Saturday, January 28, 2006

Pomp & Circumstance

As a veteran of many Rose Parades, I can honestly tell you that I’ve never enjoyed a parade as much as I did on Thursday during the Republic Day celebrations in New Delhi. From endless marching bands and military formations to (former-Soviet) military gear to decoration-covered war camels and elephants to state-specific floats with dancers and blaring music, it was an event that defined

n., pl. -ries.

  1. Pageants and their presentation.
    1. Grand display; pomp.
    2. Empty show; flashy display.

It was delightful. See it for yourself at:


Black like me...

I just love black tea! I've been drinking green tea for about a month now--twice a day usually, and I really dig it. The weight loss benefits the "experts" claim green tea possesses are evident. My metabolism was terribly sluggish after I had my youngest child. In the past month, I haven't been working out religiously and I've dropped 9 lbs.! So, anyway... I decided I'd expand my tea collection and try some different ones. Well, I was browsing this new tea store I happened upon in one of my shopping escapades (English Tea Store), found some adorable teapots, and some great teas. I picked some yummy English Breakfast tea, some Earl Grey, and some black tea. Took 3 days to arrive at my doorstep! Great black tea and I prefer it bah-lack, like me.

Assam tea: Assam is a black tea named after the region of its production (Assam, India). This tea grown at sea level is known for its body, briskness, malty flavor, and strong, bright color.

Sleepless in Winston-Salem

The thing is, I don't sleep well. And the hamster was like my little insomniac friend. In truth, he didn't suffer from insomnia at all, of course. But he was up all night just the same, always more than happy to show me a few stunts on his wheel or get really excited about a piece of fresh apple.

Since he died last Sunday, I've been a little lonely in the wee hours. So I, um, bought myself a hamster today. A girl. She's dark greyish brown and crazy good at scaling wire cages and cardboard boxes. I named her Jemima, as in Puddleduck not Aunt.

I just missed having something around that was

1. Of, relating to, or occurring in the night.
2. Botany. Having flowers that open during the night.
3. Zoology. Most active at night: nocturnal animals.
[Middle English, from Old French, from Late Latin nocturnālis, from Latin nocturnus, from nox, noct-, night.]
"nocturnal." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 28 Jan. 2006.

But do you wool?

There is an inexplicable verb here in the South that I have never heard used in the affirmative. I speak of course, of

verb, informal
1. To take a liking; attempt to be friendly.
2. To come to understand.
[Middle English cotoun, from Old French coton, from Old Italian cotone, from Arabic quṭn, quṭun.]
"cotton." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 28 Jan. 2006.

(I say "inexplicable", because I can find no explanation for how the name of a fiber came to be a completely unrelated verb.)

I have heard people insert the word much, as in I don't much cotton to that way of mind to temper their disagreement, but I have never, ever heard the verb cotton used in an affirmative sense, like I cotton your style or I cotton where you're going with this. It's always to not cotton.

Herewith, a list of

Things I Don't Much Cotton
Children having unchecked tantrums in public
Adults having tantrums at all
Old homes being razed to build new homes
Cookie cutter developments
Favors at birthday parties
Hummers, including the H3
Urban planning without sidewalks
Chick Lit

Friday, January 27, 2006

How to Traumatize a Child in 10 Easy Steps

Step 1. When the child's hamster dies, take it to the vet, as you did with the cat, so it too can be sent out for cremation. Request the remains be returned to you.

Step 2. When the remains are returned, note that the sealed plastic box is slightly larger than the deceased hamster. Make a remark to that effect, like "They could have just put him in this box! He would fit perfectly!"

Step 3. When the child isn't looking, casually weigh the box in your hand. Note it feels heavier than you expected.

Step 4. Let suspicion begin to creep into your mind.

Step 5. The next time your child isn't looking, sniff at the box. Sniff all the way around the seal.

Step 6. Send child outside to play.

Step 7. Shake the box. Shake it like there's no tomorrow. Note heavy chunk sound. Also note box sounds awfully full.

Step 8. Roll box in your hand. Listen to tiny scratchy sounds. Remember hamster's tiny paw-hands. Remember hamster's tiny finger-claws.

