Saturday, November 05, 2005

Go, insomnia!

The absolute best thing about insomnia is that it frees up lots of time I might waste in sleep otherwise. I should spend the time catching up on paperwork or cleaning or something useful. I really should.

Instead, I've taken to saving the Living section from our local paper and lying in bed, poring over every inch of it when I can't sleep. Recipes, advertisements, the lame comic strips, gardening columns... I've become a late night master of the Sudoku game printed in that section.

Oddly enough, reading Living makes me fall dead asleep.

To waste (time, for example); fritter (something) away.
"fribble." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 06 Nov. 2005.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Alas! Alack!

Yesterday the oldest played outside with his brother for three hours after a great day at school. The only times he came in were for a snack, to use the bathroom, and for one five minute timeout.

(We have only two rules in this house:
1. Listen.
2. Be nice.

He uncharacteristically ignored his younger brother's pleas to stop, and my admonition to do so, and continued to ram his scooter into his brother's, insisting he was "just playing Demolition Derby". Curse you, Dixie Classic!)

So he had a five minute timeout in his room, then went happily back to playing outside. No biggie.

And what did he do during that timeout? In black crayon and with great care, he wrote in his little notebook

one day it was my wrst day evr.

1. Suffering from usually prolonged anguish.
2. Full of or expressive of sorrow.
"woebegone." Roget's II: The New Thesaurus, Third Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 1995. 04 Nov. 2005.

Oh, the torment.

Thursday, November 03, 2005


Quote from a DC NBC affiliate's online story about the sentencing of a man for knowingly exposing others, including minor children, to HIV through unprotected sexual relations:

Basir also has used the names Ali, Lee and the Lion King.
(bolding mine)

On so many levels, this story is

1. Exceedingly bad
2. Grossly offensive to decency or morality; causing horror.
"horrid." WordNet 1.7.1. Princeton University, 2001. 03 Nov. 2005.

Little Known Fact: The Lion King is still the only Disney film to have absolutely no trace of human existence.

Attention Tarjay shoppers

I will have you all know that for dinner last night, I served réchauffé. Impressive, yes?

Mais, non.

Warmed leftovers.
"réchauffé." WordNet 1.7.1. Princeton University, 2001. 03 Nov. 2005.

They may not taste better, but they definitely sound better in French.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Wet Keds

We had a summer cottage in a small seaside town in Maine when I was growing up. It was small and cedar shingled and perfect. It was also known by name rather than by address. Our cottage was called Seascape.

I spent three months there every summer. I would pass each morning beachcombing, examining tidal pools, popping seaweed, and searching for beachglass, sea pottery and the rare sea dollars. The beaches in Maine are barnacle-covered rocks and shell bits and pebbles, hard on the feet. So I usually wore Keds with my swimsuits, red ones or navy blue.

I would slog onto the back porch, Keds full of sand and water and shell bits, a plastic pail full of bounty in my hand. Inevitably, the seats of my bathing suits were pilled from hunkering in tidal pools. My hair would be tangled by the wind, dried by the salt, and bleached by the sun.

My mother would help me peel my damp suit off, put my Keds in the sun to dry, and shoo me directly into the shower. When I was clean and in dry clothes, she would let me lay my treasures out on the deck while she made my lunch, which I would eat on the deck, breathing the sea air and planning what to do on the water's edge after lunch.

Every time I see small red or navy Keds, I am back there for one brief, beautiful moment, on that deck, with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in my hand and endless possibilities ahead of me.

1. A bittersweet longing for things, persons, or situations of the past.
2. The condition of being homesick; homesickness.
"nostalgia." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 02 Nov. 2005.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Holding my breath

I get instantly nervous anytime I hear a word that starts with the sound "nig".

First and foremost, I am always concerned that it will be That Word, which I have only had the misfortune to hear twice in my life.

But secondly, in situations when it is not That Word, I am concerned that someone will assume it is a word related to That Word and take the same umbrage I would have had it been That Word.

So you can imagine how I tensed up today at the oldest's practice when I overheard one man, speaking to another, refer to his boss as "nothing but a damn niggler". I don't think I breathed for a full ten seconds.

A person who finds fault, often severely and willfully: carper, caviler, critic, criticizer, faultfinder, hypercritic, nitpicker, quibbler.
"niggler." Roget's II: The New Thesaurus, Third Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 1995. 02 Nov. 2005.


Divali season is here and is simply enchanting, filled with candles, colors, prayer, celebration and, best of all, fireworks. Driving all around New Delhi, you sense nary a tremor of fear following the mindless bombings here a few days ago.

((Warning: all young mothers of boys--please skip this paragraph)) Markets are teeming, selling all manner of dangerous Indian variants of firecrackers (Thunderbombs, remarkably powerful M-80s, roman candles...) to any eager young boy shoving his fistful of rupees at the vendor. I can testify, as a boy who set off his fair share of illegal Mexican M-80s, 'Half-Sticks' (sold purportedly, of dynamite), and home-made explosives, the ones here are even better. Quality control is weak (witness the steady cry of ambulances last night) due to uneven fusing and powder loads, but the result is VERY exciting. All last night, Delhi sounded like a (very happy) war zone.

With that, I highly recommend deferring any Divali visits to sufferers of acousticophobia:

n : a morbid fear of sounds including your own voice; from the Greek akoustikos `pertaining to hearing'

Monday, October 31, 2005

Halloween Scrooge

There's something a little unique about my three year old. He loathes Halloween. Loathes costumes, loathes all candy, loathes going outside in the dark, loathes it when people carve up perfectly good pumpkins much less light them up...

He went with us anyway, strapped into a stroller as he went limp in protest at the first opportunity. He ventured up the steps of exactly one house, where he was incensed because the residents were sitting on the steps passing out candy instead of behind the door as he thought they should be. He tried to tell them to go behind the door. When they found that cute and laughed, he sputtered in indignation and yelled "I done, Momma!" They called out "Don't forget your candy!" as he was storming down the stairs. He didn't even look back.

The remainder of the night he spent in his stroller, waiting in vain for the French paratroopers to swing in to his rescue.

There's not one thing about Halloween he enjoys. He truly hates the whole

noun, slang
A situation, organization, contrivance, or set of facts or things.
"shebang." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 01 Nov. 2005.

Sunday, October 30, 2005



n : small round bright-colored and spotted beetle that usually feeds on aphids and other insect pests [syn: ladybug, ladybeetle, lady beetle, ladybird beetle]

At risk of seeming demode (sorry if this is old news), I thought I'd share with you an excellent childrens' book series that is very popular overseas. I've previously enjoyed using their toddler magazine and have recently re-discovered the title's wonderful hardbacks for youngsters. The artwork is well-done and wonderfully-quaint (60's & 70's), and the stories keep a certain 5 year old riveted. Try it--you might like it. Here's a link:


In Washington, DC, there is a street quite near American University called Tunlaw Road. Tunlaw? "Walnut" backward, of course.

In a Parisian backslang called Verlan, popular some years ago, monosyllabic words were often said backward. (Longer words had syllabic order reversed.)

And the British slang word "yob", a term for a rowdy, hooliganish male, is nothing more than "boy" backward.

There are, however, certain things that should never be backward.

Passing urine in a backward direction.
"retromingent." Worthless Words for the Day. Michael F. Fischer, 2005. 31 Oct. 2005.

What. The. Lleh?