In chronological order. And of course they would be photocopied, in short order, and of course they would be sent.

And then my friend went on to write a very long email that was so very like the letters and emails we used to exchange years ago when we were still children, so much like some of the very letters I had been reading just last night, that, just for a moment, I felt as if the years of distance and change between us had fallen away.

Just as this friend's letters always used to, this one made me smile despite my troubles, not because it was a happy letter (it really wasn't), but because my friend's words made me feel so very much at home.

And I remembered that there were so many things in my childhood and adolescence that made me very happy right alongside all the things that made me very sad. And reading my old friend's voice, so different and yet so much the same, I remembered that no matter how the events of our lives change us through time, there is a core element to our selves that does not change.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Yes, You're at the Right Place

I was playing around with all sorts of new blog template ideas today. Nifty backgrounds, complicated gadgets and thingies and doodads I needed my husband to translate for me. I futzed. I fiddled. I hemmed. I hawed. I frowned.

And then, suddenly, I thought to myself, hey! Liz at Mom-101 and Rebecca at Girls Gone Child are totally famous. And what template do they use?

Why, the plainest, simplest template Blogger has to offer, that's what.


Heh, heh.

(Am I famous yet? Hmm? No? How about now? Well. At least it looks better than that thing I was using before . . .)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Finding Coral

"Now no matter, child, the name:
Sorrow's springs are the same"
-Gerard Manley Hopkins

I think it was only about the 30th time we'd seen Isaac's favorite movie, when it hit him.

"Mommy, where Coy-al?"

"What, sweetie?"

"What happen Nemo's mommy, Coyal?"


He did say what I thought he just said. Right?


Sure, I'd worried a bit-- okay, more than a bit-- the first couple of times I watched Finding Nemo on DVD with my son, that the sudden disappearance of Nemo's mother Coral (along with, let us not forget, over 399 of Nemo's unhatched brothers and sisters) after the arrival of a menacing, razor-toothed barracuda might, uh, you know, disturb a small child, especially one as discerning, and one as anxious, as Isaac.

But after several viewings of the film with no reaction at all on his part to the tragedy at the beginning, I relaxed. Come on, now. He's just a baby, I thought. He likes to watch the pretty fish swim in the pretty water by the pretty coral reef. He's not analyzing things. He'll probably thinks Nemo's mommy went off to work, or took the eggs to see Grandma, or something, assuming he even thinks about it at all.

After all, he doesn't even know what death is.

So, when, after we'd had the DVD for a couple of months, the question came, I was caught off guard. I panicked. What should I do? What should I say? Should I lie? Should I tell him the truth? How can one possibly explain death, of a PARENT, to a child who is still learning to talk?

In the seconds I had to decide, I settled on evasive half-truth plus diversion.

"Oh, Isaac, that mean fish took Nemo's mommy Coral away. But look! There's Nemo's daddy! Nemo's daddy, Marlin! He just found Nemo in his egg! And what is he saying? He says, 'It's okay. Daddy's got you.' He's going to take good care of Nemo, right?"

"S'okay. Daddy got you," Isaac crooned absently, seeming now unperturbed, transfixed by the pretty colors once more.

I sighed with relief.

But the next time we watched the movie, it happened again:

"Where Coyal?"

"Um . . . "

I repeated my previous performance. Half-truth, diversion. It worked.

It became a ritual, over the next few weeks, every time we watched the movie (which, in case you're wondering, was pretty much once a day, as he almost invariably chose it for his limited daily TV time). He asked, I evaded, he lost interest.

Eventually, he stopped asking. But every time he watched the scene where Marlin finds Nemo alive in the last remaining egg, Isaac chanted, in a queer, sad, empathetic voice, "S'okay. S'okay. Daddy's got you." Occasionally he insisted that I stay near him for the first ten minutes of the film, holding his hand.

It bothered me. I didn't like to see him even upset by something he'd seen on TV, not even this slightly. But still, he loved the movie. I loved the movie, the first time I saw it all the way through (which was with him, at home), enough that I could still tolerate having it on after seeing it a kajillion times (I could even, actually, still laugh at about three of the jokes).

More weeks passed. He fell in love with other, newer DVDs. But these were passing infatuations. Whenever he'd had a bad day, he still wanted Nemo.

And then one day, he seemed particularly agitated as it came on. "Mommy. STAY. HERE!" he commanded quite imperiously when I started to take some dishes into the kitchen. He wrapped his little hand painfully tightly around mine. "Watch," he demanded.

The barracuda came. My tiny son looked me in the eye.

"What happen Nemo's mommy Coyal?" he barked, his gaze penetrating.

"I . . . oh . . . that big mean fish . . .that big fish ate, her, sweetie! He ate her! She's gone! She's dead."

I'd said it. I'd just admitted to my baby boy that mothers can die. They can die, and never come back.

