Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

email: margalitc at yahoo dot com

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Sunday, December 31, 2006

Am I too warped to live?

Tertia posted the results of a personality test and asked her readers to take the test as well and leave her a link. So I did, because I'm a follower, not a leader. Although by the results, you would think that I'm a materialistic bitch that likes to dominate the world. Well, it's KINDA true! I would like to rule the world.

Advanced Global Personality Test Results
Extraversion |||||||||||| 46%
Stability |||||||||||| 43%
Orderliness |||||||||| 40%
Accommodation |||||||||||||||| 70%
Interdependence |||||||||||||||||| 76%
Intellectual |||||||||||||| 56%
Mystical |||| 16%
Artistic |||||||||||||||| 63%
Religious |||||||||||| 50%
Hedonism || 10%
Materialism |||||||||||||||| 63%
Narcissism |||||| 30%
Adventurousness |||||||||| 36%
Work ethic |||||| 23%
Self absorbed |||||| 30%
Conflict seeking |||||||||||||| 56%
Need to dominate |||||||||||||||||||| 83%
Romantic |||| 16%
Avoidant |||||||||||||||| 70%
Anti-authority |||||||||||||||||| 76%
Wealth |||||||||||| 50%
Dependency |||||||||||| 43%
Change averse |||||||||||||| 56%
Cautiousness |||||||||||| 43%
Individuality |||||| 30%
Sexuality |||| 16%
Peter pan complex |||||||||||| 43%
Physical security || 10%
Physical Fitness || 10%
Histrionic |||||||||||| 43%
Paranoia |||||||||||||||| 63%
Vanity |||| 16%
Hypersensitivity |||||||||||||| 56%
Female cliche |||||| 30%
Take Free Advanced Global Personality Test
personality tests by similarminds.com

Your turn. Take the test and link to my comments. Let's see who is the wackiest person in the interwebs.

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Behold Flakezilla

Our house was invaded this morning by a monster so nefarious, so insanely huge that we had to document it for the scientists of the world to study. The day started out like any other day after a 24 hour Marathon of 24-Day 5. Yes indeed, we watched it straight through and it was good. Then God said, "Let there be sleep" and there was and it was good, too.

Upon awakening, the children of the household decided that their tummys were empty, so they went downstairs seeking sustinance while their Mommy slept on in peace upstairs. But the, lo the cornflake of hell...Flakezilla.

Compare Flakezilla to it's cousin, the regular corn flake. Look at Flakezilla next to a number two pencil, placed upon a sheet of greenest paper. Is this not the scariest thing you've seen all day? A mutant cornflake. The cornflake from Hell. It lives!

The Girl found Flakesilla in her box of Corn Flakes and it was so frightening that she had to run upstairs to show me the evidence of this heinous invasion. Awakened from my stupor by such a horrible sight, I had to immediately roll over and go back to sleep. But Flakezilla lived on, for the Girl felt that it must be saved as evidence of how the world is going to hell in a handbasket.

When I finally crawled out of bed after a long phone conversation with a friend and went downstairs to join in the pre-New Year's Eve festivities, I found that Flakezilla had taken up residence on our coffee table. With camera in hand, I provide you with the evidence of it's existance.

Now, pray scientists amongst you, what the hell happened to this flake? How did it become such a mutant?

Happy New Year, all!

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Friday, December 29, 2006

Yawn... just a meme

Like everyone else, it's time to let you in on 5 Things You Don't Know About Me because I'm so interesting and have so much to tell. Heh.

1. I don't get drunk, or even tipsy anymore because the last time I was drunk, in 1980, I did something so freaking stupid it changed my life forever. Let's say that I 'forgot' where I parked my car after a long night on a booze cruise, so decided to run home, and during that run, let's say that I decided to do some fancy hurdles, and let's say that I hurdled myself over a garbage can into a pile of steaming dog surprise, and let's then say that I was so drunk I didn't feel the pain until the next morning when I woke up and my knee was so swollen it wouldn't even bend, and then let's say that I went to the ER where they told me that I needed surgery and then let's say that I had a complete knee replacement and I now have a teflon knee. Yeah, so the booze is out.

2. I worked for a summer on an archaeological dig where I cooked for the whole crew. We lived in tents outdoors and I cooked over an open fire or on camp stoves, 3 meals a day for 20 people every day for 6 weeks. We had no bathing facilities so had to bathe in a creek. It snowed in June. I love it and would have done it again, but the next year I was an archaeologist and it wasn't nearly as much fun.

3. My first attempt at graduate school I wanted to study ancient ceramics but the chemistry was a complete disaster so my plans were dashed and I had to find another career without any physical science.

4. As a kid I was so allergic to bug bites that I got sent home from sleep-away-camp every summer after being rushed to the ER with my face swollen so badly my eyes wouldn't open. But that didn't make my parents stop sending me... no, I just got to suffer again and again. Fun!

5. My senior year of high school I was so in love with this guy that my parents HATED. I don't know why, but they thought he was evil incarnate and did just about everything to break us up. My relationship was so bad with my parents that I moved in to his house and lived with his family for weeks before I agreed to come home. When I got home I had a bit of a breakdown and didn't go to school the last several weeks before graduation. I didn't see that guy again because I moved overseas and he went someplace else. I didn't hear anything about him for many years, when I ran into a guy that was in our graduating class, and he told me that my first love was now a Rabbi. Man, nothing but nothing made me happier to hear that and then report it to my mother. Heh. I could have been a rebbitzin if she had freaking kept out of my business.

I'm not about to tag anyone specific because we all know how tags are ignored, but I do want someone to pick up the ball and run with it. Ok?

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When you're entitled

I live in a town filled with entitled people. People that feel they should be first because they're rich. Obnoxious, but loaded. These kinds of people tend to congregate in places where they can push others around because, well after all, they're entitled.

One such place filled to the brim with the entitled is the Atrium. This is the most ridiculously overpriced mall that pays homage to the almighty entitled. How ridiculous is this place? Well, they have a car detailing company that will wash and detail your car while you shop. The only stores in this mall are expensive. The floors are marble, the walls covered with polished brass. The elevators are glass, of course. And the shops? Tiffanys, Pottery Barn, J Crew, Ann Taylor, Borders, Cheesecake Factory and a whole bunch of other stores that I've never bothered to visit.

However, we had a gift card to Borders and the Girl needed a couple of books for school, so I girded my rather substantial loins after a week of peppermint bark, and took her shopping. We only went to Borders, but in the time it took us to purchase two books and get the hell out of the palace of the entitled, two of our ruder citizens felt that they needed to let us know that they are so much more important than we were.

While we were waiting for the elevator to leave, a crowd had already formed. We were towards the back, but there was a wailing baby, and me being baby hungry at all times, I had to go check out the wailer, which turned out to be twins. As I peeked, a grandmother from hell yelled at me "We were here first, you need to get to the back of the line." Um, there wasn't a line to begin with, and I was just looking at the babies. No compliment for those two. Geesh!

Then, when the elevator finally came, she pushed ahead of everyone with the twin stroller, and several other people got on, too. We didn't even bother because the stroller took up half the elevator. I've been there, I know how tough it is to maneuver two babies around. So we waited for the next elevator to arrive.

While we were waiting, another mom with two kids, one in a stroller, one a preschooler on her own two feet, was waiting as well. There was a single man holding a couple of bags, and another older woman. When the elevator came, the man literally pushed everyone aside so he could get in first. I motioned for the stroller lady and kids to get one next, then the older woman got on, and the Girl and I got on last. The rude man decided to push me out of the way so he could push his button instead of just asking me to do it for him. OK. So he's a jerk. I'm not going to get up in his face for that.

