Saturday, January 21, 2006

Spring Planting

I'm trying to decide what to tell the gardener. He thinks I'm nuts.

When we bought this house, he came with it in the form of a note, jotted in pencil, not entirely free from misspellings, asking us to keep him on, as he had cared for this property for years. The owner had died; we inherited him.

He found my dislike for rose bushes acceptable, maybe even understandable. He didn't care one way or the other when I told him to pull the pampas grass. But when I purposefully put the children's pumpkins to rot in the front bed so a vine would emerge months later, snaking across the lawn he neatly manicured, he shook his head. And my decision to leave an enormous old stump in the center of the yard so the children can use it as a stage is absolute craziness in his eyes.

So here I sit, catalogues in front of me, my planting zone (7a or 7b, depending whom you ask) circled. And the only thing I know for sure is that no matter what I tell him to plant or where, he will bed it down with

pine straw
(Chiefly Southern US) Yellowed fallen pine needles.
"pine straw." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 21 Jan. 2006.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Every cloud?

Most people consider me to be an upbeat person. Why wouldn't I be? I have a wonderful family, a comfortable home, and very dear friends. I tend to be optimistic in almost every situation. But even I think one's glasses can be too rosy.

through rose-colored glasses
With an unduly cheerful, optimistic, or favorable view of things: see the world through rose-colored glasses.
"rose-colored." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 21 Jan. 2006.

To Wit: Frank Lindh, father of John Walker Lindh, the American Taliban fighter, on his son's 20 year sentence in federal prison, as quoted in an AP article found on the Washington Post website:

"The silver lining in this whole cloud is that we have wonderful visits with our son," said Frank Lindh. "Ordinarily a son who is 25 doesn't have much time to spend with his father. But we have a lot of time."

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Can't wait to see the photos

From an AP article on the Washington Post website, discussing "previously unknown species of spiders, centipedes, scorpion-like creatures and other animals" that were recently discovered in caves beneath two national parks:

The discoveries included a relative of the pill bug so translucent that its internal organs are visible, particularly its long, bright yellow liver. There was also a daddy long legs with jaws bigger than its body, and a tiny fluorescent orange spider.

They sound like they are straight out of

science fiction
A literary or cinematic genre in which fantasy, typically based on speculative scientific discoveries or developments, environmental changes, space travel, or life on other planets, forms part of the plot or background.
"science fiction." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 20 Jan. 2006.

Especially the daddy long legs.


The youngest went back to preschool today, having been home for nearly a month due to health reasons. All the little girls wanted to hug him, which is very sweet, but which he did not appreciate. Unfortunately, he chose to use his hands and feet to express that rather than his words. On hearing this from his teacher at pickup, I decided to have a little confab with him in the car.

(informal) A casual talk; confabulation.
"confab." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 20 Jan. 2006.

Me: So I hear you were pushing at school today.
Youngest: I got the magic touch!
Me: Uh-huh. Well, be that as it may, no pushing, OK?
Me: Kicking's no good either, honey.
Youngest: Magic touch.
Me: No more magic touch.
Youngest: But I on fire!

That's when I realized he was parroting a preschooler skeeball game he has that repeats encouraging compliments periodically while the child plays the game.


My poor head tongue

This morning, I had a headache. I decided to stop by my house to take some ibuprofin, as I was running errands and still had a few more. To facilitate swallowing the tablets (plus to get a bonus boost of caffeine), I chose sweet tea. I felt a chip of crushed ice go into my mouth when I swigged, so after I swallowed the tablets, I bit down on it. Only it wasn't the ice chip. It was an ibuprofin tablet.

1. Unpleasantly sharp, pungent, or bitter to the taste or smell.
2. Caustic in language or tone.
[From Latin ācer, sharp.]
"acrid." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 19 Jan. 2006.

That would explain the candy coating.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

He can take care of himself!

My son's 5th birthday party was this weekend. We had a great time and Xav almost fell over when we asked him to answer the door, only to have Spiderman standing on the other side of the door! It was great.

Before that, the party guests started to arrive, but the first one was the most shocking. His friend, a boy of the age of 4, walked through the door holding his mother's hand. I noticed something weird as soon as she stepped through my front door. She gave her son a kiss immediately and said "You be good". Whoa, lady... pump your brakes! She planned on leaving him here as soon as she got the invitation to the party in the mail! I hadn't written "You can leave or you can stay--your choice" on the invite. I thought that everyone would automatically stay with their preschooler. Argh! So, she turns to me and says "Do I have to stay? I was going to run a couple of errands...". Wow. Um, sure lady. Leave your 4 year old here. Forget it if he wants you, gets sick, starts acting a dang fool, or he hurts himself. No need to stay and make sure your precious child isn't hurt or sick or scared. I know what 4 year olds are like. They are fickle, to say the very least. One minute they'll be happy about freaking Power Rangers and then the next they'll be crying because they can't tie their shoes right! Hahaha!

So, as she turned to leave, I muttered, "Yeah, sure... see you at 4:30." WHAT?! Who said that? I need another voice representative! Tell me I didn't say it was all right for her to leave her child here. As she was walking down my driveway to her minivan, she says "Love you, B. Be good! *turning to me* He gets hyper...". Say what now?! Great. Just great. Hyper. Heh. Nice.

