free hit counter Snacks, please!: August 2007

Friday, August 31, 2007

How do you say yuck in Spanish?

With a skeptical eye, the Opie points, "What is thees?"
"Gazpacho," I say, and list the ingredients.
"Ah," she nods. "In my country, we call this salsa."
"Do you want to try it?"
"A leetle bit..."
"It's strange," she laughs.
Then, today she chopped up a hot dog and sauteed it in my soup.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

God speaks to the Worker

So, I went back to work yesterday, sat down at my desk, picked up my weekly planner (which was still open to 2/22 and the fateful notation "Tchabo, 10:30") and found this:

It's a sign, isn't it? It's my new life! Balancing work, babies, etc.
I must say, it looks very perilous. But I guess it hasn't toppled yet.

Aside from that, the first day was okay. To sum up: 8: 30 a.m., one iced chai; 12:30 p.m., one v. healthy shrimp wrap (good!) that cost $10.44 (bad!); 3:30 p.m., one creamsicle. Nobody seemed to notice the millk stain that bloomed during an afternoon meeting. Hm. Were they too polite to mention? (No. Can't be that.) Must be the festive dress print! No actual work was accomplished, but I did manage to get my computer up.

Speaking of, it turns out that the office has had a problem with email. So, if you've sent me something recently and not heard back from me, I probably didn't get it.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Good-bye, Mrs. Durkin!

I'm sick and tired of working! No more I'll dig your taters, no longer I'll be poor! As sure as my name is Barney, I'm off to Californee. Instead of digging taters, I'll be digging lumps of gold!

Yes, I'm going back to work today. But I'm trying not to think of it THAT way. You know, as work. Trust me, it's a lot harder to stay home with three children. Consider this: I have not had a latte in six months. (Actually, I don't drink lattes, but you know what I mean.) And anyway, I want to have a good attitude about it. You know, not think about how I'm abandoning my children, including my beautiful babies, the ones who could well have died and that I'm very very lucky to have at all, to total strangers who might be the kind to watch TV all day -- or much, much worse. Ack!

I am not happy.

All right. Anyway, this marks a fresh start in the office and I am resolving to do things differently and I'm putting these resolutions in writing so that I can be reminded later of my failures:

1) I will get to work early and leave early.

2) I will take a walk during lunch. And I will eat healthy. And I will not spend all my money on tapas.

3) I will try to be "reasonable" when my most excellent copy editor attempts to "make things better." (Also, unbeknownst to her, I will attempt to use the word "splendid" in as many stories as possible. When appropriate, of course.)

4) I will not be caught up in the noise. You know what I mean? I will be like a rock in the Class IV rapids (as my Bermudian sister-in-law says, about coping with her two toddlers, which is, interestingly, not dissimilar to coping with the workplace). I will sit happily in the water, not paying attention to the churning, chattering chaos that streams past. I will say, "Oh, what a pleasant burble! Oh, what a lovely temperature!"

Wish me luck!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Bless me.

Many thanks to my friend Mary at The Eleventh for resurrecting memories of my first Confession. It was 25 years ago, but funnily enough, I think I'm still committing the same sins: Not listening to my mother, not helping to clean the house, and hiding in the bathroom for just FIVE MINUTES OF PEACE to read my book!

Anyway, St. Isaac Jogues had two priests then -- one Italian and one Irish. (Just like my parents!) Both made the 9-year-olds squirm that night, but I purposefully lined up for Fr. O'Malley, figuring he would have a more understanding view of sin. (And what does this say about my own family??) Anyway, he listened to my carefully selected mid-sized list of mid-sized sins and then said, "And have you attended Mass every Sunday?" And I think he must have known I did NOT -- he probably thought, "Who the hell is this girl?? I've never seen her before!" So I thought, "Oh dear..." but I didn't want to actually LIE to a priest with a direct line to God, so I said, "Well, you know, my father doesn't get home from his bar until very, very late on Saturdays and he's much too tired to go to church on Sundays... And, um, it's an Irish bar..."