But when the elevator arrived on our parking level, he literally shoved the Girl out of his way to get off the elevator first. Um, from the back of the frigging elevator because he had gotten ON first. By then my patience was very very thin. This is the third time rude asshole man had pushed someone in about 2 minutes. So I said, "Could you BE ruder?" and he just kept on walking. What a jackass.

I'm sorry, but what kind of man shoves women out of his way? Women he doesn't know. Women older and much much younger than he is. Women who weren't bothering anyone. There is no excuse for this kind of behavior. None. I expect it in some other countries, where women are treated like possessions. I do not expect it in my city.

Freaking entitled asshat, whomever you are, I hope you trip on a stump because you're in such a frigging hurry.

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What does vacation day mean?

To some people, vacation days mean skiing or going to the beach or shopping the malls. To other people it means entertaining family, hanging out with friends, and drinking the alcoholic beverage of your choice. Some folks like to go to the movies, other people like to sit down with a good book.

Our family likes to stay in pajamas all day long, play cards, search for the hottest guitars on the net, and snuggle a lot.

We've had one of THOSE days, when snuggling has been the game to play, daytime TV was watched in between snoozing and chatting, and absolutely nothing got done by anyone all day long. We all caught up with sleep, and we had plenty of 'hanging out' time to relax and reset. What a pleasure it was to just lay with my Girl and watch her think about things as we chatted. We often don't get enough time to just be, what with her very busy social schedule and my silly work hours.

Tomorrow will be errands and we'll be right back into the rat race, but wow, today was so pleasant.

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Baking in the New Year

Like every other blogger, I've been experimenting with the no-knead bread recipe written about in the NY Times a couple of months ago. I've been reading the various food blogs that have been discussing this recipe, and have tried enough experiments to have now gotten the recipe down pat to suit my kitchen, my tastes, and my equipment.

The basic recipe is great, but a bit bland for me. I've tried adding one cup of whole wheat pastry flour, which was still too bland, and then a cup of whole wheat flour that gave the recipe more ooomph but also made the crust less light and crispy. It was a tad too chewy for my taste, too.

I also thought the original recipe didn't have enough salt in it, so upped the salt content (and if my cardiologist is reading, I didn't REALLY do this!) Yes I did to just less than a tablespoon of kosher salt. That did help, but it was still a bit bland.

My next experiment was to add some flavor to the dough right before baking it. I added some fresh grown rosemary leaves and some whole sea salt to the top of the dough while it was in the very hot pan. Now that was good. Really really good.

I tried using a baking stone and water to add steam to the oven, but the initial bread was too flat. Then I tried using my Le Crueset pot that everyone else was using, but that particular loaf wasn't great. I finalized on the All Clad dutch oven which is very heavy and just the right size for the bread to keep it's shape as well as rise spectacularly.

The baking times varied for my oven. My oven is callibrated correctly and baking at 450 degrees with a preheated dutch oven causes the bread to overcook if I leave it uncovered for over 15 minutes past the initial bake in the covered pot for 30 minutes. My oven seems to bake the best loaf at exactly 14 minutes uncovered. It comes out brown and light with great structure, plenty of holes, and a lovely thready glutin result. The crust is light on top and bottom, but very substantial and flakey. The inside is chewy and light. It truely is delicious.

For sandwiches, I've been cutting the bread into quarters, slicing each quarter down the middle and then spreading the filling inside the pocket. This makes an artesinal-type sandwich that is substantial and filling. I find that this bread goes beautifully with smoked herb turkey and avocado with alfalfa sprouts and tomato slices.

If you haven't tried this bread, and you want to bake a true artesinal bread at home, you gotta try this recipe. It is so easy even a child could easily make it from start to finish, and the result is spectacular.

I'd have pictures, but we eat it as soon as it cools. Sad, but true!

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Saturday, December 23, 2006

Yule Log, Schmule Log

We don't need no stinkin' yule log....

We've got mushroom cupcakes.

Cupcakes of Fungi.

Made by the Girl. Devoured by the Boy. Loved by all.

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Parking Hell and Random Acts

Yesterday, when the Girl and I went to her new doctor, we had to park in a lot underneath the building. The asshats that built this parking garage thought it would be a great idea to require you to not only pay top dollar for the privilege of using their garage, but would collect that money all by machine, negating the probability of problems this might cause their users.

Now, I had an issue even before I put the car in the lot, but at that time it was unbeknownst to me. The Boy had "borrowed" my debit card, which I knew and gave permission for, but had "forgotten" to return it. My credit card is, not surprising considering this time of year, maxed. My second debit card, which I did have with me, is very scratched but clean, having done a recent tour of my laundry facilities. I had no cash with me at all, which is not unusual. I rarely carry cash.

Off we went to the doctor, and on the way back to the garage, we were required to pay for parking by putting the ticket, which they do not validate, into a machine along with a credit/debit card or dollar bills. I owed $10 for parking for the short time we were there. Fine. Put in the scratched debit card, but it would not work. I put it in again and again, with no luck. Searched through my wallet, my backpack, my pockets and could not find other debit card. Realized that the Boy had not returned it from the night before. Damn! This was turning out to be a sucky morning.

A guy told me that there was a Bank of American in the building lobby. I go in, tell the teller that I've got an account but do not have my debit card with me, do not have my checkbook with me, and do not know my account number. She looks at me like I'm from Mars. I give her the scratched debit card and ask her to run it thru the machine punching in the numbers, and give me $10 to pay for parking. Evidentally this was too much for her pea-brain to handle, because she handed me off to the manager. He didn't want to even try to help me, but I was getting ticked. The debit card I had was not my BoA card, but heck, I've been a BofA customer since 1998. You would think they might make an effort. You would think wrong. He refused to help me. No proof of account, no help.

I say to him, it's ten freaking dollars. From MY money. It's not a credit card, it's ten freaking dollars off MY debit card from another banking institution. What is your problem? I could use the ATM machine and it would give me the money IF the magnetic strip wasn't damaged, so why will you not run it thru your machine where you punch in the numbers? Nope, nothing doing. I was getting loud and really upset. How was I supposed to pay for parking if they wouldn't even bother to help me?

Then I had a tap on my shoulder and a woman in the queue behind me handed me two $5 bills. I looked at her in shock and she just said, "Happy Holidays". I asked her if I could mail it back to her, and she wouldn't let me. I thanked her profusely and gave the bank manager a filthy look and marched off to pay my parking fee. I'll never park in that freaking lot again.

I've been in that woman's position many times. I've handed money over in supermarket lines, at the drug store, and even at a tollbooth. But nobody has ever done that to me. Now I need to pay it forward to someone else in the same position. You can bet I'll be on the lookout, too.

As for the garage owners at 300 Longwood Ave., you totally suck. You need a person taking the parking fees that can handle problems, and you need to charge less for parking. Plus, what kind of multi-storied parking garage for a large public hospital does not have ANY handicapped spaces? "Splain that one, Lucy." As for the Bank of America employees at 300 Longwood, you are all stupid asswipes. You are working at a bank for a reason, and that reason is not because you're the cream of the crop. Maybe if you were actually nice to your customers and tried to help them, you might get further ahead in your career path. Jerks.


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Friday, December 22, 2006

Curing powers of chicken soup

School vacation has started. You know what that means? In our house it means that at least one child is down for the count. Sick as a dog. Feverish, moaning and groaning, sore throat, coughing up enough phlem to build a new ice rink out back, and permanently ensconced on the sofa watching crap TV. Yup, the Girl is a sickie.

This means that I had to run right out and get some Cold Eze for me because I don't do sick if I can help it. Sick for me tends to turn into seriously sick, and I can't afford the time, the energy, or the toll on my body. Does it work? I think it does, but honestly, it could be the placebo effect and I'd never know.

We have the makings for a weekend spent indoors in front of the tube, where the Boy insists we watch Life of Brian as a christmas special. Just pray she is better on Monday when we do a movie and Chinese food. I'm counting on that food.

