My gorgeous, lovely, hilarious, free-spirited, friend Ed over at The Big Picture According to Ed has FINALLY posted, after having her blog up for several weeks!!!
Monday, August 25, 2008
My gorgeous, lovely, hilarious, free-spirited, friend Ed over at The Big Picture According to Ed has FINALLY posted, after having her blog up for several weeks!!!
Your result for The Commonly Confused Words Test...
Enjoy, and let me know how you do!!
I love staying with my folks. They are homebodies like me. Not that I don't like to go out and do things, but really, I don't need to leave home to feel that my day was well-spent. This is a fundamental difference between JeepMan and I: he feels that staying at home doing mundane things or just "hanging out" is a detestable time-wasting activity. Many are the weekend days that we have argued about how he feels we have "wasted half the day" or more by not being up, showered, dressed, and out of the house before noon.
Seriously? Gee whiz, I thought relaxing was what weekends were for! My idea of relaxing does not involve showering, let alone wrestling with two kids to get them out of the house...just to BE out of the house!
Anyway, weekends with my folks are my kind of weekends: get up whenever, hang out in our pj's, drink some coffee, make breakfast (or more often, "brunch"), then putz around finding something to do. Frequently we play games with the kids, (Plato used to call my mom "the game grandma"), chat, putter around the yard in the small fruit orchard or the huge garden, then maybe decide to go somewhere, or not. Either way it doesn't matter. No planning, no schedule. Just right.
When JeepMan is there? You can watch him fidget. Not ALWAYS, you understand...over the years he has mellowed considerably and can just go with the flow sometimes. More often than not, though, he ends up hand-washing/detailing the car, mowing my folks' lawn (it takes a long time, good for him!), or running errands. He just can't relax. Or maybe that's how he relaxes? I'll never understand it. His Type A vs. my Type B, I guess.
So this weekend he was hanging out building a Jeep, eating pizza, and drinking a couple beers. He was in Jeep Heaven!! I was snuggling my kids, drinking a couple coffees, chatting with my family, and wallowing in yesterdays' stink: Traveling Mom Heaven!! What a nice weekend.
Saturday we did finally get around and leave the house en masse to go to the Science Center in Capitol City. We rolled out the door around, oh, 1:30.... all the while the disembodied voice of JeepMan screeching in my head, "It's so late it's hardly even worth going now!! It's not even worth the admission price now!!" as I giggled crazily and stepped on the gas while my sister shot me a sideways glance of concern from the passenger seat. Truly, 2pm to close (5:30) was about perfect for my little sleep-deprived offspring. Suck on that, JeepMan!!! Whee!
We took in two demonstrations: Fire and Ice (featuring Dry Ice sublimation, Liquid Nitrogen reactions, and Hydrogen gas combustion), and Crazy Chemistry (highlighting the creation of gas by solids and liquids, as well as the hydrophobic properties of oil and water). Lulu was impressed by the demonstrations, but Plato was hanging on every word, and later told me it was the "Best Day Ever!"
The next morning at
Then he asked what the word was for "like." We explained that "-philic" means "loves." He replied, "Oh! Then I'm 'Mommy-philic!!" (awwww...) He then went around the table naming everyone and putting "-philic" after each name. Even Lulu piped up with, "And I'm Pwato-philic!" I wonder how much she learns from just listening to us...
Finally Plato was quiet for a minute or so, thinking...the boy is ALWAYS thinking. He got a mischevious twinkle in those chocolate-brown eyes, flashed his no-front-teeth-grin, and said, "Mom? Know what else I am?"
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
If I have a long layover, I'm drawn inexorably to bookstores for, unlike other retail stores in airports, the prices of books are not inflated. Sure, there are no bargains either, but paying cover price for a paperback isn't insulting to me., and the payoff is generally worth the up-front fee.
I recently splurged and bought Chuck Palahniuk's latest paperback, "Haunted." It was the cover art and the title that got me:
Besides, this is the guy that wrote "Fight Club," a movie that I didn't know was a book first, and which I've never seen but I've heard was excellent with a great twist. I love a great twist; especially when I don't see it coming!
I'll admit that I bought the book because I like ghost stories, and if they're twisted, so much the better. I knew that there would be an emphasis on the human predicament here; what I didn' t realize was that there would be no paranormal focus at all.
