Friday, November 30, 2007

Retail Therapy

Really, as a confirmed Christmas nut, it takes so little to bump me into the season:

Pictures for you

This past weekend, surfing around for Christmas present ideas, these caught my eye and my hands, without my control, one-clicked them off the site. A couple of days ago, in the midst of my "I just don't feel like doing a damn thing for Christmas" funk, they arrived: Two large wood boxes filled with sparkly, glittery, glass ornaments. I'm such a fool for pretty-pretty ornaments.

Pictures for you

Aren't they great? Don't you just want to put them in your mouth? Or at least dash out and kill a tree to hang them on?


Monday, November 26, 2007


So, Diana, what's going on out there in the land of brats and cheese, corn and cows? You've had a thing or two going on and have provided no feedback. What gives?

Well, thanks for asking! (Aren't you the kind ones to do so?)

Let's see...

Thanksgiving was nice and quiet and all the food turned out, so that was pretty perfect. Sadly, we were to a man Jack of us (Woman Jill? Kid Joe?) coughing and hacking (the bouquet of the phlegm blended so nicely with the gravy), so Lilian decided that an upper respiratory infection just wouldn't go well with her sternotomy scar and stayed away from all the festive nose-blowing. As her skilled nursing benefits were up (and as she was up and around), she and her few belongings shuffled across the small parking lot and back into her own apartment under the watchful eye of her neighbor, on Saturday.

Yes! Lilian has re-entered the building! She was to have come to us after leaving the nursing home, but, again, the coughing and sniffling and liberal usage of tissues made this not the place to be. She still plans on returning to us in the near future, though, so that's where we are on that front. So, cheers!

After our usual 2 false-alarm forecasts, we had our first snow on Thanksgiving, which was pretty and went away after a few days. Molly-dog and the kids were ecstatic. I was cooking. So, cheers!

After 7 months, my favorite road re-opened, "New! and Improved!". Before all the grading and paving and levelling and all, it had been this thrilling roller coaster that, if you theoretically (ahem) exceeded the speed limit, you could get the pit of your stomach to drop several times along it's length as you crested hills and plummeted down the other side. Yeah, sure, it was somewhere north of hazardous during a winter storm, but who the hell drives a roller coaster during a blizzard? That's when you take the interstate that's flatter and frequented by lots of snow plows. Now, while not flat, the high hills and big drops are gone, which is sad. I'm assuming it's still pretty (one of my favorite places on Earth is along this road: a bucolic pasture where cows graze and calves gambol and a stream wanders through it) but as it's dark when I drive in and dark when I drive back, It's going to be a while before I see more than the newly installed guard rails with their high-visibility reflectors. The whole thing has the feeling of a top-secret military landing strip. (Remember, this is waaaay out in the country where we don't believe in such wussy things as street lights. The moon and the stars were good enough for our fore bearers, so that should be good enough for us. If you're stupid enough to be out on a moonless, starless night, well, you just deserve what you got coming. Plus, most of the dark months are accompanied by a nice, reflective blanket of snow, which should be more than enough for the team of horses pulling your sleigh to see by, right Half Pint?)

Still and all, it's good to have the county road back, face lift and all. Trims a good five minutes off our commute each way. So, cheers!

For some reason, I'm just not in the holiday spirit right now. I've dragged out a few decorations (and by "few" I mean "3"). Santa has ordered a few things online but hasn't the slightest interest in trotting off on Rudolph to an actual store. This is very odd as I'm usually a Christmas fool. Good thing we've got a few more days this year. I'm thinking I'm going to need them.

As of yesterday, I think we've finished Lousefest '07. The last dousings of Rid were done. The final combings of the locks were clear. The microscope was returned from the counter of our bathroom to it's rightful place, the microscope-shaped space in the dust on my son's desk. Well, it's mostly done. The toys and such in the plastic bags in the garage still have a week to go, but think of how happy we'll be to see them. Sort of like a mini Christmas at the start of December! Maybe that's my problem. I'm missing my wood-handled, soft-bristled hairbrush. The nasty-assed cheap-o hard plastic brush that I found at the back of Charles's drawer is so cruel to my delicate scalp. The kids are well-versed on the evils of coming into contact with any spare hats or hairs of anyone else on the planet. They now don't even flinch when I leap out at them from various closets and doorways shouting, "True or false! We never, never, upon pain of death, even if it's 180 degrees below and we've forgotten our own hats put someone else's hat on our head?!?" More importantly, they get the answer to the question right with 100% accuracy.