With all plans now asunder, it should be a pleasant and relaxing holiday. We hardly ever do anything anyhow this time of year, but at least now we have an excuse for vegging out in front of the TV. Heh, like we ever needed an excuse before.

I'm starting a new venture in January that I'm pretty excited about. I'll talk more about it once I have all the particulars ironed out, but hopefully it will be lucrative and will not drive me as crazy as my previous job did. You know what they say: a sane boss makes a happy employee. Oh, I made that up on the spot, but hell, it's so freaking true.

I don't know how much I'll be blogging for the next few days. I think we all could use some quality time away from the computer. So I'm going to attempt to take a few days off. I have high hopes I can do it. If I don't, yell at me, OK?

Have a great holiday, peeps. See you in a bit.

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Thursday, December 21, 2006

I'm not easily intimidated but....

Man, going to the Girl's surgeon today ranked right up there in the most intimidating moments in my life. Ok, the guy is perfectly nice, although I'd never use warm and cuddley to describe his personality, but his office... it toally freaked me out. Every wall was covered with "America's Best Doctor" awards. Year after year this guy was awarded the Best of the Best. That tends to make me just want to shut my trap and not ask questions. I don't like that. I need to know things. That's the way I roll. I need information. I did ask one question and I felt like he wasn't dismissive, but he wasn't really comforting either.

We don't have enough information and the information we did have, in the guise of blood testing, wasn't the right kind, so we're sort of in a holding pattern for a bit. She has to repeat the testing at the end of January, and then we'll know more about what we're dealing with. I certainly feel comfortable that she's getting excellent care. But... I'm not even sure how to deal with a doctor with this kind of reputation. The only doctor I know that is in the upper echelon of big name doctors is my uncle, and he's a relative as well as the BIG NAME pathologist.

This is just new territory for me. OK, the Girl has seen Dr. Ferber, and he's about as big a name as you can get, right? His name has been verb-ized for heaven's sake. But he's so sweet and gentle that you don't get the feeling that he's a mega-doctor. That isn't true with this doctor, however. I'll deal. It will be fine. The Girl is in great hands. But I've got to calm down and relax about all this. I've got some time, and next time we see him I know what to expect.

Oh, and he's got the most amazing collection of Beanie Baby bears I've ever seen. I think he has every one ever made. Plus a lovely grouping of family photos and two adorable little girls. I always like to see that in a doctor's office. Makes me remember that they're human, too.

For an excellent introduction to adolescent gynecology, check out this site. I learned a few things I didn't know about, and I thought I had every gynecological problem in existance covered!

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I can die a happy woman now

I have hit nirvana. It will seem to be a small thing, but I have always wanted, but would never ever buy a certain product that is pushed every Christmas by silly commercials and an even sillier jingle that becomes an earworm of death. I would not buy it because I'm embarassed to admit that I've always wanted one. It's so...um...banal. But the truth is, I'd be happy if I had a Clapper, I'd love those plastic containers with all the lids the same size, and I'd be thrilled to own a George Forman grill. These are all things that I don't own and would be embarassed to buy, too.

However, today the kids opened up a shared present given to them by a wonderful friend, and now all my prayers have been answered. We are now the proud owners of a Homer Simpson Chia Pet. YeeeHaw! I have no clue why these stupid things excite me, but they do. I have no idea of why I want one, but I do. Maybe it is because I must be brain damaged when it comes to indoor gardening. Maybe it has to do with the extreme insanity of the product itself. But I've always had a hankering to rub seeds into a clay vessel shaped like a lamb or Homer's head, and watch it grow. Evidentally I aspire to mediocrity. Oh well, it doesn't matter because we have one now.

When the Boy opened it up, he looked at me and started cackeling. I know, it's mortifying to have a mother that looks at Chia Pets in Walgreens and exclaims "oh, aren't they CUTE?". I get it. He was cracking up and saying "I can't believe we have one of these." When he pulled it out of the wrapping paper I practically grabbed it out of his hands. Oh boy. A dream come true. My own Chia Pet.

I will, of course, document the success of the luxurious green hair Homer will be sporting. I'm sure you're all dying to see the progress, right?

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Miss USA--I don't get it

Today the Donald announced that his is not firing Miss USA Tara Conner, even after she had been seen underage drinking and making out with Miss Teen America. I saw Miss USA on the news crying about how she must have embarassed her family and how sorry she was to cause them such strife. OK. But where were those thoughs before she almost lost her job? Was she thinking of mommy and daddy when she was drinking, snorting coke, and clubbing? Or when she was very publically acting like a tramp? It doesn't seem so. I wonder what they think of her now that she's off to rehab?

Of course, this all transfers onto the new style of young women in the public eye: Paris Hilton Trampy. What the heck happened to propriety? I'm certainly no prude, nor do I think that women should act like 'ladies', but do they have to set the example but they're setting? Is it right to think that this behavior is the future behavior of our daughters? I'm really not happy about this. Thankfully, my daughter is still in full body contact with her underwear, but I have to wonder what will happen once she's in college and really under the influence of the tramp culture?

It started out with the tramp clothing that stores were selling a few years back. Seeing grammar school students walking around with lowrise jeans and belly shirts. Was Miss USA one of those kids back in her little Kentucky town? When she was a pagent kid and prancing around town in her crown did she worry about the evils of living in New York, or was she just dressing up in Ho clothes and primping and preening to attract male attention? What kind of double message did she buy that allowed her to be such an embarassment to her parents?

I don't like the messages young girls are getting from the media. I don't like that every move Britney, Paris, Lindsey, and Nicole make is publicized everywhere. Oh, I admit that I look at the photos sans panties just like everyone else. I cluck my tongue at those shaved nether regions, I shake my head in dismay at the drunken photos, the sad police photos after the numerous DUIs just like everyone else. But if it wasn't publicized, if the media didn't revel in the foibles of these sad young women, then I wouldn't know about it. I guess the point is, we're allowing the media to make these out-of-control women into something they should never be: role models. Oh, they're pretty and lord knows they are thin, but they're dumb and sad and have absolutely nothing going for them.

Britney is a parent that is out partying instead of paying attention to her kids. Who the heck is raising them? Lindsey can't hold a job. Paris doesn't seem to have a job. Nicole is too busy in rehab and starving themselves to work. These girls do absolutely nothing besides shop and party. These aren't role models we want for our children. The more that we idealize them, the more our own children are going to want to be like them. I don't know about you, but I want my daughter to be a successful, happy, member of society. I want her to be clean and neat and presentable. I so do not want her to be a sloppy drunk being hauled out of club after club, being arrested for DUIs, dressed like a tramp with no underwear. I mean, is that what you want for your little princess?

I think Miss USA should have lost her crown. I believe in second chances, I really do. But not in the public eye. She messed up. She was clearly told what her responsibilities were before she embarked on the beauty pagent route. She didn't seem to care. She's a role model for pagent kids. Giving her a sceond chance only enforces that beautiful girls can act any way they want and the consequences are nil for them. I don't like this at all.

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Sunday, December 17, 2006

Have a placard?

Dear Persian Princess,

You know who you are. The ultra-skinny Persian Princess driving the Mercedes SUV today in the Marshall's parking lot. You were wearing skin tight black Seven jeans with a brown sherling jacked and Come-Fuck-Me boots.

Um, has anyone explained to you are what handicapped parking is all about?

If you see a spot that says "Handicapped Parking", you don't get to park in it just because you're a rich ho with a fabulous Blackberry that you're screaming into at top volume in the middle of the parking lot. Try to look down at the parking space. Do you see that blue spot with the picture of the wheelchair? Guess what that means? It means you can't park there because you don't have a placard. See the blue sign right in front of your car? The one that says "Don't even think of parking here unless you have proof you're handicapped? That is for morons like you that think you're so special that you can just roll your Nazi-mobile right in there anyhow.

