Saturday, November 26, 2005

Coloring Books

I was in a bookstore today, perusing the specialized children's coloring books from Dover. I was tickled to find one about life in ancient Mexico. I was just about to sneakily buy it for the oldest, who was nearby, when I decided on a whim to flip it open. Let me just take this moment to say


Just a smidge too much information at his age.

(also smidgeon or smidgin) (Slang: smidge)
A very small quantity or portion; a bit or mite.
[Probably alteration of dialectal smitch, particle, perhaps ultimately from Middle English smite, perhaps from past participle of smiten, to smite.]
"smidgen." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 27 Nov. 2005.

I had them order this one for him instead.

Eat your veggies

Less popular meanings...

Informal term for money.
Make off with belongings of others.
"cabbage." WordNet 1.7.1. Princeton University, 2001. 26 Nov. 2005.

A reward offered for desired behavior; an inducement.
"carrot." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 26 Nov. 2005.

noun, slang
Paper money.
"lettuce." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 26 Nov. 2005.

1. (Slang) A person's head.
2. beans (Slang) A small amount: I don't know beans about investing.
3. Chiefly British. A fellow; a chap.
To hit (another) on the head with a thrown object, especially a pitched baseball.
"bean." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 26 Nov. 2005.

noun, slang
Something considered trite, dated, melodramatic, or unduly sentimental.
"corn." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 26 Nov. 2005.

1. A crushed or crowded mass.
2. A racket game played in a closed walled court with a rubber ball.
1. To beat, squeeze, or press into a pulp or a flattened mass; crush.
2. To put down or suppress; quash: squash a revolt.
"squash." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 26 Nov. 2005.

1. To sprinkle liberally; dot.
2. To shower with or as if with small missiles.
3. To make (a speech, for example) lively and vivid with wit or invective.
"pepper." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 26 Nov. 2005.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Fighting the good fight

As I ate my ugly but tasty breakfast this morning, it occurred to me that some may be unfamiliar with the ‘sitaphal’. It’s the local name for a regional species of the Annona genus, a family of delicious gifts from nature. (Note: It is similar to, but not the same as, the custard apple or the ubitquitous ‘chirimoya’ in Peru.)

The sitaphal is not an easy eat, but it IS worth the effort. The flesh is delicate and butter-soft, fragrant, and very sweet. But you aren’t rewarded without effort. The flesh is segmented around many shiny, black, marble-smooth seeds (but with a nice mouthfeel).

de·li·cious (dĭ-lĭsh'əs) adj.

1. Highly pleasing or agreeable to the senses, especially of taste or smell.
2. Very pleasant; delightful: a delicious revenge.

[Middle English, from Anglo-Norman, from Late Latin dēliciōsus, pleasing, from Latin dēlicia, pleasure : dē-, intensive pref.; see de– + lacere, to entice.]


Other links: and

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Must Not Move

Many stores opened at 6 am today. People were actually up, dressed, and prepared to do retail battle to secure the best gifts at the best prices.

I got up at 7 but didn't dress until 8. Since then, I've made two meals, tidied one room and folded one load of laundry. Oh, yes, I read the paper and flipped through the advertising supplements, too.

I'm inclined to call it a day, and lounge about with the kids the remainder.

Given to doing nothing; idle; lazy.
An irresponsible idler; a sluggard.
[French, alteration (influenced by fait néant, does nothing) of Old French faignant, idler, from present participle of faindre, feindre, to feign.]
"fainéant." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 25 Nov. 2005.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

We're fascinating

A snippet from the AP Wire. Seven, count them, seven stories filed in a row about Southern Life. I only wish all were especially flattering.

Yes, Ma'am, There Is Pride in Politeness (AP, November 23, 2005; 6:21 PM)
Whither the Southern Accent? (AP, November 23, 2005; 6:20 PM)
Northerners Make Powerful Inroads in Va. (AP, November 23, 2005; 6:20 PM)
Country Comedy Is an Evolving Tradition (AP, November 23, 2005; 6:19 PM)
Great Literature Amid Illiteracy (AP, November 23, 2005; 6:19 PM)
Kentucky's Struggle Stems From Civil War (AP, November 23, 2005; 6:19 PM)
Will Fajita Become the New Moon Pie? (AP, November 23, 2005; 6:19 PM)

All written by different journalists. Perhaps writing about Southern Life is now in

1. The prevailing fashion, practice, or style: Hoop skirts were once the vogue.
2. Popular acceptance or favor; popularity: a party game no longer in vogue.
"vogue." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 24 Nov. 2005.

