Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Happy Which Year?

Stop the presses!

That makes no sense in the Internet age, does it? But stop them anyway. June over at Bye-Bye Pie has alerted me to an all-important issue. Not just an everyday issue, right, June? Nor even an everyyear issue.

What will we be saying just a little over 24 hours from now? Hmmm? Or, more to the point, what should we be saying? Think about it.

Happy Two Thousand and Ten?


Happy Two Thousand Ten?


Happy Twenty Ten?

This happens to be the biggest year-changing issue we've had since Y2K; and I, for one, am appalled that our president is lolling on a beach in Hawaii rather than winging his way back to the Oval Office when this sort of controversy is raging. Does Obama really think that his Year-Naming Czar (he has one, doesn't he?) will bother to take care of this issue on his own? I mean, everyone knows (and by everyone, I mean this armchair president here) that phoning in from Hawaii just won't do. According to her, there's "a lot less pressure when the boss is away."

Honey, what do you think your supervisor thought when he read that line? Hmmm?

Personally? I can't imagine how a phone call from the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES wouldn't be a pretty darn good motivating factor in and of itself. I'm a tad irresponsible myself when it comes to my household duties. Look in on me any afternoon around 4 PM and I'm goofing off checking out the latest at the Women's Colony whilst my children play unattended outside. Dinner's not a-cookin', laundry's not a-washin', g's are being dropped everywhere....

So! Let's imagine the phone rings.


"Please hold for the President of the United States." (Sound of surf pounding in the background)

I'm thinking I would immediately get off the computer and haul my butt into the kitchen, don't you? I wouldn't wait for the guy (or maybe his wife) to show up at my door to start looking busy. But then again, Cabinet-level appointees probably aren't as responsible as little ol' me. Nope. Slackers, every one of them. As soon as Obama leaves town, I bet their feet are up on their desks and they're spending their workdays trolling Facebook for old high school sweethearts. That Clinton chick? She just looks like a self-starter.

Janet Napolitano probably didn't even know about the would-be terrorist airplane bombing until she was asked to be a Fan of Jasper Schuringa. When the cat's away...

So, Mr. President! You need to get back home and answer the question - which is it?

A. Two Thousand and Ten

Two Thousand Ten

Twenty Ten

Our country awaits your decision...

(Feel free to vote in the comments, you non-POTUSes out there)

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Knitter's Christmas

I know! I haven't been around much. I've been obsessed by a handwarmer pattern in Chic Knits for Young Chicks - I had to reknit them a few times (altering the pattern) to get them to suit. See? Over there to the right? I actually finished them. I rarely finish things. Now I can type on my laptop in our freezing cold Starbucks without my fingers going numb.

And my socks! I'm still working on my purple Donegal socks. And the baby hat for my friend's one-year-old....and a poncho for Rachel. Of course, I ended up spending hours on Ravelry updating my projects file and researching patterns. For you non-knitters out there? A knitter cannot think of a more fun way to spend her Christmas. Strange, but true.

At the bookstore where I worked last year, we had 2 people who always hung out there (and never bought anything) that we called Boris and Natasha. She was Ukrainian, and he looked exactly like Boris. Freaky.

Why am I sharing this? Because we gave the kids 2 Rocky and Bullwinkle DVD's for Christmas. I don't know if they like them, but I can't get enough of Boris and Natasha myself.

We stuck to our tradition of watching It's A Wonderful Life on Christmas Day. Have I ever mentioned how much I love that movie? I mean, aside from the scene where Donna Reed is putting up wallpaper with 4 little ones underfoot, which is still a teeny-tiny bone of contention in our marriage. Larry and I are good at arguing over fictional characters like that.

Uncle Matt (who drove down with Grandpa on Christmas Day) arrived during the movie and said, "I've never seen this." The man's 50 years old. Where the hell has he been the past half a century?

That's me and Larry and 4 of our kids. Really. I look just like that. I mean, when I'm not looking like Mary Tyler Moore on the old Dick van Dyke show.

We all need our little fantasies, don't we?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Comic Relief

Thanks, Vodkamom, for sharing this comedy routine with all of us today! I don't know who this woman is, but I love her.

Back tomorrow, once I get over my current knitting jag...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Food Fight

As promised earlier this week, I am here to discuss why the Brits are mad at us (again). Long-time readers of this blog know that I am somewhat of a go-to blogger on any chocolate-related matters. It all started last year, when I alerted my readership to the threat of a potential candy bar shortage. Not only did I go on to decry the dangerous trend of gentrifying our chocolates, but I was also the blogger who revealed health care reform's hidden chocolate agenda.

You're welcome.

So! I feel it is my duty to inform you that we are facing an England-US dust-up which could make the Revolutionary War look like a lovers' quarrel. Apparently, the Brits are accusing the Americans of trying to take over their chocolate. That's right - both Kraft and Hershey are interested in acquiring Cadbury, the darling of the British chocolate industry.

What's wrong with that, you say? According to the Brits, just about everything. Apparently, our former fellow-countrymen believe that our chocolate confections are inferior to theirs. In fact, this article claims that they regard our beloved Hershey bars as tasting like "a mixture of soap powder and baby vomit."

Really, gentlemen! Tell us how you feel. Don't hold back.

Next thing you know, the Brits will be sneaking down to London harbor (if such a place exists) in the dark of night and throwing cases of Hershey bars overboard. Do we really want things to come to such a pass? Are we prepared to let our 2 countries be at odds for years or decades over such a matter? Remember - if we fight over chocolate, the terrorists win.

That's what I've heard, anyway.

Is Cadbury chocolate the taste of British childhood? Does Hershey market a product that tastes like baby vomit? Chocolatiers, spare the world the confectionery carnage of an international food fight by letting this impartial chocolate-blogging expert be the judge.

Send me a case of your finest confections. After sampling the chocolate-y concoctions, carefully, over a matter of weeks (well, maybe just days - I don't have much restraint), I'll get back to you (and the rest of the world) on their relative quality and pleasure-inducing potential. I will see to it that this matter is settled without bloodshed or violence.

I envision myself as the Mahatma Gandhi of chocolate. Except, um, not as skinny...and without the hunger strikes, of course....

Monday, December 21, 2009

Moral Dilemma

Larry and I finally made it to Target today, in a desperate bid to catch up on our long-forestalled Christmas shopping. We headed straight to the Nerf gun aisle, where I had seen Brian salivating over the N-Strike Maverick model with the rotating barrel. I put the coveted toy in my cart (only 10 bucks!) and then turned my attention to the display of ammunition refills.

"Hmmm, I don't know," I said to Larry. "Should we get the refill with 25 darts and the thing you sling over your shoulder to hold them?"

"The bandolier?" he said. "You can get a bandolier for Nerf darts?"

"Is that what it's called? I don't know if I like the look. Maybe I should just get the refill darts alone?"

"But those other refills don't have suction cups; it's velcro instead."

"Aaargh!" I said, staring at the packages of ammunition in my hands. "Why can't this be simpler? I don't know which to get!"

"Well," said Larry, "It is for Christmas. What would Jesus do?"

Good question...

Sunday, December 20, 2009

An Amazon Christmas

Some readers thought I was griping about the impending snowstorm in my last post. Nothing could be further from the truth. I love snow. We rarely get "real" snow. I was more excited than my kids were. I'm a poor writer if anyone came away with a different impression. My apologies.

The snowstorm lived up to its hype, by the way. Totally terrific. Sledding, shoveling, hot cocoa, fresh cinnamon was Norman Rockwell world around here for the past couple of days.

Well, except for that cop brandishing a loaded weapon at the snowball fight...apparently, light-hearted, child-like merriment stresses him out.

But, as some of you may recall, I had vowed to not do anything for Christmas until after the 15th of December. Having a natural knack for procrastination, this goal was not hard to achieve. And normally there would be nothing wrong with leaving all one's holiday shopping for the last weekend before Christmas, a weekend which usually does not include a freak December snowstorm - a snowstorm large enough, in fact, to shut down Target, and Michael's, and BooksAMillion.

Yes, I know - I am such an extravagant shopper.

All of which is to explain my post title. Imagine my joy to discover that guarantees standard-shipping delivery by 24 December. Good through the 21st, fellow foolhardy procrastinators! Hurry!


Stay tuned tomorrow to learn why the Brits are mad at us American barbarians again...

[picture of cinnamon rolls courtesy of The Prepared Pantry]

Friday, December 18, 2009

7 Quick Takes: Let It Snow Edition

  1. Snow is predicted here for tomorrow. Around here, getting snow at all is an exciting event. Snow which covers the grass is stupendous. Tomorrow? One to two feet of the blessed white stuff is predicted for our area. The kids are over the moon.
  2. Snow is predicted here for tomorrow. Tomorrow just so happens to be Saturday, when everyone does their grocery shopping. Naturally, they all decided to put it off until Monday.
  3. Ha, ha, no, they didn't. This afternoon, every person living within a 5-mile radius of my local Harris Teeter showed up there at the very same time. I grabbed the last shopping cart.
  4. The Christmas pageant was this evening. Susie sang along with all the songs even though she wasn't in it. While she sang, she played with my hair. My heart melted all over my seat.
  5. Have I mentioned the snow?
  6. I thought so.
  7. One to two feet, people!
If you're tired of hearing about wintry precipitation, you can head on over to the host of 7 Quick Takes - living in Texas as she does, she talks about scorpion encounters instead.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Chappy Chanukah!

I've been so busy talking about paint colors, and Irish Christmas music, and Christmas preparations (or my lack thereof), you would think that I had forgotten my roots.

Nope. Much as Christians this time of year become embroiled in discussions of the true meaning of Christmas (when they aren't trampling each other in an attempt to get those Black Friday specials at WalMart), Jewish people spend December arguing (because that's what we do best) over the proper spelling of Chanukah/Hanukah/Hanukkah/Chanukka. It's an age-old question that has stumped the best minds of our (Chosen) People. I'm sure even Maimonides spent his Decembers scratching his head in puzzlement over the orthography of our Festival of Lights. Let's face it - you can't be called the People of the Book and not even know how to spell your own holidays.

I'm babbling here.

We're celebrating Chanukah here this Sunday. What? It ends this Saturday? Darn. It seems that 8 days was not enough for me to be able to make those latkes (or as John Oliver calls them, hash browns) on time. 8 days, 10 days - when your religion is over 3000 years old, do a couple of days more or less really matter?

Oh, and here is what I am not doing this year...

Anyone who can rhyme "Rosh Hashana" and "Arizona" is all right in my book - and I don't care how he spells it.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Haul Out The Holly...

I have held true to my promise - not one thing have I yet done to prepare for the upcoming Yuletide festivities. Not one decoration put up, not a single gift purchased, not even a card sent out.

I won't lie to you - it's been a little difficult, watching items disappearing off Target shelves over the past week and feeling the available days before Christmas melting faster than an ice cube on a flaming stove. But I have held fast to my principle of saving Christmas for Christmas; and now here it is December 14th, my last day of freedom from the expectations of this demanding season. Tomorrow it will be time to start making lists, gathering presents, planning menus...

All of which makes me wonder whether this procrastination-on-purpose experiment was a good idea. And I'm feeling the beginnings of a sore throat coming on....wouldn't that make the next 10 days interesting?

I'll tell you the truth - at this point, I don't even know where to begin. Maybe I'll wait until next week - this week is sort of busy anyway. Yeah, that's it - next week...

Couldn't get this tune out of my head all day...

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Wherein I Eat Copious Amounts Of Crow

Anyone remember this post, wherein I lamented Larry's poor listening and paint-choosing skills? Yeah, that one - the one where I criticized my husband's paint selection to the entire Internet? After our mandatory week-long cooling off period, Larry and I showed Anna the paint color strip and said, "Honey, which of these colors did you want for your room?" Great care was taken to shield her from any knowledge of which paint color Larry had so foolishly purchased. This experiment was undertaken at Larry's insistence, since he refused to admit that he was wrong, refused to admit that we had both selected Feathery Lilac and not Free Spirit and yet he brought home Free Spirit anyway.

So I presented the color strip to Anna, confident in my assumption that she would affirm not only our Feathery Lilac selection but also Larry's terrible wrongness in not admitting to his mistake. She's my daughter, after all; I know what she likes; and Larry, truth to tell, is a guy - a guy so color-blind he doesn't even know whether he is wearing green or blue. How could he ever differentiate between Feathery Lilac and Free Spirit, anyway?

We all know where this is going, right?

Anna chose Free Spirit. And Larry? Vindicated is not strong enough a word for how he is feeling right now. Smug? Beyond that. According to Larry, he has won a victory for henpecked husbands everywhere, for men like my friend "Harry" who refuses to start a blog (c'mon, Harry!), so I get to steal his words and use them here:

[I] know what I would pick is never going to be chosen by "the committee" so it makes it hard to pay attention and remember which of the many "lilacs" is finally chosen, especially since there are various choices along the way that seem "final." "Ours not to reason why..."

"Ours not to reason why..." - the lament of beleaguered husbands everywhere, I'm sure. Well, today, gentlemen, you can hold your heads high and walk into paint stores without fear, and without "a paint chip in hand initialled by every member of the Paint Color and Wallcovering Selection Committee (PCWCS)" (Harry's words again). Larry has made one small step toward getting our daughter's room painted and one large step for married-mankind.

Now if he would just wipe that irritating grin off his face...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Perils of Paint

I'm sitting here trying to figure out how yesterday's elegy to (for?) Liam Clancy degenerated into a discussion on kitchen cleaning in the comments. Are you people paying attention?

And a friend did a little research and informed me that that bargain bin Clancy Brothers Christmas CD of mine is worth 50 dollars online. Who knew? Larry remains unimpressed. He is a Clancy Brothers refusenik.


Inspired by our bedroom rearranging, Larry and I decided to paint Anna's new room. As anyone who remembers the striped walls of 2007 can attest, Larry and I should not be allowed to choose paint colors together. This episode was no exception. After researching different shades of lavender on the web and finally agreeing on the correct color, Larry hurried to the paint store to pick up a gallon before it closed for the weekend.

He returned triumphant, with paint and primer (tinted to the paint color) and all manner of painting paraphernalia, happy in the knowledge that this was one household project he could knock out the next day. Happy, that is, until I told him he got the wrong shade. Too dark. Not the one we had picked out together just an hour before.

We didn't talk to each other for an hour. And then, only when we had to. Divorce lawyers did not get involved simply because we are too embarrassed to allow the words "Joyful Lilac" and "Feathery Lilac" to appear in the court documents.

Anyone need some purple paint?

[photo lifted from Foolproof Tips to Pick a Color Palette, a blog post obviously not written by yours truly]

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Buala Bas and RIP Liam Clancy

As noted in my profile here, I'm a fan of the music of Tommy Makem and the Clancy Brothers. Upon hearing that, people are always offering/suggesting to me other great Irish music bands that they think I'll love. But I don't. I don't like any of them. I'm just a one-Irish-band sort of lass.

And now, alas, the sole surviving Clancy Brother has been called to the heavenly choir. RIP Liam Clancy - you always did have the voice of an angel (a carousing sort of angel, but an angel nonetheless). I think I may have to insist on having your Christmas CD playing for an extra month this year, as a sort of tribute to the passing of greatness. Sorry, Larry...

But let me explain...

15 years ago (long before YouTube and ITunes gave us easy access to the music we love), I happened across The Clancy Brothers Christmas CD in a bargain bin at Caldor's. It has become one of my favorite CD's of all time. Unfortunately, I have married someone who does not share my love of all things Makem and Clancy; so Larry and I had to strike a deal: the CD comes out at the beginning of Advent and then gets put away no later than 6 January. That means that, between 6 January and Advent, Larry is not forced to listen to songs of drunken Christmas revelry with lyrics like "Pass the porter, pass the beer - Christmas comes but once a year!"

The CD is not all depravity and debauchery, you know. It also has one of the most beautiful renditions of "Silent Night" you will ever hear. And? My kids are the only children I know who can sing "Jingle Bells" in Gaelic.

And now your kids can too. I'm thrilled to have found this on YouTube:


Monday, December 07, 2009

Dial M...

When I'm not threatening to kill people in public places, I'm at home plotting the demise of household appliances. Currently, I am in the process of murdering my 26-year-old stove. I have no choice, really, but to put it out of it's misery, because the darn thing refuses to die. Instead, it limps along with 4 ridiculously fussy burners - one of which will only heat up if I turn it to high first. Then it stays on high come hell or high water. No matter that I've dialed it down to medium, or low, or even warm - whatever is cooking there bubbles madly away as though possessed.

Naturally, many delectable stews and soups inadvertently boil over on this burner and, quite frankly, I'm tired of cleaning it up. So I don't. Which explains why it is now prone to catch fire and I don't care.

Case in point: I turned on the burner to heat up some chicken soup yesterday. Then I left the kitchen. Larry was in there and I heard him yell, "Whoa! Fire!" I ignored him. He came out of the kitchen and said, "Honey, the burner's on fire in there!"

I don't know why he sounded surprised. Doesn't he read my blog?

So he dumped some baking soda on the fire and extinguished it. He came back to me and said, "The burner was on fire in there, but I put it out."

