Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Week in Review

Sometimes when I'm trying to get everyone out of a grocery store I'll look around for my kids, and not being able to remember their individual names (How does Michelle Duggar do it?), I'll refer to them as Thing One, Thing Two, and Thing Three. Apparently this is just cute enough that they don't take offence. Thank God. (I know that I had a hand in naming them, and I LIKE their names, I just can't seem to put the right name to the right kid in times of stress.)

So here's a week in review involving the trials and tribulations of my Things.

Last Wednesday, Thing Three was sick. Head cold and sore throat. Stomach cramps in the night. Thursday Thing Two started getting ill and by Friday he stayed home from school. Over the weekend I contracted the sharpest headache I've had in recent years and a sore throat. But it went away. Yay.

Sunday night, Thing Two started vomiting and stayed that way through Monday night. Thing One had the sore throat and the headache on Monday, so I let her stay home. Tuesday, when I went to wake her up it was clear she was still sick, so she stayed home Tuesday with Thing Two, who by this time had given up on vomiting and had moved on to diarrhea.

Today it seemed as if everyone was pretty kinda sorta OK. Thing One went to Middle School where she discovered absences in every class. Thing Three went to Kindergarten. Thing Two and I went to the doctor's for a routine medical appointment. With very little warning he threw up in the parking garage.

We got to the appointment on time, but then we had to wait one half hour to hand our insurance card through the little window and pay the co-pay. Then there was another one hour wait in the waiting room. They tried to tell me that I had been late. Ha! Driving home from the Doctor's office (who confirmed that he was not dehydrated. Yet.) the school called to tell me that Thing Three needed to be picked up early from Kindergarten as she was feverish and ashen.

At this point, I can't really keep straight who's healthy and who isn't. Forget about the names: it's hopeless. There's one set of bedsheets which has been washed five times in seven days, and if I have to watch another episode of Spongebob with a feverish head in my lap I may pluck my eyeballs out.

I think Thing One is healthy. I think.

In Other News, I've been reading Demon Angel. I would have read it earlier, but Thing One swiped it. Kept torturing me with, "It's really GOOD, Mom." I'm maybe halfway in, or just past halfway. Good Grief this woman can write. What a tremendous book! Wow.

Not at all related, but the book cheers me up and so does this picture, so I'm sticking The Look here to make me feel all better. Funny how those Romance heroes don't spend a whole lot of time vomiting, you know?

Monday, January 29, 2007


How many times does one kids have to vomit before we cross the line into genuine concern? My son hasn't been able to keep anything down since dinner last night.

Toddling off to call the advice nurse...

Finally, the Good Boy's gone

Latest word on the wires is that Barbaro, the colt who broke his ankle in the Preakness, has been put down. What a good boy he's been. Really. Heart of gold.

First he gets 23 screws put in his leg, then after developing laminitis, the surgeons remove about 80% of his hoof. And then the other hoof develops an abcess. And still he has another procedure to place his leg in a full cast. Yesterday he had surgery to remove the cast and place more pins in the previously broken leg so that the shin would bear weight, not the hoof. I would have hated to have been in the center of that cascade of injuries and set-backs.

Barbaro's been photographed, lifted in and out of slings, and has never shown a moment's bad temper. Some horses are undeniable pukes and really do not deserve to be near enough to people so that they can freely step on our heads. And then there are others who amaze us with their patience and grace. He was so young to be so good. Not even three. Sweet Dreams, kiddo.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Email joke

This one has been going around for years, but I received it again and still got a chuckle. I think something similar could be written about being dragged around the block by your favorite dog. There's certainly something waiting in the wings about schlepping laundry all over creation. Anyway, enjoy.

Your Fitness Program

At this time of year, after the holidays, ads for weight-loss programs saturate print media and the airwaves. Even TV talk shows devote time to the battle of the bulge. I caught part of a Dr. Phil episode in which the prominent self-help guru was evaluating the situation of one overweight guest. The woman commented that she'd like to buy a horse so she could get exercise via riding. "That's great for the horse," responded Dr. Phil drolly, "but what good is it for you?"

Obviously, Dr. Phil has missed out on the cardiovascular workout we women get attempting to get into a sports bra and riding pants....

Clearly, the good doctor doesn't own a horse. At least, not the right horse. A quiet, well-broke, agreeable mount may indeed not offer much in the way of fitness training. But, the right horse (and most of us have owned 1 or 2, haven't we?) will provide a body-building, cardiovascular- enhancing workout that would make Richard Simmons envious.

Allow me to explain....

With the right horse, you begin your fitness program by walking out to the pasture. As you stride briskly, you carry the halter and lead rope behind you, pushed up high on your back so the lead doesn't drag and the horse cannot see it. The purpose of this is to tone your chest and upper-arm muscles (because you're not fooling your horse, for he knows what you carry).

As you approach to within a few feet of him, he'll walk slowly away from you, but at a pace just so you can't reach him, then stop. This will be repeated several times in succession, until you're ready to jog. At that point, because you own just the right horse, he will trot, then gallop around the pasture with his tail flagged in a gesture you cannot help but to understand, since he does not have the same finger digits as our own. If you're at the advanced level of fitness, you may continue chasing after him for maximum aerobic benefits, or just stop and start throwing rocks at him to give your rotator cuffs a workout. (Make sure you switch throwing arms. Not only is this a benefit to you, your horse will think it hilarious).