What in the name of all that is innocent had I done?

He paused for a moment, contemplating, maintaining his iron grip on my hand.

Then, "Find Coyal?" he asked, tentatively.

"I don't think Marlin can find Coral, Isaac. You see, she's--"

"Find Coyal."

This time, it was a statement of fact.

"Go look for her," he continued. "Keep looking. Will find Coyal. Look. Maybe look far. Look up in the sky."

(Up in the sky?

Yes, he really said that.

Did I mention we're heathen heaven-doubters, over here?)

And ever since then, my son has been on a quest to find Coral.

When he plays with his Nemo and Dory bath toys, he tells me they're going to find Coral.

When he plays with his Thomas the Tank Engine trains, when they're not helping "Sir Happy Hat," of course, they're off to find Coral.

The Hot Wheels cars, the Little People, and an entire zoo of stuffed animals have been recruited for the search.

"Find Coral," he says, in a hopeful, commanding voice, just tinged with a hint of sadness.

"Oh honey," I said one day in response, "We're all trying to find her. Everyone in the world."

Monday, August 28, 2006

Sooo Tired

Oy . . . will I ever finish that post I keep talking about? Now I feel bad for mentioning it. I really thought I'd have it done and up the very next day when I first mentioned it, and now look at me. I'm such a blog tease. You're all going to start smacking me around at some point. Or maybe you'll come by and spray "BLOG TEASE" on my house in whipped cream.

Today has been a very mentally exhausting day. Husband and I were trying to go over finances and work plans and possible pre-school plans for the boy this morning and I feel like I am just faced with so many important choices over the next several months, and I just can't seem to figure out which choices make the most sense. I feel so immature in the face of so much of my life lately.

When do people actually start feeling like competent, responsible adults? I am beginning to think the answer must be: never. All those people who acted like competent, responsible adults in front of me when I was a child were just putting on a big show to make it seem like they had everything under control, when in reality they were just confused and overwhelmed by life on a regular basis. If I am lucky enough to live to be 100, in my mind, if it still functions at that point at all, I will probably still be about 16.

Then also today we had to deal with an emergency "fix my computer" call from my sister. One of the benefits/hazards of being married to a computer genius is that everyone you know is always calling your husband to come perform CPR on their broken machines. I was actually glad to visit her as I don't see her very often. But the woman has no concept of childproofing. None whatsoever. She and her boyfriend are anthropology students. Who, in their early 20s, have already managed to travel most of the western hemisphere. And filled their house with all sorts of unique art and artifacts from their travels.

Many of which they keep at the eye-level of a child.

So, it was mostly a night of me running around behind an over-stimulated just-back-from-vacation two-year-old, hissing:

"Look with your EYES, not with your HANDS."
"DON'T %*#$*&% #*@#& TOUCH THAT!"

And now, I just want to sleep . . .

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Man Plans, Fate Decides. Woman Gets Stuck Working Her Butt Off Regardless.

So, I didn't finish my aforementioned post yet because my husband told me at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday that he had decided that instead of leaving on Friday morning for our weekend at the family lake house, we would leave around noon on Thursday.

(Because, I mean, I won't care a whit if he totally changes our weekend plans on practically no notice without consulting me beforehand, because I stay home and therefore have no life, and nothing to schedule, right?


Anyway, I had to pack four (not three) days' worth of clothes for three people, pack four (not three) days' worth of food for The Boy Who Only Eats Twenty Things*, and re-pot my wimpy, suddenly-claiming-to-be-rootbound basil plants so they wouldn't die of dehydration while I was gone on Wednesday night, a day earlier than I had originally thought I had to. And then Thursday morning, under a calm, mild, sunny sky, my power went out.

You think I'm joking? No.

It did come back on, but after that I was afraid to turn on anything. So I didn't. And then we left.

However, Husband brought the laptop on our little excursion, and it turns out there is in fact wireless internet access out here on the lake. So, hey, maybe Nature will inspire me, and I'll finish the post sometime this weekend.

I thank my legions of (eight) adoring fans for the encouragement, by the way, but when I say the post is not finished, I mean, not only is it not polished: it has no end. So it would not make sense if I just slapped it up. But I do really appreciate your apparent desire to read even my really bad unfinished writing :)

*Twenty, it must be noted, is a marked improvement over five. Hallowed are the OTs.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Hey There

So, I have been working on a post for about three days now that I have really had trouble finishing.

Lately I feel like my brain is full of bees. Not the productive honey-making kind, either. More like the carpenter bees, that eat holes in things.

I just saved it as a draft for the third time, but I hope to get something actually readable up tomorrow.

Incidentally, Isaac finally got over his fear of losing his balance long enough to learn to climb a ladder yesterday.

And there was much rejoicing over his newfound physical confidence.