OK, fine, whatever. Letting go of my ghost-story hopes, I dove into the book.
It took me a while to get into the rhythm of the book, and make no mistake, this book has rhythm. While some stories just pull you in and sweep you along in their undercurrent, this book was more like a spell being cast, a meditation, a play in 32 acts, each act divided into two parts.
The structure of the book is 23 essays, or short stories (it's hard to make the distinction here), and 21 poems. The premise of the collection is that 20-odd people converge at a writers' retreat where they have agreed to isolate themselves from any public contact for three months in order to shed the shackles of outside influence that are hindering their fulfillment of writerly destiny. It all goes horribly wrong, however, when the writers collectively focus on making sure they all emerge tragic heroes from their "unwilling imprisonment," thus sabotaging themselves and those around them in the interest of making their final story shocking and marketable.
The rhythm of the book is simple: Poem "about" a character, Story "by" that character. The poems are frequently, for lack of a better term, Haunting. The stories reveal each character's defining moment; that which led them into this situation, this temporary but utterly complete disappearance from society.
I found it difficult to get into the rhythm of the book at first. Truthfully I was several chapters in before I was able to get a perspective at all. The biggest obstacle to my submerging into the story was the introduction of each character as he or she boarded the bus, carrying the one allotted suitcase. Palahnuik describes each character and the contents of each suitcase in detail, but introduces them by the names used in the book. No character has a conventional name; they are all named around their respective life-altering event. There is Saint Gut-Free, Director Denial, Agent Tattletale, Lady Baglady, and so-on. While these names come to light later and actually stick, I simply could not form mental pictures that went with the names. It was only as each story was told that the names stuck. Maybe this was his intention?
Also, there wasn't really a defined point-of-view. At first it seems that we are seeing the story through the eyes of one of the fellow "prisoners;" indeed, maybe we were? If so, this person goes unnamed, un-poemed, and un-storied. It could be that this person is the oft-referenced, "camera behind the camera behind the camera" that all the characters struggle to be. Maybe this is the person that achieved the ultimate goal: to bring their stories to the world and profit from them? We never really know.
Each story is fraught with twisted, dark humor, and repulsive detail at times. The afterword tells of the fainting phenomenon that occured when Palahnuik would read the essay, "Guts" at live readings. And yet he manages to mix humor with revulsion and bring raw humanity into every situation.
In retrospect, I liked this book. In fact, I think I want to read it again, if only to cement together some of the information that I know I should have put together in the first place. I've been thinking about it a lot, and I can't fault a book that keeps me thinking long after I have put it down.
The killing blow for me, I think, was that I had to read this book over about a month, due to leaving it in multiple labs and falling asleep several times while reading it on a plane (no comment toward the book; I am very vulnerable to the hum of the engines of a plane and a dark cabin!). I think it would have had more cohesion if I could have kept it in "rhythm."
Other reviews I have read say that this is one of his lesser works, that Fight Club and Choke are right up there. I will definitely read those books after reading this.
In the end, it was a bit abstractly put together, a bit unfocused, and a bit gory. But I would recommend it for it's uniqueness in character development, interesting form, and thought provoking-ness.
Finally, I would recommend it for pure creep-factor. After finishing the book in the car one night, I brought it upstairs and put it on my nightstand. I did my bedtime hygeine routine, and when I walked into our darkened bedroom almost dropped on the spot in shock. This was staring back at me:
Nobody warned me the damn thing glowed in the dark.
So I chased JeepMan around the bedroom with it - he's more easily creeped out than I am....hee hee!!
Sunday, August 17, 2008
The timing of his death couldn't have been much worse for me, but how selfish is that? At his funeral, I was strapped in tight to that postpartum hormonal, overwhelmed, sleep-deprived rollercoaster; at its complete mercy: no steering wheel for me. I remember sitting in the church trying desperately to hold it together by focusing on my squirming newborn. I did not need to hear what a wonderful man he was, loving husband, father, and grandfather. I knew all that in my very core; hearing it out loud would surely put me over the emotional edge.
One phrase, however, breached the walls of my hastily-spun mental cocoon. The priest's voice boomed, "...and most recently, great-grandfather to newborn Plato, whom he never got to meet but whose arrival he looked forward to greatly."