Beginners may prefer to toss the halter and lead on the ground, bend forward from the waist, and engage in heavy breathing and chanting (that's what we'll call it, anyway -- chanting) as the horse continues to circle the field. For those of you that have experience with this exercise, you may choose to throw the halter and lead, walk briskly, bend, pick up, repeat. When the horse determines you've had enough of this warm-up session, he'll allow you to catch him.

Now comes the total upper-body workout of grooming. The right horse, of course, will be caked in dried mud. The cement-like consistency of it will require work-to-exhaustion effort of your biceps and triceps.

NOTE: This exercise has added value; the dried mud will stick to your face with perspiration, instant facial!

Next comes the bending, stretching, and toning of hoof-picking. Bend over, pick up the horse's left front foot, then be prepared to jump back as he stomps it back down to the ground, narrowly missing your foot.

(Keep your knees bent as you jump, to protect your lower back.) Reach down and pick up the foot again, hopping about with the horse to maintain your grip as you attempt to pick what seems to be dirt mixed with Super Glue from the hoof. Eventually the horse may stand still; you may be chanting again by this time. Repeat the entire circuit 3 more times with the remaining feet.

Once you can stand erect again, it's time for the insect repellent exercise. True, with this one, your horse may actually get more of a workout than you do, but you certainly get more of the repellent. It goes like this: Squirt!-circle- circle. Squirt!-circle- circle. Squirt!-circle- circle--- and so on, until you're completely misted with repellent and chanting 'whoa you sonofaB* whoa'. To receive maximum benefit from this exercise, make sure you are at the beginning of a deep inhalation during the 'squirt' cycle and exhale after the last chanting 'whoa'.

With the right horse, saddling up provides both aerobic and strength building benefits as well. The trick is to keep your feet moving as you heft the saddle blanket over and over (and over), trying to keep it in place on a moving target. The blanket exercise warms you up for the saddle exercise, for which the routine is the same, only the weight is much greater -- perfect for buffing those hard-to-tone shoulder muscles.

Now comes the mounting exercise. With the right horse, it's left leg up, hop-hop-hop, left leg down, then more chanting. Left leg up, hop-hop-hop, left leg down, then MORE chanting. For balance, go around to the other side and continue the exercise (right leg up, hop-hop-hop, chanting, right leg down, chanting, etc.).

When your heart rate begins to exceed your target range, look for a bucket. Bend over, pick it up, place it upside-down next to the horse, wait for the horse to move away, then bend over, pick it up again, place it next to the horse, and so on. NOTE: This is a cooling down routine, not to be confused with the warm up pasture-routine. When the horse deems you've had enough of these repetitions, he'll stand still and allow you to actually mount. At this point, of course, you'll be too exhausted to ride and your facial mask will be dropping off in chunks.

It's best not to overdo it, so dismount, grab a glass of wine , and head in to recover in a bubble bath.

Photo is of Faheem Al Maas, owned by Breezy Acres. He looks to be a lovely stallion, and I only use him to illustrate a point of comedy, not to disparage his temperament in any way. I'm sure he's only excited in the photo, not annoyed.

Friday, January 26, 2007


This sort of post can get truly silly after a while, but good grief, I just had to say something.

For the last three days, these are the searches which landed people on my blog.

Debbie's Petland
The Lottery Shirley Jackson diorama
A Tale of Two Cities extended metaphor
Jack Sparrow longer face
psychics fairfield california
leg cast thigh to toes pictures
beet vandal buster
Debbie's Petland
Debbie's Petland

Three of those I'm used to seeing often (Namusca, autocunnilingus and Debbie's Petland), but "Beet vandal buster"? I really want to know. I do. What's a beet vandal anyway?

Update on "Cycle of Life"

I wrote about this guy showing signs of age. I had written an article about him, which was meant to be his introduction to the larger world of "preservation" breeding. He demonstrates so many attributes people are looking for, but has never been used much as a breeding stallion, simply because he is so useful and personable.

Turns out his illness is chronic liver failure. Damn.

They say that sometimes the liver can regenerate, but I think that's very unlikely. Very. So I guess it will be a eulogy after all.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Feeling the love

How the hell did I miss this post? Laughing until in pain is good for me.

What is wrong with me that I have not put Evil Auntie Peril back on my sidebar? It was almost a tragedy of epic proportions that in NOT putting her on the sidebar that I neglected to check her site more often, and was thus in danger of missing this post.

Right now at this very instant I am putting you BACK on my sidebar, like I said I was going to do about three weeks ago. Jeez.

Hey, I'm missing Jay too. And bookwormom. What the heck happened?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


How does one determine that one had not had sufficient caffeine? The grogginess? The mild headache? The questioning of one's prescription because the world seems ever so slightly out of focus?

No. Today I discovered the acid test.

I had just parked the car in the garage, and had gathered up my purse and a few sundry items strewn around the floor, and I was trying to leave the car with all of these things hanging from my shoulders and arm when I discovered that the blasted car would NOT stop beeping.

