Thursday, November 30, 2006

O Christmas Tree, Thy Leaves Are So Unchanging (and I mean this literally)

They will never, ever change. Because they are not real.

Since M and I are going to be home alone for Christmas for the first time ever, we decided we should upgrade our Christmas tree. Our old Christmas tree is a two-foot midget with bendable branches that M got as a parting gift when the florist where he worked as a delivery person went out of business.

At first we were all, Crap. Unemployment is bad.

And then we were all, Free tree! We're totally saving money!

Moments later we rejoiced again when we found a glass reindeer ornament hidden deep in the branches, because that's one more thing we don't have to buy!

I secretly hoped that one day we would get a full-sized real tree, because that's what my family always had when I was growing up. Heck, once we went out into our yard and chopped one down ourselves! And then we all stripped naked and howled at the moon because we felt so pioneer-like.

The neighbors loved that.

I've told myself annually that the reason we don't have a real tree is because we always travel and it would make no sense to buy one, only to have it wither and die while we jaunt off to Florida or Georgia or Texas or wherever the hell.

The real reason, besides all that, is that M is allergic.

So I kindly relinquished my dream of a real tree so that M could live his dream of not spending Christmas on a ventilator.

I am currently accepting nominations for Wife of the Year.

This long story is my way of announcing that we have a new fake tree, one that is 7.5 feet tall but only about 6 inches across, as we wanted something "versatile" and "not overwhelming" and that wouldn't obscure views of our many expensive antiques.


We also looked at tree skirts. Did you know that those things cost $45? I felt very grinchy when I said, "We have a green sheet at home. That will work."

So here you have it. It looks a little mangy, but maybe it will be more attractive once it's decorated. Alex is dubious.

I'm thinking of using this for our Christmas card this year:

May your fake tree be less scary than ours.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Letters of Thanksgiving

A letter of thanks to my boss:

Dear Boss,

Thank you for allowing me to leave work early last Tuesday. That unexpected gift allowed me to be home with my family for the afternoon. They were very pleased, and so was I. I know two other people were already on vacation and you had to sit on the desk all afternoon when you had a million things to do. I won’t forget it.

In gratitude,

A letter of admiration to my sister and mother:

Dear Mom and Kim,

I know the trauma has probably resulted in some spontaneous memory loss, but remember shopping on Black Friday? Remember how we walked into that store and saw the line snaking all the way back to the bathrooms? Remember how we got in line immediately and took turns standing there while the others shopped? Remember how the lady behind us glared? She was totally jealous.

We were out of there in thirty minutes. Amazing things happen when women band together!

Hopefully I’ll recover in time for Black Friday Trauma 2007,


A letter of #%$@! to the jerk in the huge truck on 395 Saturday night:

Dear Asshole,

Thank you for reminding us that we should never take holiday kindness for granted. Your method was quite good: speeding up when my husband put his blinker on and trying to run us off the road. Wow, that would have made for a memorable Thanksgiving weekend! Your high beams provided such a glorious spotlight, we couldn’t resist. Two middle fingers going up in such perfect, beautiful synchrony could only be the work of a well-oiled husband and wife team. Consider that our holiday gift to you.

Kisses and expletives,


A letter to my dog:

Dear Alex,

You had been sniffing the air like crazy all day, trying to figure out what that delicious, meaty aroma was. Since it was Thanksgiving, I made an exception to the No People Food rule and slipped you a piece of the turkey when M wasn’t looking. You happily devoured it, then spent the rest of the night launching silent turkey-scented farts in the family room as you napped on the sofa. I was totally busted.

Hope you enjoyed your first and last taste of turkey,


A letter to the trash company:

Dear poor guy who has to stand on the back of the truck and haul all the bins back and forth,

We are very sorry that our recycle bin is so heavy this week. I'm afraid that the twenty-odd empty wine bottles are the culprits. I promise-- next year I'll make them all drink canned beer.

Waste not, want not,


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Second verse, same as the first

Thanksgiving Dinner Menu

Seitan Roast (for vegetarians)
Garlic mashed potatoes
Cinnamon-glazed carrots
Greens beans with mushrooms marsala

Homemade pies:
Pumpkin, sweet potato, pecan, apple

Okay guys, the fam is trickling in and I'll be away for a few days as I tend to my guests. Looks like we'll have about twelve humans and three dogs for dinner. Wait- I don't mean that we're eating twelve humans and three dogs for dinner... oh, never mind. That's ridiculous.

(We're only cooking five humans. Twelve would be gluttonous.)

Want to come? The leaky air mattress is yet unclaimed. A bottle of wine and a good sense of humor will get you in the door.

Actually, bring two bottles. Just to be safe.

From my family to yours, have a very happy Thanksgiving.

My brother, sister and I. That's me in red
above and pink hat below. Here we're totally
rebelling by not lining up according to size.

We were such a cute bunch. What the hell happened?
(back to conformity- the rebellion was apparently short-lived)

I learned at a young age to trap the humans in a
box before cooking them for dinner.

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Thursday, November 16, 2006

The time for whine wine is now

We're hosting Thanksgiving dinner again this year.

