Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Que paso` ?

For the last year, driving in to work, we pass a large pasture with 8 beautiful palomino horses and one llama. The pasture is part mud and part grass and is by the highway. The horses all cluster together, apparently a close-knit group. The llama stands (or sits) alone. The horses look all shiny and happy and well adjusted. The llama looks disgruntled and cranky. Definitely an outcast, either by default as it is not tan and blond, or by choice as it prefers its own company, while it muses on Kant and the decline of the Andean novel, to that of the horses, no doubt discussing the latest Cosmo poll and the new fashion height for hooves. Pink hoof polish being so passe. It does not need to be said that the horses can be found standing in the grass while the llama sits in the mud, head held high and turned away from the horses.

Except for today. Today, the horses were standing in the mud, although still looking chic, obviously making the best of a bad situation, slumming it, if you will. The llama was sitting in the grass, in the sun, looking completely smug. So my burning question is: What happened?


Monday, March 28, 2005

The Mean Reds

OK, what the hell is this? Here I sit ready to compose a new blog entry in which I wax lyrical about Easter and chocolate and the kick-ass (or at least ass widening) cinnamon rolls I made for breakfast, yesterday. Yet, I can't do it.

I have landed in the middle of an anxiety attack and want to crawl out of my skin or crawl under a desk. I used to get these, shall we say "frequently", if by frequently you mean at least 5 days out of 7, for many years. I used to track the severity of them on the desk calendar in my office, just to feel like I was doing something. I gave them a number, 1-10. For months and months I rated each day, looking for some sort of pattern: caffeine, donuts, call, hormones, whether the cat was in a snit (doesn't count, she always was). The only thing that correlated was work, especially being on call. Huh. Go figure. A highly stressful 60-80 hour a week job with the joys of at least one night a week on call would worsen anxiety. Sometimes I even amaze myself with my self-awareness.

Magically, with the move east and settling in with a new, much less stressful job, with no call, and not even a pager, the episodes have culled themselves down to about 2-3 times a year. So this is one of the times. I am actually starting to come down already, so don't spare a thought of concern. By the time you read this, I will be back to my even-keeled self and wondering if I should even have posted this, but I think I won't delete it. Sometimes it is good to have a reminder of how good you have it. And why you will never, ever go back there again.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled piffle.

Yes, the kidlets had a fun candy-gorging day of no nutritional value. For the first time in 5 Easters here, it not only didn't snow, it was warm and sunny! As both Charles and Lilian (my mother-in-law) were home, that meant I got to do what my heart desired, which was to completely clean out the front flower beds. IN A T-SHIRT! No coat. No sweatshirt. For 3 heavenly hours, until my back let it be known that was enough. I found a colony of crocus ready to bloom in the next day or so hiding behind some old sedum heads, googles of daffodils looking like they are set to bloom next week and tulips that will probably pop the week after. Treasure. Under the dead foliage of the perennials are purple or green new-foliage noses. The lilacs and cherry tree have bud swellings. The rhubarb is starting to poke up. I nearly burst into song. Really and truly. Something Rogers and Hammerstein, I am sure. And, lastly, I trotted out to the herb garden and snipped a handful of fresh thyme for the onions I was roasting, crossing the grass in my bare feet, with wet hair. How I live on the edge.

Ladies and gentlemen, I do believe it is spring! Nearly! Another few days of this and the snow will all be gone, at least the old stuff, and no new snow in the forecast for at least a week.

Tra la, tra la, tra la. Better now.

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Wednesday, March 23, 2005


Last night, I dreamed I was eating very small bananas. They were about 4 inches long but tasted like regular bananas. I didn't particularly want them, either.

I think even my dreams want a vacation.

Anyone going any place interesting? Can I live vicariously through you?

I am awaiting approval for a medical conference in the exotic locale of Northern Michigan in mid June. I seriously think there is something wrong with me. I could have chosen a conference in New Orleans. Or Montreal. Or San Francisco. Or Hawaii. What is with that?