And now nothing in my house is safe.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Hot Cross Buns Banana Muffins

Today I was going to post about what a wonderful day Sunday was.

Because, you see, Saturday was a terrible day for me. One of those days where the boy wouldn't eat anything all day, (and wouldn't poop all day, either, after several days of voluntary constipation) and overreacted again and again to a billion seemingly ordinary things, and just seemed generally miserable. One of those days when I found myself feeling less-than-optimistic about his progress so far in overcoming his sensory issues. One of those days spent treading and retreading worn roads in my mind, familiar pathways of blame (Did he inherit this disorder from me? Did I drink too much that one night, before I knew I was pregnant? Did I take the wrong medicine, before I knew? Did I stand too close to a smoker one too many times? Was I too stressed out during pregnancy? Did I work too much? Did I worry too much? Did I not want him enough, before he was born? Did I not hold him enough, after he was born? Was it the surgery on his skull? Did I choose the wrong surgeon? WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME? WHAT DID I DO TO DESERVE THIS???

Me? Hah! What about him? See? There you go selfishly thinking about your own troubles when HE'S the one with the disorder that interferes with nearly every aspect of his life. You're a SELFISH mother. THAT'S what's wrong here. You worthless bitch.

Yeah, Saturday was a bad day.

But Sunday? Sunday, I got my son to try fresh grapes.

And he asked me for more.


(Yes, they were cut into quarters so he wouldn't choke on them, safety police.)

This may not seem so monumental to some of you, dear readers, on first glance, but I have been trying to get this child to eat fresh fruit now, well, let's see, since he was old enough to eat fresh fruit. Which would make it, like, A YEAR AND A HALF. He loves dried fruit, mind you, but for the longest time, he wouldn't eat fresh fruit at all. For months upon months, I've been trying; various pediatric specialists (including Michelle the hallowed OT, may She return from her maternity leave healthy and well-rested posthaste) have been trying.

But so far, what has a small army of adults accomplished? Only this: He will OCCASIONALLY eat sliced apples. Granny Smith or Gala apples, specifically (no substitutions -Mgt).

And each slice must be lightly patted with a paper towel to remove excess juice before he will touch it.

So, this Grape Incident was a HUGE deal. Not only did he just increase his fresh fruit repertoire by 50%-- he did so by volunteering to eat STICKY globes filled with JUICE!

I am convinced that somewhere, angels wept.

Later that day, we took him to a park, and not only did he do all sorts of new climbing tricks on the playground that he'd been scared witless to try just weeks ago-- he also ate the sliced deli ham I packed for him as part of our picnic dinner. He ate the deli ham. Which he has been categorically refusing to eat for three months straight.

And, the icing on the cake?

My husband, who refuses to consume:

green salads
hot drinks
most nuts besides peanuts
anything containing mayonnaise

(And I blame myself for the boy's picky eating? Oh, oh. I know.)

told me the broccoli-cheddar quiche I'd made for our family picnic was "good."

An adjective which the man ordinarily reserves SOLELY for cookies, cheesecake and lasagna.

Holy smokes! What an awesome day, right?

Yeah, so that's what I was going to post about today. In much more touching detail than I just did. With charm and wit, etcetera.

Then, something happened.

And I got angry.

I mean, "You won't like me when I'm angry," angry.

Someone made me angry.

Someone who, incidentally, isn't too fond of, say, asparagus.

Or walnuts.

Dammit, I love walnuts.

So, lacking a doghouse to send him off to, what's an angry housewife to do?

Aha! The same thing angry housewives have done for the past 2000 years, that's what!

I'll drink.

I'll drink . . . I'll drink, and blog!

No, no, no. Wait. That's been done before. I'll do one better than that.

While I make my S.O. put the boy to bed and fold the laundry, I'll drink, and blog, and BAKE!

Let's see . . .

I've got these brownish overripe bananas. Aaaaand . . . some walnuts. Yeah, walnuts.

So, first, I'll down this large, refreshing, brim-full glass of white wine. Last of the bottle. Thanks for leaving that, happy couple friends who came by for dinner Friday night. Okay . . .

Rip off banana peels. Hurl forcefully into trash can. Tear bananas into pieces. Smash bananas. Smash bananas. Smash them some more. Add melted butter, and vanilla, and smash.

Beat eggs. Lightly? Screw that. Beat eggs vigorously. While glaring at them. Add to bananas, and beat some more.

Stupid eggs.

Pour a glass of the claret. Take a sip. A bit sharp, that. What's that? 2004? Pffffft. Too young for my tongue. Heeeeeeeeeeh heh heh. I'm hilarious. But hey, it was free! Them's damned good friends, leavin' two half-full wine bottles behind.

(Did I mention the husband won't drink wine, either? Yeah. I know. Philistine.)

