Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Nightly Ritual That Goes A Little Like This

Questions best asked
Before bedtime
Requests for this,
Checks for that.
Can I have a fluffy blanket?
I'll give you mine. You need sleep. It's time.
Could I have a drink of water? My throat is dry.
I'm tired. I have to lean against the wall.
Can I get a puppy?
We can't have any more pets. A cat and a bird, that is all.
Where's Green Doggy?
I don't know. You need to go to sleep now. I'm leaving the hall.
I can't go to sleep without Green Doggy.
Yes you can.
No, I can't. Is there anything under my bed? Oh, I've got him.
There is nothing underneath your bed, except a goblin.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Last night was spent at the mall again. I must have taken 10 trips to the mall in the last two weeks. We saw the movie "Marley & Me." I had absolutely no expectations for this movie being bad or good, so I was neither disappointed nor pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be OK, or pretty good, with some flaws in the believability. I would like to know what time period the book was written about. As a newspaper reporter/writer in the mid to late 1990s, I know a newspaper writer does not make very much money. The houses this newspaper writer was supposedly able to afford just shocked me. At first, both Marley's owner and his wife both had jobs as writers for newspapers. Then, she stopped working so she could be a stay-at-home mom. Then, his boss doubled his salary. Does that really happen? Since when does any boss generously double a person's salary? Then, they bought a nice house in a nice neighborhood. They were living in Florida. The house had a pool. Then, they bought a beautiful stone, three-story, multi-sectioned, old, dignified, estate-type looking house. Of course, they were not trying to make a living in West Virginia like I was. And it was just a movie, I know. But about building peoples' expectations about making a living and doing well as a newspaper writer? Does that really happen? Does it happen to people, other than to about 20 people, maybe? I don't know. I have my doubts.
Moving on, about the actual plot, I did not like how the movie purposefully told you to become sentimental about the dog, about 10 minutes from the end, after the whole rest of the movie concentrated on what a nuisance the dog was. There was really nothing positive about the dog until it seemed he had reached the end of his life. That's when he was no longer a nuisance, because he did a lot of laying around and seeming affectionate as he no longer had the strength to overwhelm and overpower everyone with his energy and destructiveness. I am no fan of dogs. My parents did have a very nice German shepherd. Here was a typical story like Marley & Me, that many people probably share: the story of a young couple who bought a puppy before they had children. The puppy got huge and provided a lot of levity for the young couple. The couple had children and the dog adjusted. The dog died when the children were ages eight and 10. The children had not become attached to the dog like the parents had. It was very sad for the parents.
What I did like about the movie was the simplicity of the story, and how that simplicity carries over into the characters' everyday lives that everyone can relate to and appreciate. A seemingly normal family has the typical struggles and trite experiences, but the challenges within them are universal and important. Since this movie was based on a book that was either non-fiction, or based on a real-life story, I guess that explains why.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Advice and Sympathy

Interestingly, I actually had a conversation yesterday afternoon a little like the one I typed out earlier that day. Except it was only about half as long and I really didn't get the opportunity to pass on all that wisdom I was prepared to impart. Even if I had, it wouldn't have been heard. Sometimes you have to learn things the hard way. My mom always used to say this to me when I'd seemingly make mistake after mistake after mistake, like waiting until the last minute to get a big project completed, or ... well, that's about all I can remember. Later I learned that if we didn't learn things the hard way, then we wouldn't really be living. Or if we would be living, it would be a very stale, mind-numbing lifestyle. I still don't see how it's possible to live and not make mistakes in the process. Not that me making mistakes has anything to do with my attempts to pass on advice. I just mean that if I try to pass on what I perceive to be helpful, it might just be stuck in a void somewhere, indefinitely, because the best advice I ever received was by seeking and getting it myself. I'm just going to write down my good advice and slide it under her door. Like a really good greeting/sympathy card. Maybe it'll go somewhere, maybe it won't.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Generic Post-Breakup Advice and Support