This actually was the truth. But I got a way-too-big penance anyway and I complained to my mother, and she hissed at me, "I told you to tell him we go to St. Rose's!"

And my grandmother, who had been ex-communicated for divorcing a pea-brain man who hit her, said, "That priest is just a MAN." And the way she said it, you knew that was pretty much like being a worm.

Nan also said, "There are church rules and there are GOD rules." And the way she said it, you knew that mandatory weekly attendance was definitely one of the former, as was the notion that you'd have to shamefully report your weekly absences to a humorless Irish worm.

And, "In my next life, I'm going to be a Buddhist."

In other news, the girls had their check-ups at the developmental specialists. They're doing well. Margaret is amazing, actually. She's not so far behind the real 6-month-olds. She gets up on her hands and knees, and can sit with some support. Josephine still has some strange flexion in her hips, which could be -- at worst -- something like a mild case of cerebral palsy. More likely, it's just a remnant of prematurity, which hopefully will go away soon.

The developmental specialist also got a taste of Margaret's temper when she gave her a very cool toy...and then took it away! Oh, the temper! Margaret was not happy. The specialist had hoped to see Margaret reach for it. But she had to give it back. There is no resisting the beast. Later, when her penance had been served and Margaret was feeling more beneficent, she did lots of reaching. Interestingly, although Josephine doesn't make as much noise as Margaret, she actually has a more "mature" sense of communcation. She listens! And then responds!

Soon I'm going to learn how to do that too.

What else? I got a speeding ticket today on the way home from the zoo. It's this new fancy minivan! I was such a good driver in the Volvo. I don't think I've had a ticket since 2001 -- it was such a very calming car. (Plus, it started to shake if you went too fast!) Funnily, the Opie told me she thought the officer was going to ask her for her papers! Good grief. Yes, that's right, for 42 in a 30, they take you to Gitmo.

Friday, August 24, 2007

On second thought...

The Opie said my couscous looked like (and smelled like) a bug that lives on the walls in El Salvador. Mind you, this is Israeli couscous that I bought at Whole Foods, boiled with a cinnamon stick, and tossed with EVOO, lemon juice, and citrus zest... Maybe I'll make hot dogs tonight.

Why Lucy likes Virginia...

They don't mess with her rights.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

We're 6 months old!

Can you believe it?
Six months old.. Which means I have to go back to work! Ack.
But first, Josephine weighs 13 pounds. She loves to fly through the air like Supergirl, get kisses on her neck, and eat pears. Given the choice, she'd prefer to be rocked to sleep. She also loves Lucy, her fuzzy worm toy, and hanging around on my lap, listening to conversation. She squeaks and smiles, like a little elf with a pointy chin and curly hair, and delights everybody who meets her.
Here she is:

And Margaret weighs 16 pounds! She even has those fat wrinkles in her thighs that I absolutely adore. She likes to flip! And get big belly kisses and bananas. She loves Lucy too, of course, and her favorite toy is usually whatever she can wrest from Josephine's hands. She's a good talker. Perhaps veering toward the slightly dramatic... but she is fun, no doubt about it.
Here she is:

Anyway, the au pair says Josephine looks like David and Margaret looks me, which is sort of interesting, considering they're identical...except Margaret is FAT. I will not dwell on this. We're all having fun. She thinks I'm a good cook, which inspires me to put some effort into meals. Tonight I'm going to make salmon with a mango-avocado salsa, and some toasted couscous with lemon. If you all are around...

Monday, August 20, 2007

How we eat: Age 2

Seriously, who is going to finish these half-eaten strawberries???

Me, of course.

