Friday, August 26, 2011

Hurricane Preparedness

Irene, early yesterday.
There is barely time today for much other than hurricane preparedness.

Hurricane Irene, an unwelcome guest, is expected to be passing directly over the northeast on Sunday as a "category one storm," which according to the Weather Channel, is pretty serious. With winds upward of 80 mph and rainfall in excess of 10-14 inches, power outages are expected and trees will be coming down.

I've been switching around, at breakneck speed, between all the local weathermen, hoping to hear something better from one of them but they are all in agreement.

And, to my surprise, they are all behaving themselves. Usually, when a big weather event is expected, they work themselves into a frenzy --shining laser pointers into each other's eyes and snapping the bras of the anchorwomen --  until they are dragged off in restraints or tasered.

What has me worried is how calm they've all been.

This morning, one even said, "Don't freak out."

Don't get cheeky, Weatherman. We all know that you and your meteorological brethren are so often completely wrong that you are now operating under some unspoken code of calmness to save your asses if Hurricane Irene drifts out to sea and I just bought enough bottled water to see us through the apocalypse for nothing.

I will admit that I am concerned.
Out of my way, Grandma.

We're doing what we can. We had to pummel a few senior citizens and trample some small children but were able to procure what we need: canned chili, Wheat Thins and a People magazine.

Seth keeps insisting that we don't need any emergency lighting because in power outages, as soon as darkness falls, he immediately gets into bed and falls asleep, waking with the roosters the following dawn.

This is not all that different from his normal daily routine.

And yes, to all my neighbors who've been wondering, he's the one who's been crowing around 6 am every morning. He considers it a public service and will not be stopped.

I cannot follow this schedule, regardless of the circumstances, and need to be able to see at night so I can read, do crosswords and use my bedazzler.

We will be bringing in the furniture on the deck lest it all become missiles, tying the grill down using boy scout knots (first we have to become scouts and learn them) and I plan on duct-taping the cats together in a bundle for their own safety. Plus, it will serve whoever crapped in the shower this morning, right.

With no electricity, there will be no blog. On the computer, that is.

In preparation, I have learned how to create smoke signals by watching old westerns on TV and have secured the blankets and kindling necessary to communicate with all my readers.

The trick is that you need to be close enough to see them, not to mention interpret them correctly (big fluffy puffs mean that I am running low on peanut M&Ms) hurry on over immediately. I'm sure there are hotel rooms available within smoke signal viewing distance.

To all in the hurricane's path, be smart and safe.
And they were never heard from again.

Do NOT go to the beach to admire the waves.

How many awful post-hurricane news stories about people who do that must you see before you realize how dangerous that is?? 

Have your hand-cranked radios ready, duct-tape for your pets, a deck of cards and water in your tub for flushing.

Hopefully, this will not be as bad as they are telling us. See you soon, right back here!

Here's a classic...."Like a Hurricane," by Neil Young.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sandwiches on the Train

There is an article in yesterday's Wall Street Journal about the social hazards of eating lunch at one's desk in the workplace.

It appears your office mates can become disturbed as a result (crunching, wrappers, etc) but in particular, it appears to be the odors unleashed by favorite meals from home which cause the most problems. Specifically mentioned are sardine sandwiches.


Many years ago, I took a train to New York from Baltimore. Right after Christmas, the cars were crowded and I was lucky to find a seat although, since I was a bit  late, I had to settle for one of the last remaining spaces.

I knew immediately why my seat had been bypassed by others. It was next to  a woman who had a small child struggling in her arms. He must have been under two since she hadn't purchased a separate seat for him but attempted to control him on her lap.

As soon as I sat down, I was battered by his elbows and knees as he fought for freedom.

Once we started rolling, the rocking motion of the train and the warmth of the car lulled him, and many of the post-holiday travelers, into a groggy state and then a deep sleep. He was, however, stretched across both our laps. His head was on his mother while I received his legs and feet.

I didn't mind and was happy she took the drooling end although I realized later that I had gotten the pooping end. Thankfully, this never became an issue.

What did become an issue was when, about halfway into the ride, the woman took out a paper bag which contained her lunch.

In the bag were several sandwiches spread with a diabolical mixture of canned salmon and hard boiled eggs, mashed together into a paste.  

Even before they were completely unwrapped, the terrible, awful smell  filled the air of the overheated and congested train car and I began to gag. So did many others in the car who were actually being awakened by the fishy, sulfurous fumes and evil looks began to be shot our way.

Today, I bet an incident might have ensued. Someone would have called the conductor and there would have been harsh words and Youtube videos but everyone remained silently and politely grossed out.