Step 9. Rummage in child's treasure box for dead cat's cremated remains. Find them. Repeat Steps 8 and 9 with cat's ashes. Note no heavy chunking sound. Note no scratchy sound.

Step 10. Find sharp knife and cut open seal on hamster's "ashes". Close your eyes as you open the box, then peek out of one. Breathe a large sigh of relief when you see that, in fact, hamster has been cremated instead of merely sealed in a box, and ashes are neatly contained in a baggie. In fact, be so relieved that you start to laugh, somewhat hysterically. Do not notice that this draws the child to the screen door, where he sees and hears his mother cackling over his poor, dead pet's disrupted eternal slumber.

1. To make the shrill cry characteristic of a hen after laying an egg.
2. To laugh or talk in a shrill manner.
[Middle English cakelen, probably from Middle Low German kākeln, of imitative origin.]
"cackle." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 27 Jan. 2006.

(No, in truth, he's fine. I decided not to go with "Mommy's an untrusting paranoiac," so instead I said, "Oh, I was just making sure it was the right hamster!" He didn't ask about the cackling, so I didn't even try.)

Mother of Hank Williams! What were you thinking?

Deepak Chopra competing in NASCAR, Pete Rose performing interpretive dance, and Rick Moranis singing country music. Yesterday I would have thought the world was safe from all three. But this morning on the Today show, the latter came true!
Why, Rick, why?
If your career was floundering, why did you have to take it out on country music?
Please don't listen, especially if you like country music at all, it's so bad you'll go deaf. It's terrible.

X does not equal X

I'm whipping along I-40. The children are in the back seat, the youngest lulled to sleep by the car's movement and the time of day. The oldest is drowsily reading the signs on the sides of the highway. Suddenly, he is alert.

Mom, how fast are you going?

65 or so.

You have to slow down. That sign says the speed limit here is 55.

No can do, buckaroo. If you notice, I am going the same speed as all the other cars.

They're speeding, too?

Yes, and it's the law that I have to keep up with traffic. I cannot impede it by travelling at a significantly slower speed.

Wait... You mean you have to break the law, or else you are breaking the law?!?

I don't blame him for his outrage. It is slightly

So senseless as to be laughable.
"nonsensical." Roget's II: The New Thesaurus, Third Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 1995. 27 Jan. 2006.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Hair Habitude

Since the dawn of time (or at least since my hair has been thick enough), I have worn the same style of barrettes: standard Goody metal ones, with two bars. They come in a six pack with two golden, two silvertoned, and two brown. I've always liked the brown.

When I was ten-turning-eleven in fifth grade, the style was to weave thin ribbons all the way down the barrettes, leaving the ends long enough to reach the bottom of one's hair. My favorites were woven with red and navy blue ribbons, which I thought especially becoming.

But these days, my barrettes are plain again, worn one at a time pulling the front hairs back and slightly off-center. I am unable to pin it dead center due to an enormous

A projecting tuft of hair on the head that grows in a different direction from the rest of the hair and will not lie flat.
"cowlick." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 26 Jan. 2006.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

You might be next...

I'm sick.

The doc said my throat was really red and even though my strep culture came back negative, he gave me a Z-pack anyway. My oldest son has strep. My husband (he's the one that took him to his doc's appointment while I went to mine) said my son freaked when they came at him with that swab stick. Ugh. But his strep test came back positive.

The baby is fine and so is hubby. My fever is low, but I can feel it in my bones. It's 99.7 and I feel like dookie, dudes. My oldest is slightly itchy from the strep rash and hubby had to go to class tonight for a quiz. So, I'm here watching them and waiting for that stupid quiz to be over so I can go to sleep. Kiddie germs are


1. Extremely savage; fierce
2. Marked by unrelenting intensity; extreme

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. More from Dictionary

Naturally blonde

So far today, I have put the cold cuts in the freezer after making the oldest's lunch, loaded the washing machine yet forgotten to turn it on, and stumbled to remember my own phone number while leaving a message on someone's voicemail. Pathetically, that was after dialing my own number the first time I picked up the phone, then being perplexed as to why my own outgoing message was seemingly on my friend's voicemail.

I've only been awake a little more than four hours. There's no telling what else I'll manage to do today.