I lost it. I don't lose it often. And my "losing it" doesn't involve hysterics or theatrics. It's a forced loss of control, a trait I cling to fiercely. Losing my desperate grip on my control, I cried, hard but quietly. The effort of trying to control such a raw and powerful emotion left me unable to inhale, instead gasping in great, echoing, hiccup-like breaths; which turned heads, garnered sympathetic looks, and sent me spiraling into uncontrollable sobs. The worst thing anyone can offer me when I'm upset is compassion.
I couldn't wait to get outside, to the cemetery. I gulped the humid air. Barely cooler than my lungs, it offered little relief. The crowd around me, simultaneously sympathetic and curious about my infant, was inevitable but unwanted.
The graveside ceremony is a blur; I spent most of the time attending to the curious who wanted a peek or a cuddle with 6-day old Plato. He was a gem, alert and cooing at everyone who held him. After the graveside service, I walked to the grave to say goodbye. My eyes watered anew as I gazed at the headstone. I remember Grandpa and Grandma taking us by their burial plot to show us the headstone they'd had made. On his side was a farm scene, representing his life as a farmer. On hers, a desk with an apple and ruler, signifying her career as a second-grade teacher. At the time I just thought it was creepy: the names with birth dates and empty spots for the death dates. In a moment of clarity, I was suddenly able to appreciate the significance of the earlier visit to the grave. He was showing us how he had made arrangements in preparation for this very day.
My Grandfather was a planner. Of course he had planned much of his own funeral. It was his nature. He was forever reading Consumer Reports and having discussions with my father about the latest products. He never had the internet. It's probably for the best - I'm certain he would have been addicted! I credit him heartily with my own appetite for knowledge, but where I am hungry for it, he was voracious. Five years before he died, he had a devastating stroke that left him essentially paralyzed on one side. His mind was quite intact, however. After the stroke, he had been researching stroke treatment advances, particularly the area of stem cell possibilities. Every time he would see his doctor, he would ask hopefully, "How are they coming on those stem cell studies?" Alas, there was never any good news. Seven years later, they are still not, to my knowledge, doing stroke therapy with stem cells, but he would be excited to know that they are doing studies with autologous stem cells (from a person's own body) and tissue damaged by heart attack. A stroke is a brain attack: brain tissue can't be far away.
Before Plato was born, Grandpa asked all kinds of questions about my pregnancy. He was fascinated by the ultrasound pictures I showed him. His mind seemed to be slowing down a bit, but that couldn't squelch his eternal curiosity. The last words he said to me were, "Take care of my great-grandson," as he hugged me across my burgeoning belly from his wheelchair with his good arm and kissed me on my cheek with his drooping mouth. His eyes were still sharp and bright despite his broken body, and they sought mine as he said those words, making sure I understood him clearly.
The day after I delivered, my parents went to visit Grandpa, and brought pictures of Plato. He asked about the birth, digging for the details, and scrutinizing the pictures carefully. Looking back, I wonder if he knew subconsciously that he would never meet his first great-grandchild face-to-face?
My Grandmother came to me on the day of her husband's funeral and actually comforted me. She, who had lost the man she had been married to for over 50 years, put her arms around me and held me. She held Plato in her arms for the first time that day, and remarked on the miracle of life, and how sad yet amazing it was that Grandpa had left this life so close to the time that Plato had entered it.
To this day I feel there is a strong metaphysical connection between Plato and the Great-Grandfather he never knew. It may sound hokey to some, but I actually feel his presence at times around my son. Maybe he is watching over him, or maybe he is still curious?
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
DISCOVERY OF THE HEAVIEST ELEMENT
Research has led to the discovery of the heaviest element yet known to science. The new element, Governmentium (Gv), has one neutron, 25 assistant neutrons, 88 deputy neutrons, and 198 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312.
These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons.
Since Governmentium has no electrons, it is inert; however, it can be detected, because it impedes every action with which it comes into contact. A minute amount of Governmentium can cause a reaction that would normally take less than a second to take from four days to four years to complete. Governmentium has a normal half-life of 2-6 years; it does not decay, but instead undergoes a reorganization in which a portion of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places. In fact, Governmentium's mass will actually increase over time, since each reorganization will cause more morons to become neutrons, forming isodopes.
This characteristic of moron promotion leads some scientists to believe that Governmentium is formed whenever morons reach a critical concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as "critical morass."