Of course she offered me a sandwich.

No thanks. Not hungry. So kind of you but. Rather not. Another time, perhaps.

There appeared to be an endless supply in that wrinkled paper bag because now the baby was awake and, still splayed across our laps, began chomping merrily on a sandwich.

I was shocked that so young a child would consent to eat such a combo of flavors but later realized that it's all about what you present to them when they're young (Right, Tom and Charlie?)

An announcement informed us that the train would be delayed. Idling on a stretch of tracks somewhere between here and there, I became very hungry.

Overhearing others complain about the long lines at the concession, I noticed that, as I grew ravenous, those crazy sandwiches became less odorous and more aromatic.

Giving a fleeting thought to the fact that I had no idea how long they'd been unrefrigerated (I could hear my mother's voice in my ear, "Susan, you'll DIE!!!), I told my seat mate that I was now ready for a sandwich.

She was thrilled and handed one over, unwrapping it for me with careful hands.

Guess what!

They were delicious.

Not quite delicious enough for me to recreate at home but tasty and filling on a train with a baby's feet in my lap.

We wished each other well and parted at Grand Central. It was a good trip.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Matrimonial Earthquakes

The northeast was startled by an earthquake yesterday afternoon, magnitude 5.9.

It was enough to knock my son's beer can giraffe (Yeah, right? Giraffes, beer cans-- a total win, win!) right off the shelf above his desk as the ground shook beneath Washington D.C. and motivated a phone call from both boys to see if the parental units were in one piece.

There was some damage in our nation's capital which was approximately 80 miles from the epicenter in Virginia and tremors were felt in the Big Apple where jittery New Yorkers poured out of the skyscrapers and into the streets.

Earthquakes are rather unusual in this part of the world and many expressed shock over the day's unexpected interruption. 

The earthquake, however, was nothing compared to the seismic shock resulting from the rumor that emanated from the dependably unsteady world of celebrity matrimony.

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett are getting a divorce.

Could it be true?

Here's where things really go awry... there are whispers that Jada was canoodling with J-Lo's imminent ex -- the cadaverous, tax-avoiding, rumored herion addict and well-known control freak -- Marc Anthony.*


If you had a delicious piece of cake in the fridge, fresh and moist with just the right number of  layers and the perfect amount of icing, would you choose to nibble on the turkey loaf that's been in there since President's weekend and, poorly wrapped, is curling up and turning green around the edges?

Me, either.

The Smiths are, of course, denying it but where there's smoke, there's fire. I will not be surprised when the denials become a terse press release announcing that "while they will remain friends and respect one another as people, they have decided to end their marriage."

On one hand, I am not all that surprised based on the lack of longevity in celebrity marriages. Plus, I have a theory that people who are constantly announcing how happy their marriages are, are often full of it. 

John Edwards and poor Elizabeth are a good example. He played the loving husband for years but shocked the entire country with his smarmy hijinks. Al Gore tried to swallow Tipper's head at the Democratic Convention a while back to prove that he was a passionate husband but a few years later, and after 40 years together, they called it quits.
Get a room, you crazy kids!

Friends say Tipper didn't buy man-made global warming and dared challenge him at a pool party after too much Cabernet and guacamole. And yes, I totally made that up.

And think about that couple you know--they held hands at your Christmas party but tried to run each other over in their own driveway one pleasant spring afternoon.

Jada spent an awful lot of time talking about how sex-i-fied their marriage was when visiting Oprah and was always photographed trying to prove her devotion for Will with sultry glances or by narrowing her eyes at the camera.

Could it be that he was a terrible husband? Could the Fresh Prince himself have been less attentive to his wife when the cameras weren't rolling and the papparazi weren't snapping? Could he have pushed her into the arms of another through neglect and disinterest?

Anything is possible but he's just so darn cute in all his movies.

There was that obnoxious trailer on the lower east side of Manhattan when he was filming down there....hmmm.

Nah. It's clearly her fault.

Here's a list of other high-profile splits as well as what caused them...

Brad and Jen---Way too much pretty.
I rest my case.
Demi and Bruce--Incompatible genetics (kids too unattractive for them to possibly remain a couple).

Sandra and Jessie--He's a racist, philandering pig from hell and she's not. Boom.

Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman: Scientology. No more need be said.

Christie Brinkley and Billy Joel--He's a hobbit, she's a goddess. Or, they are both difficult idiots. You decide.

Lucy and Desi--Her success, his machismo.

Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley--Exactly what it said on the divorce papers: it went against the "laws of God, man, nature and Elvis."

Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid--In a nutshell, Russell Crowe wandered by in soccer shorts.

Sonny and Cher--Big age difference, they grew apart..."Susan Says..." took this one very hard.

Sean Penn and Madonna-- Both way too mean  and scary.

Angelina Jolie and Billy Bob Thornton--The vials of each other's blood they wore around their neck's finally creeped even them out

Lisa Marie Presley and Nicholas Cage--Too confusing. He's the nephew of a Hollywood titan (Francis Ford Coppola) and she's the daughter of the King of Rock 'n' Roll as well as the ex-wife of the King of Pop....or is the the other way around?

*Marc Anthony sure can sing, though. Have a listen:

Monday, August 22, 2011

Driving And Other Lessons

Have you heard the latest?

Kids are, supposedly, safer in the car when their grandparents are behind the wheel.

Many reasons are suggested: grandparents simply drive slower, do not chat on the phone or text about how Morgan broke up with Brittany during lunch and, in general, are hyper-careful because of the extremely precious cargo they carry in the back seats of their Buicks.

May I also put forth that grandparents know the actual definition of the word "yield," which, based on my own experience entering the Cross Island from the Bronx River Parkway North, is a word that no one seems to be familiar with in 2011.

My mother, who lived in the city for 70 years never learned to drive so the issue of her ferrying my children about never arose.

A driver's license is simply not necessary if you live in Brooklyn. There is more than enough public transportation to take you wherever you wish to go.

When I was 16, however, my mother decided that she should get her license.

On the day of her first lesson, the entire extended family (siblings, in-laws, parents, aunts, uncles plus a few people we'd never seen before), shocked by this bold move, crowded together by the bay window to watch as she took the wheel.

I think my grandmother must have baked for the occasion because I seem to remember strudel and coffee being passed around.
In the city, driving instructors come to fetch you at your door in cars with dual wheels so they can steer you away from the pedestrian you are about to flatten at the stop sign.

My mother's instructor, a gentle soul named Edward, greeted her warmly, holding the driver's door open as she got comfortable in the unfamiliar position of the driver's seat. Those of us hovering by the window munched strudel and waited patiently.

My mother and Edward sat in the car for close to 20 minutes. No doubt he was explaining the basics. We waited.

Eventually, she turned the key and the car, a modest sedan, came to life. Still, we waited.

The moment arrived--she pulled away from the curb. She'd obviously turned the wheel as far to the left as possible because she left the space they'd occupied by the fire hydrant at nearly a right angle, suddenly lurching into traffic and very nearly into a collision with a car that was coming down the street. 

A grandparent was most likely at the wheel because, despite my mother's very abrupt appearance in his path, he was able to stop before she hit him.

Some shouting then occurred.

First between the gentle Edward and the man driving the other car. Then, between Edward and my mother and, ultimately, among the large crowd by the window patiently awaiting disaster, as we reacted to the fracas below and exchanged the cash we'd bet on how quickly she'd screw up.

Most of us had bet that it would occur pretty quickly.

My mother, while talented and very smart, possessed no reflexes as far as medical science could discern.

She'd told tales of how doctors had battered her knees with those little rubber hammers during physical exams to no avail. While a fast thinker, that speed had not seemed to translate to her limbs.

She was simply not designed to drive a "2,000 pound death machine" as I used to refer to cars while my sons were learning so as to terrorize them emphasize how serious the act of driving actually is. You're welcome, my sons.

But back to my mother: The car, still at the right angle, had come to a jarring halt and the door of the driver's side flew open. My scowling mother exited, not bothering to shut the car door behind her and stormed back into the house, never to sit behind the wheel of a car again.

It had taken all of 20 minutes to end her driving career. Thank God.

She arrived upstairs to find us all busy, anywhere but near the window, pretending we'd seen nothing. I think I spent the money I'd won on ice cream.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Morning People vs. The Rest of Us

Just when you think the well is dry....when thinking of something to write is like scraping a wooden spoon against the bottom of an empty pot....just when you feel a gust of air enter through one ear and exit the other, the husband calls.

From his well-organized 6:45 in the morning.

To ask a question that he has asked before but there is urgency and purpose in his voice as if he imagines the answer -- which happens to be the date of a family wedding -- may have changed. It had not.

Once elaborately addressed invitations arrive in the mail, complete with foil linings and tissue paper inserts, the dates tend not to change.

It is also important to note that when the startled and sleepy wife answered the phone from what had, two seconds prior, been a deep sleep, the husband launched happily into his typical cheery demeanor using words like "good" and "morning" in the same sentence.