Okey-dokey. Now what? Flour. That's right. Don't forget to substitute a third of a cup of the fancy stone-ground whole wheat. That's my secret ingredient, bitches. Adds body and texture, and stuff. Plus it's healthy. Yeah, I think about health stuff even when I'm baking drunk. WTF?

Okay, I must not actually be drunk yet.

Drink more wine.

Now add white and brown sugar and BEAT--

Holy crap! I almost forgot the baking powder!

Whew! That would have totally sucked. "Angry Woman's Unleavened Banana-Nut Sludge, anyone?" Sheesh. More wine, please.

Now, for the walnuts: I don't have chopped walnuts. I have shelled walnut halves. So what do I do?

Crush each half into smaller pieces with my bare hands, of course.

Crush nuts. Crush nuts.

Hmm, let's put in twice the walnuts called for in the recipe! WALNUT-banana muffins.






Have long conversation with husband.

Who is really, come to think of it, a nice guy.

So, maybe I won't move to Antarctica.

Eat muffins.

Ahh, love.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


Do you all recall my recent weather defiance?

Did you witness as I challenged the skies with my responsible storm preparation, and verbally smacked the proverbial wind bitches down?

Yeah. The weather people, they said it would storm. They said it would storm one day, and it didn't. They said it would storm the next day, and it didn't. They said it would storm again a few days later, and still, it didn't storm.

As the days went on with naught to show for the weather seers' warnings but the occasional ominous but evidently impotent cloud-- no fearsome, power-line-ripping winds, and no rain-- I thought to myself:

Yeah, those wind bitches-- they talk a good game, but when it comes down to a challenge, just look! All bluster and no bite. Nothin' but a load of hot air. The moment one miniscule human dared shake her fist in their general direction, they puffed their gusty butts right out of town. Snap! I think the town should give me a plaque for sending those silly storms on their cranky way.

Then I realized: The wind bitches, those clever, clever wind bitches, with their heavenly ironic wits. They are playing me for a fool.

You see, though it's true we certainly don't need any more dangerous storms here, there is something we do need.

A lot.


Those storms we had that knocked out power to over half a million homes? That for all intents and purposes shut more than half of a major metropolis down? They didn't drop so much rain. Nor, in fact, did they do all that much to break a heat wave that basically lasted through the entire month of July.

And now? Most of the grass around here is dead; it crackles like kindling. Which it is what it would be, actually, for a careless match. Every day, at just about two in the afternoon, my herb garden does its best impression of an overly dramatic southern woman fainting at a funeral.*

Even the trees are drooping.

We are nearly nine inches below normal rainfall for the year at this point, folks. And today, scattered thunderstorms were predicted yet again. Clouds gathered. I set out my candles in anticipation. I turned my computer off.

No dice.

Nature, you mock me.


*Practically half of my herbs are native to the dry, sandy soils of the Mediterranean, for heaven's sake. Yes, I'm talking about you, Sage and Thyme. I'm not buying your "I just can't take the heat" dramarama. But I water you like bunch of weak, wimpy, rootbound Sweet Basil plants anyway, you pansies. No offense to the actual pansies. Which are totally taking the heat like champs, UNLIKE certain other edibles I know.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Thank You, Husband

For teaching our child the phrase:

"My butt got stuck."

Which I am now absolutely certain he will repeat constantly for at least three days.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

I'll Never Go Iceless Again

(Please imagine me saying that in a determined, sultry southern accent for full effect. Not that I sound southern. I'm from the midwest. I sound like the people on TV news programs, only with fuzzier enunciation and inferior gravitas. But let's pretend I can do a southern accent, okay?)

My freezer has seven freezer packs and two bags of ice in it (made from my own freezer ice machine).

My spanking-new 60 qt "Keeps ice frozen for up to five days in 90 degree heat!" cooler has three bags of ice in it (purchased last night when the power went out, just in case it didn't come back on).

I am making more ice with my freezer ice machine as we speak. You know, to offer the neighbors.

And the "possibly severe" weather forecast for tonight/tomorrow?

Bring it, wind bitches.

(Just please please don't knock my house down, because I don't have a basement to cower in, okay? Do you think you could negotiate with the nice wind bitches about that on my behalf, Melissa?)

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Thinking of Investing in a Ham Radio and a Wood Burning Stove

Okay, so, my power went out AGAIN this evening, just as I was finishing cooking dinner on the electric stove (luckily the burners stayed just hot enough just long enough for me to finish cooking). I suppose the power grid got overwhelmed because of so many people turning their AC on full blast to try to counteract today's 101 degree heat?

Anyway, it's back on now, but we have storms forecast later in the week, and I have gotten to the point where I am basically expecting the storms to knock my electricity out.

Which kinda sucks.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Offending the Unwashed Masses is One of My Favorite Pastimes

Puritans be warned: this post may disturb you.

I mean it! If you can't bear the sight of an adorable newborn baby eating contentedly, hit the back button, quick!