I'm also positively giddy at the thought of not dealing with 2-3 times the amount of laundry in the course of a week and am looking forward to not having to make my kids' beds more than once a month. (Hey. They're little. They don't stink. Much.) So, cheers!

Sara's first kid birthday party went well. It was apparently the first birthday party for several of the little girls in her class and quite the social event of the season. The pinata was an especially brilliant touch, as it took up lots of time in first, getting everyone in their coats and shoes, then trotting them out and around the back of the house, where we'd hung the damn thing from the balcony (it was a large, pink crown. I'm regretting it wasn't a huge Dora The Explorer head or something equally despised) and then giving each kid multiple whacks with first, a soft bat, and then a hard plastic bat and finally, a hefty stick, until one girl had enough and took it to pieces. Go her! Then more time was spent with all the gathering of the candy and putting it in their bags and then going inside and shedding coats and shoes and all. Basically, with the pizza before and the cake and presents after, that was the whole damn party! Double cheers!!

Colin's birthday is in a few weeks and none of us, including the birthday boy, himself, can decide on a party idea. In a few years, he'll be old enough to do the planning himself. I'm secretly hoping he'll go my route of least bother and just have a family party from 5th grade on. And if he doesn't decide on that, I'm thinking a well-placed bribe may swing things in my lethargic favor.

I just don't do parties well. Guess that's one more thing for their future therapy sessions.

Speaking of which, that may be an idea for Christmas: Therapy gift certificates as stocking stuffers. That and journals in which to write down all my parental failings, birthday parties and all. I get why children's party planners are in business. I can see the appeal of just pulling out a check book (or applying for a bank loan) each year to give Junior a lovely birthday without ripping parts of your soul out to do it. I'm even dreaming of googling the location of the nearest Chuck E. Cheese, which goes to show the depths of my desperation. I won't actually do it, mind, as that'd take effort, but I'm dreaming of it.

And the furry ones? How are they now that they've turned 2? Very much the same. Mad-Kitty still has the propensity of getting herself shut in drawers and not meowing for release (meaning we still get to literally comb the house at 10 pm after we've gone to bed and realize that not only is she not in her usual place, curled up next to me, but we've not seen her for hours). Molly-dog still loves everyone and pees at any bit of praise or censure. A few days ago, Charles was dismayed to find her at the study window watching the UPS guy deliver a package. She was not barking (like any respectable German Shepherd). She was not even just watching. She was wagging her tail so hard that her body was moving back and forth, her ears flat to her head, whining in excitement that here, at last, was someone new! Someone she might possibly get to go out to greet and pee all over the shoes of, just to, you know, demonstrate her adoration and all. And, by the way, if here were interested, show where we keep my grandmother's silver and the stereo equipment. Clearly we need another dog if home security is a concern. We'd wanted a Shepherd who was submissive and non-agressive, but this is ridiculous.

And, finally, there've been no further zombie squirrel sightings on the UW campus, and I never did get that caramel latte, with or without the ricotta.

So that's the state of my Union. Yours?

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Haikus for Fucking Lice

"Mom, my head itches."
We think nothing of this phrase;
we eat our dinner.

But after, I look:
combing through his lovely hair
with my sure fingers.

Huh. What the fuck's that?
He has stuff stuck in his hair.
Probably some food.

Think I'll trot off to
his room, find the microscope,
and make up a slide.

(Best Christmas present,
I'll tell you, very handy
to have for such things.)

Damn. The specimen
seems to have vanished off the
tip of my finger.

Another sample.
A slide. Then a cover slip.
Eye peers through the lens.

Fuck. It's wriggling there.
Trapped beneath the cover slip.
Nowhere else to go.

(Sorta cool, though.
I can see my son's blood move
through his intestines.

That's why they don't let
me go out much in polite
company. I'm weird.

I find icky, gross
disease states and such horrid
vectors kinda cool.)

Hurriedly, I go
through the instructions for the

I beat back the urge
to race to the car and drive
to a pharmacy.

Tomorrow morning
will be soon enough to get

Barkeep, set 'em up!
Nix all 'round for each of us.
Kill the fuckers dead.