Oh, and when someone who DOES have a placard tells you that you can't park there because you're so obviously not handicapped, nor do you have any proof that you are, you aren't supposed to scream at them in Persian. You're supposed to move your freaking rich-bitch status symbol car and let a handicapped person who has a legitimate claim to the space park there.

Let's recap what a handicapped space is for. People who are handicapped have trouble walking. They get special parking spaces because they need to go about their business and be independant, but they also need a bit of special care. Those parking spaces mean the difference between allowing a handicapped person to shop and sending them away because there are no available spaces for them. In other words, if you don't have legal permission in the guise of a placard or a license plate that identifies you as handicapped, you're breaking the law by parking there. You're also rude and insensitive.

One more thing. Giving a handicapped person the finger for telling you to get the hell our of her space is really inappropriate behaviour. I know that you think you're special because you have enough money to pay for Seven jeans, but you're not. You're just another of the thousands of spoiled, entitled bitches that need to be taken down a few pegs. I hope you got a really expensive ticket, you selfish cretin.

Your neighbor,



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Saturday, December 16, 2006

Setting up Christmas in the City

In Boston, we have a massive Christmas fete for the children that reside in shelters and in programs. It's called Christmas in the City and it is entirely run by volunteers. Hundreds and hundreds of volunteers ranging from high school kids to adults.

Today was the setup for the big party and my family volunteered to sort and wrap presents for the largest shelter in Boston. We were volunteering on Emily's team. We had 220 kids on our list. Think about that for a second. Two hundred and twenty children in just one shelter out of many. This event feeds, entertains, and hands out presents to over 2500 children in the Boston area. If they could find more volunteers, more donations, and more businesses willing to pitch in, they would double the size of the event and still not take care of every poor child in shelters in Boston. To me, that's one of the most depressing things I've heard all year.

Our intrepid team leader Emily.

But what made me encouraged and feeling the goodness of people were the donations. Each child is allowed to request 3 presents from "Santa". Then many people and businesses get lists of the child's name, age, gender and gift requests, and fill them for the children. Each child gets at least one gift they have requested plus plenty of other things that will surprise them.

Each present needed to be wrapped and labeled with the information about the child. Then they were placed on a grid taped to the floor to separate the presents by gender and age group. Any presents that were unidentified had to be chosen by age and gender for children that may not have appeared on the initial list.


Once we've finished with all the presents that have been donated, we have to go 'shopping' for gifts that were not donated by individuals for kids who had requested them. Shopping means going to the huge stacks of presents donated by businesses and purchased by cash donations to the organization.


Wrapping, wrapping, and more wrapping.

Those gifts are also separated by gender and by items. There's that pink pile that contains Bratz dolls, baby dolls, Barbie Dolls, My Little Pony and anything else that comes in a pink package. There was the truck pile that had remote control cars and big Tonka trucks. There was a smaller truck pile with plastic trucks for younger kids. There was a huge pile of Leap Pad products for all ages. It seems that the Leap Pad is the most requested toy this year. Take that, Elmo! There was an infant toy pile filled with shape sorters and puzzles and rattles. Oh those were so adorable.


There was a mountain of stuffed animals. Literally a mountain. There was every kind of animal ever made, and some were so adorable I wanted to take them home with me. So cuddly and soft!


There were 5 huge rolling carts filled with CD and MP3 players. My kids were dying to dive right in there. There were piles of sweatshirts, pajamas, gloves, hats and mittens. Not only were there lots of clothing, but they had it organized so that an assembly line of teens went down the line where their shopping bags were filled by other volunteers with a stuffed animal, clothing, baseball hat, winter hats and gloves, It was amazingly organized. I was so impressed.

Tomorrow there will be several events. First the families come and sit down at tables for lunch. Then they let the kids loose for carnival rides and the most amazing display of bouncy and climbing things you've ever seen. They have dozens of them. They will be able to ride on a merry-go-round, a mechanical bull, and other rides.


Additionally, they have face painters, volunteer beauticians from Newbury Street (our equivalent of Rodeo Drive) that give out free haircuts, and lots of local celebrities from the The New England Revolution and other professional sports teams. There are volunteers from the Museum of Fine arts that bring art projects for the kids to do.

Once the kids are exhausted, they are called back to the table area, where they are greeted by Santa riding around in a cherry picker. While Santa is entertaining them, volunteers bring out all the presents and distribute them to the children.

Santa has a throne to sit on so the kids can have their picture taken. There are many Christmas trees around him that are ready to be decorated by the children. The children get to have an entire Christmas in one swoop, and I'm so happy that my family and I took part in this event. We can't wait till next year to be even more involved!


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Friday, December 15, 2006

There is absolutely nothing to say

This doesn't even deserve a comment. Or maybe just a little one. Does someone look a tad bit disappointed that Santa doesn't come to his house and drop off some stocking stuffers like catnip and KittyCrack?

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It's beginning to look a lot like Hanukkah

Tonight is the first night of Hanukkah. The day started off kinda rough, as is usual for any holiday around Chez Holiday's Suck. But we did pull it together and here is a report of the results.

I had not wrapped any presents. I had only bought two presents per child. I had not decorated or cleaned the many hanukiyot from last year. I had not gone grocery shopping for applesauce or sour cream. I didn't know where half the stuff was I needed to fine. I was a royal mess. I even took it out on Izzy's Props and Pans site when it would not load a post for me.

You know what? It all doesn't matter. I got it all done, we had a lovely candle-lighting, the children loved their presents and I loved mine. All is good.

The Girl got a hand made glass necklace because, as we all know, I am obsessed with art glass. She liked it a lot but wondered where she could wear it. I think it's fine for every day, she thought it might be too easily broken for school. But she liked it!

Then the Boy opened his blow-up gaming chair, and spend the rest of the afternoon blowing it up and trying it out. He also loved his new headphones, which he actually told me to buy him. I think they are very geeky, but what do I know?

The Girl then opened her leopard skin tights and her light-up rubber duckies.

Have you ever seen these light-up rubber duckies? We have one (the clear one) in our downstairs bathroom that is used as a nightlight and as entertainment when you might have to sit a spell. They're so much fun, I bought more of them for the Girl's enjoyment.

I opened my present from the Girl. Apparently she knows me very well, because I am a major fan of the margarita. And who wouldn't love these little teacups and spoons? Are they not adorable? We will use the for salt and pepper on the table.

Now it is time to make the latkes. After dinner I will be in a carb stupor and will end up falling asleep while the kids watch the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Yes, I can sleep through Johnny Depp. It's tough, but I'm exhausted.

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

My holiday gift to you

I'm giving you something precious this year for the holiday of your choice. Yeah, I know you're probably sick of baking and all you want to do is order out or hire a chef, but just in case you have some time and some energy, I'm giving you the greatest cookie in the world.

My friend Jean is a ginger-a-holic. Give her anything with ginger, she's in heaven. I've never seen anyone love one flavor above the others like Jean and her ginger. So a few years back I was looking for the worlds greatest ginger cookie. I searched cookbooks and online forums. I tried many different recipes. Some were kind of boring. Some didn't have quite enough spice for my ginger-loving friend. Some were too much of a pain to make more than once. I was almost ready to give up and admit there was never going to be the perfect cookie for Jean.

But then I found this recipe. The first time I made it was at Jean's house. Now I love Jean more than just about anyone, but her kitchen is really sparse in the applicance department. Oh, she's got a cooktop and a great oven, but she never cooks. Ever. She says she cooked every night for about 60 years and she has no interest in ever cooking again. Her specialty is fruit salad. The woman makes a killer fruit salad. She makes applesauce, rhubarb-strawberry sauce, apple pies once a year for Thanksgiving, and that it is. She heats up food she gets at Whole Foods, or she eats simple salads and yogurt. Luckily she has a daughter-in-law right here in town that is a wonderful cook, and a daughter who cooks as well. I think she'd starve otherwise, but she really does eat well and is remarkably healthy for someone in her mid-eighties.