The car that just went into the dealership twice because neither of its enormous sliding doors would open or slide, the car that is slowly making me crazy, the car that collects trash as if it had a side job as a bag-lady, the car that no matter what I do (Good LORD I do not NEED this right now!) will not stop fucking beeping at me.

What? What?!

Closed the door, and the beeping stops. Excellent. Lights off. Car in Park. Emergency brake on. OK then.

Open the door: Weet! Weet! Weet! Weet!

I hate this car. I just want to get inside now. And dammit, I've parked so close to the box which contains a set of shelves which still need to be assembled so that I can get everything off the floor of the garage that I cannot get out of the Weet! Weet! Weet! car.

I really have to repark the damned thing, but there's this large hole in the driveway surrounded by construction tape which, atthough I have plenty of room to maneuver, just gets me annoyed whenever I back out of the garage.

AT&T came about a week ago to dig up the sidewalk, blocked only my driveway, and then disappeared into the fog which eats contractors right after they have sunk a huge hole in your living room wall. And every time I look in the rear view mirror and see the sawhorse and the construction tape, I get annoyed at AT&T; I remember that this morning I have to wrestle my way through voice mail hell once again to get them to come out and finish the job. ("What is wrong with your line?" "There's nothing wrong with my line. I don't even know why they're here. They showed up and dug a hole." "Why did you request service?" "I didn't request service! I just want to know when they will come to fix the hole!") Weet. Weet. Weet.

Ugh! Fine! I'll just repark the stupid thing.

Put the bags down, toss the purse in the passenger seat, and fumble for the keys. Where the hell are the keys? Wha? How could I lose them sitting here?

And then the fog of drug deprevation lifts. Ahh. The Keys. The car is trying to tell me something. Wow. I REALLY need some coffee.

Because I've never turned the car off. It's been idling the entire time, keys in the ignition, which is why the car said, "Weet. Weet. Weet." every time I opened the door.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Cycle of Life

I submitted my article with all sorts of pleas to the editor to let me know if it ran long, and that I would be happy to edit it. She wrote back saying that she loved it as is, and forwarded it to the stallion's owner, who's on the Board of the breeder's organization which publishes the magazine she edits. He loves it too.

Much praise. High spirits.

A few hours later I got an email letting me know that the stallion I've written about is probably dying. He's been ill with a mild colic, some sort of lingering reaction to coming out of tranquilizers early last week after having his teeth floated. Apparently he just refuses to bounce back and is rapidly losing weight. Twenty-eight years is a good run, I suppose. But winter just sucks for these older guys. Although, he's still drinking sufficient water, so maybe that's something positive.

I really would not like a retrospective of one horse's unique contribution to four different breeding farms, a collection of stories and pictures, including his carrying a bride into her wedding, to turn into a eulogy.

Low spirits tonight.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Wave and smile for the camera

For all three of my readers who have met me in real life, I hope you'll agree that my voice here is fairly close to me everyday snarkitude. Yeah, I don't expose all my flaws here, but hey, it's my decision what to write about here. So for the most part, Suisan, she is me.

I keep the mask thing going because I'm not eager for the day when a political operative is easily able to say, "This OTHER candidate likes sex and trashy novels." Yeah, I can totally deal with it, and I'm not scared of the "fight", but I'd rather not set myself up by waving a big flag and saying, "Here I am! Woo Hoo! Voters! Over here!" Besides, the fewer people who read the blog, the more freewheeling I can convince myself I can be when it comes to that one colleague I can't stop fighting with and, ahem, my mother.

So as a rule I don't blogwhore, and I don't check my stats that much.

Not many in Massachusetts read me, but occasionally a hit comes up from Leominster, or some odd place. It usually turns out that they've reached me by searching for Debbie's Pet Land, a pet store chain which I once mentioned. (Ok, now it's twice.) But today I checked and had a mild shock of alarm. Who are all these people in Boston? Why are they reading me? Aigh!! I've been outed! My mom's friends are reading and discussing the horror that is her child!

No, it turns out that the Boston Globe webpage linked to me (twice) because I do so love visiting museums with my mother. ::waves:: Here's the link. I'm really really hoping that Mom had better things to do that scour the webpage on Friday. La la la. Wouldn't think she uses the webpage. La la la. OK, this can get me nowhere. Cut it out.

Photo from Wikipedia.
If you are from Boston, Hi. Wicked Cool that you made it here. If you happen to know my Mom, could you do me a favor? Make her some tea and take her out to the MFA for me. It would cheer her up, I'm sure.

Edited to add: Damn. Now the link's not working. I'll go fiddle...

Requires registration? But I could see it before? Very confused. Anyway, here's what Geoff Edgers said in the Exhibitionist, a blog on the website dedicated to Art News around Boston. Geoff Edgers covers Art News for the Boston Globe.

Friday, January 12, 2007
Please Ma, No More Museum Talk!

Poor Suisan. She wants to take her daughter to the art museum. And all her mother wants to do is see the Titanic exhibition. God. And she can't stop talking about Boston. Never mind that they're in San Francisco. It's Peabody Essex this, MFA that.

Wait. Why am I trying to tell this? Suisan can do it so much better.

Grudge Match 1
Grudge Match 2
Posted by Geoff Edgers at 11:32 AM
There. Now my self promotion is complete. Need Coffee.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Perhaps it's in the freezer?