Funny Opie story:

We all went out to dinner last night for pupusas and flan -- a birthday celebration! I thought our Mexican waiter was eyeing our new friend and, you know, he was cute... V. flirty. So I say, "Hey, I think he likes you!" But David says, nah, he's not her type. They already talked about it while I was en el bano. "She likes taller men -- and hairier," David says. "Hairier?" I say. "HAIRIER?" she says. "What is this??" Apparently, while describing her ideal man, she had pointed to David's arm and said, "Like that." She meant the color of his skin. David assumed (why, exactly??) that she must have been talking about his man fur. When she realizes his mistake, she laughs hysterically. So do I.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

She's here!

I went to bed last night at 10 p.m. and seriously, like two minutes later, the babies started crying. I kicked David. "Urgh," he said. "The babies!" I moaned. (Our deal is -- he feeds them first, around midnight, and then I feed them when they wake up again, usually around 3 or 4 a.m.) He said nothing and started snoring again. "Did you feed them?" I demanded and cracked my eyes open -- it was 3:15 a.m.

Ugh. My amazing helper is here and I'm seriously tired -- almost as tired as when the girlies were newborns. All of a sudden, I have a glimpse of life with four children!! (And trust me, we don't want that.) The au pair is great. She's very sweet and very brave, and very good with the babies, but she is unfamiliar with hot water showers, clothes dryers, dishwashers, etc., and she needs lots of instruction. (She carried the Kenmore downstairs yesterday to vacuum her room and then came back up a minute later, saying, "Mary, I can't make it go??" And I went downstairs and said, "You need to plug it in!!" And we both laughed.) Also, it's tiring, communicating with somebody whose English is really good, but not great. (Although I'm sure it's much more tiring for her.) And, okay, I know this is really sad, but it turns out that it's kind of a big effort for me to be nice ALL THE TIME.

That being said, it's going to be good. I think. She is nice, after all. And she's really smart, so she catches on to all of our weird American ways very quickly. And today is her birthday! I made a cake and we're going out for pupusas. And on Saturday, we all went to the Arlington Fair. This is my little chicken on the swings ride, which she absolutely insisted on boarding.

And this is the Opie with Josephine.

And this is Margaret, looking absurdly fat. How did we lift her up there??

Friday, August 17, 2007

The lunchtime of my discontent

So, I was dialing a very good friend of mine and former colleague, etc., to congratulate him yesterday on his fantastic new job at the Boston Globe, when my littlest bunny peed on me. Maybe her diaper slipped? I don't know. It happens. The point is, here he is, getting a great new job that he very much deserves, at my favorite newspaper in America, and here I am, washing baby pee out of my running shorts (which I don't actually run in.)

Sigh. I fear this is a metaphor for my life.

Moving on...(which, trust me, I'm not.)

I have become obsessed with Lucy's lunches. I bought these very cute melamine compartment trays at Target last week and they've become like my personal Cornell boxes. The following is not my best composition (lacks color, no?), but it's what she ate today. Those little grapes are called champagne grapes -- awesome, and on sale this week at Safeway! And, yes, those are white chocolate M&Ms. Everybody likes a little treat... She eats those first.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

We're famous! We're poor!

Hey! Who's that good-looking man?
Weird! He's got the same name as my husband!

Wait a second...

It is my husband!

Yes, that's David in the latest issue of Northern Virginia magazine! Betcha didn't recognize him without his glasses. What a cutie! And compassionate too, as he works to make the world a better place to live... for a paltry local government salary. He offered to get me a framed copy for my desk, but why would I want this strange (albeit very handsome) man looking at me?? I'd never get any work done... OMG! Is he wearing makeup?? Hee. In case you can't see if for yourself, here's the money quote: "I love my job! But I love my wife and three children more."

Ha. In fact, although I KNOW he said that, it must have gotten edited out...

Anyway, it's cool, huh?

This is the salary issue (which is poorly edited, in my semi-qualified opinion. For example: They reveal that Paula Atkinson, hair model, makes $60,000 a year -- but where's the photo? I want to see the hot locks!) One interesting fact: A zamboni driver earns $36,000 a year for his very cool (hee) job. Not bad for a part-time gig. As expected, lawyers make a lot of money. (Dear James: When you are rich, will you take me to Cuba?? Mojitos and coral reefs!!**) Also, I read, Frank Battan, chairman and CEO of Landmark Communications, makes exactly 10,000 times more money than David.

