Archive for the 'Who Knew?' Category


cancer, depression, and (looking for) the light at the end of the tunnel

So according to the National Cancer Institute, depression is “a comorbid disabling syndrome that affects approximately 15-25% of cancer patients.”

Also, apparently, women are more likely to experience depression than men, especially in the transitional period between pre- and post-menopause.

I can’t help but wonder what the percentages are of menopausal women with cancer. Sounds like a lot of really sad women.

I did just get my blood work back from the medical oncologist visit on Monday. At which I cried, more on that in a minute. Apparently I am post-menopausal. Who knew?

Does probably explain the subsiding of the hot flashes even though I’ve stopped HRT, the weight gain over the past couple of years, the moodiness, the lack of interest in….well, just about anything. (Phew! That was close!)

So here I sit, with a breast cancer diagnosis and the best possible prognosis. These details include:

  • Estrogen and progesterone positive—100% and 70%, respectively—which means that my good friend The Tumor, (whom I have named Bobba Fett), had every available surface covered with little seats in which estrogen could rest its weary head and on which the tumor could feed; 70% of it was also receptive to progesterone. This characteristic makes it very vulnerable to blocking those hormones in the body. And apparently it would seem that I’m almost out of them anyway, but not so much so that I won’t have to take Tamoxifen or, more likely given my hormone status, Aromatase Inhibitors, for 5-10 years. And AIs sound like a lot of fun, with side effects like joint pain, loss of bone density, weight gain (yeah, I really need that), vaginal dryness, carpal tunnel syndrome (great for a pianist), increased blood pressure, and mood swings (cuz I’m not having enough of those already).
  • HER2 negative. HER2 is a protein in some breast cancer tumors that seems to make the tumor more aggressive, both faster growing and more likely to spread. HER2 negative means no chemo.
  • Lymph nodes negative—no indication that Bobba Fett has tried to set up little colonies elsewhere in my body, although that is always held out to be possible.
  • Negative genetics for any kind of cancer that is currently identifiable through genetic testing
  • OncoDX score of 17 (out of 100)-–which means it is in the “low-risk” category for spreading, albeit still an 11% chance. Husband likes to point out that that indicates an 89% chance that it won’t spread, but somehow that’s not really where the mind goes. At least not mine.

Apprently once cancer is detected it has been in the body for many, many years; little sneaky sleeper cells lurking around with tiny little time bombs strapped to their  backs.


And most people think that this “best possible prognosis” would mean that I was walking on cloud 9, surround by sunshine, chirping birds, and harp music.

But I’m not.

When I posited the theory that maybe I should be to my medical oncologist earlier this week (right before the tears started) she scoffed, and said, “Pah! It’s still a prognosis, and nobody wants one of those.” The recognition of that, and a prescription for a teeny-tiny bit of Lexapro, has made a big difference.
My bullshit tolerance meter is set to zero. But maybe that’s not necessarily a bad thing (equivocation, anyone?)

But I do apologize if I’ve “yelled” at you in anyway in the past few weeks — verbally, via email, or even in my head. I sincerely hope, at some point in the not-too-distant future, that the

sign stops blinking in my head and leaves room for other things. Until then, be well, be safe, get your mammogram, and if somebody snaps at you for no apparent reason, remember, they might have something really shitty going on in their lives right now, and they’re probably really really sorry.



You’ve got to be monkey-flipping kidding me.

Kind of makes you wonder if the scientists involved (all male, I’m sure) were getting a kickback from the feminine-sanitary-products industry.




The Trajectory of the Republican Party

In the comments below, please insert the image of what you think the GOP will present next  by which to screw us over I mean to serve the American people.

My best guess:

A mad pile of poo


I think that word doesn’t mean what you think it means


Me, on facebook, yesterday.


Something lighter

For those of you tired of soap that lies.


Who knew?


An interesting theory

Posed by someone who shall remain nameless. Okay it was me. Upon further thought, it seems somewhat unlikely, but have been pondering it as a possibility over the past 24 hours: That women voted for Trump because they actually don’t feel entitled to having control over their own bodies, finances, lives. That they too would welcome an opportunity to return to the good old days, when men were men and women did the dishes, couldn’t actually be “raped,” since their bodies didn’t actually belong to them, and would give birth to as many children as were “given” to them and be back in their size 4 peg-leg-jeans within 5 weeks of birth.
Still awaiting that explanation I was looking for in my last post …. Somebody? Anybody?


Inquiring minds want to know

So, as many of you can probably imagine, especially if you’ve been “here” for a while, I consider myself a pretty-far-to-the-left liberal. Certainly not a communist, and definitely a proponent of working really hard to do as much as you can for your self, your income, your family, and your society. I feel a great deal of responsibility given that I have, by comparison to the rest of the world, been given an awful lot of advantages. Never rich by the 1% standards, or even the 10% standards, but always with a roof over my head and three meals a day and sufficient clothing and access to doctors and dentists and access to a decent education–an education that extended to a doctorate degree, and which I worked very hard to pay for, and to benefit from.

I also realize that we aren’t all born on third base; some of us not even on first. That the land of every ‘man’ being created equal refers to opportunity (or at least it should) and not to advantage or privilege; and that “equal opportunity” is still just a pipe dream. And that society does better when we all do well.

As a teacher, I have witnessed some disturbing trends. Most notable is one that cropped up actually several years ago: the idea that everybody has to respect everybody else’s opinion. It doesn’t even have to be based in fact, and we’re all supposed to respect it. 


I’m not even sure I agree with the right of everyone to have an opinion. If I know nothing about something, I’m doing myself and the rest of the world a favor by keeping my mouth shut about it.

If only this standard could be applied to voting. You have to pass a series of tests to get a driver’s license; why not to vote? Maybe we should have to pass a basic civics test and demonstrate our ability to recognize fact from opinion, and truth from fantasy. I recently saw a post on facebook where someone was expressing gratitude that the Republicans were on the verge of repealing Obamacare, which was, according to this person, an “absolute disaster,” and boy was he relieved that he had his insurance through the Affordable Care Act instead!!!

And while we’re at it, how about we remove the gratuitous blessing of America, and the platitudes that don’t mean anything.

Make America Great Again


Was there something wrong with 20 million people having health care, 4.+ a little unemployment, and the fact that people could commit legally to each other no matter what their gender? Or maybe it’s the debacle of having women in control of their own bodies and reproductive choices.

Let’s all go back to the 50s? The Dark Ages? When men were men and women were women and racial minorities knew their place.


So here’s the thing. I’m actually curious if someone who voted for Trump could explain, in a rational and objective way, why. If you comment and say something like “He’ll make America great again.” Or “Cuz Hillary’s a liar” I’m just going to delete it. I need to understand IF there is anyone out there who thought about this rationally WHY they would choose to vote for this person.




Husband, Only Daughter and I will go to Brazil for four months, leaving March 2.

I have started a new blog:, (120 days south of the borders), to chronicle our adventures.

I expect to continue posting here, as well, but my focus may shift a bit as I attempt to chronicle our travels, my teaching (and learning), our explorations of South American cuisine, etc. etc.

Any recommendations re: places to visit, foods to eat (or avoid), etc. would be extremely welcome!


Didn’t know this was possible.

© 2016 United Parcel Service of America, Inc. UPS, the UPS brandmark, and the color brown are trademarks of United Parcel Service of America, Inc. All rights reserved.


Letting go of s#!t is hard

Have spent a large chunk of time over the past few days cleaning up piles and papers and organizing desks and drawers and cupboards, etc.

Finding myself also in need of shedding the burden of some observations I’ve been carrying around for awhile. Feel free to forward this on to anyone for whom one or more of them seems to speak to directly. I may do the same.