Pre-Ordered Demon Angel.
Did not receive Demon Angel.
Complained to Amazon about Demon Angel.
Ordered, once again, Demon Angel.
Received confirmation that they had shipped Demon Angel.
Found on my doorstep a box containing Demon Angel.
Blogged that I was anxious to read Demon Angel.
One morning while making toast for the children, skimmed with great interest Demon Angel.
Two days ago could not find Demon Angel.
Today, again, cannot find Demon Angel.
Have searched high and low for Demon Angel.
Believe that Demons have for their own purposes run off with my copy of Demon Angel.

Am not happy that I have to just wait around until it shows up.

My mother left me a copy of Hugh Laurie's book, The Gun Seller. Tempting, but no. I've got that blasted laundry to fold.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Are you ready for public office?

Here's a quiz.

You're making dinner on a Tuesday night when the phone rings. It's the editor of your local paper who says he's contacting you, a School Board member, because no one else in the District called him back. On Monday, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a reporter randomly asked seven students who were in Downtown, "What can you tell me about the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.?"

They all answered, in one form or another, that he was celebrated for freeing the slaves. Three of the students were in High School and those three were also African American. Can I have your response?

"Eh. Who have you called so far? Any of the Principals?"

"Yes. They didn't return our calls. Do you have any comment that the District website make no mention of Black History Month which is coming up?"

"Well, the District website is about two years out of date, and furthermore I'm not sure that we've ever systematically celebrated any of the monthly celebrations. It's more of a classroom by classroom thing."

"So, about the kids we surveyed, is this indicative of the level of education the students are receiving in your schools?"

How would YOU answer?

I fumbled around for a bit and finally got something out. I feel bad that I had to throw my own kids in there, but I do know that my own children are products of the school system and they certainly know who Martin Luther King, Jr. was, and they learned about him in class (I think in Second and Third Grade). I did tell the reporter that they were somewhat unclear as to the difference between Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, however. At least that got a laugh. I'm more than a little mortified, actually. Darned kids these days. I wonder if they knew what state they were in, or who's president?

Getting Published!

I've been asked to write a magazine article!

It will be published!

La la la!

There's a trade magazine for a sub-set of Arabian breeders which is published quarterly. I've been asked to write an article about a horse I very much admire who used to be on my aunt's farm. He's the old man I wrote about over the summer--the one I took my daughter to see. The focus of the article is gathering together memories and impressions of him from the many people he's met. He's such a personality that his current owner is apparently getting flooded with "I remember when" stories, so he and the publisher decided to put it all together for a feature article. And they asked me to write it.

So I asked the publisher what her desired word count is. "Whatever," was her reply. "We tend to have trouble filling the Spring issue."

Oh my god. Does she have any idea how dangerous THAT is? Trying hard to keep this under control. Besides, I know there's going to be a sidebar with a tale from the breeder, but I don't know how long that's going to run. My research for today is figuring out the word count on a few of my favorite articles and seeing if I can wrestle this thing into submission.

In other news, Amazon finally deigned to send me my copy of Demon Angel by Meljean Brook. Not sure what it took to rip it from their cold dead hands, but at least it finally showed up on my doorstep!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Frigid days

It's not terrifically cold, but there's definitely been frost on the ground. A few weeks ago, a section of fence fell over; all that remains are the new fence post holes. Someday the contractor will come back to put up a new fence.

This morning, down at the bottom of a dark, steep-sided fence post hole, my son found a very cold California Fence Lizard.

Saul put him in the deli cup the snake came in and brought him inside to warm up. After much consultation, we decided the best method was to let the lizard bask on a warm water bottle. Hence, the photo now known as "Lizard for Lunch."

His belly's kind of neat:

Saul was sad to see him go, but then the lizard clambered out of his cup unexpectedly and scrambled across the floor. After stuffing his heart back down this throat and taking a few deep breaths, Saul said, "He moves weird. Let's get him back outside in the sun."

So we did.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Watching the train roll away

I feel as if I'm standing on a station in a black and white film in someone else's imagination, watching a train chug out of the station.

There she goes. Byyyye! Off into the distance. Byyye! Send a letter when you have a chance! Take my New York Times with you!

And as the train rounds the far corner, it occurs to me that if it were to crash, or derail or get stepped on by a Japanese monster wandering in from another movie, as long as I didn't see it, I really wouldn't care. It's puffing around the bend. Chugga Chugga Chugga. Look at all that black smoke curling up into the sky. And look how it disappears into clear air just above the back of the train. I know I'd feel bad if my Dad died in pain or in fear, and he's probably on that train too, so I don't wish it ill, I'm just struck that all of my ability to care about the train and its passengers is simply beyond my ability right now.


To everyone who commented this week, this horrible past week, with the laundry queen, the museum fights, and the police back-up, I need to say thank you. I kept meaning to respond to individual comments (I certainly read them repeatedly), but somehow I couldn't find anything other to say than, "Thanks" and "You don't know the half of it." I've been industriously doing laundry, my OWN laundry, you'll be happy to hear (although that means folding it), and I've retired behind the pages of a PG Wodehouse collection. (Where is JEEVES to sweep my mother out of my life using only a chance encounter with a toy dog and and an opera ticket? Must hire a Jeeves immediately.) My son is doing much better, although Dear Butcher and I had a Most Frustrating meeting with his case manager on Friday morning after The Incident. Even the principal thought she was ridiculous.