For no reason in particular (or just in case I need practice for the future), here is my proposed Sensitive Dialogue In Response to Knowledge of Failed Relationship:
Meecutio: How are you?
Meecutio-rita: Fine. But I feel a little sick.
Meecutio: Why?
Meecutio-rita: I don't know.
Meecutio: How are things?
Meecutio-rita: OK, I guess.
Meecutio: Are you really OK?
Meecutio-rita: Stop asking me that.
Meecutio: All right. If you want to talk about anything, I'm always here. You never know, I might have something brilliant and comforting to tell you about something you might be dealing with.
Meecutio-rita: Like what?
Meecutio: Like, all good things must come to an end. Upon every life a little rain must fall. This, too, shall pass. Every cloud has a silver lining. What feels like something bad that has happened always has a valuable lesson; you just have to figure out what that is, what you can learn from this for next time. The bad things that happen in life make way for good things, and then the cycle repeats itself over and over, and such is life. Without the bad, we could never experience how great things can be. When something negative and upsetting happens, you'll feel much better exactly three days after it happened. Go ahead and let yourself feel upset for three days. Then you start working to cheer yourself up. Does that help?
Meecutio-rita: Uh, what are you talking about? I was asking what you think I might be dealing with.
Meecutio: I don't know. Nevermind. It's just that I saw your status change on Facebook to "single." Breakups are hard. Even if you're the one doing the breaking up. It's difficult to do, even if you believe you're doing the right thing, and you know it's going to end up hurting someone you care about.
Meecutio-rita: Yeah, well, there's nothing to talk about.
Meecutio: OK, well, just remember, I love you and I know a great Smiths song for a breakup that you probably shouldn't listen to. At least not repeatedly.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

A Grain That Is Not so Plain

The kasha smelled like old dirt with black coal dust and moth balls when I cooked it. I really, really, really did not want to put it in my mouth. I added what ingredients I could find in the house from a recipe I found -- all I had were about half the ingredients -- tamari sauce, basil, carrots, garlic and cayenne pepper. I didn't have tahini, onions, or celery. Well, I had some tahini, but I am pretty sure it has outlived its shelf life. I also added frozen peas, black beans and lemon juice, which were not in the recipe. The smell reminded me of a mysterious old smell of faintly remembered concoctions from my grandmother's "experimental" kitchen. I never could pinpoint what that awful smell was at her house -- it was mostly the smell of moth balls, I suppose. Maybe I have finally discovered the awful smell that lurked there -- cooked kasha.
I gave the kasha plenty of time to cool off. I was sorry that so much food would have to go to waste. I put a little on the fork. I put it up to my mouth. I put it down again. I put it back up again. It actually did not taste as bad as it smelled. I did taste a slight flavor of moth balls, though. Oh, what will I do with a whole five-pound sack of kasha?

Friday, December 26, 2008

Post-Festivity Post

The house is still and quiet. I tiptoe around the maple sugar cookies, lest I disturb them from their peaceful rest. I glance at the sack of organic toasted buckwheat my parental figure donated to the kitchen. My mind soars with ideas pertaining to the myriad of possibilities for the kasha, delighted that my mind is now aware of its healthful benefits. I take deep, cleansing breaths. I am alone and it is good. I wonder how many happy children are playing with their new Wiis, and I wonder how many unhappy children are still hoping for a Christmas Wii miracle.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Best Gift Ever

The Film Geek's post about his best Christmas gift ever brought back memories of the cassette tape recorder. That was his favorite gift, ever. A few of his friends and readers commented that it had been their favorite gift, too. I never got one. I didn't understand the buttons on the machine, what rewind, fast forward and play meant. Most of the ones I saw didn't say fast forward or stop or rewind; they just had symbols, and you just had to already know what they meant. Someone who was in my class and rode my bus and had the same bus stop as I did, pretty much all the way through grade school, made fun of me for not knowing. She had all the cool gifts, always. She always brought something shiny and new to school. Once she gave me a ride around the park on her moped. It was pretty exciting. I think I was in the fifth or sixth grade. (I wonder where she is now? Where are you, Natasha?) When I was about 10 my mom got a cassette tape player/recorder for herself, when they finally went on sale. I borrowed it. I did record from the radio onto blank tapes. I would tape myself being a radio DJ in between songs, introducing them and making DJ-like comments. That was pretty fun.
When I think back to what my best Christmas gift ever was, I draw a blank. I think about different stuff I asked for but didn't get. Like the $100 Barbie Dream House I asked for every year, for about five years, but never got (I bought one at the thrift store about seven years ago for about $15 for my kids and they never really played with it. I finally donated it back to the same store about three years ago). I think of the Christmas I was in seventh grade, when my mom was in graduate school and my sister and I received, including the stuff in the stocking, a sweatshirt with matching sweatpants, earrings, an orange and perfume. No, it wasn't perfume, actually -- it was a large stocking stuffer bottle of Jean Nate "after-bath splash." (I can't believe it's still available for purchase. Now they call it "a classic.") Good-old "after-bath splash" filled up most of the stocking. If you want to buy it now, I believe you can purchase a large bottle of it for $9.95. There was only room for a pair of earrings in there after you added the orange, to fill up the toe.
I know that the Santa in my house was being very practical, sensible and smart. I know there wasn't much to go around. I just wish that the Christmas holidays didn't have a way of setting everyone up for excitement and lavishment, leaving people bitterly disappointed and let down after all the anticipation.
Best Christmas gift ever? I'm still thinking. I guess the best gift from Santa was the lesson not to be materialistic, not to get my hopes up. That was pretty good.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Grieving Shopper

