Saturday, December 31, 2005

No, no, NO!

It took me a long time to figure out how to work with the youngest. He's headstrong. He gets it from me, and I couldn't be prouder. He also gets honey as a term of endearment from me, though he pronounces it hah-nee.

We've been working on counting to ten, and I thought it was time to introduce the Spanish words for one through ten as well. He disagreed.

"Honey, can you say uno?"

"No, I no say uno!"

"Can you say dos?"

"No, I no say dos!"

--- At this point, I'm pretty much patting myself on the back, thinking myself brilliant for wording the questions in such a way that he will do what I want in the name of not doing what I want. ---

"Honey, how about tres? Can you say tres?"

"Hah-nee, no! I no say tres, cuatro, cinco, seis, siete, ocho, nueve, diez! NO!"

Well, then. No wonder he was so contrary. He clearly considered the entire interaction

1. Serving no useful purpose; having no excuse for being.
2. More than is needed, desired, or required.
"superfluous." WordNet 1.7.1. Princeton University, 2001. 01 . 2006.

I still have no idea how he learned to count to ten in Spanish.

(whispering) Are they alive?

I'm not sure what amazes me more: the statues themselves or the fact that Ron Mueck has never had formal art training.


1. The lower jaw of a vertebrate animal.
2. Either the upper or lower part of the beak in birds.
3. Any of various mouth organs of invertebrates used for seizing and biting food, especially either of a pair of such organs in insects and other arthropods.
[Middle English, from Old French, from Late Latin mandibula, from Latin mandere, to chew.]
"mandible." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 31 Dec. 2005.

1. To fall straight down; plunge.
2. To decline suddenly and steeply.
[Middle English plomet, from Old French, ball of lead, diminutive of plom, plomb, sounding lead, from Latin plumbum.]
"plummet." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 31 Dec. 2005.


We went to the movies last night and my only stipulation was that we see something "light." I get a little sentimental around the holidays and didn't want a maudlin movie setting me over the edge. We decided on The Family Stone. From the previews I thought it was a light-hearted comedy about a family's crazy holiday antics. It was... at times. At other times - many other times - I had to put my glasses on top of my head to wipe the constant stream of tears from my eyes. Perhaps it was less the movie and more my holiday state of mind or the lingering effects of an earlier unpleasant conversation, but for a movie chosen because it was "light," I sure did spend a lot of time

v. intr.
1. To express emotion, such as grief or sadness, by shedding tears
2. To mourn or grieve
3. To emit or run with drops of liquid

It seems I unintentionally picked a (or picked an unintentional)

n. slang
A grossly sentimental story, drama, or performance

Funeral food

The vet's office called yesterday to let me know our deceased cat's ashes are back from cremation. The oldest is planning the service; we're interring his ashes in the backyard. I'm planning the reception. I'm serving Moravian sugar cake from Dewey's, which I will warm so that all the buttery brown-sugar goodness is the teeniest bit runny.

We've a large Moravian community here in Winston-Salem. Their influence extends not only to our baked goods but also to our Christmas decorations, Moravian stars being the star of choice here.

1. A native or inhabitant of Moravia.
2. A group of Czech dialects spoken in Moravia.
3. A member of a Protestant denomination founded in Saxony in 1722 by Hussite emigrants from Moravia.
"Moravian." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 31 Dec. 2005.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Won't be needing those anymore

Another day, another milestone.

And I just noticed another gray hair.


Not needed or wished for; unnecessary.

I suffer from Bibliophilia

I read quite a lot. I'm often tired in the morning from reading too late into the night. I keep whatever I'm reading with me at all times, stealing moments to savor it in carpool lines, doctors' offices, wherever.

I took my degree in Literature, because it allowed me to get credit for reading and forming opinions about what I'd read. It seemed almost a racket to me, like getting credit for breathing, so naturally does reading come to me.

Nine Works of Fiction I Have Enjoyed, Even on the Reread
in no particular order
1. Midaq Alley - Naguib Mahfouz
2. Time's Arrow - Martin Amis
3. Love in the Time of Cholera - Gabriel García Márquez
4. If on a Winter's Night a Traveler - Italo Calvino
5. Baumgartner's Bombay - Anita Desai
6. A Question of Power - Bessie Head
7. Dita Saxova - Arnost Lustig
8. Herzog - Saul Bellow
9. Laughter in the Dark - Vladimir Nabokov

Why nine? Why not one more for an even ten? I find lists of ten

Drearily commonplace and often predictable; trite.
[USAGE NOTE The pronunciation of banal is not settled among educated speakers of American English... ...When several pronunciations of a word are widely used, there is really no right or wrong one.]
"banal." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 30 Dec. 2005.

I've never read a work by any of the above authors that didn't appeal to me, actually.

If I had to pick one that is my absolute favorite, it's Love in the Time of Cholera, which makes me feel - and this is an odd word, but the right one nonetheless - immersed.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

A question

The oldest asks a lot of questions. One question currently on the table is "What exactly happened to these trees?"