(Best quote of the meeting: "Perhaps a round of anger management courses is in order." Oh My God. Thank you, Jesus, for sending down this messenger from the heavens with this pearl of wisdom clasped in her tiny little wrinkled hands. Because in eight years, it certainly never occurred to his parents or to any of his teachers that behavioral control methods might be an option! Anger Management! Wow! And to think that neither one of the psychologists nor the psychiatrist nor the pediatric nurse (Who's Reports You've READ already!) ever would have thought of that. ...... The Principal started chuckling, actually. Dear Butcher turned to the Case Manager and said, "I appreciate that you're new to our son, and that you haven't been around him long, but you need to get educated about him real fast. Right now. We've been doing this for a loooong time already.")

This week the snake, Cloudy Sky, pooped on Saul. Saul took that as an insult of the highest order. Take him away. I hate him, etc. Then, yesterday, Cloudy Sky pooped on me. Never has my son been so delighted. Now he has a pet which is a wealth of poop-jokes, and it pooped on Mom. The world is spinning properly on its axis once again. There's a metaphor to this entire week in there somewhere.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

She went home

But not before putting in one last load of laundry.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

My life's in the Toilet

(Apologies to Mrs. Dukakis from "Moonstruck", but the seniment fits)

Oh! Dear! God!

Not only is my mother visiting and wreaking havoc with my sanity, but just today I went to pick up my kindergartner, and was greeted by a “lunch duty” volunteer who said that she would watch my youngest as I was needed inside to help the police deal with my son.


The police?

Turn the corner to find two police cars, one with lights on.

Walk briskly to his classroom to find him on the floor of the third grade hallway, hiding under a table, with two cops on either side of the table. His teacher walks up to me and says, “Has anyone told you what’s going on?”


Part of my son's Special Ed provision is that he has an aide who shadows him throughout the day to help him navigate playground disputes, or to watch him if he needs to leave the classroom for the hallway. He likes his teacher, but he's been building up some sort of conflict with his aide which started before Winter Break.

It’s the third day back from vacation. (Hello! My son doesn’t DO WELL after he comes back from a break. We just discussed this BEFORE the break.) On Monday he got angry at his aide and said he wanted to “slice and dice” her. Yesterday, he got angry at her and threw a shoe at her. Today when she asked him to do something he refused and then said, “This is the worst day ever. If I had a gun I’d just put it to my head and shoot myself.” She told him that she was worried, and that she wouldn’t let him do that. So he responded, “Fine. If I had a blowtorch I’d just blow up the whole school.”

Someone called the police because he had made a threat against school property. Great.

I walked down the hallway, shook the officer’s hand, asked them to please walk away from the table and sat down on the floor. This kid was so freaked out he was sweating and shaking with his shirt tucked over his knees. I finally got him out, after about 30 minutes of talking. (Thank god the principal sent the police away after I got there.)

He crawled into my lap finally and started crying. “Are you going to take away my stuffed animals now?”

“No. But I’m taking you home. OK?”

“OK.” His adrenaline rush was so bad that he started shivering and chattering his teeth on the way to the car. Holy Hell. What a week.

Thank God my mother’s in Carmel having lunch with two doll collectors. I couldn’t deal with her on top of this.

I have to get the principal on the phone, but the only thing that worries me now, or maybe the one thing that worries me the most, is that some group of adults in the hallway started talking about scheduling a meeting as soon as possible with two psychologists, three principals, and two educational aides. That’s beginning to sound a hell of a lot like an expulsion panel. But if I obsess on that now, I’ll lose it. Must call the principal.

Grudge Match II

While at the deYoung, we realize (very early on) that all of the Asian Art has been removed from the deYoung. The deYoung went through a complete renovation a few years ago and now houses American Fine Arts. (Legion of Honor houses European Fine Arts.) Much controversy ensued.

I had certainly heard the controversy up here in my little town, but hadn't paid attention to the details. So I ask a docent as we're wandering through what is now a GORGEOUS building, "Where is the Asian Art Museum?"

"It's in the old Public Library which was left over when they built the New Public Library."

"Heh heh. Yeah, that makes sense. Civic Center?"


So we finish up at the deYoung, and Eldest Daughter starts bouncing on her heels.

"I love this place. I love this place. I love this place. Can we go see Korean Art?"

"Korean?" says I.

"Yeah. I don't know what it looks like. You hear a lot about Chinese and stuff, but I don't know what Korean is."

"Um, OK. But we don't have that much time to spend, you know. I think we'd have to pick one little area of the museum and only see that."


We turn to my mother. A glowering face. "We're going to Another museum?"

"Well, we don't have time to see an entire exhibit, but I did think that the Asian Art was still here."

"Another one?"

The only way to counteract this is by grinning, "Yeah! Let's go!"

We drove the ten blocks or so, parked the car, crossed the street, paid admission, and found the Korean gallery. My mother walked into the gallery, found the bench in the center of the gallery, and then announced loudly, "My throat is so dry. I'm on these medications. I'm going down to the museum cafe. Meet me there."

