Monday, April 28, 2008

Godspeed, Dr. Frizzle

I just discovered Dr. Frizzle in a cold, dead circle in the corner of his palatial estate. Poor little guy. Who knows what happened--he'd gotten loose again two days ago, and appeared on our counter a day later--he seemed okay, but I guess he either ate something or fell too far and injured himself. I've seen a lot of pets die, but it's always sad in its little way. Plus, dead rodent isn't so pleasant.

For a moment, I had the sitcom idea of replacing him without telling Hedgehog (let's be completely honest here; one hamster is pretty much like another, except for the ones who bite), and then realized that yes, I'll have to tell her. It's not that she hasn't been around death--unfortunately, she's already experienced the death of my dad--but somehow this I know will hit home. I'm absolutely dreading tomorrow morning...

Well, so be it.

"The world was not made for one as beautiful as he," eulogized Sarge. Okay, maybe that's overstating it, but I liked the little guy.

post script: I told Hedgehog this morning; there was a flood of quiet tears, and then we buried him in the backyard by the stone lion. It really was very sad.

But we're already planning for our next hamster...Sgt. Pepper seemed none too pleased...

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Brooklyn Mayberry

Our neck of the woods, as I've mentioned before, is really a small town. It may be in Brooklyn, but it's not what you think: although NYC is synonymous with big, bustling, anonymous, those of us who live here know that its neighborhoods can be awfully Mayberryish.

In Mayberry Brooklyn, you can't walk 8 blocks (that's the distance between home and Hedgehog's school) without passing someone you know, at least enough to warrant a smile and wave, more often a passing conversation ("hey!" "Nice weather!" "The nicest!"), and sometimes even a quick stop to chat. Hedghog commented the other day: "Mama, sometimes I just want to walk along and think thoughts." Well, Hedgehog, that's just not the way of Mayberry.

Next characteristic of Mayberry Brooklyn: all news hits the pavement running. Everyone knows everyone's business before the sun is halfway in the sky. A typical conversation on my block which I'll call Elm Street: "Pssst! c'mere..." "hi, what's up?" "did you hear the news?..."

Take your pick:
a. "we think Vinton Calloway killed his wife, although she appeared at first to have died of a heart attack"

b. "Sally's roof fell in and she just boarded up the room rather than have it repaired"

c. "Darcy McAllen fell in love with that homeless guy who sleeps under the BQE overpass, and now she gives him part of her trust fund money every month in the form of booze and tube socks"

d. "Leah passed by here with her third Venti Iced Americano of the day...she must be hopped up as hell, I don't know how she thinks straight enough to raise that kid of hers..."

You get the picture.

Anonymous it ain't.

All that's missing is Aunt Bee--and just give me another five years...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

To Market

I've lately (well, in the last two days) become obsessed with a certain post on salad cream, an apparently everyday English occurrence. Now that I have seen it in person at the Fairway today, I suddenly understand all the wisecracks and must acknowledge, then quickly move on, that it looks disturbingly and unappetizingly like a certain other substance that shall remain nameless because this just isn't that kind of a blog. Nevertheless, the recipe sounds so tasty. Then this morning, still ruminating mildly on all the tasty English foodstuffs that I can't procure, I ventured out to market where I discovered, in a moment of pure serendipity and coincidence, that Fairway has an entire aisle of it. Here's some of what I made off with, posing all lined up like joyful little soldiers (are soldiers usually joyful?):

My faves. The baked beans are pretty much just baked beans, but SUCH beautiful packaging, don't you think?

I'm so pitifully Anglophilic...

Here's some more of my grocery haul, American-style:

I can't get enough of the iced tea. I like it SO much better than homemade. I was thrilled to find the gallon size. It's enormous isn't it?

Also the Meyer lemon. Sublime. I'm going to make candied lemon peel and preserved lemons (suggested by Faycat) after we use the juice for lemonade and salad dressing.

Some days marketing is just so life-affirming.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Here's Why Parents Shouldn't Have Weird Fantasies Involving Characters in Children's Books

Yesterday afternoon I took Hedgie to her friend's birthday party--Harry Potter themed. I was quite gung-ho, as you can imagine. I knew the party would be wonderful, because this boy's parents are wonderful, brilliant, and fun-loving people and if anyone could pull off a Harry Potter party properly, they could. But I also felt a little funny with anticipation as I stood at my dresser and sprayed Mandragore. See, it was almost like I knew.