Are you still there?



Read my post!


Made me feel like posting an image I never thought I'd publish, and not just because it's embarassingly out-of-focus (although it is):

Take that, nursing-haters. I flash my boob at you! In a grainy filtered out-of-focus photo that shows even less flesh than the one on the cover of BabyTalk, which, incidentally, showed a lot less flesh than one ordinarily might expect to see on the cover of Vogue.

This the one and only photograph I ever took of my son while nursing. It was hidden away on my hard drive, a nameless numbered file in a nameless numbered folder. Left there because I hesitated to put it in with the baby photos to be developed at the store.

I had to look through several folders of photos to find it. But I'd never forgotten taking it. I knew it was there.

Suddenly, seeing those beautiful, contented newborn eyes again, I find myself wishing I had taken more pictures like this one.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

However, I Am Ashamed . . .

That I couldn't hide my frustration with the boy when he refused to try even one bite of the little rolls I made for him out of slices of American cheese and deli-sliced ham. That I had to fight to suppress my anger with him when he wouldn't even hold a miniscule piece of a ham-and-cheese roll in his hand.

He has been known to eat American cheese, frequently. He has been known to eat deli-sliced ham, rarely. He likes the taste of the ham, but doesn't like its slipperiness on his fingers. Which would be why today I, decided to try rolling it in slices of cheese.

Cheese, and ham. Ham, and cheese. Two things he has eaten many times before.

And yet, if I put the two together in a roll, suddenly, apparently, in his mind, I am serving him a suspicious-looking object that is most probably poisoned.

Feeding it to his toy trains and cars didn't help. Unrolling the roll to show him exactly what was in it and how I made it for him didn't help. Eating a bite of the cheese myself, even though it was all covered in ham juice, and I don't eat meat, didn't help.

Even my clever Green-Eggs-and-Ham-based poetic improvisations didn't help. And I am the master of situation-based improvisational motivational children's poetry! The author, after all, of such smash hits as "Here We Go Brushing Isaac's Teeth," and "Even Thomas Trains Have to Go Night Night in their Cozy Box on the Bookshelf."

Heavens, I know this is normal behavior for a child with SI. But even after months of knowing why he acts this way, it is so hard for me to get used to throwing out platefuls of food . . . and still hard for me not to get angry, even when I know it's counterproductive.


I Am Not Ashamed . . .

To admit that I just now chopped a tablespoon of butter off the stick and let my son eat it plain.

Hey, he asked me for it!

Do you think if I can get him to eat a tablespoon of butter with lunch every day for a month he might make it up to the 5th percentile by his next weight check? Hmmm . . .

Monday, July 24, 2006

Stone Soup

Walk through this experience with me:

Your power is out. It's the second time this week. The first time, it was out for less than eight hours. But this time, you hear through the crackle of static on your battery-powered radio, state officials and the electric company are predicting it may be days, maybe even a week, before the power comes back on.

It's hot outside. Wicked hot. And, since you live in an apartment with windows just on one side, without AC it's already starting to seem stuffy in your home even with the windows open to the storm-fresh air, because the air can't circulate in a place with windows on only one side, and you can't use a fan. Because there's no electricity. And because you have so few windows, half of your home is also already dark. Even though it's noon, and the sun is starting to peek through the clouds outside.

But these are not your primary concerns.

No, your primary concern right now is the food in your fridge. The food you just bought, to replace the food you lost when the power went out a few days ago. Maybe it's just a few things, because you feared the power might go off again, but hey, you know, your baby needs fresh milk, and you wanted some cheese, too.

Or maybe it's a lot of food, because, like my neighbor upstairs, your mother and sister lost power in the last storm and never got it back. And now they're staying with you, and you have three households' worth of food crammed into your tiny fridge.

So you need to get ice to put in your fridge to keep that food cold if you're gonna save it. Lots of ice, to last maybe for days. Or you need to call around on your cell phone and try to find someone who has power and has a fridge with space in it so you can take the food there-- if you can get reception that is-- it seems perhaps one of these storms has knocked a transmission tower out, because everyone is having trouble getting a signal-- and then when you do connect, well, what do you know! The network is busy and you still can't get through, because everyone's electricity is out, and they can't use their home phones, so everyone is trying to use the cell phone network at once.

But even if you get through to your friend and your friend has power, you're still gonna need some ice. Ice for the cooler, to keep the food cold in the back of the car during a ride in the heat that you know will be long no matter how far you have to go, because there aren't any traffic lights working, and there are tree limbs and live wires down in the streets, and everyone's in this together here and for the most part they're all trying to be nice, but people are stressed out. It's hot and there's no electricity. So a good many more folks than usual are driving stupid around here, on top of it all.

