Saturday, March 04, 2006


Standing inside the branches, looking up the trunk of the Magnolia in our backyard, I see it immediately: the climb-ability, the climb hither, of the tree.

I remember climbing trees at my grandmother's in northern Florida, remember looking down and feeling small, then looking out from the branches and feeling tall. I remember feeling invisible, and deep down there was something else, a sensation of hidden power, like maybe I was a

A fictional character who is noted for feats of courage and nobility, who usually has a colorful name and costume and abilities beyond those of normal human beings.
"superhero." Wikipedia. Wikipedia, 2005. 04 Mar. 2006.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Stop, drop, and roll

The three year old is in firefighter mode again. He's wearing his plastic firefighter helmet and lecturing Salsa on fire safety as I type.

Salsa is playing the role of Admiring Public today, which means another dog has been cast in the role of "Charlie", the youngest's "Rescue Dog". The dog faces change, but the roles are static. Admiring Public is to admire and Rescue Dog Charlie is to be dragged from room to room. Occasionally a dog has to be rescued to be allowed to go outside, but generally it's a fine game for all involved.

Taking the wee firefighter out on errands is a little more challenging, as the youngest will be dead quiet, then suddenly point, full arm extended, at some random person who hasn't made so much as the slightest eye contact, and scream, "DON'T PLAY WITH MATCHES!" as if said stranger has a pyromaniacal gleam in his/her eye. Needless to say, it's slightly

Upsetting the self-possession of; ruffling.
[Obsolete French disconcerter, from Old French desconcerter : des-, dis- + concerter, to bring into agreement (from Old Italian concertare).]
"disconcert." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 03 Mar. 2006.

A Tale of Obstinacy

I wear a uniform at work.

I hate uniforms. I hate neckties, I hate the polyester, I hate the brass decorations. I hate the uniformity of the uniform.

Pilot uniforms betray the job's origins as a military endeavor. We have epaulets on our shoulders, and stripes on the sleeves of our jackets. Our hats carry our rank, with a Captain's hat being differently decorated from a Co-Pilot's. This lineage goes right down to our very job titles: Captain, First Officer, Second Officer.

But flying an airplane is not a military endeavor. There are no officers in a civilian cockpit, and especially in a cargo operation, nobody sees us; and even if they did nobody knows what the number of stripes means!

So I'm always in a quiet, impotent rebellion against The Man. I refuse to shine my shoes (which look as though I've been working the fields), and I wear the (approved) sweater as much as possible--it covers the shirt entirely, so I need wear neither epaulets nor my brass wings. I haven't figured out how to jettison the tie yet, but I'm working on it.

I guess you'd call me

recalcitrant (rĭ-kăl'sĭ-trənt)

Marked by stubborn resistance to and defiance of authority or guidance. See synonyms at unruly.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Don't look at me

Another day at the children's hospital. As usual, low point was in the lab on the seventh floor and involved needles. Afterward, we went back up to the ninth floor to wait for the results in the playroom. The results were stupendous; I beamed.

Then the doctor asked the three year old how he felt, and the child said, referring to his experience in the lab, "Those doctors hurt me!"

The doctor laughingly replied, "Not doctors, honey. The nurses hurt you."

The nurse who was assisting the doctor snorted and said, "Not nurses, dear. The phlebotomists hurt you."

pass the buck
Shift responsibility or blame elsewhere. This expression dates from the mid-1800s, when in a poker game a piece of buckshot or another object was passed around to remind a player that he was the next dealer. It acquired its present meaning by about 1900.
"pass the buck." The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms. Houghton Mifflin Company, 1992. 01 Mar. 2006.

I'm still beaming, and we don't have to go back for 4 weeks.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Here's why you don't win

Seven year old boys remind me greatly of bear cubs. They are playful, a bit rough and tumble, and very, very competitive.

Today I was up at my son's school watching another first grade class line up to go back inside after recess. Two boys busily playing playground games against one another didn't realize their class had lined up. They both looked up at the exact same moment to see their classmates and teacher waiting for them. Both boys immediately jumped into a hard sprint in what was clearly an impromptu race.

The boy who reached the class line first immediately said, "Ha! I won!" To which the other boy, who was only a mere step behind, promptly replied with great satisfaction, "Doesn't count! I was dawdling!"

1. To take more time than necessary.
2. To move aimlessly or lackadaisically.
3. To waste (time) by idling.
[Perhaps alteration of dialectal daddle, to diddle.]
"dawdle." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 01 Mar. 2006.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Like the cat that ate the canary

smug (smŭg)

adj., smug•ger, smug•gest.

Exhibiting or feeling great or offensive satisfaction with oneself or with one's situation; self-righteously complacent: “the smug look of a toad breakfasting on fat marsh flies” (William Pearson).


I heard the strangest expression this weekend. I thought the speaker was just mixing Southernisms, but apparently, it's a legitimate turn of phrase.

talk someone's arm off
Talk so much as to exhaust the listener. The expression implies that one is so bored by a person's loquacity that one's arm falls off; it dates from the first half of the 1900s.
"talk someone's arm off." The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms. Houghton Mifflin Company, 1992. 27 Feb. 2006.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Frigidaire® 21 Cu. Ft. Upright Freezer (Color: White)

Look at this. Look closely.

"It's a freezer," you say. "It has food inside."

Yes. Yes, it is. Very astute. Did you look closely? Specifically, did you look closely at the middle shelf on the left, third down, third up? Specifically, did you look closely at the box dead center on that shelf?

I generally don't refrigerate ours, much less freeze it, is all. I've never considered it a

Something, especially foodstuff, subject to decay or spoilage. Often used in the plural.
"perishable." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 27 Feb. 2006.

I used to have a roommate who refrigerated everything. Cupboards? Bare. Pantry? Bare. Fridge? Seemingly full, but with Cheerios, uncooked rice, and unopened cans of soup.