Bah, Humbug

Immediately after Halloween, in itself a riotous celebration of excess in recent years, Thanksgiving merchandise was put out in most stores.

Right next to Christmas merchandise.

Why we need Thanksgiving merchandise, I'm not even sure.

In any event, a week ago, that is to say a full week before Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving merchandise was all marked down at most stores I entered and shoved out of view onto back sales racks.

To make room for Christmas merchandise.

I lovelovelove Christmas. Our family has lots of Christmas traditions. But they don't start until December.

I'm actually being turned off the entire holiday by the prolonged and incredibly gaudy nature of the festivities.

Call me Esbee Scrooge.

Ebeneezer Scrooge
proper name
The main character in Charles Dickens' story A Christmas Carol. His name has come into the English language as a byword for miserliness and misanthropy, traits displayed by Scrooge in the exaggerated manner for which Dickens is well-known. The story of his transformation by the three Ghosts of Christmas (Past, Present and Future) is a defining tale of the Christmas holiday.

Scrooge's phrase "Bah, humbug" has been used to express disgust with Christmas traditions in modern times.
"Ebenezer Scrooge." Wikipedia. Wikipedia, 2005. 23 Nov. 2005.

The average American intends to spend more than a thousand dollars on Christmas this year. I find that appalling, too.

I don't advocate shutting the whole thing down, just limiting it to December and making it smaller again. I know families that go into debt not to buy nice gifts, but to buy wildly extravagant gifts. That is craziness. So is redecorating your home in Christmasware.

up in arms
Angry, rebellious, as in The town was up in arms over the state's plan to allow commercial flights at the air base. This idiom originally referred to an armed rebellion and was so used from the late 1500s. Its figurative use dates from about 1700.
"up in arms." The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms. Houghton Mifflin Company, 1992. 23 Nov. 2005.

Pretty paper, pretty ribbons of blue

I love gift wrap. Really, I do, more so than anyone I know. I'd even work at one of those gift wrap kiosks at the mall.
Today I wandered through a certain purveyor of paper's selection this afternoon, in gift wrap ecstasy. More than one service person asked me if I needed help. But no, I was just
des·ul·to·ry adj.

1. Moving or jumping from one thing to another; disconnected.
2. Occurring haphazardly; random.

I ended up buying the most spectacular papers, ribbons, and tags I have ever bought. Wandering time well worth it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Wild Child

1. Existing in a wild or untamed state.
2. Having returned to an untamed state from domestication.
3. Of or suggestive of a wild animal; savage.
"feral." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 23 Nov. 2005.

Fair warning: is heartbreaking.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Eat up!

When I was growing up, there were two hardcore schools of plate thought, with subschools in each.

1. The Clean Plate Club
    A) That food cost money.
    B) There are starving children in Africa.
2. Never Eat Every Bite on Your Plate

    A) It's rude to the person who served the food, because it insinuates you weren't offered enough.
    B) It insinuates that your mother starves you at home.
My mother, always comfortable straddling issues, was a member of both camps. At home, we were expected to clean our plates, if possible. When invited out, we were expected to leave a bite or two on our plates, if possible. There was never any grief about it, but we knew well what was expected of us, and, generally, we delivered.

The exception for me was Mrs. Murray's grilled cheese sandwiches. Invited to play with her daughters, I couldn't resist savoring every last bite. When she offered seconds, I tossed my upbringing to the wind and readily accepted.

They were, and remain today, the best grilled cheese sandwiches I have ever had in my life. I went to the Murray house many times, and Mrs. Murray always served us grilled cheeses. I never left so much as an

1. A small scrap or leaving of food after a meal is completed. Often used in the plural.
2. A scrap; a bit.
"ort." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 22 Nov. 2005.

It's not over until the fat kitty sings

I took Clyde into our vet this morning. He noted Clyde had lost two pounds in the last six weeks, down to 9 pounds from 11, which is down itself from his healthy weight of 14. The vet noted Clyde's eye was fixed and nonreactive. He noted Clyde was lethargic and dehydrated.

Then he noted the look on my face, which would best be described as "tear-streaked."