I'm happy to do it. Really. I'm glad that our house is big enough for everyone, that we're conveniently located in between NYC and Florida, and that there are just enough forks and wine glasses to go around.

I'm feeling slightly glum about the approaching holidays, though, even though I lack a good reason. Part of it may be that for the first time ever, M and I will not be spending Christmas with family. We decided to strike out on our own this year and not travel. Develop our own traditions. All we've come up with so far is eating at lots of good restaurants, drinking lots of good wine, and maybe ice skating. I suck at ice skating, but it's one of those things you feel you should do in the winter time. It's fun to ice skate and then go stare up at the National Christmas Tree with teeth chattering!

We'll probably also make a stocking for the dog. Of course, we'll have to hide this from any visitors, lest their suspicions be confirmed.

(the suspicion is that we're obsessed with our dog and kiss him on the lips like a human baby. And they are entirely correct.)

(But I don't want them to know that they are entirely correct.)

I also felt glum after I ran to a local shopping mall during my lunch break today. There's so much stuff. So many things!


(I had a similar feeling when I went to a home improvement store earlier this week. Upon entering the store I was struck dumb by the blinding display of six-foot snow globes, purple Christmas trees, and blinking, whirling wreaths. When an associate asked if he could assist me, I panted, "Three new knobs. For my bathroom vanity. Please... help.")

Upon returning from the mall I wriggled uncomfortably in my desk chair while a co-worker asked me very directly why we don't have children yet. "You just don't feel ready yet?" she asked. "Are you having any problems?"

Yes, I have a problem. Today I saw a display of 100 lunch boxes that sing We Wish You a Merry Christmas. I have a sensory overload problem, which has horrified my ovaries and driven them to strike.

This year the holidays have snuck up on me. Work's been so insane that I haven't had my usual time to plan menus and count bath towels and to craft my own floral centerpieces. And of couse that last one is total bullshit, but sometimes I like to pretend that I would know what to do with a block of foam and a load of orange and yellow flowers.

Edited to add: The sun is out today! I feel better already.


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Bark (and be a kid) at your own risk

There’s a lady in my neighborhood who seems a bit weird. Every time I walk past her house, all the windows on the second floor are wide open (no screens) and there are sometimes blankets hanging out. Not like she’s trying to dry them, but like she sleeps right next to the window and they get thrown out as she gets out of bed in the morning.

Many times the front door is also flung open, leaving no barrier between her household and the outside world. These things alone are enough for me to classify her as strange, because I’m all about privacy and not letting my neighbors see, hear and smell every bit of activity that goes on in my home. But to bolster the case for ‘weird’, this lady also has two young daughters and three dogs.

Two young daughters and three dogs. And wide-open windows. On the second story of her house.

For me this conjures up a very old Sesame Street clip that was meant to teach children Spanish. It featured a cartoon owl flying straight towards a brick wall, crying all the while, “Peligro! Peligro!”

To be stark naked about this, my first concern was for the three dogs. They’ve lunged through the open windows before, barking at Alex. I immediately pictured their adorable, fluffy bodies pitching toward the unyielding pavement. They’re Goldendoodles and very, very cute. But that’s beside the point. I would be concerned about even a very ugly dog. Even this ugly dog.

I know! I know what you’re thinking. But don’t worry- just a few minutes later I also considered the safety of the two little girls. Yes! I promise that was my very next thought! (it’s just that I’ve never seen the girls lunging and barking through the windows so they weren’t at the forefront of my mind, okay?)

So what’s up with this? Does this woman have allergies? Claustrophobia? A need for a quick escape route? A good ol’ fashioned aversion to screens? Perhaps she lived in Italy, where I never saw a single window screen.

Then again, the Italians do seem to favor keeping their front doors closed…

Monday, November 13, 2006

So I went to Williamsburg again... of pancake houses, many historic buildings, and... uh... this. Yeah. It says it's a "pottery", but I saw nary a pot (or a potter) when I visited two years ago. Maybe I would have, had I the fortitude to make it through the entire thing (as it was, I saw a cheese n' knife store and a place that sold toys, firewood, and polyester sheets). People, I don't enjoy shopping. I especially don't enjoy shopping in a huge complex that looks like a hundred garages and warehouses all joined together.

(Seriously! This place has its own campground, for chrissakes. It should probably have its own zip code, too.)

(And a cheese n' knife store? I have no idea. If you do, please explain.)

I didn't take any pictures in Williamsburg this year. But I did take a picture of a HUGE sandwich I made on Sunday. Right? Weren't you just dying to see some sandwich pictures? Stay tuned for that gem.

Anyhow, I was in Williamsburg to attend a librarian conference. The sun glinting off so many pairs of reading glasses would nearly blind you. And if not, your eyeballs might spontatneously combust at the sight of so many cardigans and sensible shoes. Sometimes I look around at my fellow professionals and think, "Yes. We deserve every negative stereotype that we've been given."

Personally, I try hard to combat those stereotypes by wearing lipstick and non-sensible high heels.