Anyhow, baking in Jeans house is an adventure. You have to be willing to improvise and to do everything by hand. No kitchenaide mixer for Jean. But I really wanted to make her the perfect cookie because, to be truthful, the woman lives on cookies. She loves her cookies and she hates chocolate.

I mixed up the batter, which is very stiff, by hand and rolled out the cookies in granulated sugar. We put them on the pan, and into the oven and from the second that batter started to melt, the house filled up with the most wonderful smell. Heavy gingery molassas smell. Spicy and sweet. Dark and very rich. We were salivating by the time they were ready. The first bite told the whole store. These are cookies to die for. They have everything gingerbread lacks. They're dark and chewy and full of heat. They're grown-up cookies. My kids like them, but they don't love them. However, every adult that has ever eatem them has raved about them.

So this is my gift to you, dear internets.

Triple Ginger Cookies

11 tablespoons unsalted butter -- softened
1 cup molasses
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground ginger powder
2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
Granulated' sugar for dusting

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cream the butter and molasses with a mixer or a wooden spoon until well

Add the sugar and mix until well blended.

Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until well incorporated.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

Mix the ground, crystallized, and fresh ginger into the dry ingredients.

Stir the dry mixture into the butter mixture in three batches until just

Roll the dough in 1 tablespoon chunks into 1-inch balls.

Roll the balls in granulated sugar you've placed in a shallow bowl.

Arrange the balls 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets.

Bake until the cookies crack slightly on top but are still moist inside,
about 13 minutes.

Cool on racks.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

We signed Daisuke Matsuzaka!

Dice-K is coming to the Hub. Beantown signs the highest paid player EVAH! The Sox are willing to shell out 111 MILLION dollars, which is the same amount that the Salvation Army raised last year in charitable donations. Tonight Fenway looked like Yokohama with hundreds of Japanese fans gathered around the ball park in support of their favorite ball player. How cool is that?

He's going to be wearing number 18, which is Johnny Damon's old number. Take that, you Yankee asswipes.

The Sox already sent him over to MGH for his official checkup, so it's a done deal unless something really terrible comes up on the exam report. But that's doubtful.

I'm giddy with excitement. Even though we had to deal with Scott Boras, the most disgusting human being since GWB, I believe it's going to be worth it. We've finally got a pitching staff with some clout.

I'm sad to say goodbye to Gabe Kaplar, but man, this could be the season of greatness.


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To the moon, Alice...to the moon

The Girl's psychics class is doing a segment on rocketry. I've always had a keen facination with those back yard rocket guys, the ones you see in parks setting off little rockets that they built from kits. I had always hoped one of my kids might take such an interest as well, and the Girl has in a big way. She's loving this physics class so much more than I had ever thought she would.

Yesterday she came home all distraught because they had been designing rockets on the computer and she had mistakenly put in a wrong program and could not get her rocket off the ground. She was so frustrated and only learned minutes before class was over that she had plugged in the wrong data. So she was psyched to get to class today and try again.

After we got home from a tiring day of Holiday parties and doctor appointments, she had to work on her paper about Louis XIV, but she kept begging me, that evil child, to work on the rocketry project after she was done. When she was ready to work on the rocket, I was busy reading blogs, but got off bloglines to work with her. She showed me how to build a rocket, and then we tried setting them off. Oh my goodness, the frustration and the absolute hilarity of this program. You must try it with your kids. It is so horribly addicting and fun, but oh so frustrating.

My first try I got the rocket to go over 600 feet. On the moon. On the earth, I couldn't get the rocket to go over 34 feet. Much of the time the rocket just fell over on the launch pad. Kaboom.

You gotta play with this baby. It's a blast (heh, pun!)

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

I feel the weight of the world upon me

I should not watch stressful movies or tv. I must repeat that a million times. I know that emotional tv and movies affect my mood. I know that I tend to get depressed easily this time of year. The combination of the two is deadly. I know this intellectually, but I'm evidentally having a permanent brain freeze or something because I've been watching Huff all this week and now I'm close to tears all the time. Nothing in particular is making me sad. Oh, the state of the world sucks and I'm frightened all the time by the growing antisemitism all over the world, and the conference for holocaust deniers in Iran is totally pissing me off, especially because there are Hasids in attendance which makes me NUTS, but on the whole things are marching along just fine.

I'm a financial wreck, but what else is new? My kids are going to have a very sparse holiday, but they know and expect it, so we're just dealing with it. My horrible job that I hated more than life itself is over, thank God, and the nutty boss never even made the effort to say "thank you" for all that I did. It didn't surprise or upset me, because it's so typical of him, but geesh...

School is going well for both kids. Tomorrow is the Boy's big holiday party and I'm to make a vat of cranberry sauce for it. Easy as pie and quick. No problem there. The Girl will be attending, and then I have a cardiologist appointment right afterward so (sob) no sugar at all for this girl. It's SO not fair! But if I eat sugar and she tests my blood sugar as I know she will, I'll get yelled at. So I won't, even though there will be cheesecake and all sorts of homemade cookies and candies. I'm taking a doggie bag home for after the appointment because I am very bad. Yes, I am.

The weather has been unreal. Never can I remember a mid-December day where all I need to wear is a polar fleece hoodie. This is just like winter in the Bay area. I just wish it would stay this way, but eventually it will snow and I will feel sad until I go out at night in a snowstorm and walk the neighborhood. Then I will cheer up for I love the smell and sound of a snowstorm, the silence broken only but my breath and the crunch of my boots on the packed powder. I'll make hot chocolate and we'll drag the sleds off the front porch and slide down our enormous hill and hope we don't end up in the street. It will be OK. I will make it through the winter and come out of it in spring feeling like pioneer woman.

But in the meantime I am sad and I'm not sure why. I just keep making tears that silently well up in my eyes and roll down my cheeks. I will perk up and regain my sense of the absurd. But for now, it's cranberry sauce and getting dinner on the table. No more Huff for a few days though. I can't take the emotional toll.

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Holiday wars

Here’s the situation: your local public airport (or library, or courthouse, or city hall, or. . . you get the idea) has a display of lighted “Christmas trees.” Your local airport (or whatever) decides to call them “Holiday trees” and figure that will be enough to keep all cultures happy. It works for several years and then a local rabbi asks that the local airport (or whatever) put a menorah beside the trees. The rabbi doesn’t ask for the trees to be taken down. He only wants to menorah added to the display to make it more culturally diverse. He also asks for the menorah to be included in the display back in October.

Your local airport (or whatever) doesn’t respond to the rabbi. Maybe they think if they ignore him the rabbi will go away. Maybe they don’t think at all. Maybe they decide to “research” the issue. In any case, having received no response to his request, the rabbi threatens a lawsuit.

Remember, the request was simply to add a menorah to the display. Add something, not take something away.

Your local airport, to ensure cultural sensitivity, responds by taking down the display completely. And by making sure that the implication is that the rabbi forced them to take the trees down. Hoping to hide their inability to make a decision or admit to their actions, your local airport tries to have the trees taken down after midnight.

If you live in Seattle, this really is your local airport. Instead of making a decision anytime between October (when the request was first made) until December 9, 2006 about including a menorah in the display, the port authority decided to take their ball and go home.

One commissioner, John Creighton, showed his understanding of the issue by making this statement

I felt we’d also have to put up Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish symbols. Where does it stop?