Pure barbarism.

Hence lies the problem: the husband is a morning person and the wife is not. No, she really isn't. Seriously.

If the wife had her druthers, she would remain awake until roughly two in the morning and sleep till ten. While, thanks to the demands of reality, this is not feasible, the wife still resents being forced to miss all the good infomercials and evangelical fundraising telethons that are on in the wee hours.

The husband does not count infomericals as viable entertainment and prefers, instead, to briskly walk for exercise, sip coffee by a sunny window and catch up on world event's with his newspaper, laughing happily at his favorite comic strip.

Not only will the wife leggo your eggo but she may do unspeakable things to it, as well. 

I hear waffle abuse is a crime in some states.

People tend to think the husband is a better person than the wife as a result of this.

The wife asks why.

Is it because she is a fretful curmudgeon who plods through her day with a grimace while the husband spreads sunshine and laughter wherever he goes? Is it because the wife warns of doom while the husband forsees rainbows and teddy bears? Well, is it?

The wife would like to remind you that there is value in being a neurotic pessimist with ambition to one day have an entire episode of "Pet Hoarders" devoted to her on Animal Planet.

The husband would like to chime in that he will institutionalize the wife before that happens but will do it with a cheery smile...especially if it's in the morning.

Have a great weekend, everyone. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Fly Named Fluffy

There is a fly who is a genius living in my family room.

He's not a particularly handsome fly. Unable to rely on his looks, he has had to develop some serious survival skills as well as a good personality in order to have made it this far.

Making a home for himself on the lamp on my desk, he has weathered all attempts to destroy him including flailing, swatting, sneaking up upon, hostile aerosol attacks as well as an assortment of jarring episodes designed to displace him.

How do I know it's been the same fly all week?

I just do.

We've developed a rapport and I can tell it's still him.

He knows when to lay low and, by cleverly timing his reappearance after I'm sure I've gotten rid of him, has exhibited the ability to combine the elements of both irony and surprise. He is a fly to be admired.

Seth has suggested fly paper but, I feel, he has earned a more dignified demise....if I ever catch him.

And besides, I am afraid of fly paper.

Years ago, having left an unairconditioned house during a very hot spell for a vacation, something "hatched" in our absence. We returned to find about 65 billion flies in the house.

My mother, who lived with us, had fled to her room with several days worth of food and water, jamming socks into the crack under her door and leaving a note on the kitchen table which simply said, "Help me."

The boys were little and we shoved them in with Grandma and spent the next several hours killing flies, buying rolls of fly paper the following morning to hang all over the house to ensnare the ones we'd missed.

Highly effective as well as freakishly sticky, it caught them by the dozens as I warned the boys in an endless shrill loop to stay away from it, stay away from it, stay away from it...only to walk into it myself, face first.

Not only did I have dead flies in my mouth, nose and eyes but I actually had to cut some of my hair off to free myself. The kids, of course, found it very ironic after my many warnings but I don't think the word "irony" was used. I seem to recall lots of pointing and laughing from them and a good bit of swearing....and, ultimately, crying, from me.

So, no fly paper.
Fluffy, at the piano.

I may just leave this guy alone. He isn't really bad company at all and has exhibited such a will to live that I may just stop harassing him.

I already have a cat named Buzzy which is a perfect name for a fly so I will just have to call him Fluffy.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Myth of the Water Cycle

Get real.
The past few days have been very rainy here in the northeast.

In another life and another time, I used to watch city dwellers rush by the windows of a restaurant or cafe, their feet soaked from failed leaps over puddles, laughing as their umbrellas directed more water on them than off them as they navigated the wet streets.

These days, I watch water-logged chipmunks dash about my back door and a shiny-wet gopher who clearly did not stash anything tasty for a rainy day and must forage in the streaming weeds for a snack.

Or, he just likes the rain. As do I.

There was an extreme water shortage when I was a very little girl. It was suggested that we keep our bath water for flushing, not let the water run while we brushed our teeth and reported anyone who opened a hydrant to the FBI immediately. This made a big impression on me and I have been conscious of water usage ever since.

Seth has tried to reason with me by reminding me about the relevance of the the water cycle (yes, the one we learned about as kids).

He patiently reminds me that the water we use is absorbed into the ground, goes through a magical process described to us in fourth grade and is reused....again and again and again.

I did not pee on peasants!

I didn't buy it as a kid and certainly do not buy it now.

Back then, they tried to convince me that the very same water I was using was part of the limited and permanent water supply that has been around since Henry the VIII was peeing off the turret of his castle and onto the heads of the peasants below. 