Dear B. Moss,
It was a dark day Saturday for me, shopping. Everything was going fine until I got to the mall. I had heard on the news last week that you, my favorite clothing store, was closing in another town a few hours away. The person on the news was trying to justify the closing of that store by saying that all of them were closing. I wondered if it were true. I refused to believe it. I thought I'd walk to your end, my favorite corner, of the local mall and see if there were any evidence of a going-out-of-business sale, or a warning our local store was about to close. I got there and it was dark inside. It was completely empty, except for a few shelves on the floor, leaning against the back door. There were paper hand-written signs on the doors, with the words "STORE CLOSED" on them. How could I have missed that? So sad.
The only store I ever found that had clothes that fit me well that I liked, that were very reasonably priced, had disappeared forever. My friend tried to reassure me by saying something along the lines of "there are other fish in the sea," that something else would come along for me to replace the space of the market that the clothing store filled. No, it won't. It will never be the same. So sad.
I was just there about three weeks ago and you seemed fine. I guess it was a little strange that everything in the store was 40 percent off. But there was no warning, no "going out of business sale" sign or anything. You even had a whole table full of free cookies (the frosted and soft good kind, not the cheap dry, wafers) and drinks for the shoppers. I found a few things that I thought I'd come back for later. Couldn't you have at least stayed open through the end of Christmas?
Almost everything I wear to work came from your store. All your pants were the perfect length. Everything fit perfectly. Your sizes were sized such that I could buy a size smaller than my usual size and it was comfortable that way. All my favorite necklaces came from your store. And now it's gone, all gone.
Yes, I admit, I might have neglected you recently. The last time I bought something from you was about five months ago, and now I feel just terrible that I hadn't been paying more attention to you.
Remember that one time I bought that navy blue, tailored linen dress with silky lining that came with a matching linen jacket, all for $10 -- and I liked it so much that I bought two of those, for a total of $20? I do. Remember all those shirts, dresses, pants and skirts that I bought from you that were delicately and beautifully adorned with tasteful, floral embroidery? I never failed to get compliments when I wore them. Remember that navy blue sweater set, with the sleeveless sweater and matching cardigan, with the navy and white ribbon trim? I used to wear it just about every week, and now, about five years later, it finally needs replaced because it's just starting to look a little faded and might have a small hole in it.
I didn't even get a chance to say goodbye. Please come back to me. I just want to send my kids one last time to the fitting room to the children's table to color on the papers that say, "I drew while mommy shopped." I just want to buy one last thing that is 50 percent off the Red-Line Clearance price. Why did it have to end this way?
With Love,
A Grieving Shopper

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Wednesday evening

Day 3 of our marathon holiday office feast. The vast quantity and quality of food surpassed everyone's expectations and we just have to keep eating.
On the subject of non-stop feasting, on Monday I took a tour of a gym that has a pool. Despite my anti-gym membership sentiments, I came away from the tour happy, as THIS GYM has a POOL. If you knew me, you'd know that I'd open my eyes real big-like, for a few moments too long, when I said the word, "pool."
This morning I suppose I was lacking in adrenaline or ... what are those natural chemicals that make one feel happy? Endorphins, maybe. The ones that are triggered by exercise or good news or really good conversation.
And I haven't really crossed paths with any of those things today, but at the end of the day, I feel better (maybe it was the beaujolais). Who said, "This too, shall pass"? I read it recently. Ah, yes, now I remember. I found it in the wise words of Sue Haywood, professional cyclist, recovering from a broken leg and having lots of philosophical thoughts in the process.

Wednesday morning

This morning the shallow depths of despair grip me for no good reason at all. I am simply human. I will feel better in a few moments.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Top Five Holiday Delectables

5. Pumpkin bread.
4. Sugar cut-out cookies with white icing.
3. Chocolate fudge, with and without walnuts.
2. Ham baked with brown sugar and cloves.
1. Lime Jell-O salad made with cream cheese and pineapple. So sweet, creamy and light.

Almost all of the preceding delectables came from my maternal grandmother's kitchen. All of the preceding involve sugar, sugar, sugar, sugar and sugar. I wish these selections sounded more creative, but I had to tell it like it is.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Is it Me?

I thought I was going to have a little getaway visiting a friend yesterday and today, like a vacation, a change of scenery, a relaxing and fine time. Upon my arrival, I wanted to start it out right by treating myself to the simple pleasure of cake batter ice cream with cherry pie filling and chocolate cookie crumbs, and, while the ice cream worked its magic with its creamy, sweet goodness, I was admonished by my friend for making a bad choice during my cold recovery process. Later I was reproached for using what my friend misunderstood to be sarcasm. My friend does not like the sarcasm in my personality, but this time I was not joking at all. Some people have complimented me for having a "dry wit," whatever that is, and I don't know if that's the same thing or not. I don't really notice me being sarcastic. I'm just a really funny person and he doesn't appreciate or understand that. Either that, or I should be more kind and loving all around, and not joke around. I suppose a counselor or mediator would say the reality is somewhere in between.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


Last Thursday night, at about 8:40 p.m., it was a little rainy. I happened to be looking out the window and I saw a couple flashes in the night sky. The sky lit up as bright as daylight, kind of like when there is lightning, but these flashes lasted a few moments longer than lightning would have. The sky flashed turquoise. The lights in the house flickered. Other people in the house had seen it, too, and we all rushed to the windows to see if it would happen again. It did, and this time the sky flashed pink. I thought perhaps there were fireworks, but there were no loud fireworks noises, and no reason for them, since it was a weeknight and I was pretty sure nothing was going on to have precipitated a fireworks show in the rain in December. Two of us decided to take a walk toward the area where the flashes seemed to be coming from. It was dark and rainy outside, but most of the sky was glowing pink. I briefly considered the scene from National Lampoon's Christmas vacation movie, the one where Chevy Chase's character lights up the house and blinds the neighbors, but I didn't see anybody putting up Christmas lights. We walked to the top of a hill, where there is a huge overlook over a small part of the town. We saw nothing. There were no more flashes. There was a man walking up the hill by himself with a backpack and an umbrella. We asked him if he had seen the flashes. (It reminded me of my friend Michealdiegolo, when he used to ask me every Thursday morning in art class if I had seen The Flash last night. He meant on TV, but I didn't take it that way.) The man was out of breath, and he looked at us carefully. I was feeling sick and unsocial, so I didn't speak; it was the 10-year-old with me who asked him very politely if he had seen anything unusual that led to the strange flashes in the sky. He said, "Actually I did see what happened. There was some type of electrical malfunction, or a short, in the power station for the school, and that let off a lot of sparks." He seemed kind of upset. We thanked him and he walked on. The power station that I think he was talking about is about two miles from my house, and on the other side of a very steep hill.
Last night, or perhaps this morning, I had a dream about the downtown where I live being attacked by bombs and taken over by the enemy. I happened to be in a crowded restaurant, and everyone decided to stay inside. There was food there, and my family was all there, so I felt safe. We had a nice table. I peeked outside a few times and the buildings were in disarray. One of the buildings at the top of the hill was picked up into the sky and then brought down to rest in another spot, completely intact. I decided to clear everyone's dishes and take them to the kitchen. When I got back into the dining room, a woman came in and she was telling everyone what to do. She asked me if I wanted a son to take care of because she had two boys with her who had lost their parents. I said no, I already have two daughters of my own. (Last night I was watching a news show in which a woman suspected of kidnapping a child said that she had six of her own children, so that supposedly proved that she couldn't have done it.) The woman was trying to tell everyone what to do. She locked the door so no one could come in or go out. She made everyone pay her $4, for what I am not sure. It was kind of like a bully demanding lunch money. Even though she didn't seem cruel or mean, she was just intimidating and scary. Later in my dream I realized I had given up my beautiful condo in someplace called Pleasant Valley. It had its own deck and a small, outdoor pool. All the front rooms, the living room, the dining room and the kitchen, had walls of glass. It was always sunny and bright there. I realized when I woke up I only have five windows in my house, but I like it.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Recovery, please arrive swiftly, as I am not myself

As I am in the depths of my usual pre-Christmas incapacitating killer flu, I reflect upon how much nature has a grip on how we think and what we are. My mood and my ability to function normally by doing everyday things like thinking and reacting and talking and cooking are seriously compromised by what is probably a simple cold. But this brings me to think about how we are inevitably controlled by the factors of nature -- from birth to death and everything in between.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Gifts Not to Give
1. Candles. If you have ever been to my house, do I light candles? If you can't answer that question, then definitely don't get a candle for me. If you do, it will go in my box of candles I keep in the garage.
2. A scarf -- especially the gigantic kind that is meant to be worn with indoor outfits. I have received as gifts, on multiple occasions, gigantic scarves that I will never wear, or even look at after I've seen it once. Have you ever seen me wear a scarf? If you have, is it as big as a tablecloth? I think not. Some people look just fine in them, but I would let those people pick them out for themselves. If I got a warm and soft, modestly sized scarf that goes well with my coat, I'd probably be happy.
3. A sweater that looks a lot like one I already have. Are you trying to say my blue v-neck sweater is all worn out and needs replaced? Or did you see me wearing it once and see me so infrequently that you forgot that I have one just like it and for some subconscious reason think I will really, really like it?
4. Lotion that smells like Old Lady Going to Church.