Oh, yeah, I remember, I have 2 kids and my beloved husband hates to fly. So Michigan it is and I will cash in the "let's get on a plane and fly" chips next summer. By then I will have forgotten what happened our last flight, from Minneapolis to Portland, when Sara, aged 7 months, would only stop sobbing if I sang a song I made up called "Where is Sara?" over and over in her ear. For 4 solid hours. What made it especially maddening was that the airlines had messed up our reservations and had to split us up: Charles and Colin in one part of the plane and Sara and I in another part. I kept meaning to see if Charles managed to slip someone a $20 to arrange that, being the forsightful person he is, but never got around to it. Plus, he is Canadian and therefore unable to be mean or devious. It's a mountie-thing.

Oh, yeah, Michigan sounds like just the ticket.

Pass the Off.


Sunday, March 20, 2005

Ball Sports

Oooooh! I forgot to tell you about Colin's first encounter with extracurricular school sports last Saturday.

Aka fascist basketball.

First, a little background. Like most kids, he has 2 biological parents. One, let's call him Charles, has amazing hand-eye coordination. He played tennis, football, rugby, and all sorts of intramural and pick-up ball sports very well. His own father, Bob, played semi-pro hockey many years ago, in Canada, where the hockey players come from. Charles is athletic and coordinated. Charles had no hatred of PE, or as they call it at Colin's school, "phy-ed", as in, "We con't have PE, Mom, it's phy-ed." (Much liberal eye rolling, of course.)

Colin's other parent, call her Diana, could never successfully interface with a ball, unless it was to actually hit it with her face. She could not shoot a basket, hit a softly and easily thrown softball with her bat and never, not once, did she serve the volleyball so it went over the net. She hated PE (not phy-ed) with the hatred of the truly hapless and helpless. Being chosen last for a team was just a matter of course. Add to the picture in your mind that she also wore glasses since the 3rd grade. One of the happiest times of her high school years was the summer after her freshman year, when she got contacts AND knew she never had to take another PE class as long as she lived. Diana did the 2 sports that had no ball involved: Cross-country and track. She also made it a point to stay the heck away from those dangerously close to ball-like field events of shotput, discus, and javelin.

Skip ahead to the present. A few weeks ago, Colin brings home a slip of paper announcing the start of Kindergarten basketball. An hour a Saturday for 5 Saturdays for $12, t-shirt included. Hey, sounds good to me. Even if he inherited his dad's athletic prowess, a little head start never hurts. I sign him up with visions of little 5 and 6 year-olds running around the gym, laughing and tripping over each other and their own shoelaces. Charles points out his own version based on 2 things: 1) that this is an extremely small town and 2) the boy's high school team just won the state championship for the Extremely Small Town Conference (say 1/2 A or maybe QQQ?) He thinks things might be a bit fanatical.

Well, guess who was right. Go ahead. Guess. Nope, Charles was right. (What's that? You guessed Charles? What kind of friends are you, anyway?). The whole hour was spent on drills. High school type drills. Dribbling. Passing. Dribbling and passing the balls around their little legs. Did they use smaller balls that would be easier to manage by kindergartener hands? Nope. No shooting. No playing. Afterward, we asked Colin if he had fun, and he said he did. We then asked if he wanted to go back and he said, "No. I already learned it all." We conveniently forgot to go yesterday. And, hey, we have a basketball hoop in the driveway and balls of various sizes. So we will have our own Piffle basketball camp this summer. I may even play. If we use the big ball, I may even match Sara. And Colin did get a nice t-shirt out of it.

Let's hope soccer is better.


Friday, March 18, 2005

Nothing Worthwhile. Really.

Move along, folks, nothing to see here, just a part-time working woman on her 4 day weekend, digesting her lunch and filling the internet with garbage, braggage, and whining.

You thing I'm not joking?

God, I love my life. I am kicked back, cuppa fresh coffee beside me, Sara down for a nap, house as clean as it's going to get this week. In 30 minutes I will trot off to watch a DVD while I put more wear and tear on the treadmill and, while I really don't care for the actual doing of the exercise, am still reveling in my ability to do it in the middle of the day 4 days a week. How do I love part-time work, let me count the ways. Nah, let's just say I did and leave it at that. Even I wish I were me.

Now for the griping. It snowed all day long, yesterday. Hard. Yes, yes, I know, I chose to move out here. I love snow. I swore to never get tired of it. And I don't, until the middle of March until it finally goes for good. This is our 5th winter out here and if it doesn't snow on Easter morning this year, it will be the first time. We don't even consider outside egg hunts for the kids anymore. So there, I've said it. I am sick of winter. I couldn't even get Sara outside to play today as I couldn't face putting her in all the snow paraphernalia after we went out earlier this week in just coats and boots. I blame all you I know and love in Portland, with your tales of daffodils and flowering trees and hiking in 70 degree weather. You have broken me.