What? Even longer than that?
I'm thirsty!

Since the world was a primordial swamp? A swirling, froth when mountains were still roiling pools of magma?

Before dinosaurs crashed about in the tangled thickets of primeval forests? Since before the Kardashians roamed the earth? (And, if you suspect that I lie awake in bed figuring out how to insert the Kardashians into this blog--why yes, I do).

Evaporation? Condensation? Precipitation?

Please. I have never heard anything so ridiculous.

When you run water into your sink, flush your toilet, throw the dregs of your iced tea into a potted plant, that water is gone, baby, gone. 

To think different, would be insane.

Once it leaves "the sky," it swirls down the drain and disappears forever, flowing through the layers of the earth and into some sort of holding tank where it is never heard from again. Not even a post card. There's your damn water cycle.

So, if anyone ever dares tell you different, you have three choices: You can immediately punch them in the eye, just smile and nod condescendingly or try to reason with them and request they turn off the water while they brush their damn teeth because they are wasting water.

If they attempt to teach this myth to your children in school, no need, however, for anything as drastic as home schooling. Lots of stuff they teach them there will be okay. Just explain to them that the water cycle is completely preposterous and let them read this post when they're old enough.

You're very welcome.

But, really, there is no need to thank me. I consider this a public service blog and will continue to deal with hot button topics as they arise.

Next month's agenda:
1. Do blondes really "have more fun?"
2. Evolution

We only know about "The Champagne Cycle, sorry."

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Vacation Dream

I overslept this morning.

The alarm rang but since I had no pressing commitments, I swatted at it sleepily and turned over for another half hour of sleep.

I'm glad I did because I fell back into a good dream.

Good dreams are rare in my sleep life.

If I am not dreaming actual horror movies complete with menacing shadows, dark stairwells or Justin Bieber preparing to sing, I am missing my pants and my homework as I wander, lost, in the halls of my high school...late to class and an important test for which I've forgotten to study.

This morning's dream was so pleasant that it classifies as what I have always referred to as a "vacation dream."

Nope, I wasn't in the Grand Caymans sipping a daquiri  and watching endless reruns of The Nanny from my hotel room. It was a dream both so clear and yet unlike my own daily life that I awoke feeling as if I'd actually experienced it.

First and foremost, I looked just like Christy Turlington.

It could all have ended right there. That would have been more than enough but I discovered my super model looks upon glancing into a dream mirror in my dream bathroom that had a spa tub!!! 

Good start, no?

It seems I had just moved to a new city for a great job in, already, we are veering off into the realm of the bizarro. As unadventurous now as I was when I was younger, I would never have left home but, with the willowy looks and long legs (plus smooth hair and high cheek bones) of Miss Turlington, I was ready for anything.

It was my first day of work and I was seriously late but had helpful roommates including Patti Smith, the disheveled musician from the 70's, and David Bowie who was still in his Ziggy Stardust phase.

While much of the dream felt like a montage from the entire catalog of romantic comedies I've enjoyed over the years, I have no idea why these two were lurking in my subconscious.

Although I do love this song by Patti Smith.

In the dream, I ordered full fat frozen yogurt (what insanity!) from a place near my trendy apartment (oh,that tub!), a cab stopped for me immediately (in reality, I'd be in a packed subway car with my nose jammed into someone's armpit) and Richard Gere (not my first choice, but not bad) apparently, was my boss.

In the dream, I sensed immediately that while handsome and charming, he was deeply flawed but kind. Of course.

Keeping in mind that I have watched countless rom-coms in my lifetime, I could easily have been Drew Barrymore instead of Christy but Drew must have been under contract to star in someone else's dream at the moment. Lucky for me.

Along the way I asked a homeless man if I had spinach in my teeth (the answer was no), hurried up a steep flight of stairs without breaking a sweat or losing my breath (as if) and, since I was late, ran --light as a feather and nimble as a gazelle -- in high heels.
Does well in heels

That is the most far-fetched aspect of the entire dream. In reality, I cannot even be in the same room with anyone wearing heels without twisting an ankle and falling. Herman Munster would do better (and has--remember his shoes?) in heels than I.

Best of all, despite horrible time management (the only vestige of reality in this dream), I was on time for work.

I awoke, as usual, to a full litter box, a heap of unfolded laundry and the remnants of last night's tuna casserole in the sink but having been Christy Turlington, just a few minutes prior, I was feeling pretty darn chipper.

Everyone needs a dream like this now and again. Even you men. Just be sure to remember to swap Catherine Zeta Jones for Richard Gere. You'll enjoy it more.