I see this woman every day, as we're hustling our kids into their classroom. I only have ever uttered "Hi, how are you" or "This weather is funky, isn't it?", you know, general conversation. Now, here this same woman, who doesn't know anything poignant about me (like whether or not I'm crazy, abusive, a chainsmoker, a habitual cold-cut junkie, etc.) and she left her baby in my care. I'd never leave my boys with people I didn't know. Her lack of common sense and her dash down the driveway left me...

disquieted: adj. afflicted with or marked by anxious uneasiness or trouble or grief
WordNet information about disquietedWordNet 1.7.1 Copyright © 2001 by Princeton University. All rights reserved. More from WordNet


From an AP article in today's Winston-Salem Journal about the recent execution in California of a 76 year old man:

Having suffered a heart attack in September, Allen had asked prison authorities to let him die if he went into cardiac arrest before his execution, a request that prison officials said they would not honor.

"At no point are we not going to value the sanctity of life," said Vernell Crittendon, a spokesman for the prison. "We would resuscitate him," then execute him.

1. Holiness of life or disposition; saintliness.
2. The quality or condition of being considered sacred; inviolability.
3. Something considered sacred.
[Middle English saunctite, from Old French sainctite, from Latin sānctitās, from sānctus, sacred.]
"sanctity." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 18 Jan. 2006.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Minding his business

I met an elderly man today with whom I hope to do business. He is 88 years old, not in the market for advice, and will change his terms on a whim. Anyone who doesn't care for his terms is welcome to go elsewhere. However, he was not unhappy to show lovely, old photos of himself, as a child, riding in a homemade cart pulled by a goat outside of the home in which he has resided for 85 years. This duality reminds me of my father, and so I liked him tremendously. Contrary to first appearances, he is not entirely a

An ill-tempered person full of resentment and stubborn notions.
"curmudgeon." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 17 Jan. 2006.

Baby needs new shoes.

She is now a

pedestrian n.

A person traveling on foot; a walker.

(She is holding my finger in the above picture, we have yet to develop our photos of her recent strides.)

Dictionary definition of pedestrian
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition Copyright © 2004, 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved

Monday, January 16, 2006

What are you doing HERE?!?!

My mother was an elementary math teacher for a number of years. At least annually, we would be out and about somewhere when we would run into a student who would say, "What are you doing out of school?" in a shocked voice, it never having occured to him or her that teachers have lives beyond the classroom walls.

I always thought these children silly. Now I'm eating my former smugness with a spoon.

As I've mentioned before, I like to watch Law and Order reruns in the evenings. In the past week, I've seen not one, not two, but THREE of the actors from Sesame Street on L&O episodes. "Gina" was the girlfriend of a would-be-murderous prison warden AND, in another episode, she was a lesbian trying to meet women at a bar. "Maria" was in an episode about a cross-dressing murderous millianaire, and "Luis" played the most ineffectual attorney to date in an episode featuring bombwearing bank robbers.

It's exactly the same sentiment. I'm shocked to see their faces out of the expected

1. The part of a text or statement that surrounds a particular word or passage and determines its meaning.
2. The circumstances in which an event occurs; a setting.
[Middle English, composition, from Latin contextus, from past participle of contexere, to join together : com-, com- + texere, to weave.]
"context." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 16 Jan. 2006.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Um, I Feel Okay After All, Thanks

Don't you hate it when you know you have a doctor's appointment but you can't remember what it's for? Am I getting a facial today, or and I getting my teeth cleaned? Am I having a root canal or a prostate exam? Or is my cat due for some shots? This happens to me all the time, and quite frankly, I'm sick of it.

Well with medical facilities like this one, those worries are now history. No matter what your medical need (or your ferret's medical need, as the case may be) you can get it all done at this one-stop-shop which I spotted in a shopping center near my house:

In case you can't read it, it says:
Specializing In:
Men's Health
Unique dosage forms for cats, dogs, birds, ferrets...

It's a medical specialty conglomeration on a small (ferret-sized) scale.


1. The act or process of conglomerating.
2. The state of being conglomerated.
3. An accumulation of miscellaneous things.

Dictionary definition of conglomeration on The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition Copyright © 2004 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

In bed

The plate holds a sea of syrup. Two waffles of the frozen variety (Eggo, blueberry) swim in it, lukewarm, butter forgotten. A large cup of milk has sloshed a bit onto the plate. Coffee or any other form of caffeine is nowhere to be found. Neither is a napkin.

But the boy carrying the tray with this feast is beaming, proud he's thought of it and executed it entirely himself. His announcement of I made breakfast! is sung rather than said. And so as I struggle up out of too few hours of sleep, I too am smiling.

1. To receive great pleasure or joy.
2. To give great pleasure or joy.
[Middle English delit, from Old French, a pleasure, from delitier, to please, charm, from Latin dēlectāre : dē-, intensive pref. + lactāre, frequentative of lacere, to entice.]
"delight." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 15 . 2006.