Unfair, I say! (Does he serve the people???)

Other notes of interest:
1) The au pair comes tomorrow! Wish us luck. I hope she's nice. I hope she's nice. I hope she's nice. (Oh, and competent too.)
2) Lucy woke up screaming the night before last. Why? She explained, in the morning, "There was a gorilla in my room and it said, 'I WANT TO EAT YOU!' and I said, "NOOO! NO GORILLA! DON'T EAT ME!" and it said, "BUT I WANT TO EAT YOU!" and then I said, "NO GORILLA!" and then, she concluded, the gorilla went away. So, last night, David told her, "No crying tonight!" And she said, "But I have to!" Why??? "Because you won't sleep with me and Mommy won't sleep with me, so I just have to cry."
3) The babies like peas!

** Many years ago, I was asked to go to Cuba, but I said no.
1) I had a boyfriend and I suspected this was a romantic invitation. But maybe not. I shall not flatter myself.
2) The invitee was technically a source, although not a very valuable one. We used to go for too many drinks and I could never remember what he told me.
3) Down with Castro!

Public Pumpers Unite!

The campaign for public breastpumping continues. Our goal: Make it as socially acceptable as breastfeeding. Note to staff: Fix the squeak!!

In this last campaign cycle, we made the very smart decision to concentrate our marketing/branding efforts on Generation Y. (Or Z??) In any case, the young people were targeted. Remember! They are the future!

Side note: The elderly population is on our side! For example: Campaign president's FATHER gave her a newspaper clipping about the benefits of breastfeeding. Very strange! We thought he would be resentful after she commandeered his recliner for pumping purposes. Not so!! (Note to self: Can we ask him to write to Congress for breastpumping legislation?? Make clear: Not that punk Chris Dodd!)

Our prediction: Victory is close at hand!! We have convinced 9-year-old niece and 9-year-old niece's cousin that it is perfectly normal to watch Hell's Kitchen while pumping milk. Niece's cousin said, "What's that?... Oh! Can I WATCH? I want to see it!!... Hm. It's not very fast... Hm. Does it hurt?"

Message: It never hurts. Repeat. Never. No matter what you'd really like to say about clogged milk ducts, etc., we must not SCARE the children.

Also targeted: Seventeen-year-old hipster niece and niece's friend. We know they're on board, even though they're too cool to say so. Repeat: Do not show them nursing bra!!

Mixed success: Thirteen-year-old nephew. "Can I sit there? Wha? What are you doing? Ohhhh." Silence. Still, he did NOT leave the room!! He turned on Dave Chappelle and sat down on less preferred seat! (Note to self: Review decision to take recliner for own purposes. Was it worth possibly alienating the boys??) Also, what's up with 13-year-old's friends?? Do they have neck problems? (Can we access medical records??) Or... were they WARNED to look away?!

Action items: Must keep up the pace! Perhaps host tea party??
Look up recipe: Cupcakes with special milk?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Blood, sweat and spit

Even though I swore that I would NOT take Lucy for her pre-school blood tests -- I've DONE it and it's HORRIBLE and it's her old daddy's turn, I say -- there we were... Sitting in the hospital lab's waiting room, sitting and sitting, while Lucy whimpers, "I don't want my blood taken out, Mommy! Mommy? I don't want my blood taken out!!" Finally we get called in -- and they won't take Aetna! So we get in the car, "But I don't WANT my blood taken, Mommy! Eeeeeeh, aaaaaaah, eeeeeeh. Gasp. Gasp." And we go to Labcorp....where they don't take Aetna. Back in the car! "Mommy! I don't want my blood taken! NOOOO! I'm tired, Mommy. I'm hungry, Mommy. Mommy!!!" I know, honey. I know. And we go to Quest... where she says not one word, not even a sound, while her blood is removed. She is totally silent, and it freaks me out.