I will take the rapidly fading sensations of this "vacation dream" with me as I head out for today's errands. Stumbling about in my Birkenstocks with not a cheekbone to be had and anything but smooth hair, I will again inhabit a familiar form and accomplish familiar tasks.

Only I will know that I am Christy Turlington.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

There Are No Boobs Mentioned At All in Today's Post (It's Just Another One About My Kids, Cats and Politics)

I attempted to lure Charlie into a political discussion last night.

As we all are aware, the economy is in a very unfortunate state and I longed to gain some insight from either one of my politically astute opposed to my husband.

Seth enjoys nothing more than ranting chatting about the state of the nation but discussing politics with him is virtually impossible for the normal human.

He reads several newspapers a day and is not only too well-informed to make much sense to a mere mortal but becomes so psycho concerned during "political discussions" that I can focus only on his spiking blood pressure rather than comprehend the gist of his opinions.

I would have been equally happy to address my concerns with my older son but we'd already chatted the other night so a discussion yesterday was out of the question.

Tom metes out his mommy-talking time like Scrooge dispensed coins to Bob Cratchit prior to his dream-induced epiphany.

According to the calculations upon the tear-stained spread sheet entitled "When Tom will Talk to Me," it will be approximately 11 days, 16 hours and 49 minutes before Tom picks up when I call. Damn you, caller ID.
I predict you will go to the bathroom today.

So, Charlie was it. And he HATES discussing politics.  Strangely, it did not seem to help that I mentioned Nostradamus in my opening statement, either. Hard to believe, I know.* 

He shut me down pretty fast, threatening -- that if I did not change the subject -- he would, and I quote,"find another mother."

Well, I certainly didn't want that to happen. I've put a lot of time into those bastards.

I have suspected that both boys have been interviewing for replacement mommys for a while ("Charlie, all she does is cry eat blog...she simply refuses to do my laundry and Fed Ex it over on a bi-weekly basis like she used to!" What ever shall we do?" "I have a great idea, Tom! Lets's replace her!") so I did as he asked, changing the subject immediately.

Hmmm...let's see. What is the default topic in my home? Thinking fast...ah, yes--kitty cats!

So, I quickly launched into a story about how Fritzi tricked the trusting Buzzy out of his box so she could get in it and, for some reason, Charlie was impressed that I was able to switch gears with a full-blown "cat story" so rapidly.

Really, Charlie?

I have five of them. Five puking, eating, fighting, scheming crap machines who constitute a veritable kitty community and provide enough action to write about every day if this blog were entitled "Susan Says...Cats."

In fact, there are certain people with whom I discuss only cats. What they do, how they behave, how pretty, funny, smart they are. And it's so relaxing....after all, they're not idiot congressmen or presidential candidates or vice presidents with hair plugs.

They're just cats.

So I calmed Charlie down with a few stories about kitty cats. I hope he enjoyed it. I know I did.

Okay, gotta will be 11 days,16 hours and 14 minutes now until Tom answers the phone but I need to tinker with the calculations on that spread sheet since months with 31 days tend to screw things up.

*Nostradamus, in one of his lesser predictions, foresaw he would be included in this blog.

Monday, August 8, 2011

No One Likes A Sore Winner. Especially Me.

This guy handles losing better than some people I know.
I've told you all about how Seth and I have been playing cards lately.

Since I am extremely stupid and cannot learn new things, we are limited to the basic form of Gin but I have become a decent player.

It's a simple game yet does require a bit of strategy and I've learned when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em and manage to win my fair share of hands.

If I'm winning, Seth gets very quiet.

Not unlike Kanye West after he doesn't get the Grammy. You just know something is coming....

Thrusting out his lower lip, Seth pouts and fusses, running his tiny, child-like hands through what's left of his hair.

He fidgets and twitches and says things like "Was that the phone?" or "I think a hear a cat vomiting" or "Want some chocolate? with the intention of distracting me.

I know it's not the damn phone and I don't care if a cat is vomiting but he gets me every time when he brings up chocolate. I am working very hard on not reacting to those words but, let's be honest, it may not be possible.

At the word "chocolate" my head reflexively snaps up and starts to swivel around. It is then that I'm pretty sure he peeks at my cards.
Yesterday, we were having our daily tournament--two games (scoring to 100) out of three. This usually doesn't take too long and we listen to music and we I  talk about who we I hate and why, while we're playing.

It's tons of fun.

At first I was winning, pulling pretty far ahead before he thought to mention chocolate and my playing started to deteriorate. Suddenly he was ahead and before I knew it, I had lost.