But, ice? Where to get ice? Because, you see, in the short time your power was back on, you watched the news, and you heard that with so many homes and businesses lacking power, there's an ice shortage. People are following ice delivery trucks as they make their rounds, and dashing out to buy up all the ice as soon as it's delivered to one of the few stores that still has enough electricity to keep it frozen. You hear shell-shocked clerks on your crackly radio saying they sold out of 300 bags of ice in less than ten minutes.

But, you gotta have that ice; it's just the way it is. So you set out anyway, in your car, in the heat, in the traffic, hoping you'll get lucky. But as you leave you notice that your gas gauge is hovering next to empty.

Well, of course it is. Gas is three dollars a gallon, after all-- you'd been waiting to fill your tank, hoping that after the weather improved or people half a world away stopped shooting rockets at each others' babies for a minute, the prices might go down. And the first set of storm knocked out power to so many stations that there were long lines for gas at the stations near you that could still pump anyway. You didn't feel like waiting.

But now you're driving, in crazy stop-and-go, no rules gridlock traffic in the middle of the day, and you realize that the first four stations near your home all have their pumps shut down. No power. You drive through them anyway, to see if they have ice, but they don't, of course-- some have put hastily hand-scrawled signs in the windows reading NO ICE! When you walk into one that hasn't, the clerk points to the empty ice chest and laughs without humor, saying no one has ice anywhere.

You keep driving and pretty soon you see a station with a long line and you know it has power so you get in line. But while you're waiting, the station runs out of gas. The giddy station manager waves you away. You got there too late.

Finally, just when you think you're about to wind up on the side of the road in 95 degree heat with no gas, you find an open station that has enough for everyone. Now it's time to keep looking for ice, but there is none. None anywhere. Three quarters of the grocery and convenience stores you pass in your neighborhood are dark, and those that aren't are sold out of ice. As you check out the stores you realize that not only will you not be able to find ice to save your food unless a miracle happens, you also may not be able to buy new food once the food you have rots. Because the few stores still open are already sold out of almost everything cold.

Many of them are also sold out of batteries, flashlights, weather radios, charcoal, and bottled water. And you might need that bottled water. Because last time the power went out, your neighborhood wound up on a boil order.

But you have an electric stove. So you can't boil water, unless you can manage to build a fire in your backyard.

Some stores are running on generator power, and are only taking cash.

Which you don't have much of, because you usually use your debit card-- everyone does these days-- and it's going to be quite a chore to get more cash, because the nearby ATMs all seem to lack power.

This is the sort of situation the people in my apartment complex were faced with this weekend, when power went out across the complex for the second time. And many more people in blacked-out neighborhoods all over town faced similar difficulties.

A lot of people in my area left on Friday, after the storm, to spend the night in other parts of town that still had lights, fans, air conditioning, grocery stores, gas stations, banks, and pharmacies. I was one of those who left.

But some didn't. Among my neighbors, some had no place to go; their friends and relatives nearby had also lost power; they couldn't afford to stay in one of the very few hotels that still had power and available rooms. Others were wary of leaving their property unattended in a place with no power, worried that thieves might take advantage of the situation if our complex became an unlighted ghost town.

When my family and I returned on Saturday afternoon to check on our home, see if the power was back, and, if it wasn't, try to decide what to do next, this is what I saw:

People were outside, in numbers I'd never seen outside before, in clusters, sitting in shade in lawn chairs and picnic tables that had been pulled to the coolest spots under the leafiest trees.

People with portable grills had brought them out near the tables and chairs. People with charcoal had filled the portable grills and a few stationery grills owned by the complex, and people with matches and lighter fluid had lit them. People with meat that was still good had brought it to cook. People with chips, pretzels, already-popped popcorn, and bottled drinks had brought them out for everyone to share.

People with flashlights and candles were sharing their lights with people who didn't have any. People with working battery-operated radios had brought them out so everyone could listen. Young people fanned elderly people with paper fans. Everyone chatted animatedly, sharing news about where power had already come back on, what the weather forecast was for tomorrow, where someone had been able to get cheap gas, or a bag of ice.

Children ran together, laughing, in the shade, sharing their non-electronic toys and spraying each other with water.

My entire apartment complex had come out of their dark homes and pooled what supplies they had left to share as a group, and the result looked like AN ENORMOUS BLOCK PARTY.

Watching my neighbors help one another, I felt irrationally guilty for having left to stay with relatives the night before.

I have never felt so proud to live in this neighborhood, ever.

From now on, whenever I find myself in a moment of extreme frustration with humanity, I think I'll call up my memory of this past Saturday afternoon.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

15 Things I Love

1.) Cold drinks.

2.) Hot showers.

3.) Clean water.

4.) Lights at night.

6.) Air conditioning.

7.) Clean laundry and dishes, washed in a machine with warm water and soap instead of in a sink with cold water by hand.

8.) Gasoline available at gas stations within a 10 mile radius.