I don't care if it's
not necessary to treat
if it's not on you.

So, tomorrow we
will procure a case of it;
soak 'til we are prunes.

Then we'll spend the rest
of the weekend combing hairs,
all in a circle.

Who's to blame for this?
Who knows? Smart money's on the
friendly neighbor's kid.

So, now we are all
itching with imagined blood-
sucking parasites.

Don't share hats or combs
or coats. (Don't play football with
the damn neighbor kid.)

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Friday, November 09, 2007

For Sara, Turning Five

Pictures for you

Ah, my beautiful girl, now you are five.

Once again, I sit in staggered awe at the person you are. Somehow you are much older than your years, yet still retain the adorable wonderment that is the stamp of one of your age. You see what others are doing around you and don't even question if you can do it, too. You just do what the rest of us are doing.

We all read. Therefore, you decided to read. Really read. Real words. You made the hair on the back of my neck stand up a couple of weeks ago when we cracked open that wonderful thing that is a brand new book. (In this case, what has become your favorite of the past 2 weeks, The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid Of Anything.) Curled up in the rocking chair in your room as part of your bedtime ritual, we opened it and, as I was curious, I started pointing to the words in turn on the first few pages. Damned if you didn't read 80% of the words cold. You'd been 'reading' for ages, but as it'd been books we'd read over and over and over and over, I just figured you were reciting.


When you were helping me with the wash (and may I just say what a large help you are, my best girl, always willing to help with the dusting and the toting of the laundry and the dumping of the flour into the batter) last weekend, you then read all the words describing the laundry settings on the washer. Well, almost all of them; 'delicate' gave you pause.

You also can do your 1+ and 2+ additions, which you learned from your brother being quizzed one day. I guess what gets me is that you can just do stuff that we don't realize you can do because you don't make a huge fanfare out of it.

Which doesn't mean you are not a drama queen, though. Noooooooooooooo. You can throw a fit with the best of them over the smallest (one might even say 'non-existent') thing. Your stubbornness is also legendary. You will forgo candy and popcorn and playing Guitar Hero in your refusal to eat a bite of your dinner. A dinner, I might add that is not composed of meatloaf, beets and liver with onions, but grilled chicken, salad and pasta. And you used to eat absolutely everything I put before you. You will even insist that you are tired and need to go to bed at 6:30 pm rather than eat your nice dinner, and then proceed to go to bed, sitting there happily reading and singing to your dolls and animals until you fall asleep 2-3 hours later.

Lord, help us when you are 15. (And there is no way in hell that you are moving downstairs to the basement bedroom. No way in hell. We are either putting you in your brother's room, which is right across from our room, or installing you in our closet through your high school years.)

You love to play ball sports and are rather good at them, unlike me. You must get that from your dad. You also love to draw and paint and anything else of that ilk, which you do at the kitchen counter while I fiddle with the food. It's lovely.

Pictures for you

You are warm, generous and very empathetic. You are tough in some ways but a small bump on the leg will be grist for conversation for days. You will not take medication for any amount of love or money or loss of privileges. This makes it particularly difficult when your fever is over 104, let me tell you. I blame most of my gray hairs on those times.

Pictures for you

You are very protective of your idol, your big brother. I am suspicious that a lot of the things you've accomplished have been because you admire and want to do what he does so much. Good taste in your role models.

Pictures for you

Starting school has gone better than I had expected, thanks to your amazing teacher, the fabulous Mrs B., who was Colin's 5K teacher. A wild woman at home, you are very shy around people you don't know. The first several weeks were hard on you, especially because you really do still need an afternoon nap most days. You've adjusted, though, as we knew you would. You are making friends nicely and are thrilled with the thought of your first 'real' birthday party, with a pinata and pizza and, of course, cake. Your dad and I were particularly thrilled with your choice of cake: Chocolate with chocolate and chocolate. And roses. (Just like Robert the Rose Horse, natch.)

But best of all, to me, is that you still love to be with me; you want me to sit with you on the couch and "cuddle" with a book or a game. You want me to hold your hand in the parking lot or walking through the house (the latter can be difficult if my arms are full of laundry or crap or dishes). You want me to read to you before bed and color with you in the kitchen.

And that makes me the luckiest one of all.