Gifts That I Want But Will Probably Not Receive
1. Food processor. Are they really $200.00?
2. Crock pot.
3. Moosewood cookbook.
4. Gloves. My gloves have holes in them.
5. Socks. My socks have holes in them. I can never have enough socks.
6. Tall boots. Would go really well with new socks.
7. A subscription to fruit-of-the-month club. I know, it's too good to come true.
8. A radio/CD player that attaches to the bottom of a kitchen cabinet.

Gifts That I Would Want to Buy for Other People, But Don't Know If They Would Want Them
1. Food processor. Doesn't everyone need one?
2. Crock pot. Do you have one already? Wouldn't it come in handy if you don't have one already?
3. Cookbook, one with way cool recipes with colorful photos of interesting and simple-to-prepare delicacies.
4. You probably already have gloves you like that match your coat, don't you?
5. Socks. Is that lame?
6. Tall boots. You want tall boots, don't you?
7. I would love to get you a subscription to fruit-of-the-month club, but it's too expensive.
8. A radio/CD player that attaches to the bottom of a kitchen cabinet.


Today I did not go in to work, to spare the rest of the crew from the "sick me:" annoyed, impatient, frustrated, lightheaded, weak, disoriented and sneezy.
Last night I was questioned about whether we had any relatives who fought in the civil war. I brought out my stack of research I had done a few months ago to recall the names of my great-grandfather and my great-great grandfather, who had been a confederate soldier and was credited with firing the first shot in some battle or other, the name of which I cannot recall or find any information about on the Internet. Nevertheless, the genealogy occupied much of my sick day and my nap as I was sleeping. On a VMI Web site, I found a letter my great-great grandfather had written to his cousin about being on the battlefield. It was dated May 10, 1863, and contained his comments about how he'd heard a rumor about Stonewall Jackson dying as a result of an accidental attack by his own men. I tracked some of my relatives to the early 1700s, when they came from Sweden and Germany. That was about all I could find. Bits and pieces.
Even though I rarely like movies enough to watch them a second or third time, I caught most of I Heart Huckabees this afternoon on the TV. It had been about four years since I'd watched it. There were parts of it that I don't remember ever watching, but the movie goes so fast and so many things happen. There are multiple conversations going on at the same time about hard-to-grasp concepts. Some of my favorite lines from the movie are: "No manure, no magic," and "How am I not myself? How am I not myself? How am I not myself? How am I not myself? How am I not myself? How am I not myself?" and "Creation. Destruction. Creation. Destruction. Creation. Destruction." and "It is inevitable to be drawn back in to human drama."
Today and yesterday I drank lots of tea, and had chicken soup, juice, zinc, vitamin C, and echinacea. I feel worse now than I did this morning.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


I kept getting the Backyardigans confused with the Kardashians, as I had never before watched either one of them or had known anything about them other than that they were names of movies or shows, or cartoons. Tonight I watched the Kardashians' story on E! and figured out that they are a family that has a reality show on TV. I realized it consists of a huge, spoiled family, and now I know I will never watch the show. Now I just need to figure out who the Backyardigans are. I'm not sure if it's worth the effort, though.
Last week I saw Role Models at the movie theater. I'm still waiting for the next decent comedy to come along. I like Paul Rudd, a lot, but he was the main character, and absolutely nothing he did in the movie was the slightest bit funny. It wasn't his fault. He just played a selfish, miserable guy who didn't care who his misery rubbed off on. I just want to see the same character he played in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, I guess.
Tonight, for the first time ever in my 35-year, almost 36-year life, I made my own spaghetti sauce without getting it from a jar. It was some of the best spaghetti sauce I ever made, or tasted! I figured that Prego couldn't be improved upon, so I never bothered. I also thought it would have to simmer for half a day. But I just threw a few things in the pan and I was amazed at my cooking talents.
Sometimes I feel bad about not having anything important to write about or talk about, like politics, and who the president is naming to his administration, and how we don't recycle enough.