We arrived at the party, and who should be sitting in the corner, blowing up balloons, but my lover, Severus. I had a strange moment of vertigo--and I am TOTALLY serious--where fantasy and reality whirled together--wait, I thought in my delusion, did I arrange to meet him here?--and felt a deep blush creep up my cheeks--and Hedgehog turned to me with narrowed eyes, thinking I'm not sure what--

then the world stopped swinging, my psychosis abated, and I realized it was a friend of my friends wearing pale face paint and a glossy black wig. A man dressed up as Severus, in other words, to entertain the CHILDREN at the party. But the power of fantasy and of a costume, however ill-rendered, cannot be underestimated. Even after my psyche righted itself, I couldn't get over the feeling that somehow I was in the corporeal presence of the heretofore only imagined. Never mind that the wig slipped askew over his forehead in a display of disequilibrium uncharacteristic, I feel certain, of the "real" Severus; that ultimately, in the heat generated by six little people with excess energy, the face paint melted in sweat that Severus himself never would have sweated; that this faux Severus confided in me that he'd taken a bit too much cold medicine and was high as a kite; still the illusion never totally evaporated.

I wanted to impress Severus (a harsh and judgmental man, his favor would be gratifying) and wondered for two hours, did he notice how gamely I helped out with the party duties? How heady was my Mandragore? How I managed to be both wry and loving with Hedgehog? And perhaps the depths of experience in my brown eyes? Did he? I couldn't keep from glancing as he went about his own duties as Potions Master--fielding wand pokes from 7-year-olds, passing out bowls of cotton candy, rescuing a box cutter from the birthday boy, and leading class in an advanced potions lesson to see what would happen when vinegar, baking soda, and green food coloring were mixed...

At party's end, Severus lay back in a chair, indeed sweaty, wig askew, high, and bested by the children. Poor, poor Master, covered in a humiliation of sticky cotton candy, taunts and pokes, and one mother's finally fully realized delusion...

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A Poem in Your Pocket

Celebrate the first national Poem In Your Pocket Day!

Here's how: select a poem you love, copy or print it out, then carry it with you to share with co-workers, family, and friends today. They were really doing it up at Hedgehog's school. We were greeted at the door by a big sign saying "Do You Have a Poem in Your Pocket?" When we went in, the lower school librarians had set up a table for the kids who'd forgotten their poems, with paper, pencils, and books of poetry to choose from...Hedgehog chose "Monday's Troll" by Jack Prelutsky.

Here's mine (click on picture to read it):

I hope you'll tuck a poem in your pocket--it can even be a silly one, and/or one you've written yourself. Tell me if you do it!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

I Never

A couple of weekends ago, Sergeant Pepper and I traveled to New Jersey to empty out a storage space of old stuff his mom left behind when she moved to Texas. When we opened the gate, we were greeted by a hideous jumble: myriad curtain rods, moldy suitcases, a kit for a go-cart, travel brochures, a trampoline, and a mysterious locked trunk (don't ask what I think my MIL is storing in that thing). Important memorabilia, precious books, and literal garbage all crammed in together. There was even a cauldron in there!

And then there was this:

My man was in the army awhile back, before I met him. I'm proud of him for serving, and it only adds to his overall coolness in my eyes. So when I saw this box, I was dumbfounded. Then we both couldn't stop laughing. I opened it up, and sure enough, there were all of his awards, haphazardly stashed in with old bath mats and rugs from the bathroom in MIL's old house. The rugs were neatly folded and packaged up in plastic.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Did You Know I Love Online Quizzes?

Well, I do. I love them so much. Time-wasting, superficial, meaningless really. But I love 'em. The only reason I'm posting this is because I laughed when I saw the "classic" movie I got pegged for:

What Classic Movie Are You?
personality tests by

Yup, I'm "Schindler's List" alright. That is SO on target. And not because I "put the needs of others before my own" (although yes, I am a martyr of the worst sort--and by the way, that's not exactly what Oskar Schindler did--right up until the end, he did his good deeds for the sake of his own ego--I mean, not that that negates what he did, but still). But certain other qualities come to mind--Jewish, gloomy, death-obsessed. I mean, I just laughed when that picture came up on the screen. Because of course, I'd never be pegged as "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" or the Woodstock concert film...

