Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Post-Zoo review

I picked up the car yesterday after a beautiful day at the zoo, although it was marred somewhat by the massive crowds of people that give their kids hideous names like Anakin. Sadly, I am NOT kidding. Perhaps they need my help to give their baby a nice, normal name, one that is a reminder of this Margaret Mead truism: You are a unique individual...just like everybody else. Anyway, the animals were quite sparky, and the elephant exhibit was gorgeous. HOWEVER...the zoo will earn a letter/email from me complaining abut their poor planning for holiday crowds. By closing off the Africa parking lot, everyone started in North America, wended their way to Africa, which meant huge crowds at the ONE restaurant that was open, and a line of 200 people waiting for the tram to return them to N America. We made the kids walk, and I must say, they sucked it up impressively. The other weird thing I noticed was how many strollers had 5, 6 and even 7 year olds in them. Parents, make your kids get out and WALK!! And if they can't, then they are OUT OF SHAPE and need to do more than watch TV all day and play with their new Christmas Wii.
Back to the car...I am a convert. I cannot believe how it looked when I picked it up. It was cleaner than the day I bought it. I am promising the whole world of the Internet that I will keep it clean. They even successfully removed the ballpoint pen drawings from the back seat. Flipper has been informed of my new rule: whenever we get out of our car, EVERYTHING must come into the house with us. No more shoes, socks, trash, toys, books, clothes can remain behind. It is beautiful. I love the Carolina Car Wash, where I took it. Family owned, friendly, professional, small-townish (in a good way). Worth springing for once or twice a year. Now, back to Facebook...

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Territory

Our family, we are not "get a guy" people. Which means that we generally do our home/yard/car maintenance work ourselves. My parents shun the thought of paying anyone to do almost anything they can do themselves, outside of a restaurant server fetching some food from the kitchen. No maid, no landscape crew; for many years my father changed the oil and rotated the tires on the family cars. And so Sister and I have adhered to this for most of our adult lives. Today, however, this will change for me. On the way to the zoo with a friend, I am leaving my car to be detailed in Carrboro. The Subaru has become unbearable. Moldy on the exterior, incredibly dirty and dusty on the interior. I do this not because I particularly want to shell out a hundred bucks (103, to be exact), but I hope that I will be motivated to maintain some level of cleanliness.

This level of slovenliness does not extend to the house, thank god. I am quite clean inside the four walls, although somewhat messy. But the car is a whole new ballgame. I will confess something so very icky that I beg of you not to judge me TOO harshly: over the summer Flipper jumped onto the sunroof (don't ask) and knocked it slightly off it's track. I was unaware that it caused teeny tiny interior leaks, ultimately soaking the backseat floorboards, which were covered with multiple layers of magazines and papers. I lifted out layer after layer of damp paper....and uncovered a small nest of little worms. Alive. And what did I do? Why, what anyone would do in that circumstance: I dropped the whole pile back on top of them, and walked away. But today, over the course of 6 hours, the car, which I truly love and which has served me so well, will get a cosmetic overhaul. I can't wait!!

p.s. The above maggoty-worm story made me feel awful about myself...until a friend confessed that the same thing had happened to her. Except it was a pile of clothes on her dorm room floor...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Holiday MEME

Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? Neither, "Russian" tea made with Tang and instant tea, straight out of the 70's. I love it.

Does Santa wrap presents or set them under the tree? He does both, depending on the size of the gift.

Colored lights on tree or white? Both. But no blinking!!

When do you put your decorations up? 10 days before Christmas.

What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)? Latkes. But we're not Jewish. However, that doesn't stop me from loving them!!

When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? I cannot remember, so it must not have been too traumatic.

Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? No. We go to our one-time-a-year church service (at our old church) and then go out for Thai food.

How do you decorate your Christmas tree? With vintage glass ornaments from the 40's and 50's, glass icicles and clear lights, as well as the old-fashioned large-bulb colored ones. But NO BLINKING!!

Snow! Love it or Dread it? Love it, the more the better. But it doesn't snow much here in NC. Unfortunately.

Can you ice skate? Sort of.

Do you remember your favorite gift? A toboggan (shared with my sister) and a navy blue sweatshirt with my name on it.

What’s the most important thing about the Holidays for you? Family, and the fact that our Christmases are very low-key and have no drama or bad memories attached to them.

What is your favorite Holiday Dessert? Fudge with walnuts, made by someone else!!

What is your favorite tradition? Stockings and setting out cookies and carrots for "Santa."

Which do you prefer, Giving or Receiving? Both. Hard to choose. But probably giving the perfect present a little more.