A new category: You Might Not Know This, but…

For example: 

  • You might not know this, but the reason some people don’t say “hello” in a loud and cheerful voice every time they walk into the office is because a secretary in a previous office may have sent everyone an email once, pointing out how busy she is, and how distracting it was for her to have to stop work and exchange greetings with every person who walks in, and could everyone please limit their casual conversations with others perhaps to a different area of the building; so maybe they’re just trying to be considerate.
  • You might not know this, but the day you said “Hell-O” in a very pointed way, I had already said hello, very quietly, so as not to interrupt people at their work.
  • You might not know this, but misspelling or omitting names of participants in programs or brochures or during the official “thank-yous” might make them feel their contribution is insignificant, or cause them to wonder why they work so hard to be so professional and conscientious all the time when so much of what they do will be attributed to someone else, or to no one at all.
  • You might not know this, but I had decided not to charge you for the recital we performed together, but when you sent me a copy of the publicity with your name in size 36 font and your 5×7 picture and your bio and made no mention of a pianist, no less no mention of me, I realized that you did not see us as collaborators and equal contributors, but rather that you were the soloist and I was the hired help, so charging seemed like the logical thing to do.
  • You might not know this, but forbidding an active, full investment from someone with whom you are “collaborating” (in scare quotes, since, if you’re not encouraging an active, full investment, it’s not actually a collaboration at all, is it?) will not only make them feel small, but will prevent you from learning anything from them, and may actually interfere with your own goals, as chances are they have ideas worth at least considering.
  • You might not know this, but in rehearsal, when a collaborator says “we’re not together” it might mean that you actually miscounted and came in wrong, and maybe they were being polite, and considerate of your feelings. And, in case this is not obvious, firing them on facebook is kind of a shitty thing to do. 
  • You might not know this, but the look on my face at that meeting was not impatience or animosity toward you for holding the meeting, but sheer embarrassment on your behalf that other people’s actions had made the meeting necessary.
  • You might not know this, but some people may not insert themselves into conversations or invite themselves along to social gatherings because they were taught not to intrude on others’ conversations, or to invite themselves, and does not necessarily imply a lack of desire for personal interaction or connection; and it may even be possible that your lack of welcome and inclusion had as much to do with a lack of connection as anything else you might want to blame.
  • You might not know this, but it’s not appropriate to pay someone half a salary, or hire them to work 15 hours a week, and expect them to make a 100% commitment. You wouldn’t do it, I can’t for the life of me why you would expect someone else to.
  • You might not know this, but people may not agree with how you choose to do your job, share your ideas (or not), gossip, post on facebook, manage your relationships, or even how to be. But realize that, as they show you respect in allowing you to make those choices for yourself, they probably long for the same respect to be shown in return.
  • You might not know this, but allowing the person who was hired to do the job actually do the job might actually lead to more consistent and professional results than if you encourage your spouse, who has no training or expertise in the area, to express opinions and influence on how the job should be done. Likewise if you replace “spouse” with “person who writes the huge checks every year as a donation to save the organization when yet again the deficit budget fails to miraculously convert itself into a surplus.”
  • You might not know this, but calling to yell at someone about a blog post you hadn’t even read hurts the writer’s feelings tremendously, maybe even more so if the writer was advocating for someone close to you. These feelings may continue to reverberate, including creating a hesitancy to write anything at all, and a lack of trust in your fundamental relationship, which is regrettable for all concerned.
  • You might not know this, but people who feel deeply and are always striving to improve are not necessarily pessimistic, but may in fact be exceedingly optimistic, but find their optimism harder and harder to act on, given the responses this optimism has met in the past. 

I think everyone should read Jonathan Safran Foer’s “Here We Aren’t, So Quickly” (New Yorker, June 14 & 21, 2010) and pick which sentence best describes them. I used to think it was “You were too injured by things that happened in the distant past for anything to be effortless in the present” but now I think it’s “I was never indifferent to the children of strangers, just frustrated by my own unrelenting optimism.” 

Tomorrow: the linen closet.
P.s. An opportunity for catharsis for you, dear readers, in the comments section: You might not know this, but…

Or maybe a sub-sub-category for parents: …the dishes don’t put themselves away, …the cupboards don’t wipe themselves, …lights don’t turn themselves off, …sometimes it’s nice to do something just because you know it needs to be done not because somebody asked you, …it’s more polite to ask if there’s anything you can do to help with dinner than to ask what is for dinner, or what time it will be served, …the laundry is not actually done by the laundry fairy, …


oh, THAT’s what I’m doing

better pay

Getting them jobs.

I thought I was teaching them stuff.



what’s wrong with this picture?

Ann Taylor Loft

Marisa fit — for women who are shaped like women

“Perfect fit if hips are proportionate to your waist.”



I can’t even look at them. It hurts my eyes.






God’s plan

You know how, when something tragic happens, there are always people who tell you, presumably to be Comforting, that “it is all part of God’s plan.”

Second Son sent me this today, thinking I might find it amusing.

I did.

Very, very amusing.





What the 1% don’t want the rest of us to know

And it’s not just that they make a wholehelluvalot more money than we do.

It’s not too early to start our own Progressive movement.

Firstly, we all need to stop protecting the rights of the 1% just in case that clever gadget we thought of and are going to get around to getting a patent for as soon as we have time ends up becoming the Thneed That Everyone Needs and earns us a bajillion dollars that we want to make sure we can hand down to Junior, even though by then he’ll be spoiled and entitled and lazy.

Secondly, we need to realize that there are worse things than a social safety net. Actually, we need to realize that the benefits of the social safety net make society better for everyone — whether we “need” it or not (we do), it helps us.

I wish people would talk more specifically about the literal costs to us caused by our relatively low tax rates — pay to “play” (sports, drama, music, chemistry class),  constantly deteriorating roads and the resulting depreciation of our vehicles; medical costs despite having what would be considered by many to be enviable health care ($1,100+ for each of Only Daughter’s 2 CAT scans this summer; $385 for Second Son’s cavities filled — and this is WITH dental insurance), college tuition — $7,605 per year, average public university in US in 2010; $4,524 in Canada; in France you can expect to pay an average of €452 per year — yeah, that’s right, €452 (that’s around $585) for MEDICAL SCHOOL.

(I actually love it when people compare us to France, making France sound like such an awful alternative. Yeah, there are all those vacation days and maternity leaves and universal health care; I TOTALLY see what the problem is. And that’s not even taking into account the wine and cheese.)

Anyway, these two will say it way better than I do.



finally, a diagnosis

After years of suspecting this, I have finally received a name/diagnosis for a persistent problem I’ve been struggling with. Here’s the PSA that explains the condition, and will hopefully share enlightenment and understanding both for those who suffer from it and for those who love (or misunderstand) them.

If you need a pin:


this week’s ridiculousness

“Toni Braxton Says God Gave Her Son Autism Because She Got an Abortion”

Yeah, that seems fair.


“Teacher Fired For Getting Dating Advice From Her Fourth Grade Class”

Best comment ever: OMG She was just crowdsourcing.





First: Which one of these is supposedly “ugly”?

Second: Stop. Just, stop.


Caw caw.



Hard to take it seriously when it’s mostly about crows.


the best Christmas presents for 2013


Sounds great. Merry Christmas to both of us. AAAAaaaaaahhhhhhhh!

Okay, nvm.

cathouse mat

Cathouse: def

Wonder how Tracy feels about this.

chandelier canvas

Weird. Creepy. Ugly. and Stupid. It’s a four-fer!


Why wait any longer? Do what you’ve dreamed about for years: learn to play an instrument you love. Each set of 12 DVDs includes 18-22 hours of clear, easyto- follow instruction, tips, tricks, and secrets from expert musicians and teachers. (“Piano” features Scott Houston, Emmy®-winning host of the PBS series “The Piano Guy.”) You’ll start playing immediately, learn to play your favorite songs and different styles, even compose your own music-and save thousands of dollars on lessons.

Feeling. Suddenly. Superfluous.



Cuz love’s a contest and I win.