And he offered the glimmer of hope that this possibly was another abcess that possibly might be rectified with minor surgery and intense antibiotic treatment. But he allowed as to how he wouldn't know until he sedated Clyde and aspirated the lump. And he said that was up to me, that he didn't think it was outrageous to try the aspiration, but if I told him I was prepared to stop, he would be willing to put him down.

Call me a

1. A person who wagers money on the outcome of games or sporting events.
2. Someone who risks loss or injury in the hope of gain or excitement Synonym: risk taker.
"gambler." WordNet 1.7.1. Princeton University, 2001. 21 Nov. 2005.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

I hate tomorrow

I've had my cat, Clyde, for 16 and a half years. I found him at a restaurant named Clyde's, in Georgetown, Washington, DC, when he was only a few weeks old.

He predates my children, he predates my husband, he predates my professional career, he predates my degree. He is a living tie to the memory of my mother, who wasted an entire summer playing with Clyde, then a kitten, with me.

And I think tomorrow I have to put him to sleep.

Recently, the roots of his teeth began abcessing so suddenly and so aggressively he had open sores on one side of his face overnight. Two surgeries and many antibiotics later, that was resolved, but he was still losing weight and slowing down.

And now, in the course of two days, the eye on that same side has rolled up, and the cheek that was normal Friday now has a hard, golf ball-sized growth on the upper inside.

I would have taken him into the Emergency Vet if I thought there was any hope, but I don't. And I can't explain it, but I want a Vet who knows him and knows me and knows all my animals to tell me there's no hope.

I've given him some kitty painkillers I had left from the Emergency Vet from the abcesses (all animal emergencies seemingly occur afterhours/on the weekend in this house.)

I know he has had a long life. I know he has had a good life.

This is nothing as encompassing as the pit in my stomach I felt when my mother's death was imminent, but I still hate tomorrow.

Fearful expectation or anticipation Synonyms: apprehension, apprehensiveness.
"dread." WordNet 1.7.1. Princeton University, 2001. 21 Nov. 2005.

I will not brook further disobedience

A few weeks ago, I released my Memo to my eyebrow hairs.

Just a few minutes ago, I looked in a mirror to find that the grey hair I plucked out that day came BACK in, but this time it was RED. It was also A FULL INCH long. I have blonde eyebrows, for the record, so this Ronald McDonald clownhair stood out, to put it mildly.


I've plucked it again. I fear what I may find in its place on the morrow.

A lack of civil order or peace: disorder, lawlessness, misrule.
"anarchy." Roget's II: The New Thesaurus, Third Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 1995. 20 Nov. 2005.


Hold me. I'm scared.

Mis perros hablan Español.

Arabic: KooKooKoo-koo
Chinese: goh-geh-goh-goh
Dutch: kukeleku
French: cocorico
German: kikeriki
Greek: kikiriku
Hebrew: ku-ku-ri-ku
Italian: chicchirichì
Japanese: ko-ke kokkoh
Korean: k'ok'iyo
Polish: kukuryku
Portuguese: Cócórócócó
Russian: ku-ka-rye-ku
Spanish: quiquiriqú
Swahili: KokoRikoo koo
Swedish: kuckeliku

The sound of an English-speaking rooster's crow.

…and throw away the key

On December 13, 2005, Crips co-founder Tookie Williams is scheduled for execution. There’s currently an enormous stir in the press in a bid for his clemency (just Google his name.) While long an instinctive supporter of capital punishment, I’ve been recently surprised to find myself opposing it, particularly with the many recent revelations of long-time inmates being exonerated by DNA evidence.

Guilt in this case seems pretty clear to me (read the LA County DA’s response to the clemency appeal) and I have NO sympathy for him, but I’m not sure what benefit we as a society derive from killing a killer. My vote on protecting society from people like this is to keep him (and any other death penalty convictions) in prison for life, without possibility of parole.

Crips: n. A notorious and widely-emulated LA-origin street gang that sucked in a good friend in the late 70s and has since spread virally nationwide. Counterpart of a ludicrous Hatfield-McCoy-style feud with the ‘Bloods’ (which sucked in another friend at the time).

Here are some interesting links describing the Crips:

The only positive thing I’ve seen come out of them is some bouncin’ music and a particularly fun (if difficult and controversial) little dance, the C-walk.

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