Many of the oldest's questions arise, as this one did, while hiking on Pilot Mountain. Wonderful to see his mind so stimulated, save the speed of hike he favors exhausts me, rendering me somewhat useless for on-the-spot explanations of scientific phenomena. I have not the child's

Ebullient vitality and energy.
[Latin, accusative of vīs.]
"vim." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 30 Dec. 2005.

Sleep in Heavenly Peace

Three years ago today, my mother died of cancer, having never once lost a game of Scrabble to me.

I have another blog where I collect tidbits like that about others. I glean them from my local paper, which has the best obituaries I've ever encountered, the kind that make you wish you had known the deceased, the kind that really make you feel the loss of that possibility.

So here are a few more details about my mother, my sweet, fabulous, funny mother.
  • My mother never once served turkey at Thanksgiving. We had Cornish game hens, partridge, duck, dove, anything but turkey.
  • She was the only math teacher I ever had who made math exciting.
  • Her skill at growing tomatoes in half-barrels was legendary.
  • Mommy once bought a miniature golf course on a lark.
  • My mother was the most capable woman who ever lived. She could do anything, including a fair bit of plumbing.
  • She named her daughter for her mother-in-law, not out of a great love, but out of a great respect.
  • Mommy allowed us numerous pets of significant destructive ability without ever once complaining, in spite of the fact that it must have irked her to watch her beautiful home take such a beating.
  • One of my mother's front top teeth very slightly overlapped the other, which made her smile even more charming and infectious.

So that was my mother. I wish more people had had a chance to know her. She was, in every sense of the word,

1. Full of love; loving.
2. Inspiring love or affection.
3. Having beauty that appeals to the emotions as well as to the eye.
4. Enjoyable; delightful.
"lovely." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 29 Dec. 2005.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Really Ciara, it's not you--it's me.

Well, that was quick. But I think I gave Mrs. RD whiplash this time. She knows about all of my girlfriends and helpfully points them out to me when they're on TV or on a magazine stand. (Actually, she remembers them better than I--with some frustration she had to remind me not long ago that yes, Beyonce was my girlfriend.)

Anyway, there was no small laughter when I recently advised her that actually, Darshini David is now the one. You see, Darshini (yes, another newscaster) is an amazing creature who actually makes me smile as I watch the news. I don't actually hear what she says (the content of her reports is often tedious), but it's simply the sheer pageantry of Darshini that makes the business news so much better. And yes, I'll admit it, I'm smitten.

(Um. At least for the moment...)


adj. Marked by foolish or unreasoning fondness.

The eyes have it

My eyes are a greyish blue. My mother's were a lovely cornflower blue. My father's are the blue of a stormy sea.

My husband's eyes are dark brown, the color of the richest earth, the soil that used to make my mother sigh in happiness when she gardened.

The oldest's eyes are a warm, medium brown with a smattering of gold flecks. His eyes remind me of Hershey's chocolate and teddy bears.

The youngest's eyes are a mix of all of our eyes, a light brown with flecks of darker brown, blue, and gold. In most pictures, they appear hazel, but in truth they are

1. Having streaks, marks, or patches of a different color or colors; varicolored.
2. Distinguished or characterized by variety; diversified.
"variegated." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 28 Dec. 2005.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Have a seat

I live quite close to the furniture towns of High Point, North Carolina, which sports a gigantic dresser as a landmark, and Thomasville, North Carolina, which sports an enormous chair.

But inevitably, I find myself shopping for furniture in small resale stores here in Winston-Salem, hoping to find an unrecognized older piece I can lovingly restore to glory.

Currently, I am looking for a few pieces for the oldest's room. I found a lovely chifforobe in one local resale store, but I don't need one, so I left it for someone else to discover.

noun, Chiefly Southern U.S.
A tall piece of furniture typically having drawers on one side and space for hanging clothes on the other.
"chifforobe." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 27 Dec. 2005.

Forgive the quality of the picture. I was in a moving vehicle, and the driver barely slowed for this amazing photo opportunity.

Monday, December 26, 2005

For 2006

I'm cleaning out our home, a tradition of mine for New Year's. I like to go into the new calendar with the house not just clean, but streamlined.

The second drawer on my dresser contains hosiery and swimwear. I have three suits, two of which I really like. I could get rid of a swimsuit. But not two. I must have more than one in case I swim twice in the same day.

There's no such thing as only slightly wet when it comes to putting on a swimsuit. In fact, there are only two possible descriptions: completely dry, upon which I insist, and

Unpleasantly damp: clammy.
"squidgy." Worthless Words for the Day. Michael F. Fischer, 2005. 26 Dec. 2005.

My mother never owned "swimsuits". She always referred to them as "bathing suits", which term I also use from time to time.

Read about the fascinating bathing machine!

Sunday, December 25, 2005


The gifts have been opened, the tree admired, the stockings emptied, the roast devoured.

The youngest is lying facedown on the sofa in the den, dead asleep, one hand clutching a last candy cane. The oldest is lying on the floor, playing with his Legos, groggy.

I may not move until next Wednesday. I blame the gravy.

1. Used up; consumed.
2. Having come to an end; passed.
3. Depleted of energy, force, or strength; exhausted.
"spent." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 25 Dec. 2005.