Saturday, December 24, 2005


Once upon a time, I polled a decent-sized group of people. I asked roughly 100 others what they called the big store where one can buy food. Not for a specific store name, but the type of store.

I was the only one who called it simply a "grocery".

Some called it a grocery store, some called it a supermarket, some called it simply "a super", but nobody else said, "I'm off to the grocery," or "I need to pick up some things at the grocery."

I just looked into the matter, and I am vindicated.

A store selling foodstuffs and various household supplies.
"grocery." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 24 Dec. 2005.

The term "grocery store" is completely redundant. Ha.

(And yes, those shoppers-in-training are mine.)

Friday, December 23, 2005

Life in the US is about to get a whole lot better

Here's an article I found in the local paper that many NRIs in the US will cheer about, and that the uninitiated will learn to love.

Each year, New Delhi hosts its mango festival at the capacious Talkatora Indoor Stadium. Featuring almost 500 varieties or ‘cultivars’, the event draws thousands who emerge with sticky, drippy fingers and sappy smiles.

While mangos are in season, I’m always a faithful contributor to the agricultural industry’s fortunes—I’m certain that my mango consumption alone accounts for a measurable annual bump in that sector’s contribution to India’s GDP. But while most are good and some are great, I’ll confess to you that my favorite is a variety that hails from a city called Ratnagiri in the western state of Maharashtra. The fruit is startlingly fragrant, sapid, and succulent, as well as salubrious.

Mangos just make life better. Enjoy.

For more, click here.

sap•id (săp'ĭd)
a. Perceptible to the sense of taste; having flavor.
b. Having a strong pleasant flavor; savory.
2. Pleasing to the mind; engaging.
[Latin sapidus, from sapere, to taste.]

1. Full of juice or sap; juicy.
2. Botany. Having thick, fleshy, water-storing leaves or stems.
3. Highly interesting or enjoyable; delectable: a succulent bit of gossip.
n. Botany.
A succulent plant, such as a sedum or cactus.
[Latin succulentus, from succus, juice.]

sa•lu•bri•ous (sə-lū'brē-əs)
Conducive or favorable to health or well-being.
[From Latin salūbris, from salūs, health.]
photo credit:

1 year = 365 days (366 if Leap)

One year ago today, my husband brought Salsa home from the Guilford County Animal Shelter, where she had been turned in by her former owner five months previously. She was broken-spirited, scared, dirty, matted, and yellow-toothed. She also threw up twice in my husband's car on the way home. I immediately declared her to be, by far, the best Christmas present anyone had ever given me.

1. To take something and make one's own.
2. To accept officially.
[USAGE NOTE Children are adopted by parents, and one normally refers to an adopted child but to adoptive parents, families, and homes. When describing places, one can use either adopted or adoptive.]
"adopt." Roget's II: The New Thesaurus, Third Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 1995. 23 Dec. 2005.
"adopt." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 23 Dec. 2005.

We found Salsa on PETFINDER.COM Please consider opening your home, either through adoption or through fostering, to a recycled pet.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

am I alone on this?

According to, this is the word origin for reindeer:

Reindeer is actually redundant. The root rein is Scandinavian for 'reindeer', so reindeer translates to 'reindeer deer'. It came to English from Old Norse hreindyri.

Did anyone else think reindeer were referred to as such because they were deer with reins attached to them to pull sleighs?

Here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus

The three year old saw him for the first time today, but only from a distance. Oh, you want to know if he was excited?

Well, let's just say his reaction would fit in HERE perfectly.

I kid you not, the poor lad actually had

goose bumps
noun, plural
Momentary roughness of the skin caused by erection of the papillae in response to cold or fear. Also called cutis anserina, goose flesh, goose pimples.
"goose bumps." The American Heritage Stedman's Medical Dictionary. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2002. 23 Dec. 2005.

In Spain, the condition is called piel de gallina (hen skin). I wonder if other languages use still different birds.


The second best iced tea is Arizona Iced Tea (sunbrewed, with lemon), which comes in a bottle, an oversized can, or a gallon jug, which is the size we buy. It is a given that the tea goes right up to the tippy-top of the spout. I usually spill some just lifting the jug after opening it, so full is it.

The absolute best iced tea, though, is

sweet tea
A form of iced tea in which sugar or some other form of sweetener is added to the hot water before brewing, while brewing the tea, or post-brewing, but before the beverage is chilled and served. It is a staple beverage in the U.S. Southern states; most family-style and fast food restaurants in the region offer the customer a choice of sweet tea or unsweetened (sometimes referred to as "unsweet") iced tea. However, most Southerners prefer the sweet variant.