Back in the car, "Ohhhhh, my blood hurts!!"

(Speaking of Aetna, they called me last week to introduce me to a new program that promises to manage my chronic health problem. Immediately, I think, "Oh my god. They're going to put me on a diet. Jesus Christ. How do they know how much I weigh? This is creepy! They're evil! And WTF?! I just had twins!! Give me a break!" But I say, "Oh, how nice. How, um, exactly did I get chosen for this??" And the representative of evil says, "Well, it's for people with chronic health problems, like cardiac issues or diabetes, and we select people based on the frequency of claims filed by your doctors." And then I say, "Well, I don't actually go to the doctor much..." Eventually, I realize they think I have a bad heart because I saw a cardiologist so often when I was pregnant with the babies! So I explain to the representative of evil that it's actually Margaret who has a heart issue, and she says, "Ohhhh," and then she dumps me out of their special program! And, I have to say, that annoys me too!)

Meanwhile, we're getting ready for the Opie. (Ha! That's the Au P.) I'm painting her bathroom yellow. It makes me sweat -- because the only light in there is one of those bathroom heat lamps. Anyway, a few nights ago, the local program coordinator came over to interview David and me, and inspect the Opie's quarters. She asked lots of questions and we tried to give good answers. Then, while David and Lucy took her downstairs, I read her notes from the interview. (I know. It's not nice. But what the hell....old habits die hard.) Anyway, she wrote that we were "moderately neat!"

Let me repeat, "Moderately neat!"

I am so proud.

And, that brings me to spit. Tonight, Lucy comes out of her room, post-bedtime books with Daddy-o, and gives me a good-night LICK!!! I said I didn't want one, but she insisted. Yuck.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


Getting to Cape Cod: 16 hours.

The highlight: The Little Dude's, of course. My first pH* cheesesteak!
The lowlight: When Josephine spilled her Dijon mustard all over David's T-shirt and shorts during our (second) lunch stop. Wait a sec! That's not mustard!!!! Oh dear. Heehee.


First place: At the Provincetown pier, waiting for the Boston ferry to take David on his way home: "Daddy, I'm goin' to miss you! I'm goin' to cwwwwy!! But, but, but, I'm goin' to get a new Daddy."

Second place: Two weeks later... "Mommy, do you 'member my old Daddy?"

Third place: Our first day at the beach! Lulu, do you want to swim? Make castles? Catch fish? "NO! I want to sit right here and just RELAX." (Proof that, despite what we think we know about pregnancy and birth, she's actually Cynthia's child. Now, how did that HAPPEN??)

Runner-up: Our second day at the beach, this time at low tide, faced with Cape Cod Bay's miles-wide sand flats, she shouts, "Who pulled the plug??" (And, I swear, I did not just read this in a Family Circus cartoon.)

Okay, here's what Lucy liked to do at Cape Cod:

1) She didn't really like the beach. Gasp. My fault maybe? On one of our first days there, I let another Daddy give us a spider crab for our bucket. Scritch, scritch, scritch! Too scary, even for me. And she didn't like the snails. She did like to catch and release minnows in the tidal pools. (Our record: Thirty-six!!**) She would pinch each one gently between her thumb and index finger and say, "Bye-bye, little fishies! Swim home to your mommies!" Mostly she preferred the kettle ponds, where we would sit in the water and make soup. "It needs pepper!" she would shout, and add a pinch of sand.

2) The outdoor shower. Where are we going to put one of these? She took a shower with every member of our family, except her cousin William. How did he escape? She likes to stand under the spray, bent at the waist, arms flung back like Supergirl, and let the water stream across her back. "Move over, Mommy!" Some days she took two showers. "But I'm dirty!"

3) Hang out with her auntie and cousins. They're such good cousins! They pushed her in the swing, waved sprinklers in the air for her, and even laid down in bed with her.