When catalyzed with money, Governmentium becomes Administratium, an element that radiates just as much energy as Governmentium since it has half as many peons but twice as many morons.
Thank you, thank you. More later. Next week I might be home for 3 whole weekdays! Yay!
On a vaguely related note, I am thrilled to hear of Penelope's latest idea: What The Crap Wednesdays. Now there's something I can run with! I'll be sure to announce when she has it up and running!
Monday, August 04, 2008
It's funny, when I'm home for a few days the kids stick to me like hot bubblegum to the bottom of a shoe...except, unlike bubblegum on my shoe, I kind of like clingy kids.
They follow me everywhere. I dare not turn around abruptly for fear of clothes-lining one of them or body-checking them into a corner or doorknob!
One place I do miss my alone-ness is in the bathroom. We've never been even remotely modest at our home, which may freak some of you out, but that's just us. Bathroom doors are seldom, if ever, closed. I think nothing of a kid in my face telling me about her school-day while I'm trying to (insert bowel-movement euphemism here), then suddenly grabbing her own nose, screwing up her face, and breathing a nasally "Phew, Mommy, turn on the fan!"
This immodesty doesn't just apply to bathroom duties. We change clothes in front of each other and the kids, too. We don't have shame about our bodies, and we don't want our kids to have it either. My kids have seen just about every part of me, and they're comfortable with that. Consequently they have few qualms about where they put their hands. We respect each others' "privates," (Lulu calls them 'part-ments'), but "privates" is a pretty exclusive term in our house; essentially confined to what's squarely between our legs.
We are a very physically close family, too. Cuddle time is whenever we can. Plato, now seven, unbashedly crawls into my lap and snuggles right in whenever the mood strikes him. I rarely restrict cuddling. I mean, how long are they going to want to do that? I'm taking and giving whatever I can while they're still receptive! As we cuddle, I gently tickle their skin, rub their backs and their feet, stroke their hair, inhale their scent, and kiss their foreheads. They like to reciprocate, offering me kisses and hugs, and tickling and stroking my torso. They especially love my breasts. Sorry if you think that's weird, too. Really, when you think honestly about it, why wouldn't they? A mother's bosom is a soft, comforting place to rest your head; a primitive tie to your first days on this earth and blissful pure love. Heck, there have been times in my adulthood where I think it would be perfectly lovely just to rest my head against my own mother's bosom while she strokes my hair back from my forehead.
But I digress. The point is, my kids like to rest their heads on my chest, and in doing so, occasionally absentmindedly run their hands over my bosom. It reminds me of the gesture of an infant, when breastfeeding. It doesn't bother me, especially if it is truly an absentminded gesture. I do sometimes become uncomfortable with it, mostly if they are fixating on it or trying to push my buttons (no pun intended *snerk*). I'll eventually have to draw the line; "OK, those are Mommy's boobs. Everybody off!! Mommy needs some personal space!"
So this afternoon, Plato and Lulu were following me around. I had gotten undressed from my work clothes and was getting ready to change into something more comfortable. I got down to my bra and underwear, and as I often do, just flopped facedown on the bed for a minute to relax. Of course the monkeys took that as their cue to climb all over me and smother me with kisses and hugs. Sweet, right? Well, Lulu was doing the huggy/kissy thing, but I realized that Plato was rubbing my butt! I was wearing a shiny satin, ...ah, 'control garment,' and he appeared to be enjoying the way it felt, smooth over the vast expanse of my squishy gluteii maximii. I looked back over my shoulder and said, "Hey! Plato! Um, what are you DOING?"
He looked up at me and said, "Mom, are these slaps?"
He did a thorough mental word-search, absently rubbing his hand in circles on my butt cheek. "I mean Smacks... Are they Smacks?"
Slaps. Smacks... Ahhh, (light bulb!) I get it. "No honey, they're called 'Spanx.' And you can stop rubbing my butt now."
He grinned his little two-front-teeth-missing mischevious smile and told me, "I LIKE Spanx. They feel slippery."
Well, as long as he doesn't want to wear them himself, I guess it's all good for now.
Why, oh why, do they have skinny bitches model this stuff? You and I both know
they don't wear 'em!!
Hey! The Wal-Mart generic rip-off product could be called: