Friday, April 30, 2010


The Bad Moms Club alerted me to this challenge: motherhood in six words or less. It being laundry day here at the voodoo bungalow, I had my response ready:

So many little socks. All singles.

How is this even possible?

"Bleach could not possibly whiten these." (aside: Who told Calvin Klein to make WHITE boy panties? Seriously, what kind of numbnuts makes tighty whities for the under-8 set? I shall say no more on the subject.)

"Lips say NO. Eyes say PINOT."

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Kid is a great eater. The greatest eater among Kids throughout the ages, perhaps. He is not in the slightest bit fussy, is an adventurous diner (squid, capers, duck, cauliflower, quinoa), and has a man-sized appetite that causes moms to beam. His stomach will surely land him an heiress and I don't much care whether that's because the heiress's mom has pushed her daughter into a marriage just because the potential groom can't get enough of the tuna casserole that the heiress's dad has turned his nose up at for the last 30 years.

However, he balked at this. And I cannot imagine why.

I know. Hard to believe. I explained to him that it was an ancient Spanish dish much beloved by the peasantry. That the olive oil and peppers were aromatic, that the onions were soft and melting, that there was enough garlic in there to kill 400 vampires, and that the eggs came from genuine free-range chickens from a real farm who probably ate worms.

What I heard in return: "Lor, that looks like barf and there is NO WAY ON EARTH I am going to eat it."

You know, looking at the situation honestly, I had to agree with him: it does kind of look like barf. So for the first time in his life he got a different dinner from the rest of us; although I couldn't help pointing out that peanut butter looks kind of like dog poo.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Not one of those alpha moms

If anyone can think of way that I can blame this on my mother, chime in.

N is for Naiads

Naiads are fresh-water shrimps. Nymphs. They're fresh-water nymphs. (Dear fresh-water shrimp start-up: You're welcome.)

I thought for the longest time that it was the same word as "nads." (Hello: no brothers, uptight father.) By "a long time" I mean maybe 20 years or so. Blushed my way through Classics 101, I did, there in the back row trying not to look too closely at Greek statuary.

The problem runs in the family. The classic tentacles/testicles confusion was loosed upon Aunt Eileen's Christmas dinner in 1979. "Prix" is not pronounced the way you might think it is. The pen is mightier than the sword, no doubt, but that "e" gets. . . long. . . when you put it in front of "is." A certain elderly person who shall remain nameless confuses "shot" and "blow" in association with the word "wad." NO, IT DOES NOT MEAN THE SAME THING.

So I guess it was no surprise that Kid came home the other day with a terrible misconception about the Netherlands.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

M is for Math

Good to know that the genius for math that runs in our family is going strong.

Monday, April 12, 2010

L is for Goad

There's nothing I like better than a cattle prod.

Has any blog ever begun with this sentence? I bet mine is the first.

Anyhoodle, if I ever get a branding iron, it will have on it a Semitic crook or goad--which is where the Latin alphabet got the letter L. And a goad is of course a prod and . . . . a cattle prod is like the biggest honking taser the world has ever seen. A taser of Biblical proportion.


"Shamgar the son of Anath, which slew of the Philistines six hundred men with an ox goad: and he also delivered Israel." (Judges 3:31).

Since this was not an electric goad, I guess I want to know HOW you go about killing 600 Philistines with a stick.

You know, there's really no point to this entry. I just wanted to share this with you:

For all you mothers of boys: I bet the moms responsible for these two Philistines did their best, too. At a certain point, it's all kind of out of our hands.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

April in Calgary

Thunder. Lightning. SNOW.
I once lived in Los Angeles. In San Francisco. In Paris. On the Rhine. And yet I chose to come back here for some reason clearly having to do with a congenital brain defect.

Oh great. There go the lights.


K is for Kitchen

This post won't have pictures because child services would be here almost as quickly as my mother in law.

My friend Alphahas a gorgeous, award-winning kitchen that gives her sense of style and organization a big shiny gold star. My sister is going to renovate her already just fine kitchen into a much much finer kitchen. Princess Kiss the Kitten is renovating her kitchen for the purposes of selling it to someone else and then running away to a place where it never stops raining which is seriously worrying me (is she okay? has she gone bonkers? is living in this neighborhood that bad and maybe I'm just not noticing because I'm the one who's bonkers?). I know that nice kitchens are possible, within our financial reach, and important if we are to live like a modern family and have people over to sip chilled beverages and marvel as we produce miracle after miracle from our German-imported appliances.

People enter our house and comment nicely on the mid-century modern ethos vaguely discernible beneath the clutter and when they're not too distracted by the early-70s ugly. They like our art. They like the windows. The carpet--lovely. Nice teak. They're willing to overlook little things like harvest gold tin closet doors. Then they get to the kitchen and conversation stops. Usually with an "oh" and a sharp intake of breath.

Man, the kitchen is ugly.

And poorly planned.

And rarely clean, let's be honest. Rarely clean. I'M A WORKING MOTHER, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.

So I've been looking at magazines and websites about kitchen renovations. Oh the granite. Oh the walnut. Consider the travertine. And you know, it all leaves me cold.

The kitchen is the heart of the home, they all say. Tear down those walls, open it to the rest of the house. Let in the light!

Uh-huh. So that the glory of the 36 semi-retired coffee cups and last night's edamame can chirp at visitors right at the front door.

Knobs and pulls from Home Depot are so. . . . ordinary--how about these lovely hand-carved bone handles from woolly mammoths reconstituted from DNA gathered organically by Mongolian peasants?

And make the kitchen worth more than the entire rest of the house, guaranteeing that I won't be able to take a holiday until I'm 80.

Why not bump out that wall and install a breakfast nook?

If I bump out a wall, it will be for a soaker tub or an isolation booth, not another place to wipe up orange juice rings. Or it will be because I've heard one too many knock-knock joke that ends in "I know you are what am I?"

My dream kitchen would have 100 cupboards for crayons, glue sticks and bits of Lego and would be large enough for me to hide in if necessary; floors the colour of spaghetti sauce with splotches that look a lot like the gold acrylic paint that Kid currently favours; an outline drawn to the size of a recumbent coonhound so he'll know just where to lie down so as not to be in precisely the center of all activity involving hot food, liquids or stemware; a rubber floor that would instantly bounce back all dropped cutlery; perhaps peel-off layers of acrylic on the walls that I could tear away, revealing a pristine new layer beneath; ooh, and a tree growing right up the middle and into the sky so that I could make a quick getaway when it's time to do the pots and pans.

Show me THAT and you've got yourself a reno deal, boys.

Monday, April 5, 2010

J is for I am really tired tonight

juglandaceous: of, like or pertaining to walnuts

Saturday, April 3, 2010

I is for Iceland

Having been married now for something like two decades, give or take a couple of years, I've pretty much stopped thinking about how I might have tweaked our wedding. For three hours after the fact, I bitterly lamented the fact that our "classical guitarist" turned out to be a "classical-style guitarist," and actually--no, ACTUALLY--strummed "We've Only Just Begun" as we were gathering in front of the new-agey JP. Something from the Ramones or the Pogues might have been more appropriate for us. But anyway. Everything else was pretty great: the bonfire, the twinkly lights in the trees, the beautiful cottage loaned to us by friends, the starry cold autumn night. I think there might have been some wine.

It could all have been so much more about sheep's blood.

Perhaps that requires some explanation?

At the time, I was writing a doctoral dissertation under a most peculiar woman, a big fan of medieval Iceland. She had a habit of more or less ignoring her students' intellectual life and nudging into their personal lives instead. This led to much hilarity--the pre-dawn awakening of the inhabitants of a yurt, the wearing of odd hats at strange moments, and, once, sleeping on her porch for reasons having to do (I think) with Chaucer's astrolabe. So instead of huddling with me over the finer points of early English cartography, she resolved instead to become my wedding planner.

The result: a three-page typed proposal destined for the Icelandic ministry of culture, detailing the re-enactment of a medieval Icelandic wedding, complete with the Old High Priest, a small ship, and several quarts of sheep blood. To this day, I do not know where this information originated, though I suspect it was in someone's fertile imagination rather than unearthed from the Sagas.

The whole enterprise was to be videotaped and aired on Icelandic television to a vast national audience of about 120.

I was sycophantic enough in those days to consider the project for all of about 15 minutes. Then the thought of my mother floating in a fiord, an active volcano in the distance, broke the deal. Plus: the blood, and the implication that I would have to be drinking it.

This morning, thinking about the whole thing again in the context of 18 years of adventure across continents, jobs, parenthood, houses, mistakes, triumphs and homecomings. Perhaps a celebration involving the mumbling of poorly understood phrases from a thousand years ago, the spilling of blood, the landscape of frozen peaks and fiery ones, in-laws drifting past with mingled looks of joy and confusion, the teetery off-balance feeling of being in a small ship on a large cold sea with just one other person as unprepared for the voyage as you are: perhaps that would have been a more accurate send-off on this dark magic journey than a pretty dress, a chocolate cake and white lights in autumn poplars.