It appears that Creighton doesn’t realize that the menorah is a Jewish symbol. It also appears that Creighton doesn’t realize that Hanukkah is celebrated at the same time as Christmas.

Just what does the rabbi that requested the addition of the menorah feel about SeaTac Airport’s decision to remove the display?

Elazar Bogomilsky, the rabbi who requested the menorah be added to the display back in October said,

Everyone should have their spirit of the holiday. For many people the trees are the spirit of the holidays, and adding a menorah adds light to the season.

Bogomilsky did not want the trees taken down. At least one commissioner, Bob Edwards, felt that the Port’s decision was an “overreaction.”

And just what other religions celebrate holy days in December? Not too many. While several holidays are listed in December, they only belong to a handful of religions.

So is this a real example of Bill O’Really’s “War on Christmas?” Hardly. This is the small minded reaction of a single group of people that had hoped that by ignoring the rabbi he would go away. The port authority had plenty of time to address the issue prior to deciding to just take it all down. They hired someone to do research into the issue for them. Any one of them could have done a search on the internet and found plenty of information very quickly to help them determine a course of action. Back in October the port authority could have done a search to see which holidays were celebrated in December and decided to incorporate symbols from the three main religions involved.

They could have done all of that. By doing that the port authority would have shown that they were aware that Christmas is not the only holiday of the season. They would have shown that they recognized that they lived in a culturally diverse area.

Instead, the Seattle airport authority decided to pack it in and take the display down. If anyone in this case is waging a “war on Christmas” it is the SeaTac Airport authority by not demonstrating the giving nature of the season. Instead of giving space to the rabbi’s request, the authority took the display away from everyone.

The authority would like you to believe they took the display down to be “thoughtful and respectful” and to give them time to review their policies in January. I personally feel that it was little more than “if I can’t have it my way no one can have it” reaction of the majority of the commissioners involved in the decision making. Childish.

Equally childish is the response you can see on any of the Sound-Off pages from Seattle’s media. Most posters show that they don’t know anything about the issue beyond the fact that the trees were removed. Most accuse the rabbi of claiming to be “offended” by the Christmas/Holiday tree display. As his quote above shows, Rabbi Elazar Bogomilsky was not offended by the display. He simply asked for some representation of his religion.

Most posters also assume that the rabbi’s first action was to hire a lawyer and threaten a lawsuit. It wasn’t. His first action was to send a request to be included to the airport authority back in October. The lawyer was a last resort.

One last assumption of the posters is that Rabbi Elazar Bogomilsky is a liberal, “radical” rabbi. Bogomilsky belongs to the “Chabad-Lubavich” movement. In other words he’s part of a messianic, Hassidic branch of Judaism known for it’s conservative, fundamentalist practices.

This event doesn’t prove that there is a “War on Christmas.” It only proves that there are far too many small-minded and childish people in this country who would rather “take their ball and go home” than show the true meaning of the season. You know, that idea of “Peace on earth and good will toward man.” Those lessons that Jesus Christ tried to teach.

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Sunday, December 10, 2006

Because it's all about me

Tonight I got an email telling me that a recipe I had left in a comment sometime last year was accepted into a book of Jewish recipes. To say I was surprised would be putting it mildly. I don't even remember making the comment.

Oh, I know it's my recipe all right. I mean, how many people even have a recipe for Etrog Limoncello? Never mind want to make it. But I have, several times now, and the stuff is unreal. Highly alcoholic, delightfully sweet, and a vivid reminder of summers in Italy. Recently, Danny DeVito was seen on the View drunk as a skunk after drinking limoncello all night with George Clooney. Now that I know George is an afficinado of the limoncello, perhaps I could invite him over for a bit of holiday cheer. No? You don't think he's interested? Damn!

Also on the cooking agenda today I made Peppermint Bark with white and dark chocolate, and a milk chocolate pecan praline bark. Yes, it was a candy wonderland here at Casa Sniping Siblings.

Since I was on a roll, I made a couple of pizzas for dinner, which gave me multo heartburn, so I haven't even touched the candy. What a good girl I am.

Link for said book of Jewish recipes is on my left sidebar. I haven't seen it yet, but I'm hoping that it's filled with bloggy goodness. Consider it a gift from my Casa to your Casa.

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Saturday, December 09, 2006

Beyond anorexia

We went to the MFA today to see the French couturier fashions on display. This show featured selected clothing from the fashion houses of Azzedine Alaia, Hussein Chalayan, Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel, John Galliano for Christian Dior, Christian Lacroix, Maison Martin Margiela, Olivier Theyskens for Rochas, Valentino, Viktor & Rolf, and Yohji Yamamoto, all of whom bring a unique and clear vision to their work, while still maintaining the high level of craftsmanship for which Paris is justly famous. The clothing was amazing. Some it was pretty horrendous, like the fur fashions from Alaia, but they were interesting to look at. The entire Christian Dior collection was, shall we say, unwearable. Creepy in fact. Beautifully executed, but just too bizarre to even consider fashion. It was more like costuming.

The most interesting collections were Chanel and Lacroix. The most beautiful was by far Valentino. Every thing in that collection was not only wearable, but looked comfortable and sexy while still being feminine and beautifully created.

It was fascinating seeing all this clothing up close. Nothing was behind glass, so you could put your face right up to the clothing to see the stitching, pleating, and embroidery. The hours and hours that went into each garment was startling. One dress took over 1000 hours to embellish and 200 hours to construct. No wonder they are priced so dearly.

The most telling part of the show though was the sizes of the clothing. We all know about the lack of body fat on runway models, but until you see these gowns up close and realize that they are smaller than a size 0, it doesn't really connect. Each gown in made to size for the model that will show it on the runway. The exhibit showed the film of the models parading up and down the runways, so you know the clothing fit them. But the models were impossibly thin. I've never even imagined that anyone could be that thin and remain alive. There were pants that literally hung off the models, but on the mannequins they showed the thighs having a 4 or 5 inch gap between the legs. It was almost sickening to see that these are the ideal clothes models, these human hangers with no flesh and certainly no body fat to speak of at all.

The Girl and her friend were both disgusted by the sizes. I don't think they had realized just how unreal the fashion industry portrays women. What scared them most is that the models looked vacant. I know that's the way they're supposed to look on the runway, but the Girl's friend said that they looked like the life was sucked out of them. And she was right. Vacant eyes, faces that were so palid and devoid of life that they were actually scary. The models from the Christian Dior collection looked like they were zombies. The Girl said that the clothes looked like Cruella DeVille's wardrobe.

We tried to surrepticously take pictures but the guards were all over us. The Girl's friend took a couple on her cell phone, but she isn't sure how to download them. Hopefully she can figure it out and I'll post them here.

As usual with all special exhibits at the MFA, there was a special gift shop right off the show floor. This one was fabulous with so many cool things I could have spent a fortune. They had the most amazing books. I never realized there were so many books on fashion. I don't own even one, I'm embarassed to say.

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The longest day

Have you ever had a day that just goes on forever. When every time you think you're living in some kind of altered state, reality comes charging in to bite you on the ass? Welcome to my world.

Some forward movement though. The Boy has decided that it is OK for his sister to attend his holiday party after all. He must have thought it over and decided that he wanted me to come more than he wanted to refuse to let her come. Good for him. I spoke to his program director today and we talked of this and he gave me some insight that I didn't have before. Hopefully we'll be able to keep the peace until after the party. It's all so emotionally exhausting and for what? To me it all seems like a male territorial pissing party. I do not get it, but then again, I did get him to back down without any screaming or threats on my part. So I'm thinking this is an improvement.

Trying to get these kids to DO anything around the house is becoming like a continual battle. I'm feeling more and more like Donald Rumsfield, watching my little soldiers do a whole lotta nothing and the world just keeps getting messier. Only the world is the house. It took me 3 full hours of nagging to get the Girl off the sofa and into the kitchen to do the dishes. I am so freaking sick of nagging, but if I don't do it, they would never don anything. Again with the exhausting.