This morning, at 5am, I woke to you singing "Happy Birthday to me! Happy Birthday toooooooo meeeeee....."

Happy birthday, indeed, my best girl. May this year be filled with happiness and wonder, just like you.


Tuesday, November 06, 2007


Our scene: Evening. Large waiting area with big comfy chairs and soothing, sage green decor. Seems to be a hospital, but without the smell. I am ensconced in a double-wide chair with an acquaintance, Heather, who is like a daughter to my MIL, having a lovely chat and catch-up. I've always liked Heather. Lilian, herself, is seated several feet away in another overstuffed, comfy chair, smiling and happy. 2 others are seated near by, part of our party. Shouts of "Mom! Mom!" and Colin and Sara run up, giving me hugs, accompanied by Charles and my dad.

Charles: I'm going to the coffee cart. Anyone want anything?

Diana: Ohhhh! That'd be lovely. How about a decaf caramel latte. Or maybe a pumpkin one....NO! I know. One of those Venetian ones if they can do it all fat free.

Dad: Hey, that wouldn't be too bad for you, especially if they have the fat free ricotta cheese along with the fat free milk.

Diana: No it wouldn't, especially with the cinnamon. Actually, though, I think I'll go with the caramel latte. With whipped cream.

As Charles exits in search of a lovely caramel latte, harsh, harsh light suddenly streams into the room, morphing it into my chilly bedroom at 4:15 am. It seems a child has gone to the bathroom and left the light on to hit me square in the eyes. Weeping with sorrow and frustration, I haul my sorry self up and out, staggering to the bathroom, eyes screwed up against the assault, and hit the switch. Bother. Might as well pee.

Back to warm bed in search of those last 45 minutes of sleep (success) and that promised caramel latte (failure).

The office coffee this morning, while good, is just not the same. I'm not even overly fond of caramel lattes. Pumpkin, yes, but caramel seems just sweet without the flavor. So now I'm craving something I'd rather take a pass on.

Yes, we must live with life's little disappointments but was 5 more minutes too much to ask? And why does this never happen with broccoli? Or that odd Venetian latte? Awake, I'd certainly not be craving a coffee drink with ricotta cheese, cinnamon or no cinnamon. I'm not into chunks of cheese in my beverages.

Santa will remember and note this little incident on his list. At least he would if he knew which innocently shut door hid the evil child.

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Friday, November 02, 2007

4th Hurdle: Taken with Feet to Spare

Never, but never, bet against an elderly Latvian former WWII refugee.

Oh, yeah.

Halloween day, they transferred her from her bed in the hospital, where they'd taken pity on her (as aided by the lowish cardiac ward census) and not assigned her a new roommate in 48 hours, to the local nursing home that is part of the old fart's complex that also houses her apartment. Prior to her discharge, she was doing a bit better again, with some return of her sparkage.

The evening of her transfer, we all trooped into the nursing home, bearing a box of diabetic ice cream bars, as requested, and two suitcases of "clothes to exercise in" that I'd culled from her closet. The kids in their costumes (a knight with a sword almost as tall as he was and a forest fairy, complete with wand and wings) and the adults in their coats, thinking of how very good that beer awaiting them back home will taste. After much tracking and backtracking (the signs in the nursing home are apparently there to confuse rather than clarify), we finally found her sitting up in bed, cheeks rosy, eyes bright, telling the nurse her life's story. She looked like she did about 10 years ago and I don't think she drew breath for 10 minutes as she rattled on non-stop, relating her day's activities. If I didn't know better, I'd think she'd been dipping into the gin.

I want what she's having.

Well, without all the cutting open of one's chest cavity, of course.

She had a roommate, who was pronounced "very nice", and she's thrilled to be there where she knows so many people. I think she's going to choose to get better. The next day they were going to move her to a private room and start twice daily physical therapy. I know we're not home free, but she's only a week post-op and looking better than she has in ages. She's getting her drive-me-crazy personality back and she's in her element. She even knew her nurse, who goes to her friend's church. Everyone knows everyone in this small town.

Somehow, I think even the meatloaf will be palatable.

Thank you all, again, for all your patience and good wishes and just for being there. There really is nothing like a strong, supportive group of friends. You have helped me more than you will ever know.

And now back to our regularly scheduled blog. There's been too much seriousness, lately, carnivorous squirrels notwithstanding.