Sunday, April 13, 2008

I'm Not Worrying

My many and varied worries are on hold after a nice weekend, in which Sgt. Pepper and I got to spend some time just hanging out. On Saturday, we had lunch at the Fairway Supermarket in Red Hook, Brooklyn. It's really an amazing place--although Sarge and I were a little overwhelmed with the sheer quantity of groceries available; Sarge calls it "the tyranny of choice." You know, too many choices, who can make a decision. We ate sandwiches outside at tables overlooking the water, with a great view of the Statue of Liberty. It was chilly by the water, and just beginning to rain, very romantic...

Afterwards, we picked Hedgie up from a play date, and stopped to watch the two girls jump rope in the playground for awhile. Hedgie's still getting the hang of it, but I found it extremely touching that her friend was encouraging without being condescending. Hedgie, not a mean girl herself, has always had good taste in friends.

Hedge spent last night at a sleepover with her aunt and uncle, it's nice for her to be able to have a break from me and my sometimes hidebound ways...

Today we drove to Ikea, that hellish abattoir of inexpensive Scandinavian furniture. Packed, hot, irate-making, but somehow we were all in a good mood. It helped that we spent a long time test-lounging on the sectional couch we're probably going to buy, and then lingering over meatballs in the cafeteria...

So all in all, a calm and happy weekend. I know when I wake up in the morning, the worries will hit me all at once, but for now...

I'll leave you with Dr. Frizzle, enjoying his viands and libations, in his brand-new, spacious, mouse-proof double cage:

Friday, April 11, 2008

Book Snape/Movie Snape: a Clarification

I believe this is of interest only to me, but for the sake of honesty I must clarify my statements on the Potions Master.  For those who have seen any of the Harry Potter movies, having a huge crush on Alan Rickman's Snape might seem like the only sensible course of action: the repressed sexuality, the burning looks he shoots at Harry (hello slash fic), the way he turns on his heel and dismissively flips the hem of his cloak, the voice that sounds like he just swallowed a large tablespoonful of creamy peanut's a seminal piece of character acting.  Who wouldn't long for detention with the smoldering Alan Rickman/Snape? Okay, maybe some of you.  Sgt. Pepper claims he wouldn't enjoy it.

Please don't misunderstand.  I would definitely assist in the unbuttoning of the hundred little buttons on the Rickman Snape waistcoat (are they there, or did I imagine it?).  And I wouldn't kick him out of bed (although I believe I'd have to hear from Sarge on this).  However, my real love is reserved for the Book Snape.  Yes, my peculiar delusion of desire concerns the Severus Snape made of words, not the "flesh and blood" of the actor.

I have admittedly made a habit of these book-crushes over the years.  The last time I had such a "relationship" was in latency: my deep love for Sebastian Flyte in "Brideshead Revisited."  And once again, a crush on Anthony Andrews (remember him?), who played him in the BBC production, would have been the very definition of common sense, but no, it was the character in the book that I adored.

I'm going out on a limb to ask a strange question: has anyone ever had a crush on a character in a book? Any takers for Jack Aubrey? Charles Ryder? Cap Garland? Galadriel? Reggie? Polly from "Old-Fashioned Girl"?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

My Life on a Screen

As per Inner Voices, here's a shot of my laptop screen.  It really is my life--the crafts, the woefully neglected dissertation, and of course, now even more neglected,  the man who is second in my heart only to Sgt. Pepper.  If you've been reading here for awhile, then you know I have a weird delusion of reference regarding one Severus Snape.  Yes, it's quite embarrassing, as he doesn't really exist.  Yes, I have an actual crush on a fictional character.  Yes, even if he did exist, he wouldn't really exist, because he's a wizard.

I leave you with an admission of naughtiness: I posted this DURING THE DAY.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


I have a new promise to myself: no online unless it's for dissertation research till after Hedgehog is tucked in for the evening.  Since I'm not at an outside job like so many of the others out there (I'd have no compunction about blogging at work...go figure...), and I'm home being a housewife slash grad student, I have to do some serious time management.  I won't bore myself with the details of that here.  My mom told me that when she was a housewife slash grad student herself, she took a solemn vow that the television would never be turned on during the daylight hours, and she stuck to it.