Tomorrow we go to the MFA to see the Fashion exhibit, so I need to get to bed early. Toodles.

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

Shit, shit, shit...this isn't good`

Without revealing anything personal, today the Girl had a followup appointment at the girly doctor. She's been having girly issues for a couple of years now, and we've done the pediatrician route, which led to seeing a specialist, and today the specialist passed us on the the surgeon. I'm beside myself with worry and grief. She's 14 years old and she's had more reasons to visit the girly doctor than most adults. It just doesn't seem to be right. It's as if she has been gifted with my leftover girly crap. After 40 years of gynecological hell, the last thing I ever thought was that my baby girl, the fruit of my many years of infertility pain, would end up at the same place.

It's not really the same place. Our various girly problems are totally different. But the result is the same. Trying and trying to control something that is supposed to be totally natural. Stumping doctor after doctor with our weird girly problems. It so sucks.

I feel terrible guilt about this. The Girl has had a multitude of issues since before she was born. She's had a full genetic workup and she didn't inherit my weird genetic anomaly, thank goodness, but she's certainly inherited something pretty crappy. The doctor suggested a couple of scenarios, but none of them are good. They just aren't. She's done every medical intervention there is. She's been seen for 2 years by the head of Adolescent Gynecology at Children's in Boston. This is a great doctor that I like and trust, and she's worried. If she's worried, I'm apoplectic.

I'm trying to keep my game face on, but I'm not doing well. I'm scared beyond scared for my Girl. We have an appointment with the surgeon on the 21st. The doctor we saw today thought that it couldn't wait. It all sounds so ominous. It shouldn't be happening.

Her hebrew name is Gila Shoshana bat Margalit. Please say a mischeberach for her, or pray for her if you're another persuasion.

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

When good kids make bad choices

Every year, the Boy's school program has a huge holiday party. The kids in the program are allowed to invite friends and family, but in addition to the large crowd of relatives attendees include the mayor of the city, the superintendent of schools and his associates, the juvenile judge for our city, and various other dignitaries. It's a big crowd with excellent food and lots of fancy desserts. Most of the food is donated by the parents, who really tend to go overboard to make it a really delicious repast. I attended last year and had a good time considering I didn't know anyone and ended up hanging with the kids more than the adults. Goes to show you my mental age, huh?

This year the Boy has flatly refused to invite his sister, even though she is in the same school and knows many of the kids in his program. He will not budge on this. He absolutely will not even consider it, even though I have explained how rude and hurtful it is, and how it bothers me enough to say that if he will not invite her, I won't come either. He is very angry at me for being 'controlling' but can't see his own controlling behavior. I've told him again and again that he's making a choice, and me not attending is the consequence of his choice. He chooses not to see that, and has made the Girl the villian in all this. She isn't, she just wants to check out the food. It's not unreasonable considering that the party is held in three separate rooms and there are over a hundred people there at any given time. It's only two hours long, but he feels that he just can't allow her into his program.

I'm really angry at him. I feel this is an impasse that is ridiculous and he's being beyond stubborn. Every time he brings it up, I remind him that I will not be attending unless he invites his sister. Now the director of his program has called (I didn't get the call) and wants me to call him back about this. I don't really think it's the business of the program director to get involved in our family's issues. I think this is something we need to solve on our own. But until the Boy sees that he is being wholely unreasonable that isn't going to happen.

I'm so disappointed in him. I think he's acting like a perfect despot, trying to manipulate people into doing what is morally wrong. He's furious with me and his sister, but mostly me because he doesn't understand that his behavior is hurtful to his sister and to me. I can't get my point across because he's so angry. This has been an ongoing issue for weeks now, and he isn't budging. I feel badly that I'm going to end up not attending this party when I want to, but to do so would negate my feelings that he's being exclusive and rude. I don't handle rude well.

I'm going to tell the program director that my mind is made up and I will not allow the Boy to try and manipulate me into going against my feelings and ethics. And then I'm going to start screaming to beat the band because I am so completely frustrated with this god-damn teenage angst. Really, it's enough already!

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Transgender issues hits daytime TV

A new character has been introduced onto the set of All My Children, an ABC soap opera. I don't usually watch AMC, but I was so interested in the new character Zarf/Zoe (Jeffery Carlson) , that I started watching last week. We don't know much yet, other than Zarf is some bizarre rock star that has come to town to work with the makeup company Fusion that most of the hot sexy women seem to 'work' at. In fact, all they seem to do is party, but heck, this is TV. How interesting is work in real life?

Zarf comes to town and strips naked and is meditating on the floor of the empty office when he is discovered by said hot babes. They all don't seem to know what to do with this guy, but it appears that one of the women, who is actually called Babe, has some business deal with Zarf. Then he meets Bianca, the show's token Lesbian and is totally taken with her. She tells him she's gay, and he's all interested because it appears that Zarf is going to become Zoe, who is a Lesbian. OK. Got that?

Actor Jeffrey Carlson has played a transgendered character before, and was in the Broadway play about Boy George that Rosie O'Donnell sponsored. He's been in a lot of Broadway plays and apparently is a trained Shakespearian actor. He is also very handsome, which is going to be interesting to watch change as he has a very angled jaw that is definately not feminine. I can't wait to see more.

I'm happy to see that this issue is going to be tackled on mainstream daytime TV. I think that it could be extremely helpful to the transgendered community to be represented on AMC. I hope that the show is gentle and respectful of all the various issues that will crop us as Zarf confronts his gender identity. I'll be watching with interest to see how it all pans out.

This is groundbreaking for television. No doubt about it, we haven't had a transgendered individual on TV in the states before. Not as a recurring character on a long running soap, anyhow. The interesting thing about this role is that we're right at the beginning of Zarf's journey. As of right now, we really don't know that he's transgendered. We know that he's a bit off kilter, but otherwise, we don't really know why. So this is going to be a journey that the audience travels along with Zarf. There will be some characters on the soap who are obviously going to freak out about his gender identity issues. There will be some that are going to be more accepting.

And then there is Bianca, who is the focus of his love interest. What will happen with those two?

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

What's for dinner?

Belinda is hosting yet another "I Dare You" moment, where you're supposed to do two things, show the contents of your pantry, and then make dinner from items you have on hand. My cupboards are stocked to the gills because I was just at the grocery store on Sunday, plus there was this killer sale at Linens and Things, where they were closing out their entire food section, so I picked up a bunch of great staples at 50% off. I do love me a great deal!

So the first pics are what my pantry and shelves hold. We don't usually have the same types of staples that most people do, because we are a bit more careful about sodium, plus most of my grocery shopping is at Trader Joes, cheap and organic. Worse, my pantry is too hard to deal with so I use metal shelving as well, but then the cereal boxes are all atop the fridge, and other staples are scattered around the kitchen. We're nothing if not flexible.

Pretend you do not see the CandyCane Joe Joe's on the top shelf.

Should I be embarassed by this messy pantry?

My messy pantry

The shelf of extra food

Then I got down to making dinner. I took stuff from my freezer, not my pantry shelves. The original recipe I made up in my head as I went along called for 3 packages of Artichoke Ravioli, a package of turkey bacon, a big bag of frozen spinach, a chopped and caramelized onion, EVOO, and a pinch of ginger-garlic sauce.

First I sauted the onion in EVOO and then added the bacon that I had cut up into small pieces.

I sauted those until the onion was starting to carmelize, then added the spinach to the mix. The moisture of the spinach took off the bottom crumblings from the pan and added a lot of flavor.

Meanwhile I was boiling water for the ravioli, which I added as I was stirring the spinach mixture. As the ravioli was boiling, I added a tiny bit of the ginger-garlic sauce for extra flavor.