9.) Dairy products available at stores, which have lights on.

10.) Medicine available at drugstores.

11.) Working telephone lines.

12.) Working traffic lights.

13.) The guy at the Metro Mart who, instead of getting annoyed or angry with me when I filled two gargantuan soda cups to the brim with nothing but ice and set them down on the counter with the lids barely on and gave him a look that dared him to chide me for brazenly using a soda machine to get ice instead of soda after hours on the road stopping at station after station trying to find gas for our car and ice for our cooler, smiled at me with genuine sympathy and only charged me 61 cents.

14.) My mother-in-law, who let us spend the night at her place when our power went out for the second time, and told us we could stay there indefinitely until the power came back on.

15.) The local bloggers I've met in person once or not at all who offered to let me and my family stay with them until my power came back on.

I'm lucky to have power again so soon. I'm even luckier to have had the money, the transportation, and the family and friends to make my experience of this situation more an inconvenience than a crisis.

There are still many people in my area who are waiting for help. People who have spent days without air conditioning in extreme heat they are not accustomed to having to endure. People who have lost all the food in their refrigerators, and can't buy more because none of the stores in their area have power. People who have been told to boil all of their drinking water, but have no electricity to heat water with.

I know the electric company has working hard to restore power in my neighborhood, because I see that many homes and businesses that were dark a day ago now have their power back on. But every day this situation persists, danger persists, especially for the elderly, the disabled, and small children.

I truly hope the lights come back on for everyone very soon.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Power Out

A second set of strong storms came through this afternoon and knocked my power out again, and I expect my home is now somewhere near the end of a very loooooong list to have power restored. Earlier today I heard estimates that the two sets of storms have knocked out power to over half a million households (which means over 2 million people) on the west side of the Mississippi alone. Our electric company predicts that it may take up to five days to restore power to most customers. And it is still very, very hot.

I am staying the night tonight with my mother-in-law in Imperial. More on horizontal rain, traffic signs pushed flat to the ground, Mad Max driving on unlighted streets, and 30 minute lines for gasoline when I've got the time.

I am very grateful to have a place to stay for tonight with clean water and air conditioning, but many people in my area are not so fortunate. I have heard very little about this situation on the national news, which I find disturbing.

Let me reiterate: there are OVER TWO MILLION people in my community currently without power, and many without drinkable water, in the middle of a serious heat wave, and conditions may not improve significantly for several days. This is a serious situation in need of national attention.

Not that I have much hope after the utterly reprehensible government response last year's hurricanes down south, which damaged a much larger area much more severely, but hey . . .

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Hell Hath No Fury Like Ma Nature Having a Hot Flash

So, do y'all know it's been hot here?

I mean, HOT?

I am sure you DO know, if you live in the States, because from what I hear, it's been unusually hot across the country lately. But here it's been hot, and humid. Suffocatingly humid. Disgustingly humid. So humid that dew soaks the cars in our apartment complex parking lot every morning as though it had rained.

My city, you see, is at the intersection of two enormous rivers, smack dab in the middle of a prairie flood plain.

As any native St. Louisan will tell you, Hot + Humid summers are our specialty.

But this past week has been even hotter than usual. A week of temps at or above 100 degrees Farenheit. Heat indexes as high as 115.

Okay, okay, dwellers of tropical isles. You may call me on my whine. I permit you. I know it gets just as hot and humid where you live. I know in some places of the world weather like this can last for weeks at a time.

But tell me: does it also get below freezing there in the wintertime? Does it snow? And then invariably sleet the next day, so that there is a treacherous slippery-slick crust of ice on top of the snow that you must punch through with a shovel in order to clear a path from your home?

I thought not.

You see, here in the midwest, even though hot and humid weather comes back every summer, we can't get used this heat. We just can't. Because if we did, then we would be freezing our ample midwestern butts off every winter.

So, we do the only reasonable thing we can. We compromise. We set our internal thermostats at something around 60-70 degrees. And complain about the weather for 6 months out of the year.

But I digress.

It's been hot. Even hotter than it usually gets here in August (and it's only July).

ice-chips-in-the-dark hot.

Fucking hot.

(Only you know, you don't really want to, ahem, because it's too HOT).

And apparently, even the sky itself here felt it was too hot.

Because last night, a strong but fairly normal heat-driven summer thunderstorm popped up on the east side of the river. This was not a predicted thunderstorm. But everyone around here knows the risk of such pop-up storms is high at this time of year. After all, it's hot, and humid.

The storm raged for a while on the east side, causing typical thunderstorm damage. Then it veered southwest, crossing the thick air above the Mississippi.

And suddenly, a typical pop-up thunderstorm became the worst non-tornado storm to hit the St. Louis metro area in years. Packing 80-mile-an-hour straightline winds, it raced into the St. Louis metro before the local television news stations could even put out a severe thunderstorm warning on television.