Iced tea is normally served unsweetened throughout the rest of the United States: a request for a glass of "sweet tea" in these regions will usually be met with a blank look. Displaced Southerners and others who want to sweeten their iced tea may need to dissolve sugar in the already cold tea themselves, a difficult proposition.
"sweet tea." Wikipedia. Wikipedia, 2005. 22 Dec. 2005.

In my drawers

It's been a long time since I organized my dresser drawers. I guess yesterday it was just "time". I went in my room, opened the top drawer, pulled everything out of the drawer, and found two surprises at the bottom of my drawer. The first surprise my eyes went to was a nicely folded $5 bill. Nice. I stuffed it in my pocket and went for the second thing I found, picked it up, and sniffed it. It still smelled great, but I think I need a fresh one. A nice, fresh scent like lavender or gardenia, preferred.

sa·chet (să-shā') n.

A small packet of perfumed powder used to scent clothes, as in trunks or closets.
Dictionary definition of sachetThe American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition Copyright © 2004, 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

O Kindling Tree, O Kindling Tree

Our Christmas tree is drying out quickly. The city has announced it will start picking up trees curbside on January 3rd, and mine will be out there well before that. I'm watering it furiously, but really, it is so much

Readily combustible material, such as dry twigs, used to kindle fires.
[Middle English, from Old English tynder.]
"tinder." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 21 Dec. 2005.

I'm not turning the lights on until Christmas Eve, and only then for like ten minutes.

ALL the animals

Today the oldest's class is decorating a tree on the edge of the woods with food for animals to eat over the winter. They are hanging pine cones rolled in peanut butter then birdseed, they've strung popcorn and berries, and I sent an enormous bag of mixed nuts for them to lay on branches. Other families sent goods as well.

This morning, the oldest asked me to stop at a grocery so he could pick up some peanuts still in the shells for any elephants foraging this winter in North Carolina.

"Elephants?" I asked.

"Elephants are animals, too, Mom."

Including everything; comprehensive.
"all-inclusive." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 21 Dec. 2005.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Families are like nuts...

I'm expecting quite a few folks at my house this weekend on Christmas eve. I love this time of year when we can all be together and it's warm and cozy, everyone gets along (even if they're faking hahaha!), and there is good food to be had. This year, however, I'm sort of feeling lazy and I hadn't planned on cooking a big meal. Thanksgiving, I prepared all of the food for about 20 people and for Christmas, I wanted to put in an order at Boston Market. Basically, cheat but still eat.

However, my mother is already starting to pluck my nerves and it's not Christmas afternoon yet! She's insisting that I make food and not order because she likes my stuff better. She doesn't care if that means slaving over the stove for hours. All she sees is me crankin' out yummyyumyums for everyone. Hooray... NOT! My sister has already asked a million times what I'm getting her for Christmas. My father has mentioned that I shouldn't be making all that heavy food if I'm "tryin' ta lose that extra weight". *sigh* He hates me.

Everyone else keeps calling me and asking me questions. You know what I want 5 days before Christmas? I want peace and quiet. I don't know everything, I don't have all the answers, I'm not telling you what I got your for Christmas, and I won't be cooking a damn thing! I love them, but they are leaning on my nerves.

Irk: v.: To be irritating, wearisome, or vexing to

(fingers in ears) la-la-la-la

I spent three hours yesterday at a doctor's office with the youngest. Much of that time was spent in the large playroom where children play with almost any toy imaginable. A sign on the door announces it to be a Safe Zone, that no medical procedures are to be done inside the playroom.

A couple nearby took it one step further and decided that since it was a Safe Zone, they would go ahead and have a discussion about each other's transgressions in voices loud enough to be not just audible, but unavoidable.

air one's dirty laundry
Also air one's dirty linen or wash one's dirty linen in public
Expose private matters to public view, especially unsavory secrets. These metaphors are reworkings of a French proverb, Il faut laver son linge sale en famille (“One should wash one's dirty linen at home”), which was quoted by Napoleon on his return from Elba (1815). It was first recorded in English in 1867.
"wash one's dirty linen in public." The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms. Houghton Mifflin Company, 1992. 20 Dec. 2005.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Fakey Fakerton, I am not!

So, I was standing in line inside my son's school, waiting (amongst some of the most catty women in the state!) to take him to his class when Mrs. B. Snooty walked up to me and inquired about my afro. For the second time. The first time she asked if it was real and how I "get it to look so soft". Of course, it's real! I'd never wear an afro wig. In fact, I think anyone who can grow a real afro should not be wearing an afro wig. It should be outlawed, at least on the east coast! So, anyway... she says how she really likes it and how she couldn't "let my hair get all kinky and knotty" on purpose. Also, how she wouldn't know what to do with it. Mind you, this is coming from another African-American woman whose hair most certainly was like mine as a child. I was sort of offended at how she was inquiring and attacking my hair at the same time.

I just smiled and nodded for most of it. When there were no more veiled daggers to throw at me, she just stood there and smiled. I stood there for about 10 seconds, inspecting her hair, frowning my brow a bit and said "Awwww, you're precious, but I'm going to stick with the natural Atchafala". I smiled at her as I walked away to sign my son in. She was shocked and appalled. I was content. Oh, for the record, my 'fro is soft, fluffy, and shiny. Also, it's MINE and I love it. My hair isn't straight, it'll never be straight, and I'm all about being me.

Mrs. B. Snooty is completely obnoxious and I'm sure the snide comments will go on for the rest of the school year. She best proceed at her own risk...

Obnoxious: adj.

1. Very annoying or objectionable; offensive or odious: “I know no method to secure the repeal of bad or obnoxious laws so effective as their stringent execution” (Ulysses S. Grant).
2. Archaic. Exposed to harm, injury, or evil: “The town … now lies obnoxious to its foes” (John Bunyan).
3. Archaic. Deserving of or liable to censure.


Oh, to send my children to school with Japanese children

I walked the oldest into his classroom this morning. So many children there were hacking, runny-nosed, and obviously under the weather that I nearly turned him around and walked him right back out. Alas, unless he is sick, it would count as an unexcused absence. So there I left him.

In light of the current situation in his sickroom, I mean classroom, I find this idea to be sheer

Extraordinary intellectual and creative power.
"genius." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 19 Dec. 2005.

Sunday, December 18, 2005


From an Associated Press article on the Washington Post's website:

An elementary school teacher whose 11-year-old son twice brought a loaded handgun to school faces felony child endangerment charges.

The article goes on to say

According to a police affidavit, Holdren told officers who offered to give her a gun lock: "I can't lock up his guns. They belong to him, and he has a right to use them whenever he wants to use them."

1. Not meant or adapted for a given purpose; inappropriate.
2. Below the required standard; unqualified.
3. Not in good physical or mental health.
"unfit." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 19 Dec. 2005.

Have you any news?

We were listening to Christmas carols when I realized the 3 year old thought the phrase was Hairy Christmas. I cleared it up (I think), then asked the oldest if he had any questions about the music. He wondered what tidings meant. I realized when I looked it up I had never known myself.

noun, plural
Account of what has taken place, and was not before known; news.
[The term news denotes recent intelligence from any quarter; the term tidings denotes intelligence expected from a particular quarter, showing what has there betided. We may be indifferent as to news, but are always more or less interested in tidings. We read the news daily; we wait for tidings respecting an absent friend or an impending battle. We may be curious to hear the news; we are always anxious for tidings.]
"tidings." Webster 1913 Dictionary. Patrick J. Cassidy, 1913. 19 Dec. 2005.

So all those Christmas brag letters? Tidings.

They're heeerrreee

So, I spent this past weekend at Keoladeo National Park and spotted my first Bar-headed Goose (actually, a couple hundred!) It’s an elegant and amazing bird (click here for some of its impressive tricks.) Nevertheless, given the Qinghai outbreak, and this, I fear that outbreak in South Asia is only a matter of time and ineluctable.

in•e•luc•ta•ble (ĭn'ĭ-lŭk'tə-bəl)
Not to be avoided or escaped; inevitable

comfort and

They ran past me a half hour ago, my children, the oldest whispering a bookmark, shhh. Carrying the Craft Bag, they locked themselves in the oldest's room, and all I've heard since is muffled voices, helping one another. I asked for a bookmark for Christmas, but what I'm getting is so much better: my children working together, cheerfully doing something for someone else.

1. Intense and especially ecstatic or exultant happiness.
2. The expression or manifestation of such feeling.
"joy." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 18 Dec. 2005.