So there.


a new kind of blueberry

Second Son’s birthday is today.

The tradition is that your favorite meal and favorite dessert are prepared for you as per your request.

For dessert he wanted, and I quote: “Sugary, really bad for you blueberry pie with at least a stick of butter and none of that whole wheat, organic, free-range blueberry crap.”

Can’t you just picture the little blueberries, running free, frolicking in the sunshine?

I had no idea.


as if Van Gogh’s woolly balls weren’t enough, updated

More of this week’s ridiculousness:

Amber&FitchI will show this to my daughter. And then we will not shop there anymore. Ever. I will buy the A&F stuff she already has from her and burn it in the fire pit in the back yard. WE DON’T NEED MORE OF THIS!

Update: As if this isn’t offensive enough, here’s what the top of  the abc website page hosting a video clip denouncing this offensive statement* looks like:

Yeah, that helps.

Yeah, that helps.

So while the commentators show their support for all of the non-cool by being (appropriately) righteously indignant, the ad next to, and almost as big as, the video screen tells about the show that will teach us how to “live well” be “being and feeling beautiful.”



And then there’s this foolishness:


Wow. Contraception leads to all that. I must have been using the wrong kind FOR 20 YEARS.

This from a website called “One More Soul,” (not linking to it. won’t do it. find it yourself if you must, but I will not be privy to such heinous acts) dedicated to “Fostering God’s Plan for Love, Chastity, Marriage, and Children.

Trying to take a quick glance without looking at it directly, so as to avoid retching, raging, and/or breaking out in hives, I did notice one particularly insightful headline:

Abortion, Contraception Consequences on Display in Gosnell’s ‘house of horrors’


Because what EVERY SINGLE FERTILE WOMAN ON THE PLANET, actually, no, what every single person on this planet needs is necessarily AS MANY CHILDREN AS POSSIBLE.

Does anybody else notice that one of the symptoms of “Sexual Chaos” is the implementation of artificial reproductive technologies? So ya’ll listen and listen good — no sex unless you want to make babies, but if God doesn’t think you’re suitable parenting material heinhisinfiniteandunknowablewisdom will deny this blessing, and you are absolutely forbidden from doing anything about it, because, despite the fact that you believe it will bring you great joy, support a strong family life, and contribute to a long, stable marriage, it actually leads to individualism, hedonism, selfishness, and lust.

Oh, and there’s an article discouraging immunizations for children, supported by their step-by-step bastardization of an article published in JAMA.

Ugh. now I’ve looked at it directly, and must go wash my eyes out with oil of newt and kill a couple of kittens or some unsuspecting old person.

*In the abc news clip, they interview a “plus size” model — she’s probably 5’11” and maybe weighs 125 pounds. Puh-lease.


so THAT’s how they do math in Canadia

[Walking to our car from a hockey game.]

Me:  Brrrrrrshivershivershiverbrrrrrrrrshivershivershiverbrrrrrrrr. . .

Husband: What are you doing?

Me: I’m cold. It’s got to be in the single digits. It feels like my head’s going to explode.

Husband: What are you talking about? It’s 14˚ at the coldest; a nice, balmy, Canadian winter day

Me: Yeah, all true, except for that it’s definitely colder than 14˚, it’s anything but balmy, and we’re not in Canada.

Husband: We’ll see what the car shows for the temperature.

Me: Yeah, except it’s in a heated garage, so no pointing at it in the first 5 seconds and gloating.

[Arrive at car. Get into car. Start car. Handy little temperature indicator says it’s 43˚ out. Husband points and gloats. I ignore him.]

[Drive a few miles. Temperature drops. 38˚ 32˚ 27˚ 18˚ 14˚. Husband points. I give him the universal sign for “Just wait a minute.”

This one.

This one.

Not this one.

Not this one.

Temperature stops at 10˚. I point. Husband mutters: Your car’s wrong.]

Me: Okay, maybe not 8˚, but I was still closer than you were.

Husband: Yeah, one degree closer.

Me: I said it was 8˚, you said it was 14˚, how is 10 one degree closer? Is this how you do math in Canadia? (He loves it when I call it Canadia.)

Husband: It’s about how you figure out, not whether the answer is right or not.

Only Daughter [in back seat][did I mention Only Daughter was with us?] It’s dropped to 9!

Husband: Okay, now you’re one and a half degrees closer.

Me: What?

[Temperature drops to 7˚]

Me: Okay, NOW who’s closer?

Husband: I’m on a horse.

(It seems weird that we were at a hockey game last night, but Only Daughter’s youth choir was singing the national anthem, and we were still in town until this morning, and I think Dad would want us to keep on living, and laughing. Not sure how he would have felt about the gaps in Husband’s logic — even Only Daughter wanted to know what Husband being on a horse had to do with anything, especially since, clearly, he was not.)


Pretension, 2013


As opposed to from where every other winery procures its “winegrapes.”

(Autocorrect just tried to change “winegrapes” to “winger apes.” Yet another clue to the word’s ridiculousness.)

Happy New Year!!!


Who knew?



there but for the grace of music lessons go

Only Daughter had her first “orchestra concert” tonight. She actually asked me not to go. She took some violin lessons as younger youngster, and feels that the exertions of the 6th grade ensemble are, in a way, beneath her.

I went anyway.

(As a pointed aside, they’re not. Beneath her, that is. She had 5 teachers in 4 years because they kept moving away or graduating from college or taking so many out-of-town gigs she would have one lesson a month so she learned 1/4 what she should have, and absolutely nothing about how to read music much less how to understand what she was hearing.)

The orchestra did a fine job, all things considered. It was noted that there were approximately 75 musicians “on stage” and approximately 65 versions of any given note at any given time, but what’s a person to do?

One of the directors stood up at the end to thank all of the parents for going that extra mile (really? it’s “extra” now? shouldn’t it just be part of what everyone should be expected to do if they want to be a living, breathing, feeling member of the universe?) to support their children’s efforts to learn to play a musical instrument.

Okay, fine. Thanks are good. I’m fine. Really, I am.

Then he talks about the benefits — to the brain, to the person, to society, to the importance of students learning to communicate that which cannot be said in words; I start to think, okay, so he’s not a total doofus. But no, I “forgave” him too soon.

Wait for it. . .

“Maybe if more children learn to be thinking, feeling members of society, fewer of them would be flying airplanes into buildings.”

Oh. I had no idea. If only the terrorists had had music lessons.






it’s always so nice to be appreciated

Samuel Snoek-Brown has graciously nominated me for a Blogger Reader Appreciation Award. While this, like the Versatile Blogger award, and many others, is one of those awards that we bloggers use to pat each other on the back, I just don’t think there’s enough of that going around generally speaking, so I’m going to take this pat on the back thankyouverymuch, and pass it on.

(Like Kendall at thisisnotthatblog said on Twitter one day — this day needs more high fives.)

He acknowledged my blog by saying it was “Snark done right,” and I had a moment of pause where I thought, Really? Snarky? But yeah, I’ll admit it; I can be a little snarky. At least, despite the fact that this might be a blatant display of self-indulgence and/or bad manners, well, at least I’m executing correctly. He also finished off the compliment with this:

“The posts here almost always crack me up. This is snark done right, people. But when they don’t crack me up, it’s because blogger “sheriji” has said something numbingly profound. Seriously, I love this blog.”

Wow. Numbingly profound. That has to be one of the nicest things anyone has ever said.

To accept the award, I have to follow these rules:

1.  When I pass it on, I provide a link to his post, and thank the blogger who nominated me.

Thanks Samuel!!!

2.  Answer 10 questions within my own blog.

My Favorite Color

All of them. Seriously. This is not a cop-out. Which color I “prefer” depends on the day or my mood or whether it’s something I want to paint on my walls (really deep, interesting colors, or a sunny Tuscan yellow), wear (autumn colors, browns, forest greens, gray, burgundy), or drink coffee out of it (red, or blue, or lime green, or purple, or. . . you get the idea). Plus did you hear that 75% of people prefer blue? So that pretty much rules that one out. . .