Which she did. However, this caused my Dad to follow us to to every display, standing just behind us, occasionally becoming engaged by a particular piece, but for the most part murmuring, "We should go check on your mother."

She never left the museum cafe, even when it closed around her.

Eldest Daughter and I went to the museum shop to buy some art books while Dad tried to coax Her from the shuttered cafe. She hobbled across the hallway to the museum shop, bent over in her dismay that we had traveled to two museums, and one of them did not house the Titanic exhibit, and revived her spirits using retail therapy.

Once she started talking, she was filled with the urge to remind me that the Peabody-Essex Museum in Massachusetts is a highly respected Asian Art Museum. And if Eldest Daughter REALLY wants to see Asian Art, then she should come to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Or the Peabody-Essex. ("Or the Met," I said, thereby reminding her that Dear Butcher's parents live IN Manhattan. You can try pitting Boston against Frisco for cultural accouterments, but Manhattan is going to knock Boston on its ass every single time.)

On Cue, Dad picks up on Mom's discomfort and starts lauding the praises of the Peabody-Essex. "All those whaling captains brought back some fantastic items. It may not be well known in the larger art community, but at least amongst those who know Asian Collections, the Peabody-Essex is well-known."

Shouldn't have said a word, but I can't help myself. "So is the San Franciscan Asian Art Museum."

"Well, yes. Now. Ahum. Have you been to the Peabody-Essex?"


Deep breath. I didn't say a word after that about museums, Asian Art, East Coast Museums or West Coast Museums. La la la. Mm hm mm. La la la.

Just as we get to the car, my mother says, "So we COULD have gone to the Titanic as well, right?"


Just as we got home, my mother says, "While we're at dinner, would it be all right if I just put a few things in your washing machine? There's a pair of black pants I'd like to wear to lunch tomorrow."

"Sure, Mom."

That makes it three days in a row. Laundry.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Grudge Match

You know what's not helpful?

Cleaning the kitchen by loading all the dirty dishes stacked next to the sink INTO the sink so high that you cannot even swing the faucet, let alone turn on the water. (Not my photo, but illustrative nonetheless.)

Then, if you take all the clean dishes OUT of the dishwasher, but stack them next to the sink because, "I would have put them away, but I didn't know where they go." (Hint: Pots with pots, plastic containers with plastic containers, and dishes with dishes.), you can almost guarantee that the owner of said kitchen will walk in and humph slightly as she is putting the dishes away.

"I was just trying to help."

You know what's weird?

Coming to someone's house on the first day of a visit with a full load of laundry. (OK, they had been in SoCal the week earlier, so I it's not as if they packed from home out of the laundry bin. But wouldn't you ask first?)

You know what's weirder?

Coming to the house on the second day of your visit with four items of laundry. You can also guarantee your hostess will lose her mind if you spend the next full day saying, "Can I put my clothes in your washer?" "Since the washer is already going, can I just put my clothes here in the hallway until yours are done?" "How long is your washer cycle?" "Suisan, I'd put the clothes in the washer, but I'm not sure how it works." "Is the wash done? Should it go in the dryer?" "How long is your dryer cycle?" "Should I check the dryer?" "Oh....Did you put a bedspread in with my clothes? Are these my clothes? Oh...I guess that's OK." If she brings laundry today I'll totally lose it. (By the way. I have three kids. We generate a LOT of laundry. I'd kind of like to put MY stuff in now.)

And then there's the whole "I can't hear you!" problem.

"You know, Mom. Let's take Eldest Daughter out of school on Wednesday and take her to the art museum in San Francisco. She's been dying to go to the art museum."

"That sounds great! Oh! You know what's playing in San Francisco: The Titanic Exhibit. There's all sorts of artifacts from the Titanic, letters, all sorts of things. I saw it in Boston."

(Long Pause)

"I think she really would like to go to the art museum. She wants to sketch clothing and drapery, and she's interested in paintings."

"Doesn't she like the Titanic?"

"Yeah. But it's not really her thing."

"Is the Titanic Exhibit close to the art museum?"

"I dunno. But if we go to San Francisco to see a museum, I'd really want to go to an art museum. She'd be so excited. She'd LOVE you for it."

"Can we do both?"

"Two exhibits, one day? No. That's not a good idea. Especially not with her. She'd totally be in a bad mood for the second exhibit. She's not one for a lot of walking."

"We could do the Titanic first. At least she'd be in a good mood for that."

This is the moment where some switch flips in my head, my vision goes all purple and green, and my internal voice starts screeching, "OH MY GOD! NO! HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO SAY, 'NO!' SHE DOESN'T WANT TO SEE THE FUCKING TITANIC EXHIBIT! ONLY YOU DO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!"

With this rumbling just behind my teeth, trying to escape in an explosion all over her oblivious head, I instead say, "Look. She's an artist. She wants to go to an art museum. I would think that you would want to make her happy. If you don't, if you want to make her miserable, then fine, take her to the Titanic exhibit. She can spend her whole time rolling her eyes and snarking on it. Ought to be a great day."

"Does she always get what she wants?"

I know she's my mother and I'm supposed to honor my parents and all that, but I seriously want to drive her teeth down her throat. But that would be bad. I know that.