"That's good. Put the pot on the other burner, okay?"

"That was quite a fire!"

He just can't let this go, can he?

"Yeah, I know. Happens all the time. Something must have spilled on the burner yesterday."

"Guess we'll have to clean that up!"



"No. I'll just use the other burners. I'm sick of that burner."

Here's where we have to give Larry some credit. He dropped the subject.

That's one burner down, three to go...

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Different Jokes For Different Folks

We knitters have a joke. Sometimes you'll see it on a T-shirt:

I knit so I don't kill someone.

If you're an impatient type of person, you'll understand that joke. When I'm in a doctor's waiting room, or waiting for a dental cleaning, or even sitting in the pharmacy for a few minutes, knitting is what keeps me from pacing around the room like a caged tiger.

Actually, sometimes I knit and pace. I'm tightly wound like that.

So I was knitting on a scarf while waiting in line yesterday at the post office, whereto I had blithely journeyed, completely forgetting that it is DECEMBER - the month when everyone on earth goes to my local post office to mail packages in preparation for the yuletide festivities. There were 20 people ahead of me in line.

I knit. I stayed calm. I didn't think about the 4 young ones I had left to fend for themselves at home, I didn't think about the dinner I was not starting to cook, I didn't think about anything except knit 2, knit back, purl one - over and over and over.

Soothing. Peaceful. Meditative. No one gets hurt.

Ahead of me was an older woman with a package addressed to an APO box. Being terminally extroverted, I had to strike up a conversation (while I knit, of course): "Where's he stationed?" I asked.

"Iraq," she said, "he just got there."

"Son? Grandchild?"

"It's my nephew, actually.

Looking a tad uncomfortable with being accosted by a stranger who was reading her package address, she still attempted to return the courtesy and said, "What lovely knitting! That's a good idea, with this long line and all."

And, trying to be amusing, I said, "Yes. I knit so I don't kill someone."

How to describe the look of alarm that crossed this woman's face? It was, let's say, a look that made me realize what this poor lady was seeing. What she was seeing was a maniacally-smiling stranger holding two sharp sticks (Harmony circulars, no less - handy for stabbing or strangling!) - a stranger who was violating all rules of proper line conduct by reading the addresses on other people's packages and asking for personal details of their lives.

In short, she was looking into the face of crazy. Postal, even...

She smiled nervously, turned around, and faced front.

While I kept knitting, sinister-like, behind her...

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Role Reversal

Sometimes life is fair. Rarely does this occur, true - but it happens.

I was settling in at Starbucks this evening, plugging in my computer, ordering my hot chocolate. Aaaah! My cellphone rang. It was Larry, calling to tell me that I should pick up some ginger ale while I'm out.

Ginger ale. That can't be good.

"We have some in the pantry," I told him. "Did someone throw up?"

"Yeah, Brian did," he said. "So, uh, I guess I'll just, uh, start cleaning up here..."

At this point, I confess, I almost offered to come home. Someone was sick! There was vomit to clean up! And then I remembered - I'm working. Wasn't the deal that whoever was out earning money was not required to come home and clean up the vomit? Wasn't that the arrangement I had abided by during the 17-year-long pukefest that has been our life with kids (at least up until July of 2008)? Heck, yeah.

"Well, have fun with that," I said. "See ya later."

Sorry, Larry.

[For you statistically-minded people, that was 508 days without a puking incident in our household - an all-time record.]

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Family Values

I guess I should have seen it coming. I mean, considering the gambling habits I foist on my children (on Thanksgiving, no less), I should have at least been on my guard. But no - I tend to forget that our family has gradually morphed into the weird variety, a far cry from the perfection I aspired to when I had but 2 wee ones to look after.

There I was at a girl scout meeting this afternoon, surrounded by wholesome homeschooled girls and their zealously nurturing mothers. I had to leave early with Susie, you see, as a dental appointment beckoned (I know! The excitement! How can y'all stand it?).

"C'mon, Susie," I coaxed. "Time to go home - David will play a game with you while I'm at the dentist."

"Game?" said Susie.

"Yes, a game! What do you want to play? Uno?"

I think I need to mention here that 4-year-old Susie has the lung capacity of an opera singer and the sort of volume that renders amplifying aids such as megaphones completely unnecessary.

"No!" she said, projecting her amazing voice throughout the entire meeting room. "I want to play POKER."

Precocious little thang, isn't she? We're right proud of her.