What is your favorite Christmas Song? The Waitresses, "Christmas Wrapping"

Candy Canes! Yuck or Yum? I hate all mint, candy canes included. My daughter, however, loves mint so much she can eat Altoids one after the other.

Ever recycled a Christmas present? Yes, I have. A wine and food basket given by my boss. It made the recipient very happy!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Up Up and Away

It is disconcerting to realize that one has become one's parents, although the start of my incessant NPR-listening about 8 years ago quickly cleared me over that particular hurdle, but it is even MORE unsettling to realize that one has become one's GRANDMOTHER (and at such a young age)!!
It is 4:35 a.m. I have already done a huge load of laundry, re-stacked the 30 or 40 books by my bed, made coffee, answered emails, learned how to do the blanket stitch on YouTube...and in a few minutes I am going to vacuum the entire house, save for the room where Flipper is peacefully slumbering. Then I am going to work on the felt crowns that my best friend's sons will receive for Christmas. Using the blanket stitch, of course. Then fold the laundry when it emerges from the dryer, pack Flipper's Bento box, and read the paper in a leisurely fashion, since I will actually be awake to hear the wet smack it will make when it hits the road in front of my house.
Last night I clicked the light out at 8:05. I am not kidding. This morning I read an email from a friend that sent it at 11:13, at which point I had been comatose for 3 hours.
My body loves this schedule. In my late twenties after an ugly break-up with a barely-human evil creature, I lived with my grandmother in Atlanta for 4 months or so. Every night she would go to bed at 7:30 or 8, and rise at 3 or 4. Unlike me, however, this drove her insane. She would bemoan the lack of sleep she got, and no amount of simple math tutoring on my part (and she was a lawyer, no less) could possible convince her that she was, in fact, getting 8 hours of sleep a night. They just weren't the 8 hours SHE wanted. Me? I'm OK with it. Every evening I promise myself that I will stay awake until at least 9, and most nights I fail miserably. But that's OK. Just as long as Flipper doesn't decide to join me.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas...

...except at my house. I can't seem to embrace the season the way I want to, or the reality of the effort involved in putting up lights, the tree, the ten million little things I want to do. And poor Flipper, she is so, so excited and wants so badly for the lights, the tree, a wreath...all of it to magically appear. I am trying to catch her enthusiasm, and rouse myself, but it is hard. Too busy right now. So I am going to commit, here online, to DOING with her, from cutting pyracantha berries for our wreath to hanging the lights. Today, I mean tonight. I swear. I promise. Maybe!!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Book Review and Ode to a Dead Squirrel

I just read a really good book. I love non-fiction and memoir, even though I am always a bit suspicious of memoirs; I mean, who can remember actual conversations that took place in a distant past? Oh, that's right, I CAN. I have a wonderful, elephantine memory. It drives other people insane. Imagine arguing with me: "But don't you remember what you said two years ago in May when we were coming back from eating at that little Italian place? You don't? Well, why not? I remember it..." And so on. It makes me want to roll my eyes and scream at myself. Loudly. But the book...the book is called Dry and is written by Augusten Burroughs. He also wrote the memoir Running with Scissors, which was widely acclaimed. He is a really good writer; intense without being over-the-top, personal without being voyeuristic, and well-rounded: you simultaneously like and dislike him, but cheer for him as he tries to remain sober after a stint in rehab, even as you hold your breath, waiting for what seems like an inevitable relapse.

I just went outside (it is 5 a.m.) to retrieve the paper, and call Seamus back in, when I noticed (thank God) the furry body of dead squirrel on the porch and Seamus crouched protectively over it. I left it for my mother to deal with, as she is about 99% less squeamish than I am. Probably from being a nurse for so many years. In a weirdly good way, however, it reminded me so much of one of my other dogs, a nightmarish (but beautiful) chocolate lab-chow chow mix named Junior. He was a total freak: all the worst traits of a lab and chow mixed into one creature. But...we loved each other so much; he was a total Mama's Boy, loyal and loving to me and few others, but that was about it. One time I went up to the bedroom, only to find him on MY BED, proudly displaying...a dead squirrel, one that had been hit by a car but that he claimed as his very own. He was so proud of it, and so happy to show it to me. This is a memory I blocked until this morning, for obvious reasons. So, in a good way, there was a tiny flash of silver to the squirrel-cloud: it made me remember Junior.
He was hit by a car and killed 3 and a half years ago. It remains one of the saddest days in my life...and I do know exactly how lucky I am to be able to say that.