I have tried to keep my small camera on and rolling so I can record what goes on when he wins but he behaves like a perfect gentleman when he is being filmed.

I am saving up for hidden surveillance cameras so I can catch his antics because, honest to God, no one would believe that this madman is my soft spoken, rational husband. I intend to send copies of the tape to his boss, Youtube, Al Jazeera and the FBI. In that order.

Having been down by so much and coming back to win, he went particularly wild. Leaping to his feet and pumping his fist in the air, he pirouetted in mid air as he shouted "I WON! I WON!" over and over until the cats were really vomiting....this time from sheer nerves. I wanted to join them. 

My ears are still ringing.

Once, when I'd achieved victory in as dramatic a fashion, I attempted a similar outburst but gave up almost immediately. I get no pleasure from gloating and, besides, his sobbing made me feel kind of bad.

Yesterday, after he finally wound down, he agreed to my lady-like-as-always request for a rematch.

As the first hand was being dealt, he suddenly leapt to his feet and, literally, ran from the room. He returned  with a large piece of paper upon which he had written, in black, the word 'LOSER"  and an arrow. He then positioned the paper on the table so it pointed right at me.

That was it.

Something in me snapped and I burst into tears.

I really did not want, nor expect, to cry. But he'd gone one step too far and my hormones, which had been edging closer and closer to the precipice of something bad, finally flung themselves into the abyss...and I followed, bouncing off the rocks as I fell.

I managed to quickly composed myself, embarrassed that tears were shed over something so banal.

He rose, got me a paper towel and simply said, "This is why a woman can't be president" and continued dealing the cards. 

Divorce proceedings are now being contemplated.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

I'm Talking to the Mom in the Mirror

One of the most difficult hurdles I've faced now that the boys have flown the nest, besides that -- try as I might -- I cannot scale my meal preparation down to cooking for two (when we were four, I cooked for twelve, now that we're two, I cook for eight), is simply accepting the fact that my sons have become  independent young men.

I ask myself repeatedly where I went wrong.

What could I have done differently to bind them to me in both practical as well as seriously emotionally damaged ways that I overlooked when I had the chance?

If only I'd watched more Jerry Springer. I might have learned something.

Those heartless ingrates now do everything for themselves, including things like picking their own  noses clothes, brushing their own teeth and -- worst of all -- dating girls.


Thankfully, my powers of self-delusion remain sharp.

Case in point: a recent phone conversation between me and my youngest son upon the occasion of his needing a new ironing board pad and cover.

How it happened in my mind...

Charlie, after dialing the phone while holding a framed 8 by 10 glossy of me to his tear-dampened cheek: "Mother of mine, I remain a helpless, befuddled cherub who cannot possibly find my way to a Walmart, not to mention purchase something as complicated as a new cover for my very own ironing board. Wouldst thou go to Walmart and, with your work-worn, withered hands, pick something out for moi, your devoted son?"

Unfortunately, here's how it really went down...

Charlie, in a most off-handed manner at the tail end of a telephone chat during which I held a framed 8 by 10 glossy of him to my tear-dampened cheek: "Oh, I have to pick up a new ironing board cover. Mine finally ripped."


Charlie: "Nah, don't worry about it. I have to stop at Walmart anyway for some other stuff, I'll pick it up."

Me, sobbing and on the floor: "For the love of all that's holy, Charlie, have a goddam heart. Let me do it. I have no life, please, Charlie, please, please, PLEEEEASE......."

Charlie: "Jeez, Ma, okay."

The conversation continued....

Charlie: "And while you're there, I could use a package of white tees, could you grab some? I'll get 'em when I see you."
Who doesn't need a parakeet?

Me, hyperventilating and about to lose control of my bowels: "Can I get you anything else while I'm there, Charlie? Deodorant? Razor blades? Dry cereal? Peanut butter? Vitamins? Plant food? A parakeet? Shoe laces? Nail clippers? Shampoo? Frozen veggies? A seasonally decorated cake? A bath mat? Bird feeders? Dental floss? Roller skates? A dry erase board? Post-its? An egg beater? Slippers? Cat food? Camping supplies? Throw pillows? Tropical fish? Light bulbs? A grill....?

Charlie: "Mom, get help."

I may need to.
An actual, unretouched photo of me and Charlie, or is it Tom, when he was little.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Search Engine Sluts

Today's blog is rated R
My blog post got very few hits yesterday and I realize why: the title.

It was very boring, not catchy -- in fact, it was downright juvenile. "Hurray for August." What was I thinking?