Yesterday, we pulled the youngest daughter out of school and toured the Jelly Belly factory. Lots of fun. On the tour, walking through the factory, my mother says from just behind me, "The Boston Museum of Fine Arts has an excellent Impresionist collection." I wasn't sure what to say, so I said nothing. Then a while later she says, "The Boston Museum of Science is so great. Have you been?"

At this point I stopped and turned around. "Have you lost your mind? I grew UP in Boston. I went at least a thousand times when I was a kid. Last time we were in Boston, YOU TOOK us to the Museum of Science. Yes! I've been to the Museum of Science."

"Did [Eldest Daughter] like it?"


"There's a lot of science in the Titanic Exhibit."

I just stood there, frozen. Awestruck, really. She is completely incapable of hearing the word: no. It simply doesn't exist for her. I'm not even sure how we got to the point where we're fighting about the fucking Titanic Exhibit, either. It all came on so fast.

So I dropped it. I never said what we were or were not going to do today. Last night, as we were watching "House" (OMG. They wouldn't leave. They had to sit on my couch to watch it. And then they stayed for the news after.), I said, "If we want to see the Titanic Exhibit, then I'll leave all the kids in school, and we can go. If we want to see the Art Museum, then I'll pull [Eldest Daughter] out, because she'd love it."

"Well, if you don't want to see the Titanic, then I guess we don't have to go. But you're missing a great exhibit. Let's go to the Art Museum then. Do they have good any ones in San Francisco?"

I couldn't help myself. "No, Mom. They suck. The Legion of Honor is a piece of crap, and let's not even get started on the de Young."

(Photo from Penny Postcards)

At least my Dad chuckled at that one.

One day soon they WILL go home.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Cue the music

I am strong
I am invincible
I am Woman!

My mantra, however annoying, for the next week.

My mother's visiting until Saturday.

Deep Breaths

Deep Breaths


Somehow I'm alternating between standing at the kitchen counter with my eyes closed telling myself, "She's just crazy. She'll go home. Everything is Allll Right," and running off into an extra bedroom, squeezing behind the door and whispering in my high-pitched Gene Wilder voice, "I'm hysTERical! I'm WET! And I'm hysTERical! I'm in PAIN, and I'm WET, and I'm hysTERical!"

More of the former, less of the latter, please.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

My favorite Youtube Video Evah

From the Tour de France. Commentary by Suisan:

"A herd! My herd! Hey! Wait up! Wait! Wait for me!
This is fun. Running. Running. Look at how small the other horsies are.
Oh, look! I win!"

Power Struggles

Whoever controls the power wins. When there's power available and no one steps up to control it, you get people fighting over power, and then there's chaos. In the School District, this has been going on for months, nay, years. Personally, a dance of power, domination, usurption, defiance, and rejection of authority is the most intriguing plotline in Romances. I don't like stupid misunderstandings, but watching power shift from one character to another is very satisfying to me.

It's also why I like masked heroes. I'm a weak and foppish dunce, I am. But I'm also the most powerful person in the room. Ha Ha! (God, I LOVE that.)

It's also why I like classical horse training. There's a curve to a horse's neck and back, a spring in his hind legs, a gorgeous sway of the tail, that comes from athletic grace willingly confined by the strength of a respectful rider. I'm not kidding: it makes me sweat when I see it.

Oh, and to ride it. When the horse lifts himself, he lightens his ribcage between your legs and the sound of his feet striking the ground is no longer a thunk, thunk, thunk, but now they whisper over the ground. An athletic horse "on the bit" barely makes any noise at all. So as the back and withers lift, his neck arches like a sea horse and his nose dips low. You can feel the bit vibrating in your hands. You can feel the horse's breath pressing against your thighs. You can feel his spine swaying under your hips; the slightest roll of your hips, or even the thought of a shift of weight, and each of his legs swing to follow your guidance as if they were each hinged to your pelvis. It's a meditation on power--the horse has the power to canter over the countryside at anytime, but the rider's respectful power holds the horse to an athletic frame.

I once rode a 30 year old stallion in a dressage exhibition. By the end of our pattern, the front of my dress shirt was wet with tears. I wasn't sobbing, but for the full ten minutes I had ridden, I had been silently weeping. I didn't even know that I had been crying until I came out of the arena. It had simply been such a beautiful experience, that the tears flowed.

But see, for all that to work, each side has to willingly agree to give over some of their power. I had another horse who responded to these requests by turning himself inside out and whacking me on the face with the back of his head. OK, no thanks. He wasn't willing to give over his little bit of personal decision-making, so I wasn't willing to train him how to be graceful.

Without getting all BDSM about it, there's something very moving about willingly ceding power, or maybe the better word is control. Yes, control.

I have a "thing" for Laura Kinsale's Flowers from the Storm, I think because of this personal quirk. Jervaulx, the mathematical Duke, suffers a stroke, so he loses all control. He gets shipped to a mental institution, his wealth is threatened, and he can no longer speak nor string thoughts together coherently. But he's still powerful in that caged leaopard in the zoo sense of power.

Along comes Maddy, the Quaker nursemaid, who decides to take care of Jervaulx.

Dammit. This was going so well! I was going somewhere really neat with this, something about how much I like to watch physical power and emotional power shift from hero to heroine and then back again in a book. How it's a dance. And it's sexy. And it's like riding a horse. You have to respect the other individual enough to let him go forward with impulsion, but then he has to respect you enough to pull back when you vibrate the reins.