And how were the babies, you ask? Sweet. And spoiled rotten! Maybe it was the luxury of observation, but they seem to be growing into real people. Margaret has a big, goofy grin and chortle. (My niece Mollie says she's the Jenna twin.) But don't be fooled. My mother was giving her a bath when she accidentally turned on the shower. Oh, the hollering! Holler, holler, bellow! And without tears! It lasted long beyond any reasonable time, until, apparently, she felt my mother had been appropriately punished. Margaret has a temper.

Josephine is a much sweeter-tempered baby. Her smiles are quicker, more transformative. She cries like a bird and complains when she gets tired -- mostly to my father, who, after 20 years in the bar business, has a very sympathetic ear. She's also a good listener. Both girls roll around -- but, while Margaret makes it impossible to change her diaper, Josephine will lay nicely and smile up at you. While Margaret yells, "Amuse me!" Josephine says, "Oh, hello!" And, while Margaret makes me laugh, Josephine makes me smile. (Margaret liked the beach. She sat in the tidal pool and happily kicked her feet. Josephine fretted until her grandmother rescued her.)

Scariest moment on our trip: Why do I ever think it's a good idea to go canoeing? David and I went out on a National Seashore trip across Pilgrim Lake in Truro, which the feds have renamed East Harbor. It was very interesting. We paddled quite nicely to one side, then got out and scaled a dune. Saw coyote poop and wild cranberry bogs. But then, on the way back, the wind kicked up and there were actually white caps on the water. We floundered. We were forced back to shore. Sideways. Indeed, we were so incompetent that we had to be separated by the ranger. Oh, the shame... But shouldn't we know better? Wasn't it just a few years ago that we almost died in the 10,000 Islands?? Don't I remember saying to myself, "We have half a raisin-nut fiselle and a single plum. I'm going to have to eat my husband."

Funnniest moment: As I've written before, Lucy is very interested in gorillas. Sometimes they're funny, as in, the gorilla is going to bite your tushie!! Sometimes they're scary, as in, oh nooooo, there's a gorilla in there, sob, sob. Anyway, David and Lucy were in the portable potty at the beach and I was hanging around outside....Bang! Bang! "Who's there?" giggles Lucy. "The gorilla!" I shout. Silence. "I'm hungry!! I need some poop!!!" Silence. "GO AWAY, GORILLA! This place is for little girls! This not for gorillas!" Bang! Bang! "Hoo! Hoo! But I'm hungry! I need some poop!!" "NO! NO GORILLAS!" A minute later, Lucy ran out, "Mommy, where is the gorillla? Did you see the gorilla? He was talking to me!!"

(I really want to know: Is this good parenting? Does it foster imaginative play? Or does it make for crazy children...)

The three best you'll-never-see-on-a-postcard images:

1) I'm standing in a tidal pool, about a quarter-mile from shore with Lucy on my hip -- "No crabbies, Mommy!!!" -- when David shouts and points between my knees. It's a razorback clam! In 30-plus years on Cape Cod Bay, I have never seen a swimming clam. Wow. Weird. They move like arthritic eels.

2) Driving home from an ice cream run with my father and Lu, I had to brake when we saw a coyote trot across the road!! It looked like the blond child of a fox and a wolf. Of course, I immediately reconsidered my bright idea of babies on blankets in backyards. Also looked twice at a missing cat poster at the end of our street. My father tells me that one tried to snatch a 3-year-old boy in Sandwich.

3) And finally -- The Provincetown transsexual who waited with Lucy and me for the high-speed ferry from Boston, which delivered both Auntie Pamela and a very special guy named Peter. She had long blond hair, hot pink fingernails and a huge U.S. Marine Corps tattoo on her bulging bicep -- "For God, for Country, for USMC." She said she liked our matching yellow Crocs, but I think SHE was making fun of US!