Finally, for a bit of an update. A few months ago, I related Charles's fiasco with the INS. To our surprise, his green (pink) card came a couple of days ago. It is yellow. My faith in our government is restored a very little.


Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Drum Roll, Please


We are so Proud. Monday, Colin received his Major Award in an assembly in front of the whole school.

Yes, our own 6 year-old son is the proud recipient of the first (and only) annual award for the collecting of pop-up bug books. Thank you. Thank you. We are overwhelmed and would like to thank the academy and all the little people, including Mr Carter for the writing of these books, without whom this award would have been considerably more difficult to achieve.

It was really pretty great being greeted at the door by a glowing boy with his hands held behind his back so we could play "guess which hand" as he displayed a slightly torn (due to much handling) certificate suitable for framing and a new red pencil (unsharpened) complete with school logo. Much ooohing and hugging ensued. We then gently taped the tears in the paper and proudly hung the certificate over his bed, above the collection of said bug books.

All joking aside, it was great to see him so proud. Once again, we are thankful for his consistently wonderful teacher, Mrs B. Now, we know that each month in turn, two kids from his class get an award at the school assembly, but for her to take the time to come up with this particular award, is just really cool.

You see, he is so very proud of his bug books. He reads them constantly. He has amassed about 6 of them, including Hanukkah Bugs and the new one, Easter Bugs. If you come over to our house, he will corner you at the earliest possible opportunity, usually at the kitchen table where there is plenty of room to spread them all out and read them to you in super-slow-mo so you miss not a single nuance of these beloved books. (If you do come over, consider this your formal warning.)

Personally, I am thankful for two things. First of all, I am delighted he loves books. Secondly, I am happy that if he had to love bug books that they are of the goofy made-up sort of bugs not the enlarged, true-to-life photos of bugs. You see, I have a rather severe bug phobia. I hate the creepy, crawly, flying, crunchy creatures. I know they serve all sorts of necessary functions but they just wig me out. I also can't kill them, so I have to do the capture and release thing when they make their way into my house in the country. The buggy country.

I also suspect that as soon as I release them to the outside, they immediately use every opportunity to regain entrance to my house in a sick game of "freak out the harmless giant". When I was younger and living at home, I used to pay my sister, Gail, the stout of heart, a quarter to remove bugs if there were no grown-up around to do it for free. Now I must deal with them myself if Charles isn't there. I have also resorted to sucking up large numbers of them with the vacuum, but now that we have the new bagless vacuum cleaner, I am not sure if I can face them all crawling around in concentrated fashion in the see-through receptacle. I mean, don't you think they will compare notes and spawn some sort of bug coup?

Maybe I can pay Colin a quarter a bug this summer. On second thought, perhaps I'd better make it a nickel a bug. Given the amount of bugs in our back room, he should have enough money for his college tuition by August.


Monday, March 14, 2005


So in yet another experiment in confirming the viral basis of infectious disease, we have decided to welcome the "stomach flu" into our lives.

Poor Colin imported it Tuesday, for which I blame the public school system. It actually led to a bit of a scare as he had severe cramps that started high in his belly and then started to descend, according to Lilian, my mother-in-law, who was home with him. He was actually on the floor writhing in pain and sobbing at one point, causing me to almost take off on foot to cover the 40 miles to home, when Charles arrived to pick me up. During the tense drive, I reviewed all I could remember of appendicitis and other abdominal horrors to pass the time. Fortunately, when we arrived, he was sleeping peacefully and his belly was nice and soft.

2 nights later, I was awakened at 11pm by the horrible sound of Sara screaming and sobbing in her room. Opening the door, the smell of stomach contents told me what was the matter. Clean up sobbing baby, clean up mess, start load of wash consisting of stuffed animals, sheets, and blankets. Slug out to living room with entire contents of linen closet to cover chair and catch the remaining stomach contents that will arrive in short order. Curl up with little viral assembly-line Sara, still with eau-d'spew in her hair. Put on 1st disc of Blues Clues. 2 hours later, she is still awake and pukey. Put on 2nd disc of Blues Clues. 2 more hours later, she is still awake but no longer pukey. At 3:30 the heavens open and the angels sing and Charles emerges, awake because he has insomnia. Hahahaha! Flee to bed with his final words in my ears, "Just so you know, I have to leave in less than 2 hours."