But I started this post in October--it's been sitting in my draft pile forever. I keep trying to come back to it. I've written about six endings to it, but I can't get back to the same voice that it has in the beginning. So I finally decided just to put the beginning up and let it be what it is. An excerpt of a thought.

Damn, Damn, Damn and double damn.

We'll just call it the post that was. Sigh.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Hey YOU!

We have a running joke in my house. When I talk to my three kids, I invariably call them by the wrong names. Or what's worse is that I call my son the dog's name. A lot. And I don't call the dog by the son's name all that much.

Anyway, when I do that, I ask my kids, "Who ARE you? What's your name?" which causes a chuckle.

It occurred to me a while back that Dear Butcher and I hardly ever call each other by name. Tara Marie wrote a book review which caused me to remember this observation, because in that book each line of dialogue ends with the other character's name. Odd.

Dear Butcher's nickname for me is "Bin", pronounced like "Bean." (Long story as to how that came into being.) So I'll sign a note to him, "Bin". Or if I want to get his attention I'll Holler, "DAAAAAVE!!" through the house. But in terms of conversation, we don't ever use the other's name.

I only noticed this because I continue to feel a very small zap of surprise when he calls me by my full name. Actually, I experienced this the other day on the phone with a friend while we were arguing. She said my name as she started to make a point, and I completely lost track of what she was saying because I was caught up in thinking about why I would be surprised to hear her say my name.

Good thing too. It was a stupid argument.

Friday, January 05, 2007

A thought or two (or three) on respect.

My comment on this post on Romancing the Blog:

Romance gets knocked. It just does. I'm not sure that's going to end soon. Just about any creative work which is produced in high numbers is going to be perceived the younger step-sister to the "real art" of that genre. Illustration is not considered to be as "artful" as portraiture. Same with Commercial Art vs. Fine Art.

We all know that deep down. And we all know that N. C. Wyeth was a tremendously talented artist AND he was an illustrator. Obviously there are examples of greatness and mediocrity on both ends of the same spectrum, whatever the art form.

However, I think taking the argument "to the streets" so to speak is going to be quixotic enterprise until the gushing and "I must support my friend every time someone says something bad about her work" mentality stops. The circle the wagons thing is truly disruptive to any sort of conversation about our genre or about the books themselves.

I appreciate your offer, Diana, to champion the cause of blogging, but the truth is that the attacks on bloggers has already happened in the larger media, and for the most part ebbs and flows and remains a mild undercurrent. For the most part bloggers don't really care that much. If there's something I want to talk about, with some exceptions, I just write it anyway. People are welcome to comment or not to as they see fit.

Discourse at some point gets hopped up with emotions, but emotions seem to run very high in both the Sci-fi and Romance community. It gets tiring, honestly.

I agree that a lot of the times that Harlequin comes up in conversation, the "original poster" really has no idea what they are talkng about, and is using Harlequin as a short-hand lingo for formulaic, awful, hastily churned-out dreck. And that's not fair to the larger romance writing community.

But come on. You really think you're going to change the minds of the larger reading public. Really?

Really, REALLY, really?

I don't see it happening until there's a whole lot less emotion and a whole lot more honest discussion about what works and what doesn't. I sepnd a lot of time online talking about horses. Y'all wouldn't believe the fights I've seen over at Arabian Horse breeding messageboards over what bloodline represents the "true Arabian". People insult each other, call their horses names, threaten lawsuits, etc. And it's all over whether my horse is "purer" than your horse. Yee gods. It's a horse. Enjoy it.

But people get so caught up in trying to make everybody else experience the world exactly the same way, that eventually it all dissolves into a wrestling match.

Until the Romance publishers slow down their publishing to focus on a fewer number of "truly great" books (which no one really wants them to do within the community), then a while lot of chaff is likely to go out there. That's OK. I like a lot of the chaff. But I reserve the right to call it fluff. (Mmm. Marshmallows.) The larger literary community is going to keep right on denigrating the entire genre because all they can see is the chaff. They just are.

In the meantime, I don't really care what they all say "out there." I'm trying to find a great Historical set somewhere interesting with some great dialogue and an intriguing interpersonal conflict between the two main characters.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

To Start the New Year...

let's look at some oddities. (Statcounter does lead you to odd things.)

Number one: I have had more hits from Australia over the past few days than from the US.

Turns out that these guys are reading this and complaining (again) about this mare. Apparently, the entire country of Oz now loves little old me. Giggling slightly: "I'm intelligent. They think I'm intelligent." (Course they also took my link off the message board for fear of being sued. So much for blogwhoring.) Presenting Namusca, the most discussed Arabian mare on the internet. IMO? Yes, it's a birth defect, no, I don't think it's pretty and no, I don't think it's genetic.
What an Arabian head can and should look like:

Or even:

Moving on......

Number two: Someone found me looking for: "Jessica Bensonma cell phone number". And I'm on the first page for that search. I don't know me no Jessica Bensonma. But Jessica, if you're reading this, someone's looking for you.

Now that we've got the oddities out of the way, on we go to an entirely new year.

Now, how did that happen?