I'm too young to be senile, so I must just be a bumbling idiot.

1. To speak in a faltering manner.
2. To move, act, or proceed clumsily.
3. To bungle; botch.
[Perhaps blend of BUNGLE and STUMBLE.]
"bumble." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 25 Jan. 2006.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


For Wordaholics, I think that this will be something of a

1. An outdoor area set aside for recreation and play, especially one containing equipment such as seesaws and swings.
2. A field or sphere of unrestricted pleasurable activity: “Foreign affairs had been T.R.'s personal playground during his Presidency” (John Dos Passos).


Medical, Dental, Vision

We've recently applied for a new health insurance policy. I had to go into a testing center for a pre-approval workup: height, weight, blood pressure, etc. I filled out the application some time ago, so wasn't sure what numbers I had given, and I was more than a bit concerned I might have fudged a number or two and was about to be busted.

I was slightly shocked when my weight, fully clothed, came back only two pounds more than I reported on the application, but I was even more surprised that I had been completely honest about my height. I am notorious for giving myself the benefit of an inch (or three).

Fear of the consequences was stronger than the power of vanity, I

1. Expect, believe, or suppose.
2. Judge to be probable.
3. Consider or deem to be; regard.
4. Make a mathematical calculation or computation.
5. Have faith or confidence in.
6. Take account of.
"reckon." WordNet 1.7.1. Princeton University, 2001. 24 Jan. 2006.

Monday, January 23, 2006

A taste explosion

So, you’re going to have to trust me on this one.

I recently spent a week in Mumbai (the city formerly known as Bombay) and rediscovered a treat that is to die for, or kill for, or at least to chow down heavily upon. Within the constellation of Indian snacks called “chaat,” there is one gleaming star of taste treats called “panipuri.” Not so much a food as a slightly messy event shared with total strangers, served correctly, panipuri brings together contrasting tastes such as hot/cold, sweet/sour, salt/bitter, soft/crunchy, and cooling/spicy into a curious admixture, fusion, conglomeration or



1. Any of various alloys of mercury with other metals, especially: a. An alloy of mercury and silver used in dental fillings. b. An alloy of mercury and tin used in silvering mirrors.
2. A combination of diverse elements; a mixture: an amalgam of strength, reputation, and commitment to ethical principles.

[Middle English, from Old French amalgame, from Medieval Latin amalgama, probably ultimately from Greek malagma, soft mass.]



I went to the school today to have lunch with the oldest. 14 first graders and I sat at one table. One child's mother puts riddles in his lunchbox every day. Today's riddle was

What type of dress do you have at home but can't ever wear?
Answer: Your Address.

I decided to teach the children my favorite knock-knock joke from my childhood.

Who's there?
Interrupting Cow.

Which is a wonderful joke, once one masters the art of

1. The regulation of occurrence, pace, or coordination to achieve a desired effect, as in music, the theater, athletics, or mechanics.
2. The synchronization of the sparking of the plugs with the movement of the pistons in an internal-combustion engine.
"timing." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 23 Jan. 2006.

And apparently quite hilarious to six and seven year olds.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Flannel scraps and gentle hands

Days like today are when I most treasure my mother and all she did. Today, the oldest's hamster is dying, at the very ripe old age of three and a half years.

Growing up, we had dogs, of course, but we also had a series of smaller furries. We had Irma and Irving, the gerbils. Then we had their seven offspring. We also had Lucky, the guinea pig, so named because he had a ring of lighter fur right around him. (My brother and I collected small rocks with rings of lighter quartz to carry in our pockets, believing them to convey good luck.)

Each of these animals died in my mother's hands, as she labored to give them sugar water with an eyedropper and kept them warm in scraps of flannel. The gerbil babies were especially sad, wiped out at a young age by a virus. My mother stayed up for two nights, being sadly defeated one baby gerbil after another.

I'm sure she thought her ministrations weren't worth anything since the animals ultimately died. But the memory of them is with me today, as I hold Marshie, cradling his sleeping body in the softest flannel, as he slowly drifts further and further away.

The act or fact of dying.
"quietus." Roget's II: The New Thesaurus, Third Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 1995. 22 Jan. 2006.