As I stumble out to regain stewardship of my now sleeping daughter, I find she dropped off in no time for her dear old dad. And his secret? Not Blues Clues, that's for sure. ESPN and a 1973 football game. He bored her to sleep. Bastard. Well, we both know who loves you best, Baby. The one who endured 7 episodes of Blues Clues in a row.

So, this morning, the virus has landed it's parting shot at Charles and I. Tonight, when we curl up in front of the TV, I am holding the remote. I shudder to think what he would put on in a mistaken effort to send me to sleep. 1956 hockey quarterfinals, anyone? Or shall we make it Holland v Belgium in the Rugby World Cup? Curling?


Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Slippery Slope

It all started innocently enough. You know, that blessed kid-bedtime routine of jammies, brush-your-TEETH! and a story in the rocking recliner. One story. Then: Well...ok. Two stories. No more. Well, Maybe just one song after the story.

You get the picture.

So now we read two to three stories and sing 4 songs, always in the same order. I sing the one from Sesame Street about the 10 tiny turtles on the telephone (Sara has named it "Numbers") and the one Earnie sings called "I Don't Want to Live on the Moon" (aptly called "Moon"). Sara then breaks into Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star followed by ABC in rousing drunken-sailor-ese.

And, yes, we close the bedroom door during the above performance. Natalie Merchant has nothing to fear.


Monday, March 07, 2005

Muckity, Muck, Muck

That pretty much describes the scenery here. Damn near got to 70 degrees yesterday, leading to much snow melt. It then rained last night. As the ground is still frozen, there is slop and standing water everywhere, much to the delight of the 3 younger Piffles, with and without tails. As it is to get to somewhere in the vicinity of 5 below tonight with snow today, I think we are in for something of a frozen mess. But I could be wrong.

Eh, I have nothing of note to write about. That lead paragraph was pretty much it, but I will prattle on for anyone with serious time wasting issues. Let's see:

Sara (on the floor of the kitchen, howling at the top of her 2 yr old lungs because she was seriously deprived of something life-sustaining, like access to crayons and walls.): AAAAAAaaaaaaaAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaHHHHHHhhhhhh!

Me: "Sara, we do not have tantrums. Stop. Now."

Sara (suddenly turning off all waterworks and fixing me with a steely eye that chills me to the bone): "WHY?"

Guess it is kind of a good question.

Sara's very favorite foods: dried cranberries, mushrooms and anything with salad dressing on it, such as a nice mixed green salad.

Colin's only foods: cheese, scrambled eggs, (hanging head in shame) hotdogs, peanut butter, some fruits, 2 vegetables, ketchup. Clearly Colin is the revenge exacted by my parents on me for eating essentially nothing but plain rice, steak, and a few fruits, for years. This was followed by the years of habitually starting every meal with the phrase, "Do I eat that?" I have hope, though, as I now happily eat anything but peas, lima beans, and offal.

I somehow managed to remove 3 large trash bags full of clothes for Goodwill from my closet that a year ago were not part of the Great Pre-moving Purge of '04 that resulted in 7 trash bags of Goodwill donations.

Colin proudly brought home a piece of paper announcing that he will be receiving a Major Award at a school assembly a week from today. Puffed with pride, I asked him if he knew about said Major Award. He said, "Sure. You get it if you do something good, like not get sick or if you can cross the monkey bars." I then flashed back to the movie A Christmas Story, and have visions of him receiving a large box marked in Italian "fragile" and containing a large plastic lamp in the shape of a jungle gym or something. Perhaps not.

Until later.
Slopity, slop, slop


Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Public Service announcement

Happy March! and for the love of Santa, would everyone please remove all Christmas wreaths, fake plastic potted porch pointsettias, yard reindeer with big red bows and similar fare. Lights may remain in place as long as they are not plugged in again until outdoor party season. (I am not completely unreasonable.)

Thank you for your attention in this matter.

Back to our regularly scheduled piffle.


Yet another sign that spring is coming: I just saw my first cow-related injury in over 6 months! Bring on the tractors.

Mommas, don't let your babies grow up to be farmers.