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taking a minute to catch up


We've returned from our trips around the Empire State and are working on reinstating what passes for normality around here. More soon, once the tree is un-festooned and the toys are put away. Or, at the very least, I can get from my office to the kitchen without tripping on anything. Baby steps.

things I have learned during the last 24 hours

* The coatroom at the Strong Museum, which is a wonderful place, strongly resembles the departure site of the last chopper out of Saigon.

* The Boy tells knock-knock jokes in his sleep. I wish I were kidding.

* As much as I love being able to spend time together, I've started to dream about ten minutes all by myself. In that dream, I am sitting in the bathroom, alone, and no one is talking to me while I am there. Bliss.

* Uno's Chicago Grill has a decent GF pizza, which thrilled the Diva beyond words. It takes so little sometimes. Also, it is best that there is no Red Robin by my house. I'm not a big fan of burgers in general but the whiskey river makes my knees weak. Also, I need to stop eating, otherwise I might not fit in the van.

* The Boy can spend the better part of an hour amusing himself by rearranging the icons on my iTouch. The downside is that I can't find anything. Still -- nearly an hour!

* Next Christmas, I won't get the kids any actual gifts, just bubble wrap, boxes and  trip to a hotel with a pool and an elevator. Hours of entertainment.

qotd, why I want Ellen to come over this Christmas

"...for many years, I have provided a service I call The Happy Jew Christmas. I come over to your house on Christmas Eve, full of good cheer and no subtext whatsoever. We hang out. I will tell you my jokes, or laugh hard at yours, and you can regale me with harrowing stories about your dysfunctional family, or the plots of all your favorite old movies. We can cook an elaborate meal, or pop a huge bowl of popcorn. We can listen to slurpy Christmas carols, or old Tom Lehrer albums. If we read The Lady's Not for Burning aloud, I will even let you play Jennet Jourdemayne. It's your holiday, after all. "

-- Ellen Kushner in Paul Cornell's 12 Blogs of Christmas: Day 6.

more on the cleanliness continuum

A week or so ago, I wrote about Mama Lane, her opinion of Americans and her mighty, mighty will. I mentioned there was also a picture. Here it is:


The date on the back is 1972, which explains the couch and the eyeglasses. What I love is the little peak of ML's garter/girdle, which reminds me how far women's undergarments have come. And, FWIW, the Diva looked exactly like me as a baby, so much so that I have to guess on unlabeled pictures using clues like couches and clothes. 

Which probably means I ought to label all of my pictures before my memory completely goes. I also ought to scrub the walls and wash the garage floor...

many things make a post

* I wonder if Betz White would adopt me. Barring that, I wonder if she'd let me live with her long enough to figure out how she keeps coming up with such great stuff, like this ornament.

* Provincetown (and, admittedly, Truro)  is one of my favorite places ever. Here's what it looks like from a British POV.

* A nice, succinct and informative overview of Celiac Disease. And just from an outsiders perspective - about four weeks after we got the Diva on a gluten-free diet, she became a different (more energetic and less grouchy) kid. We were lucky to come by her diagnosis so quickly and so glad that the treatment was so simple.

* The Cookie Table: yet another city-wide tradition that makes me proud to be from Pittsburgh. (No, we didn't have one when we got married, mostly because we didn't have the ceremony in the 'burgh. I'm a little bitter, frankly. About the lack of cookies, not the wedding itself.)

* Cheese creche! (via Purlewe.)

* The Supertaster takes on the Mint Kisses, which are like little chocolatey crack in this house.

* It is taking every ounce of willpower I have to not sign up for satsuma press's monthly mailbox club.

* Michelle Slatalla makes it very clear to me that I should never get a fancy sewing machine. 

* Two great but very different pieces from the New Yorker: Hertzberg on Obama's Afghanistan strategy and Jhumpa Lahiri on her father's rice.

* If I ever had to find a new job, I'd apply to be an L.L. Bean picker. I'm really not kidding. Exercise and anal-retentive tidiness. What could be better?

a different sort of random things

I have no unifying theme today. It'll be that kind of week. Worry not about the standard Tuesday random things post. It'll be there. 

* On the tea search - first, thanks! for all of the suggestions. I knew you all would have thoughts that were better than my own. A few days ago I went down to a local gift shop (one that I keep swearing off of because the proprietress either glares at me or treats me like her best friend, which I find deeply unnerving (consistency is all I ask)) and purchased single packets of all of the teas. I'm smitten with Mighty Leaf's Vanilla Bean, so much so that I'll go back and buy more. I still have quite a few to go through. More updates if warranted.

* On the soliciting advice note -- we'll be in the ROC visiting Scott's family at some point over the break. Any restaurants, etc., that we shouldn't miss? We'll be staying in Webster but can drive just about anywhere. It's not a huge city.

* Miss Thing has a new hobby.


She won't brush her hair but has fabulous nails. She's a puzzle, that one.

(Oh - and it looks like Scalzi got his nails done this weekend, too.)

* Barney the cat is so cold that he's turned trampy. 


Barney and Trout.


Barney and McGregor. I think I might have interrupted something.

What I can't get a picture of is Barney and me, if only because he lounges across my computer keyboard in such a way that I can't get my hands free to use a camera. 

* Clownfish.

qotd, a bright spot in a dim book

"She was so far in the red as regards good parenting credits that she had no idea where the high moral ground was. Even if she could occasionally glimpse it as a myopic hiker glimpses a mist-sodden hill at night, she had no idea who currently occupied it or how to scale its slopes, should she accidentally bump into them"

-- Eoin Colfer, And Another Thing

Also, a small random thing that you might want to try this weekend. I won't be, mind, because it seems a little too tedious even for me, but would love it if you tried it then invited me over.

actual craft content plus random cat

As it has been established that I am completely unable to sit still for any length of time if I don't have something to do with my hands, this has been my TV watching project:


It's Willie's Quaker Square #5. And, again, I have to hand it to those Quakers and/or Willie for the graphic simplicity.

There's been a tiny bit of knitting. All I can show you now, tho, is a raggedy swatch.


Eventually, this will be a sweater. No. Really. 

And, now, a gratuitous cat:


Off to the post office. Woo. If you don't hear from me again, it was nice knowing you all.

beyond orange pekoe

As of 2:56 p.m., my Fall 2009 semester is done. 

Still waiting for my attention, of course, is the whole Christmas hoo-ha, which will then be followed by the email from students complaining about their grades, a trip to the 'burgh to see a baby*  and then by another semester. But right now, I am exhaling.

Which means that I don't have anything all that exciting to report. My show-and-tell skills are at a nadir. Tomorrow will be another day, mind, and I hope to have lots to talk about. But right now, I got nothing. And am almost giddy.

I do have a question, however. Now that the weather has turned downright nippy, I find myself wanting some kind of warm drink in the afternoon, like a nice cup of tea. I'm not a tea drinker, tho, and get a little unnerved by all of the boxes, bags and powders at the grocery and/or health food store. So much so that I tend to just grab Earl Grey so that I'm not forced to think too hard. I mean, I like Mr G but am ready to branch out a bit.

What is a good entry-level tea?


* and, of course, his parents.