I know, because I watched from my window as the storm came up. The sky darkened rapidly. The wind whipped up almost instantly, bowing the trees in the green commons area outside my apartment at severe angles, pushing a torrent of leaves and litter through the air.

"Is there a tornado warning or a thunderstorm warning for our area?" I asked my husband, who was watching TV.

He flipped through the channels. There were warnings for Illinois. For us, there was nothing.

Our neighbors began coming out on their balconies, shouting to one another.

"Do you see that?"

"Do you see those clouds?"

"Have you heard anything?"

"I don't hear the sirens!"

"Should I move my car out from under that tree?"

All I could think was, Get back inside, morons. Who needs a warning to know this is serious shit?

And yet I myself stood at my patio door, with nothing but a screen between myself and the coming storm, transfixed.

The power flickered. We turned off our computer. The lights flipped on and off rapidly, and then went out.

The sky turned green. Then yellow, then red. Lightning lit up the clouds. Whole branches ripped from the trees. At first, there was no rain.

The lack of rain made me nervous. Having lived all my life with this kind of storm, I know that when it rains hard, the winds usually aren't so bad.

But lightning and no rain is usually a recipe for strong straight-line winds, hail, or tornadoes.

Then the rain came, in nearly horizontal torrents. And the wind remained. Suddenly, we heard sirens-- not the storm warning sirens, but police sirens. More than a dozen police car sirens, sounding at once-- more than could possibly be responding to a single event.

"Do you think the storm sirens have been knocked out, and they are trying to tell us there's a storm warning by turning all of the police sirens on?" my husband wondered. We had no idea. We had no power. Our battery-operated radio was out of juice, and we didn't have enough replacement batteries. Our cell phones were having trouble connecting. The few friends and family members we had been able to get through to had no information about the storms; they had power, but had heard nothing conclusive on the news about the strength of the storms in our area.

All the while, our son wandered through the house, giggling, waving a flashlight. He'd been frightened at first by the sudden power outage (despite the fact that we lose power regularly here when it rains, he seems frightened at first almost every time), but in minutes he'd decided it was all quite an excellent game. He smiled at the candles we'd lit, calling them "decorations." "Look outside, Mommy! Look, Daddy! Windy!" he kept admonishing us, gleefully.

We tried to keep him corralled in an interior hallway, away from the windows. We don't have a basement.

Oridnarily I am terrified during strong storms because of this fact. Every midwesterner knows that a residence without a basement is a disaster waiting to happen in tornado season. During a tornado, if you don't have a basement, you might as well be taking shelter in a house of cards.

And yet, this storm had come up so quickly, and seemed so unreal, that my customary fear took a backseat to sheer wonder at the sudden ferocity of the skies.

In less than an hour, it was over. Tree branches, leaves, and trash littered the ground, but there were no felled limbs on our car, or on any of our neighbors'. Pieces of siding had ripped off of a nearby building. The power was out for blocks in every direction, and the power company wouldn't answer our calls. But otherwise, it seemed, our neighborhood had escaped major damage.

We used the last of our hot water to give our son a bath and take quick showers ourselves. Then we opened our freezer lightning-quick to get out our carton of ice cream. If our power was going to be off indefinitely, and ther was a fair chance that all of our food in the freezer might melt, I reasoned, at least we could eat our damn ice cream.

So, my husband and I ate fresh sugared strawberries and ice cream by candlelight, all our windows open to the absolute darkness outside to catch any rain-cooled breeze that might come, listening to crickets singing in the uncanny-seeming, natural silence.

All in all, it was actually pretty relaxing. Even romantic.

Our power was restored just after midnight. It wasn't until I turned on the TV early this morning that I realized the extent of the damage to our area.

450,000 households in my area lost power during the storm. Tens of thousands of people are still without power today.

And the weather forcast predicts a high today of at least 101 degrees. The furious storms did nothing, absolutely nothing, to break the heat wave. And tens of thousands of people are today without air conditioning, in 101 degree heat.

There are power lines and felled trees across roads all over town, not to mention a number of intersections without power to the traffic lights, which the local television stations say are snarling traffic.

My entire (large) county is under an indefinite boil order, because our water treatment system was knocked out.

And the winds caused serious property damage all over town, on both sides of the river. Semi trucks were pushed across highways. Trains were pushed off their tracks. The airport apparently had a piece of its roof blown off.

We are told to expect more storms tonight. I really, truly hope they're nothing like yesterday's.

Edited to add: If any of my local blogger or RL friends are without power at home but are reading this because you have managed to get temporary internet access at work or something, you are welcome to hang at my place in the AC this afternoon/evening. Drop me a comment here or send me an email at stellafitzgerald AT I'll be checking. My apartment is tiny and there are no guarantees my power won't go out again if it rains tonight, of course. But I offer what I have.