Internet: Yeah! And I bet you let people eat and talk as loud as they want, too!

Liz: Let's not get crazy.

Regrettably, I missed the conference social and all the Baby Got Back debauchery, mainly because I was stricken with a violent, 24-hour flu. As I clung to the toilet bowl at 3 a.m. I prayed that the hotel's housekeeper was not a Bitsy ("A dry Kleenex works just fine!"), but a big, strapping bleach-and-hot-water type named Helga.

Otherwise, who knows what I'll be stricken with next.

On the day we were to return home, we found out that M's grandmother had passed away early that morning.

In continuance of our good luck I was fully expecting to blow out a tire on the way home, but no! Instead we were treated to two separate highway accidents that caused a 10-mile back-up.

But don't worry, there was good news to come. When we got to the lap-o-luxury kennel to collect our dog, we received a positive report from them for the second time in a row that Alex is no longer a "problem humper".

Praise Jesus! One problem solved. On to world peace!

Or maybe we should tackle the kitchen phobia next.

Oh yes, and here's the huge sandwich I made on Sunday. Vegetarian bacon, romaine, spinach, tomatoes, and avocado on whole wheat toast. I actually injured my mouth while eating this beast. Was it worth it?


Nothing tastes as good as your first post-flu meal.

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Alex and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Scary Kitchen

"Did you drop something in the kitchen while Alex was standing near you?"

M looked up, surprised. "No, not that I can remember. Why?"

"He's afraid to come into the kitchen."


"Seriously, look. He won't come in here, even for a treat."

M came to watch as I held out one of Alex's favorite treats. Alex crept forward, craning his neck, nostrils working madly to catch a whiff of bacon-scented goodness. Then he remembered that he was two steps away from the Room o' Death and Destruction and scrambled backwards.

Alex startles easily. When he was newly-adopted he got his collar tags stuck in a floor vent, and the resulting clatter scared him so badly that he endured a self-imposed banishment from that side of the room for two months.

Once he was afraid of some avocados that were enjoying an afternoon of ripening on the windowsill, simply because he had never seen them there before. What the hell, avocados? Why you got to be scarin' dogs and shit?

When I told my mom about the new kitchen phobia, she ventured an explanation. "Maybe he jumped up to sniff at the fridge while you guys were gone and the water dispenser shot him in the face?"

"Huh." I looked over at the fridge. "No, I don't think he's tall enough to reach the water button. And the fridge is directly across from the dishwasher, so the dishwasher could just as easily be the culprit."


So we never did figure it out.

The next day I tempted Alex with his favorite thing: a small, cardboard box with treats inside. He loves to rip up cardboard boxes, an activity that is made even more pleasureable when there are treats at the end.

He still couldn't make himself enter the kitchen. That's when you know it's serious.

Oh, box!
So close, yet so far away.

Don't you want to come out here,
where it's safe?

Right, my phobia will magically disappear
because your hand is on the box.
Let's put 'Dog Whisperer' on your business card!

Might as well get comfortable.
At a
safe distance, of course.



Friday, November 03, 2006


It's time to play a game!

No, not the one about M and the sink trap. I'm talking about the In Your Humble Opinion game!

Topic of the day: Tardiness at work.

I heard a very lively debate about this recently. Personally, I'm rarely late for work. If I am, it's usually because a driver has crashed his car for any of the following reasons:

- It's raining.
- It's not raining.
- It's sunny.
- It's dark.
- It's snowing.
- It looks like it might snow.
- I swear to god I just saw a flake.
- Bob Ryan said the word 'snow' on the news last night.
- The sky sure has that funny look, the look it gets when it's about to snow!

Or it could be because:

- His cell phone is so much more entertaining than watching the fucking road.

Wait, what was I saying? Oh, yes. Tardiness.

See what just happened? I was all set to discuss a perfectly good topic and then I got completely sidetracked. Blast you, DC traffic! You're like a dysfunctional boyfriend that I can't stop thinking about, can't leave, because I need the dysfunction.

This time I'm leaving for good! I shan't think of you again.

Until Monday.

My love.

So anyway, yes. I'm usually on time for work. But personally, I don't care if you're not there at 8:00 sharp, so long as I'm not inconvenienced by it and our department can still provide good service.

Others feel:

a) A strong dislike of "clock-watchers"
b) A strong dislike of people who don't watch the clock
b) That being 10-15 minutes late is acceptable
c) That if you'll be more than 10-15 minutes late, you should call the office
c) That it's perfectly fine to stroll in 30+ minutes late every day

I don't know. I can understand all of these viewpoints, but is one more right than the others? As I said, the conversation I heard on this topic got very heated. Maybe it's a hot topic, or maybe people were just angry about the horrible traffic jam that morning, which I strongly suspect was caused by the guy who was trying to trim his nose hairs while driving.

Yeah, I saw you, buddy. Not pretty.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Happy Howloween

After some poking...
...and prodding...

...Alex tolerated his Halloween costume.

Hey, guess what I am? A dog wearing a
Halloween bandana! REAL CREATIVE, people.

Get a damn kid already.