So here I am, posting at 8:15 am, before walking Hedgie to school! I'm a marvel of discipline!!

Okay, I'm so disciplined that I'm going to close the laptop and get Hedgie to school on time.  But I'll be back to talk some more about discipline.

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Winner is...


(funnily enough, because she was the first one to post!)  Yay Kim!

Kim is herself a really great knitter, as I can see from her blog...Kim, you will soon be the proud owner of some brand-new socks knit in Koigu premium merino.  But first, you must contact me at with the following info:

name and address
foot stats (shoe size, measurement in inches from heel to end of big toe)
favorite sock color

For the rest of you, I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed your fabulous food descriptions.  You have absolutely excelled in the fine art of food writing.

I had such a good time with this, and I would love to spread the sock love some more, so I think I will hold another sock contest at some point in the not too distant future (with a different theme of course).

Lots of love to all of you!


Thursday, April 3, 2008


Okay, I always love when people post contests on their blogs; it feels so festive! I meant to have one for my 100th post, but got sidetracked, so here it is belatedly.

The Prize: It's a good one, too: I will knit a pair of socks for whomever wins, in the color of their choice.** Now, if you've never had hand-knit socks, I must tell you that it's a foot euphoria like no other! You have to experience it to understand it.

How to Win: Add a comment to this post describing your very favorite food (or drink for that matter). Everyone's welcome here--meat-eaters, vegans, vegetarians, and people who only eat capers and chocolate cake; teatotallers and overindulgent imbibers! (I love hearing about food, and the only ones who have discussed food to my satisfaction on their blogs are Inner Voices and Faycat...)

How the Winner Will be Chosen: I will have a totally random drawing on Monday, April 7th. So the allure of your answer has no bearing on anything! I just want to hear about your favorite food...

Okay, delightful readers (this includes those of you who have made yourselves known, and anyone who might be lurking too. Also, those in the U.S. and those abroad! Men and ladies!), please post your food descriptions and make 'em good!

**I like to use wool, so if you're allergic, you probably wouldn't like this prize. The brand I use is super-nice and comes in a gazillion colors, though, so the choice is good.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


Today I made the acquaintance, for the first time, of the magical little infant daughter of one of my oldest and dearest friends in the world, and it was both lovely and unsettling.

I've been debating for a few years now the question of the second child. It's a boring debate, really. I'm so precious that I sicken myself--who cares one way or the other? I've taken family planning to a ludicrous outer limit of analysis. But I constantly ask the same questions of myself over and over again: will Hedgehog be lonely without a sibling? Or is it nicer to be a family of three? She's super, would another one be? How could we afford two private school tuitions? Where would we put the little feller? Can I go through the monotony and claustrophobia of infancy and toddlerhood once more? Will anxiety and depression rear their ugly conjoined heads again? But will I miss out if I never get to care for another infant in this life? And here's the deepest darkest secret thought: I don't want to go back to work really, but can I justify staying home if I only have one child?

In the annals of the Lady Wars, women have a lot of judgment to pass on each other. You know the drill, mothers vs. those without kids, working mothers vs. stay-at-homes, breast-feeders vs. bottle-feeders etc. etc. Might I say, as an aside, I've received quite a bit of tacit disapproval about my choosing to be home, and then again some disapproval over "extended" breast-feeding (okay, I did nurse Hedgehog for a long time, but I think some people are freaked out by anything over six months). Anything you do as a woman, someone (mostly other women) are going to have something to say about it. But the newest criticism I've fielded is the "only child" criticism. A well-meaning neighbor, whose daughter recently gave birth to twins, commented to me that I "have it so easy" with one child. S***t did that p**ss me off. How presumptuous! And I'm constantly asked if Hedgehog is "my only one" and when are we planning to have's just impossible not to feel pressured. But then I worry that this pressure is fueling my consideration of another baby.

Then do I want to do it all over again? I don't know if I like the thought...but I'm afraid of regret...

I was very nervous about holding Baby P today, at first. Then I did hold her, and it all came back to me in a single, visceral rush. And most of the sense-memory was sweet...