My favorite animal to include in a story?

I’ve never written a story with an animal in it, but my favorite animal in a story is the Porcupine named Fluffy. Just because Porcupines. Aren’t. Fluffy.

If I had to write an animal in a story, it would have to be a giraffe or a rhinocerous. Puppy dogs and bears get way too much press already, and I’m always rooting for the underdog (see My Favorite Color).

My favorite non-alcoholic drink while writing?

(Buzzkill.)(Literally) Fine. Coffee. I do love coffee.

Printed books or e-books?

I can’t decide. I love the convenience of e-books and that I can “buy” a sample of every book I ever read a good review of so that I don’t forget about them when it’s time to actually buy a book, but I won’t take my tablet to the beach or in the tub, and it’s not as much fun to mark up and I certainly can’t share it with my Husband because then we’re both wanting the tablet at the same time, so not all that convenient I guess.

Harrumph. Do I have to choose?

My favorite writer(s) now?

I can’t get enough of Merwin, Jane Kenyon, or Dorianne Laux for poetry. I just loved Light in August (Faulkner), but find a lot of his fiction quite challenging. Was really sad when Penelope Lively’s Moon Tiger was all read to the end. Am always watching for Safran-Foer to publish another book, and read every story by Alice Munro the moment I see it.

Your favorite writer(s) ten years ago?

Can’t remember back that far. I do know that there are never enough good books in a stack next to my bed for me to read, so please recommend recommend recommend!

Your favorite poet Classic & Current?

Ooh, I answered that one already. Merwin, Kenyon, Laux; and, of course, Shakespeare.

Your favorite time of day to write?

When I don’t feel like I’m ignoring/neglecting anybody else to do so. Depends completely on the circumstances of the day.

What is your passion when it comes to your writing?

It’s funny, I had decided not to read S S-B’s answers so as not to be influenced (besides being kind of bummed that he stole my favorite color answer), but what he wrote really struck home with me. Especially: “I’ve discovered I’m obsessed with home and community. Not really with domestic life or human society, but with the ways in which home becomes the greatest source of conflict and why people so often fail to connect with each other and yet keep trying, desperately reaching out for one another with the same hands they use to push people away.”

I started the blog because I wanted to talk to people, no, I wanted to talk with people. (I love the comments, and the conversations I get into with other bloggers [sorry oldblack, I think I hijacked “Anne” just a wee bit].)  I find that if I make a conscious effort to read other blogs, and the newspaper, and keep up with my New Yorker’s, etc., etc., I have a lot more to think about and a lot more to say. I, too, am always looking for connection. Facebook and Twitter just wasn’t doing it for me because there wasn’t enough room to really write something, to really say something. I’m also always looking for the right thing to say so I can figure out what I actually think or feel. It’s probably a very inefficient way to communicate with myself forcryingoutloud, but there it is. The fact that there are almost 200 of you out there who have signed up to read this stuff regularly is just fun. It does help me feel like maybe, just maybe, I’m okay too.

3.  Nominate other blogs that I find a joy to read. (Ten is recommended, but I’m going to go with the presumption that the joy part is more important than the number, so I may have fewer, I may have more.)

4.  Provide links to these nominated blogs and kindly let the recipients know that they have been nominated.

Redamancy Lit — quotes beautiful writing in all forms. Am sad when she’s gone for stretches now and then.

This is Not That Blog — Short and sweet, often more about the pictures than the words, but Kendall puts things in such a particular way that it not only must be me, but makes me laugh out loud almost every single time. I only wish she posted more often.

Rage Against the Minivan — I don’t always agree with her, although I usually do; but she writes about stuff, and posts writings by other writers, that always gives me something to think about. We need more bloggers like this — issues regarding women, families, raising children, society and its influences both good and bad, etc. etc. Great stuff.

(Sidebar: I was just going through the list of blogs I read regularly and I got completely sidetracked by Louis CK. Here:


Misfits Miscellany — poems. A couple of them mine, but most not, because that would be weird, and well, impossible, and then it would just be my blog.

Quieter Elephant — a little bit of this, and a little bit of that, but all about life and our reactions to it. Plus I always want to know, quieter than what?

Oldblack — he doesn’t post real often, and the posts are usually pretty short, and he claims to be both dark AND boring, but he is very interested in the conversation, so I find myself checking in with him regularly, and he with me. Listens with his head, and his heart.

5.  Include the award logo within your own blog post.

Can I follow instructions or what?



now that’s true leadership

“You hope for some degree of stability, but you recognize this is going to remain an unsolved problem,” adding, “And we kick the ball down the field and hope that ultimately somehow, something will happen to resolve it.”

Just as I thought.
Cluelessness, Powerlessness, Idea-less-ness as the latest campaign “strategy.” Who knew?
He has earned his inclusion in “Palinschmerz” — a category that includes all politicians who embody blatant idiocy on and off the political stage. Nice of him to do some of Obama’s campaigning for him.


Okay, on everything but that


Never thought I’d think there was something which would not taste better with bacon…but maybe…


wouldn’t have thought this would be that much of a problem

Guess you just never know.


one of the darker sides of technology

In a report on this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland from the March 5 New Yorker:

There’s a software firm by the name of Tibco, based in Silicon Valley, which has generated data-sorting software for companies such as Amazon, FedEx, Goldman Sachs, eBay airlines, and the Department of Homeland Security. They have also designed a program for Harrah’s, the well-known casino, which “can figure out when a gambler is about to encounter a loss of such magnitude that it will cause him to leave the casino and perhaps never come back. The casino’s Luck Ambassadors [I’m not making this up] will then offer the gambler a free meal or a ticket to a show. . .and distract the gambler long enough to entice him to return later, to continue losing money in palatable increments.”

Well, at least it’s palatable.



so much for those delusions (of grandeur)

Just discovered that there’s a website called “alexa” that can track the traffic to your blog, so I thought I’d go see what I could see.

Here’s what I saw:



How many blogs do you think there are out there, anyway?

It also showed this graph:


(I’m including the category “Blatant Self Promotion.” Is that ironic?) (Or just sarcastic?)



“Clarity” Paintings by Jason de Graaf

“Clarity” Paintings by Jason de Graaf.

Really stunning paintings that you won’t believe aren’t photographs. Thanks artstormer!


so we should be happy, then

Yes, we should. Congratulations to Ms. Kilburn. I’m sure she’ll do a wonderful job.

But pardon me if I pour a little cynicism into the soup by posing two questions:

First of all, why is this the first female band conductor hired by a prestigious academy that has been operating for 50 years, an offshoot of an arts camp founded in the 1920s?

Secondly, (pointing out again that I don’t disagree that we should all celebrate these milestones), it still angers me that these ARE milestones, and that they warrant celebration.



Should it be exciting to see women moving into the “men’s” areas of the arts? For decades it was considered appropriate for women to play the piano (as long as it was only a “little”; it was not, appropriate for her to be “too good” or to seem to care “too much” or to try “too hard”). It was also acceptable for her to sing, and to study musicology. Eventually it was even expected that women interested in music as a career would be a piano or voice teacher, or study music education and teach in an elementary school.

It was NOT considered suitable for a woman to do something so vulgar as to play as a brass or woodwind instrument, nor strings (especially not a cello, as the sitting/instrument placement position would be unseemly at best.) Nor was it seemly for a woman to be a composer. Felix Mendelssohn claimed that his sister Fanny was a much better composer than he was, and valued her opinions and input regarding all of his musical compositions; but she was not “allowed” to published her own.  Clara Schumann was a concert pianist, but her “career” really took off after Robert’s hospitalization and then death from mental illness, probably because it was considered absolutely necessary for her to pursue this career in order support her family. When Gustav and Alma Mahler began their relationship, Gustav wrote her a letter, telling her that he was looking for a wife, not a colleague, and that it would only make things complicated if they were both to pursue careers as composers (can you imagine?). Amy Beach willingly gave up her performance career at the request of her new husband, and became Mrs. Henry Harris Aubrey Walker Beach.

A woman should certainly NOT be so presumptuous as to place herself at the front of an ensemble and tell the musicians, some of whom one could expect would be men, what to do and when or how to do it.

This from a blog post with the headline "Why Most Women Managers Are Bossy." The post is written by a man. Big surprise.


Just in case you think I’m being paranoid, let’s look at some numbers:

At the college where I teach there are eight full-time faculty plus the director. Two of them are women — the head of the piano area, and the head of the theory/composition area. Less than 25%.

At the college where my husband teaches women constitute 3 of 8 brass faculty, 1 of 7 piano faculty, 1 of 7 string faculty (harp), 3 of 7 woodwinds, 1 of 8 conductors (choral), 1 of 6 music theory, and 3 of 6 music education.

This is 10 out of the listed 49 full-time positions. 20%. This is shameful. Granted I haven’t included voice which is 3 and 3, or composition, which is 0 for 4. Hmmmm. Not really helping.

Just to pick another large school in my state with a reputable music program, let’s look at the numbers at the University of Michigan:  All ten conductors are male; two of the eleven jazz faculty are women, although five of the six music education professors are women (see?); two of fourteen full-time positions in percussion/winds/brass are held by women. Six of fourteen music theorists are women, so that’s pretty good, but really?

If we omit the music education professors, we have 10 out of 39. Still around 25%

I believe I pointed out in a previous post that even most of the VISITING performers to the Interlochen Visiting Artists concerts are men.

How can this be?

If you look around in a piano studio or a school band or orchestra or choir, or even at the most prestigious arts camps like Interlochen, the majority of the students are women.

Where do they go?

And why isn’t anybody else noticing, or doing something about it?

Oh, yeah. We’re celebrating.

I forgot.

Guess I was too caught up in my domestic tasks and my pre-menstrual/perimenopausal mood swings to notice.









I wonder, if I had read this 20 years ago. . .

I posted a link to which quoted part of this article on my facebook page. A friend pointed me to the entire article. I feel the need to quote it below — and wonder, if I had read it 20 years ago if I would have recognized its truth, and done much of it differently. Probably not, because I probably thought I was doing it that way at the time. I’m probably still not.

One of life’s persistent challenges, I guess.

Nevertheless. . .

Anna Quindlen on Motherhood

Anna Quindlen on Motherhood

All my babies are gone now. I say this not in sorrow but in disbelief. I take great satisfaction in what I have today: three almost adults, two taller than I am, one closing in fast. Three people who read the same books I do and have learned not to be afraid of disagreeing with me in their opinion of them, who sometimes tell vulgar jokes that make me laugh until I choke and cry, who need razor blades and shower gel and privacy, who want to keep their doors closed more than I like. Who, miraculously, go to the bathroom, zip up their jackets and move food from plate to mouth all by themselves.

Like the trick soap I bought for the bathroom with a rubber ducky at its center, the baby is buried deep within each, barely discernible except through the unreliable haze of the past.

Everything in all the books I once pored over is finished for me now. Penelope Leach., T. Berry Brazelton., Dr. Spock. The ones on sibling rivalry and sleeping through the night and early-childhood education, all grown obsolete. Along with “Goodnight Moon” and “Where the Wild Things Are,” they are battered, spotted, well used. But I suspect that if you flipped the pages dust would rise like memories. What those books taught me, finally, and what the women on the playground taught me, and the well-meaning relations –what they taught me was that they couldn’t really teach me very much at all.

Raising children is presented at first as a true-false test, then becomes multiple choice, until finally, far along, you realize that it is an endless essay. No one knows anything. (emphasis mine) One child responds well to positive reinforcement, another can be managed only with a stern voice and a timeout. One boy is toilet trained at 3, his brother at 2. When my first child was born, parents were told to put baby to bed on his belly so that he would not choke on his own spit-up. By the time my last arrived, babies were put down on their backs because of research on sudden infant death syndrome. To a new parent this ever-shifting certainty is terrifying, and then soothing. Eventually you must learn to trust yourself. Eventually the research will follow.

I remember 15 years ago poring over one of Dr. Brazelton’s wonderful books on child development, in which he describes three different sorts of infants: average, quiet, and active. I was looking for a sub-quiet codicil for an 18-month-old who did not walk. Was there something wrong with his fat little legs? Was there something wrong with his tiny little mind? Was he developmentally delayed, physically challenged? Was I insane? Last year he went to China. Next year he goes to college. He can talk just fine. He can walk, too.

Every part of raising children is humbling, too. Believe me, mistakes were made. They have all been enshrined in the Remember-When-Mom-Did Hall of Fame. The outbursts, the temper tantrums, the bad language – mine, not theirs. The times the baby fell off the bed. The times I arrived late for preschool pickup. The nightmare sleepover. The horrible summer camp. The day when the youngest came barreling out of the classroom with a 98 on her
geography test, and I responded, What did you get wrong? (She insisted I include that.) The time I ordered food at the McDonald’s drive-through speaker and then drove away without picking it up from the window. (They all insisted I include that.) I did not allow them to watch the Simpsons for the first two seasons. What was I thinking?

But the biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while doing this. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of the three of them sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages 6, 4 and 1. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less.

Even today I’m not sure what worked and what didn’t, what was me and what was simply life. When they were very small, I suppose I thought someday they would become who they were because of what I’d done. Now I suspect they simply grew into their true selves because they demanded in a thousand ways that I back off and let them be. The books said to be relaxed and I was often tense, matter-of-fact and I was sometimes over the top. And look how it all turned out. I wound up with the three people I like best in the world, who have done more than anyone to excavate my essential humanity.

That’s what the books never told me. I was bound and determined to learn from the experts. It just took me a while to figure out who the experts were.


unforeseen consequences

"Nutrition" Information per Twinkie





This might be a problem for Hostess, but it can’t possibly be a problem for anyone else.



instead of what I should be doing. . .

Which is getting my act together to start another college semester tomorrow, what I’m doing is thanking Quieter Elephant for, and humbling accepting, his* nomination for The Versatile Blogger award.

I suppose I “qualify” because I write about just about everything. Here I always feared that this just revealed me to be a jack-of-all-trades-master-at-none, at best, or, at worst, a scatter-brain. Who knew that this meant I was  “versatile”? Versatile’s good, right?

So now I get to face the challenge of figuring out how to display this lovely badge on my site (little help from any of you techies out there?), and to follow the “rules”  — although I am reassured that there are no “blogging police” out there, I am, if nothing else, a rule-follower, so here goes.

The Rules: 

1. Thank the award-giver and link back to them in your post.

2. Share 7 things about yourself.

3. Pass this award along to 15 or 20. (This is going to be difficult for me, despite my claim to be a rule-follower. I barely have time to keep up with writing on my own, and don’t think I even read 15 or 20 blogs. I’m going to count on the reassurances of not being policed, and recommend only those I know well enough to do so with integrity.)

4. Contact your chosen bloggers to let them know about the award.

Seven Things About Me

1. I tried, one year at Thanksgiving, when one of my sisters was asking what we were thankful for, to be thankful for cheese. She thought I was kidding. I wasn’t. I love food — good food, healthful food, interesting food, strongly-flavored food, and even better if this delicious food is being served with interesting wines. You will often find on this blog recipes or reports of our latest delicious creations. I also think that the four food groups (I know, it’s a pyramid now, but work with me) should be cheese, chocolate, wine, and coffee. Somehow I can’t see that going over, although, if you have those four, I’m pretty sure the rest of the good stuff works its way in somehow.

2. I want to be loved, admired, respected. I often joke that, as the 6th of 8 children, I have a tremendous need for external validation, and nothing pleases me more than any form of being patted on the head (“Me! Me! Pay attention to me!). This award definitely qualifies, so, again, thank you! Unfortunately, sometimes this means I talk too loud, say too much, and cry too often (when I feel I’m being overlooked or undervalued).

3. I’m three years into my second marriage, to the man of my dreams. I was married before for nearly 20 years, to a very kind, good man with whom I had very little in common and therefore virtually nothing to talk about. The wresting away, with the fear of hurt to my children, was the most difficult thing I have ever done. My husband, (known to you as Husband,) is everything I ever wanted in a husband — besides the fact that he cooks, does laundry, shops, insists on making my coffee every morning — he’s my best friend, lover and favorite companion (I hope this doesn’t embarrass him).

4. I wish I could live at least ten different lives. I want to write, paint, make sculptures in my garage and collages out of photos and stones and scraps of paper, take pictures, travel, be a surgeon, fly a plane. I want to be a tall black woman with fabulous hair, a nerdy scientist who finds the cure for cancer. I want to read every great book ever written, watch every great movie ever made. There just can’t be enough time in one life to do all that I want to do.

5. I’m perpetually conflicted. While I feel all of the things above, I feel the need to work countless hours at work I’m not always sure is what I want to do anymore, and I don’t always take as good of care of myself as someone who wants to live 300 years should.

6. Wow. I’m at 6 already. I didn’t think I’d get this far.

7. I love writing on this blog. I find myself thinking about this more than I think about anything else I “do.” I wish I could make a living at it.

Blogs I recommend

Misfits Miscellany: this and that for all things literary

Blog con Queso: many ways of looking at the world and being a woman

Running in Circles: don’t we all?

This is not that Blog: So funny! Makes me want to go out and get a digital drawing pad, even though I can’t draw

Mocha Momma: Love her!

Treacle Talks:  Her banner reads “planning to get sauced on life’s juice: stumbling her way to getting there.” Exactly!

Mannered Gold: Her banner reads “Mumbling with enthusiasm; typing with inflection.” Exactly! (Again; is it okay if I say that twice?)

Roger Ebert’s Blog: You might think it’s just going to be about movies, but it’s about so much more.

The Bloggess: She’s probably already nominated, and won, but she’s funny, irreverent, generous, and real. My favorite combination. I wish she lived next door so she could be my neighbor/best friend that my husband worried about when we went out together at night.

On to my next task.

Thanks for reading!

*I assume it’s a “he” because what woman would name her blog after an elephant?



Fascinating: extremely interesting or charming : captivating

Barbara Walters’s list of the 10 most fascinating people of 2011:

American Reality Royalty the Kardashian family, Simon Cowell, stars of television’s hit comedy “Modern Family” Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet, MLB star and New York Yankees Captain Derek Jeter, American business tycoon/author/television personality Donald Trump, pop singing sensation Katy Perry, and quite possibly the most famous sister in the world — Pippa Middleton.

Um, no.

Modern Family I’ll give her, because it’s television, and she probably has some kind of quote for having to have so many TV people, and it’s not the worst show in the world.

New York Yankees Captain Derek Jeter because he’s actually a good athlete, and not the worst role model in the world.

But the rest of them? Ugh. Nothing remotely interesting. Exactly the opposite, actually.

You mean like which of the Kardashian’s supposedly has the biggest behind? How snarky/not snarky is Simon these days? What’s up with The Donald’s hair? What would Katy Perry do/be if she actually could sing? And Pippa? What’s her claim to being interesting? being Kate’s sister? Bet she loves that distinction, as we all have throughout eternity. (“Oh, you’re _________’s sister/daughter/mother/friend!” Can’t I just be me?)

I don’t even know if I can come up with 10 for 2011. Maybe that’s the problem — she has so little to work with.

1. The Sand Dancer guy I posted about yesterday.

2. Leo DiCaprio

3. Julien Barnes

4. Christopher Hitchens (can I nominate someone posthumously?)

5. Jude Law

6. Melinda Gates?

7. Amanda Palmer?

8. Theo Jansen



Little help?


who knew fashion was so important at the age of 10?

Only Daughter went through her daily fashion crisis this morning. I don’t remember it being this big of a deal how I dressed when I was ten, but I guess I was wearing uniforms to school until I was in high school (good Catholic girl that I was), so the only choice in the matter was what color shorts we wore under our skirts so we could play soccer and climb trees and not be made fun of by the boys. Even the color of our socks was regimented.

Anyway, this is obviously a big deal to her, and I would like to be more sympathetic, but the logical part of me wants to point out that 1. she’s only 10 and 2. aren’t there more important things to worry about, like eating breakfast and packing a decent lunch and making sure she put her homework in her backpack and maybe taking the dog out to pee?

I guess not.

The specifics vary, but the crises can usually be categorized into one of two groups:

1. This outfit was made for a 10 year old (and she’d rather look 20).

2. This shirt/jacket is too “baggy.”

The solution to each problem is, in order:

1. Wear big loud flashy jewelry or the sparkliest scarf she can find

2. Rubber band the shirt into a big knot in the back, cinch the waist with a belt, and/or tuck the bottom 1/3 of the jacket up underneath itself so it looks like a shrug, never mind if the jacket is made of denim or filled with down.

When she comes and asks how it looks, and it usually looks either chronologically inappropriate, or ridiculous, I feel the need, out of concern for honesty, to tell her what I think, no matter how hard it may be for her to hear. Inevitably she stomps off in a huff with a toss of her hair over her shoulder and a lot of muttering as she goes off to find something else. Often my suggestion is simple, such as “remove that rubber band from the back of your shirt, you look like you’re growing a tail,” or “you really shouldn’t wear a tank top, a sweater, a jacket, AND a belt, plus you’re going to need a coat. . .”

. . .and yet it requires a complete wardrobe change.

After 25 minutes of trying to look like Tavi

this morning, she came back out in jeans and a tie-dye sweatshirt.


week 4, but who’s counting?

Many interesting things have been learned in the past few weeks.

Dexter would like to share some of them with you:

1. Sniffing nonchalantly all around the kitchen as a decoy from the true destination — the cat’s food dish — has not been entirely effective. Thinking in a Mr. Magoo voice “What, I’m just wandering around, and just happen to be over here by the cat’s food, but that doesn’t mean anything” doesn’t seem to help either.

2. They still want me to pee outside, even when it’s raining. This seems unreasonable, and I would like to appeal, but I’m not sure of the proper channels, nor that my case would be heard with impartial minds. The cat seems to think I’m a Philistine, but I’m too frightened by all those stairs to see where it is she goes, which leads me to

3. The cat seems to think I’m a Philistine, which reeks of discrimination, and to resent the fact that I “get” to go outside, while she seems to have earned some type of privileged status, of which she does not seem to be the least bit grateful. She stays in the warm comfort of home, and to add insult to injury, gets to eat whenever she bloody well feels like it, whereas I have to wait for The Superior Beings to deign to put my food dish down for what seems like, like 10 seconds? This does not, on the whole, seem to be fair. I would present this argument, but imagine there might be a pithy, meaningless response such as “life’s not fair,” and no meaningful action taken. One must choose how one spends one’s energy, after all.

4. The cat also does not like to “play.” I don’t understand this. I’m nothing if not a barrel of monkeys. I prance, I jump, I prowl, I chase things around the kitchen and bite at their legs. This is “fun.” She, on the other hand, only minces around the kitchen on her dainty little paws, and yowls and hisses at the slightest provocation, and seems particularly perturbed when I try to initiate the bite-her-legs game while she is eating from her omnipresent cat dish. On second thought, perhaps she just does not like to have her meals interrupted. I will try again tomorrow.

5.  There are yummy things to be found out in the greenery out by the back fence (near where the “hammock” whatevertheheckthatis used to be), and under the deck. I can’t understand why my owners are so distressed when I try to bring bits of these things into the house, nor what they mean when they say I have “dog breath” and “might end up with worms,” or perchance need to have something called “greenies.” Note to self: research this at the first opportunity. I think they might be overreacting.

6. They give me these stick things I like to chew, (Yum!), but they won’t stay in my crate. I need either solid walls, or opposable thumbs.  I also need to learn how to spell opposable.

7. I hate to keep returning to this peeing thing, but sometimes, when I pee outside, I get a treat, and sometimes I only get pats and cheers. This inconsistency is confusing. Does anyone know if something could be done about this? I also like to pee and poo where I choose, and having to be on this thing called a “leash” is really messing up my mojo. Even if I run over to the neighbor’s yard, I’ll come back, eventually. What’s the worry?

Finally, here’s a clip of a humiliating moment from this morning. The things I do to make these people happy.

Dancing Dexter, kind of


almost a whole day. . .

Had taken a vow of electronic silence, but a couple things have come up today that I just can’t resist posting about.

First: Truth In Labeling










Good to know.

This made me curious, so I looked a little further:










Sheesh. Are we really this stupid?


In an “are we really this stupid”-related story, I ran across this article in last Sunday’s New York Times, about a woman and what she wore day by day as she went through her week. Apparently she’s quite wealthy, and philanthropic, and stylish, so, as my husband posits, we’re supposed to care.

Is this, really, “All the News That’s Fit to Print”? Or maybe, just a little more.


We decided that this was a good day to take Dexter for a walk. He does pretty well with his leash when we take him out to go “potty,” and we took him for a short walk yesterday, and after a little resistance he had trotted along quite happily. Not so today. By the time we realized that he really was quite overwhelmed and was not going to take a step of his own free will he had damaged the bottom of 3 of his 4 little paws, and is limping around all gingerly and pathetic. I feel absolutely terrible, but I’m also a little irritated, because his feet seem to feel fine enough when he wants to sniff the wheelbarrow, chew branches, and chase his purple monkey around the kitchen, but are apparently too sore for him to bear the leaves and stones when we take him out to pee. Does it say something about me that I’m always quite convinced that I’m being manipulated by a 10-week old puppy who looks like a cross between an Ewok and a baby polar bear? (Cynical, party of one.)

Anyway, the guilt is almost more than I can bear. I’m a terrible person.

But I still don’t care what Muffie wore, or to wear she wore it.






Black Tuesday

This is getting ridiculous.

Black Friday is now Black Thursday evening, and my husband saw people camped out in tents, on concrete LAST night outside a Best Buy.


Maybe it’s some kind of a joke.

Apparently this started like 12 days ago.

Didn’t the whole “Black Friday” thing originate as something to do on a long holiday weekend when you just couldn’t force yourself to eat yet another turkey sandwich or have another raving argument conversation with your über-conservative brother-in-law? What about Thanksgiving? You know, friends, family, dry white meat, dressing that the kids will complain about (is that celery?), cooking a meal for 6 hours that takes everyone 10 minutes to eat, nobody wanting to do the dishes?

Brad Tuttle, writing for Time, suggests that perhaps Best Buy is paying them.

I guess that makes sense.

I think it all just makes us look that much more greedy and materialistic.

We refused on principle by buying our new TV yesterday.*  That’ll show ’em.

* (the 2nd Olevia died a couple months ago — anybody know how I can get a piece of some class action lawsuit against this terrible company?)

And for your enjoyment, in honor of this family-based holiday: Ze Frank on Scrabble


guess which is which

On my way to bed last night I fetched my phone from wherever I had left it and noticed I had 2 text messages, one from each son, each away at their respective colleges.

Guess which is from “First” and which is “Second”

Text message A:  How do you make those baked home fries so delicious?

Text message B:  Guess who has ibs?


I’d offer a prize for the winner, but it’s a) just too obvious and b) I’m broke.

Ah, parenthood. Who knew it would be this much fun?




sugarsugar followup

Decided, in the interests of research and my obligation to provide as complete of a story as my schedule will allow, and to follow up on my last post. I just went to the website.

I find some of the publicity particularly interesting/thought provoking.

Let’s start here: is for generous men looking to spoil, and dynamic women looking for financial support with bills, or who just need some excitement in life! Started by a real sugar baby, only accepts true, proven sugar daddies and sugar babies, and provides a staff of sugar dating experts to help you find the perfect mutually beneficial arrangement.

Okay, so obviously this hasn’t been written by an English major (big surprise). “. . .generous men looking to spoil. . .” like old fruit left in the back of the fridge?

“. . . and dynamic women looking for financial support. . .”

And this isn’t prostitution because?

And I wonder what criteria are used to qualify as a “proven” sugar daddy or sugar baby. Maybe I don’t want to know.

Then there’s:

Men: join the only dating site where women outnumber you by 8-to-1.

One has to wonder why a man would require that kind of odds. Call me cynical, just don’t call me late for dinner

And then the icing on the cake:

Also, I’ve got room for another Sugar Baby around Scottsdale, AZ, who’d be interested in accompanying me on big nights out on the town. If you’re interested, you can email me personally at, or, of course, find me on the site.

My first question is what kind of self-respecting woman signs up to be “another,” the local attraction, so-to-speak, like people who have several houses and have to keep a wardrobe of clothes in each closet. But maybe I’m asking the wrong question by including “self-respecting” in it in the first place.

I can think of a lot of accomplishments that might bring me satisfaction and pride: writing a novel, winning the Nobel Prize, having emotionally strong and personally successful children, beating my husband at Scrabble or tennis. Being a “Sugar Baby” is certainly not one of them.

Now I imagine a lot of these “Sugar Babies” are fun, energetic, cheerful, attractive women, (I sincerely doubt they make the “cut” if they’re not), maybe without a lot of prospects in terms of intelligence, education, professional opportunities, (I speculate, of course; my apologies if I’m stereotyping or offending anyone), who have decided that their best route to financial security is to find a wealthy man to marry. Kind of a Pretty Woman for the internet age. (Absolutely dreadful movie, btw, DREADFUL. Julia Roberts should be ashamed and/or embarrassed. As should Richard Gere, for that matter. Sheesh.)

Here is a clip of some of the SugarBabies for sale who are available.

I guess if it doesn’t work out, they could get a job at Hooters.

Reminds me of a story my husband tells.

A friend of his is at a Blood Drive to donate blood. As you may know, this generous act requires the potential donor to fill out a questionnaire about his health, and a survey inquiring as to whether he has participated in any questionable behaviors which might lead to blood-borne diseases.

Interviewer: “Have you ever paid for sex?”

Friend: “Does jewelry count?”


But seriously.

Have we really come to this?

So again, in the interests of research, I decided to investigate who they might suggest for me.

The first page included 9 “SugarDaddy” prospects. Three of them declared their worth at less than $50000, occupations included prep cook, student, wood finisher, and party DJ.

According to “Angelena,” becoming a SugarBaby can bring you an allowance of $3,000-$5,000 per month. I’m guessing that figure varies.

I’d ask where the SugarMommies are, but that seems, on many levels, to be a stupid question.

Never mind.



I can honestly say I had no idea.

Husband says: “Didn’t think of that, did you?”

I snort.

As if.


do I even want to know. . .?

“Representative Michele Bachmann’s law education sought to combine traditional teaching with charismatic Christian belief.

. . .where she got this “law” degree from?

Ummm, no.


Crap. Curiosity got the better of me, and I’ve now discovered that her study of law was pursued at the venerable institution of, you probably guessed it, Oral Roberts University.

Our Father, Who Art in Heaven, Deliver us from Michele Bachman

Here’s a quote from the school’s dean at the time of her matriculation:

The aim. . .was to train the next generation of legal minds to “integrate their Christian faith into their chosen profession,” and to “restore law to its historic roots in the Bible.”

Hmmm. Is it just me, or does that sound an awful lot like the goals of Islam.

Apparently, at a forum last month in South Carolina, she criticized President Obama’s policies on health care, immigration and education as unconstitutional, saying the 2012 election would turn on how candidates interpret “’that sacred document.’”

The constitution? “Sacred”?

So much for the separation of church and state.

Even if I think I know what I think she thinks she means, the use of the word in this context makes me cringe. Oh, let’s face it, she just makes me cringe. Maybe it’s just me, but I’d like ANY candidates for presidency who are supported by more than 5 people in this country not to be stark-raving idiots.

We can all be comforted by the fact that the school ran out of money and closed in 1986.

At least there’s that, then.

Finally:  “Oral Roberts University was chartered in 1963 as an educational home for charismatic Christians, and placed a particular emphasis on the Spirit-given ability to speak in tongues.”

Oh! That’s what she’s doing!!! Why didn’t somebody tell me? At least that makes sense.


breaking nobody’s records but my own

Just noticed this today on my blog stats.

Not winning me any awards, or generating any advertising or anything, and maybe, as my husband would say, small beer, for some of you, but kind of fun to me.

Thanks for reading!





Had a wonderful morning this morning; yoga, several cups of espresso, long blog post (travelogue). Topped it off with bacon and eggs, and then dashed out the door because I’d dinked around too long to do my dishes. I did fill the pan with water to help it “soak,” one of the handiest dish-washing techniques known to man.

This is what was waiting for me when I got home:



This can’t be what’s happening inside my body right now, can it? Is there an antidote? (Besides red wine, it’s only 2 p.m.!?)

I mean, look:

Doesn't the one on the right look an awful lot like it's been stuffed with bacon fat?

I know the first picture is blurry. It’s too disgusting. I can’t make myself take another picture.

Does it make it any better that I was a good girl and drank my Metamucil first?

Kashi Go-Lean for me tomorrow. And I really have to start doing my dishes right away. That would all look so much better if I’d run the stuff down the sink.




so much for that

So, in the past week I have had about a 4-day midlife crisis, followed by the discovery of Amanda Palmer’s “In My Mind” song and video, which triggered 2 days of feeling pretty goddamn good about myself; a feeling which involved various vows and “realizations” such as “If you want to weigh less you just need to exercise more and eat fewer potato chips” and “It’s really all up to you, and what you do or don’t do is actually a choice in any particular direction.”

So I tackled the piles of crap on my table and did all of my grading and cleaned off my dresser (okay, I was looking for an iPod cord that I still haven’t found, but I did clean off the dresser; I’m really tired of being “someone who loses things”) and captured all of the dust bunnies in the living room and dug out my list of topics I’ve wanted to blog about, including:

an NPR report on the adverse effects on children’s attention spans from watching SpongeBob SquarePants (who knew?) and the benefit of watching shows like Sesame Street (which my more-than-the-average-boy-ADD son could not tolerate) and Caillou (whiny bald child; helicopter and apparently-unemployed parents)


there’s some activity in the direction of taxing sugar in sugary drinks and snacks in an effort to turn back the trend which points toward 1 in 3 children being diabetic and 1 in 2 adults being obese by the year 2030 (how about we also get rid of all the excess sugar in even the most minimally-processed foods like yogurt and “healthy” cereals and granola bars, and spaghetti sauce; while we’re at it, how about NO MSG ANYWHERE!!!???!!!)


how great it felt to do yoga this morning, including side planks and a pretty long headstand (against the wall, but still) and a kick-ass Pincha Mayurasana preparation pose that I love, where you’re on your forearms with your heels against the wall and you walk your feet up the wall until your body makes an upside-down L and you stay there feeling abdominal and arm muscles you had forgotten you had

(someday I will do this, just like that, without the wall and everything!)


there’s evidence that, contrary to popular (and my occasional) opinion, adolescent brains aren’t actually “damaged,” they just evaluate risk against benefit differently, and because the “benefits” they are evaluating are relatively elusive and/or unimportant to most adults, this evaluation still ends up leading to what looks an awful lot like risky behavior.

I even have a probably-not-that-profound-or-unusual revelation that I should stop evaluating my successes and/or failures in terms of what I have or have not accomplished, but in the fact that I have never stopped wanting to learn and challenge myself and grow — that life might actually be more in the seeking than it is in the finding (I know, duh, right?)

And then I go try on clothes to wear to a wedding we’re going to this weekend. And not one of my “dressy dresses” fits.

Of course everything in my husband’s closet still fits — he has suits he bought in the 80s, that, if you overlook the excessive shoulder padding and plethora of pleats, (ah, the 80s), still look pretty darn good. And, they fit him. This isn’t fair. Yeah, he eats way more healthfully than I do, and he exercises vigorously and regularly, and drinks gallons of water every day, and all of this only makes me feel worse because I know what I need to do and I still don’t do it. Okay, so maybe it is fair.

I’ll spare you all the saga of weight lost and found again, and a recounting of each outfit tried on and rejected, although maintaining a certain level of stress, or living and working outside in cold climates (fishermen, Norway) can produce “brown fat,” which reputedly increases metabolic rates. Don’t think I haven’t considered it.

"Think we should head back?"

The discussion about the “shapewear” I was hoping would help was amusing, basically Husband asking me “Is this ‘Spanx’?” and me answering (in between gasps as I tried to breathe while being suffocated by my underwear), “Yeah, but it doesn’t seem to be working very well.”

It is interesting to me what a blathering idiot we can turn into when we feel, as I put it, “old and lumpy.”

I’m also trying to spare myself the 5-year plans, and to remember that not only must we live in the moment (there isn’t really any other option), but that the bitterest irony of all is to look back and realize the person you weren’t happy with being was actually the best version of you you could be at the time.

So, let’s keep it simple: more time on the treadmill, more yoga, more water, fewer potato chips.

A couple of questions, though:

Is it bad to decide to feel good about how you look because the person you love the best loves how you look? Isn’t this supposed to come from yourself first?

Would I look ridiculous if I got a tattoo? I want a little swoosh of stars around my ankle. Maybe something like this.

But I never, ever, want to look ridiculous.

Oh, and tomorrow, I might be shopping for a dress.


marketing makes the world go ’round

Did anyone else notice this at the US Open?

An undesirable urge between Games to go out and buy a Mercedes?

Branding, branding everywhere.

The latest: on college campuses. The two noted culprits in a recent NY Times article: American Eagle and Target.

University of North Carolina vice chancellor Winston B. Crisp, commenting on the clothing retailer American Eagle paying people to wear company T-shirts and to “volunteer” to help freshman move into their dorm rooms : “They are not supposed to be using the opportunity to help people move in as a way of forwarding commercial ventures.” This spoken while he’s STANDING NEAR THE CASH REGISTERS AT TARGET while upperclassmen hand out free Vitamin Water and miscellaneous snacks to students who have been BUSED IN FOR FREE  to  a university-sponsored midnight “event” at a local Target store.

One presumes he spoke without irony, although the reporter of the article doesn’t weigh in on that.

In one of the most blatant examples of spin I’ve heard recently, employees such as T-shirt clad movers are referred to as “brand ambassadors.” There are also such jobs available for companies such as HP, where part of your job is to plant yourself in a prominent location with your HP laptop and engage those around you in casual conversation, while working in positive references to your hardware computer equipment.

(Phew. Glad I caught that. For a minute there I sounded like I was talking about Ladies’ Night at the local pub. Or was I. . .?)

And then we have what might be one of the most stupidest naive people left on the planet:  “When you know that the company is not just there to get your money, they’re actually willing to, like, help you as an individual in whatever way possible, it makes you respect them a lot more. . . I’m definitely going to give American Eagle, like, a second thought when I go by next time.” This spoken by 20-year old Kiley Pontrelli, who volunteered along with her sorority to help the American Eagle employees help freshman move in.

Yeah, you’re probably right, Kiley. AE just wants to, like, help.


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