TIE for first place: Fried eggplant and Ma's sauce (which, over the years, I must say, has possibly gotten better than Nan's sauce. Can that be true?? Can I say it??) And... Fresh, raw Wellfleet oysters at Mac's Shack, which just opened this summer in the place with the giant fisherman on its roof. All the better because there were NO CHILDREN and I had TWO big ruby red mojitos. With that, I think I'll start drinking again.

Second place: The formerly neglected ice cream flavor Sweet Cream 'n Nuts, topped with hot fudge and REAL whipped cream. (I journey'd thru childhood flavors this past month. Tasted half-a-dozen. Gained two pounds. Maple walnut is just as good as I remember. But peppermint stick? Disgusting!)

Third place: Lobster roll at the Friendly Fisherman. Or maybe Sir Cricket's clam chowder. Yum, yummy, and conveniently located next to the fish market, where I encouraged a captive 5-lb'er** to wave its angry claws at us. (BTW, this is between you and me. Tell the PETA people and I will wrap YOUR arms with blue rubber bands! I mean it!!) Quick quiz: What does a good mother do when her 2-year-old screams in horror at a lobster? Giggle? Reassure her, "It's okay! It's okay!" Or leave like a tree?

Honorable mentions: My sister made a mean mango and avocado salsa. And my niece and I conspired to turn an abundance of garden zucchini into really cool stuffies w/ricotta. Oh, and Arturo's is back, baby! After a 3-year hiatus, they're baking sheet pizzas again, just like school field-trip pizza, but better.***


BEST FICTION: On Chesil Beach. Mostly, I think Ian McEwan is boring and, if that makes me silly, so be it. But this was beautiful. Sad. Sometimes funny: "There were rumours that in the English department... men and women in tight black jeans and black polo-neck sweaters had constant easy sex, without having to meet each others' parents."

Totally over-rated: The Emperor's Children.

BEST NON-FICTION: The posthumous Marjorie Williams collection is great journalism. Her Vanity Fair profile of Vernon Jordan was fabulous. I could hear his voice, "Marjorie, you're not done with me yet?" Also, I like the way she used regular words in interesting ways. Like calling a good story "yeasty." And frankly, her death haunts me. Here she is, not even 40 and jogging thru Takoma Park, with a great job and two small children, and she discovers a lump in her stomach -- and then her doctor tells her it's poop!! And so she ignores it! Good grief.

Runner-up: I still say Obama is too inexperienced to be my president, but he's a fine writer. And a hottie! The mayor of Hottieville, says a good friend of mine who shall remain nameless for her sake. You all know I'm voting for John Edwards. (Chris Dodd! You never wrote back to me! You are off the list!)

Absolutely the WORST BOOK ever read: Crappy Detective Book by Ret. Lieut. Misogynist. There were four women in the book. The first was the victim, of course. She goes missing and turns up with -- swallow your drink -- her nipples bitten off. The second is the detective's wife. She's taken hostage and must be rescued by her husband. The third is the detective's partner's wife. Her fate is the same as the first. Finally, the fourth is a beautiful IRA operative who blows herself to pieces when she tarries over sex. I was fueled by outrage to the final page!!

What else? We made it back, obviously. After 11 hours in the car with us, Auntie Pamela has decided never to have sex again. She has, however, decided to invest all her money in NJ Turnpike rest stops...

* My new slogan for America's first capital city! (Isn't it?) WHERE THE pH IS PERFECT. Has anybody thought of it before? Hm. Perhaps it's a little obvious. Still, it's way better than Connecticut's: FULL OF SURPRISES. Sometimes surprises are not good! Haven't these people ever changed a diaper??
** The secret to catching minnows: Don't go splashing after them like a nutball. Bury your net in the sand instead and let them come to you!!
*** If you want an aroused lobster, stroke its antenna.
**** This pizza has no mozz and it's the same kind of pizza that my grandmother made -- just really good tomato sauce and a sprinkling of parmesan. It's also available at Italian bakeries in Hartford. But my half-Sicilian, all-NY husband says it's new to him. Is it a regional thing??