One of the many things I've learned from blogging is that titles matter in a big way. I have been repeatedly advised to include words that will attract attention. This is not always possible unless you wish to mislead or confuse your readers.

For example, if I had entitled yesterday's post, "Big Breasts of August," I would easily have racked up 1,000 hits.

Here are my two most widely read posts: Nigella's Slutty Kitchen  and Cooking With Cleavage...or, A Series of Important Questions Regarding the Food Network"

See what I mean?

They are innocent posts but the titles imply otherwise.

It also helps if you include the names of people involved in scandal so "John Edward and the Big Breasts of August" would have sent me off the charts. Or, how about "Anthony Weiner, John Edwards and the Big Breasts of August." Holy Cow.

You win on so many levels with the name Weiner.

This is called search engine optimization and it is used to varying degrees by bloggers. I could have made it crazy, as in "Dancing Naked Under the Full Moon of August" and that would have done well...or dark and awful, like "Suicidal Thoughts in August."  That would have hiked up the numbers, too.

I think a huge winner would have been "Suicidal Sluts Meet Anthony Weiner Under the August Moon."

But then I couldn't have nattered on innocently about my mommy and the TV guide and how friggin' happy I am that it's August.

That would have been misrepresenting the actual product.

Although I could have traveled somewhere kinky with the school supplies, particularly with the erasers. Think "Rubber Erasers Meet the Big Breasts of August." That might have gotten me reported to the authorities, but I would have had really good stats by the end of the day.

Even a search engine optimization whore has to be careful and not mislead one's readers...or the horny, weird, googlers who are out there at this very moment, drooling on their keyboards.

And believe me, they're out there.

So, I will try to spice up banal post titles while also keeping it all clean and accurate to appease both the dirty minded and the pure of heart. 

This will be a challenge but it's is my first attempt. I'll let you know how it goes.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Hurray for August!!

Ahhhh, August.

My favorite month of the summer slipped in early this morning.

Growing up in the city, in an un-airconditioned apartment, it meant that, psychologically, we'd beat the hottest portion of the summer.

While, obviously, August and even September can bring extreme heat, once July goes into the record books, I always feel victorious.

I want to say "We made it, Ma," to my mother who shared (and taught me) my philosophy about the months of the year and how to feel about them. The first day of September, for example, is more of a "new year's day" than the first day of January.


Because the new school year begins in September, of course. Everyone gets a fresh start, accompanied by smooth sheets of lined paper, bright yellow pencils that need sharpening, a 24-box of Crayolas and one of those chubby pink erasers with the angled ends.

School supplies signified a new year more than champagne and Dick Clark. And September still feels like that to me although not only am I centuries past my own school shopping days but past my son's, as well.

Sometimes I go into stores and fondle and sniff the familiar items, nonetheless.

School supplies started getting a lot fancier for the boys--back packs, calculators, strange things called "trappers" for their papers and even little plastic ice packs in cute shapes (we had, among others, an apple and a baseball) that would fit into lunch boxes so the mayo in their sandwiches wouldn't turn on them by lunch.

When I was in school, did mothers not worry about bad mayo? I guess not because no one had ice packs in their lunch boxes. I, myself, was a brown-bagger from junior high on.

But the season at hand is still summer and August will usher in one of my favorite sounds--the zooming, humming rattle of cicadas. Their clatter is the daily sound track of late summer and seems to fit perfectly with the sheen of the green, gold days topped by periwinkle sky.

August is also time for commercials for the new television season which, when I was a kid, was the one time a year my mother would spring for a copy of the TV guide at the supermarket checkout.

We'd read what was in store for us on the small screen and plan what new shows we'd watch or ignore.

"Streets of San Francisco" was a clear no. "Mork and Mindy," a clear yes, even though I was little creeped out when they finally got married.

Did Mork actually possess the standard equipment in his space pants? No one ever knew. 

Mindy took a big risk.

In August, the summer clothes, which were already on clearance racks in July, are further depleted. Their bright pastels are replaced with the rich shades of fall fashion....hues that often mirror the tips of the swamp maples that, as the first trees to change color, start to turn in my yard this month.

It's the time of year that, as we approach September and --God willing -- air conditioners are turned off and windows thrown open, the cats particularly enjoy.

Their ears rotate as they listen to the sounds of the neighborhood, protected by the safety of the screen in the door or window.
If we're lucky, it's the month of cooler nights, better sleeping, trips to ice cream parlors for cones or Italian ices (one scoop of chocolate and one scoop of lemon, please) and drives to local produce stands as all the vegetables start to yield their full bounty at local farms.

Happy August, everyone!