Once the ravioli were done, I poured them into the colander to drain, and then put them on a platter. I poured the topping over the ravioli and carried the platter to the table.

The Girl had set the table, and we were treated to two bottles of soda, something we NEVER have, because she needed the bottles to make bottle rockets in physics class tomorrow. I don't even like soda, but she and her brother thought they had died and gone to heaven having soda at dinner. We drink water pretty much every night. This was a major treat.

The kids were sitting down, and we dug in.

Nothing was left over. Absolutely nothing.

We're very good eaters.

(all photos by the Boy)

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The Girl's first Gingerbread House

Yesterday, while the Boy and I were out doing boring errands for him, the Girl decided to make the gingerbread house from the el-cheapo kit I had purchased at Trader Joes. I originally got it because she's begged for years to make one, and I just finally gave in and put it in the cart. But I also kinda wanted to do it with her, as I've never made one either. I figured it would be a fun activity we could do together.

Well, she evidentally thought otherwise, because it was sitting on the counter all built by the time we came home. I think it came out very well, considering that she made the icing herself and piped it using our piping bag that she had never even attempted to use before. OK, no fancy piping, but the whole thing stuck together really well, and we're now using it as a table centerpiece until she decides it must be eaten.

Cute, isn't it?

So, we're eating dinner later, and the centerpiece is adorable and the Girl decides she wants to eat it. So a discussion ensues, and the Boy says "What's the Brown Walls made of?" We laughed and said "Gingerbread, duh" and he said "Oh, I thought it was graham cracker." Another gifted or blond moment at our abode.

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Monday, December 04, 2006

Eeeek! Good Financial News

The three words I never thought I'd say are Good Financial News. My financial news has been dismal since 2002, and now things are finally looking up a teeny tiny bit.

Today I learned that the pathetic cost of living increase I get from social security is 3.3%. But it's almost enough of an increase to offset the cost of Medicare without the prescription plan. I think I've decided not to do the prescription plan, since Walmart is now offering $4.00 prescriptions for all generics. Pretty much all my meds are generic and it will cost less than paying for the presciption plan. So Go Walmart. You totally suck on every other level, but hey, prescription coverage is good news for me.

Then, I had to call the IRS about some little piece of information and found out that all the back taxes I still owe after years and years of paying them off are going to all go away by May. May 2007. That's the banner month for me. No more several hundred dollar a month payments. I owe the money, I've been paying it painfully for years without complaint because it's my debt. But it's almost over. A light at the end of a very very long tunnel.

You see, I owned my own consulting business for 10 years. I had people subcontracting for me, but they were not my employees. Then the law changed, and the IRS decided that my subcontractors were employees and charged me back taxes for them. 12 of them. It was probably the worst setback I've ever experienced. From financial freedom to crushing debt in an instant. Man, did that suck. But I made the error (OK, the IRS changed the rules on me and I didn't keep up with the law) and I've been paying for my mistake for a very long time. Like since 1996. Ten long years of servitude to the IRS. Painful? You bet.

But it's almost over. One year ends this month. The next year ends in February. The last year ends in May. And then it's over. OVER. I cannot even begin to tell all you readers what a huge relief this is. For years my attorney told me to declare bankruptcy to get out of the debt, but I didn't want to. I wanted to see it through, and I finally have. It has been a terrible experience. But all of a sudden I'm going to start having more money. Not a huge amount by any means, but a couple hundred bucks a month and then some of extra money. Money that can pay for things we really need. Money that will enable us to maybe have some sembelance of a life.


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Orgasms and the television

Tonight the Girl and I were snuggling on the sofa under her down comforter watching a repeat of Desperate Housewives. I think it was the first show of the season, where Brit announces her engagement to Owen. She says they're going to abstain from sex until they're married, but then goes back on her promise. She and the creep are in bed and he starts to go down on her and she asks what he's doing. When he explains, she says "I don't do that, I'm a Republican" and he responds "I'm a Liberatarian" and she says "oh then, OK" and he disappears from the shot. Moments later she gets up, and the next scene is Bree at her doctor's office wondering if she had a stroke. She describes being hot and flushed and excited and that it felt good, and the doctor says "You had an orgasm."

The Girl looks at me and says "How can she not know it's an orgasm?" Now this is hard to explain. I think it might be the first time that I really didn't have an adequate explanation for a sex topic. Usually I can find some explanation, but to be honest, I can't really get how someone could be married long enough to raise teens, then be engaged to the weird pharmacist murderer, and now have oral sex with Owen and experience her first orgasm. I mean, hasn't she ever heard of a vibrator? Man, this was hard to explain to the Girl in a manner that seemed non-judgemental but still informative. I don't think I did my best work with this one.

Is this even remotely realistic? Ok, it's Bree. But really, can a woman that has an active and regular sex life really go into her 40's and not have a clue as to what an orgasm is about?

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Sunday, December 03, 2006

Now that I've had this coffee I can die in peace

I love coffee. Plain coffee with a spot of half and half, pronounced haaaf and haaaf where I live. No sugar. I’ve never gone in for all those girly coffees with the cutsie names and the fattening additives. Just gimme a coffee ‘regulah’ no sugar, please.

Until today. Today my mind has been forever changed. Changed for the first time in years, and by the evil purveyor of coffee on every corner in the world, Starbucks. Starbucks, which happens to be next door to my local Trader Joes. My beloved Trader Joes that has run out of cups and had no free coffee this morning. Can you believe it? Neither could I. Harumph.

Because TJs let me down, I had to go to Starbucks for coffee. My daughter was with me, and she wanted the girliest girly drink of all, the Peppermint Mocha Latte. Bah! But then I saw something on the menu that caught my eye and I wanted to taste it. I wanted in bad. I was reeled in by those damn Seattleites with their adorable chick coffees. Yes, I ordered a Venti Gingerbread Latte. And it was good.

Not just good good. GOOOOOOD good. Like you wanted to get down on your knees and pray to the Gods of Mt. Hood for creating Seattle who begat Starbucks who begat the latte who begat the gingerbread latte, nectar of the Gods. That’s how good it is. OK, it’s ridiculously overpriced. It probably has 1000 calories in a Venti. I’m afraid to go to the Starbucks site and check. And if you do, don’t tell me. I honestly don’t want to know. I’ll cry when I find out how fattening it is. OK I won’t. It was 530 calories. I will never eat again. I’ll just be drinking these Lattes. But I’ll be very very happy.

And in defense of Trader Joes, they still had plenty of those Candycane Joe-Joes. Have you tried those? They are, without a doubt, the best cookie ever made. They only have them this time of year. They're new this year and they are a blessing and a curse. A blessing because they taste so darn good that you just want to eat the entire box. A curse because they are cookies that taste so good you want to eat the entire box. The flyer said that of all the holiday items TJ's offered this year, these were the holiday tasting panel's favorite item. I have to concur. These are heaven in a little box, and for only $2.49, you can't go wrong.

Please do not ask me how many boxes we bought today. Please. Oh my God, I'm mortified.

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Saturday, December 02, 2006

When nerds collide

The boy has 3 friends over. They all brought their guitars with them, and they're all plugged in upstairs. Me, I'm downstairs surfing the net in blessed quiet. I'm blocked out the noise and honestly, I don't mind the guitars at all.

All of a sudden I jerk my head up, perk up my ears and listen. "What am I hearing?", I ponder. "Could it be... oh my gawd, it could....and it is".

They're playing the theme song to Jeopardy.

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Ooooo, I hate that kid!

You know, that incredibly annoying kid in the movie The Polar Express. The know-it-all kid that just doesn't seem to get how to relate to the other kids? The one that knows just way too much trivia about every topic but doesn't get that he's really annoying? You know that kid? Well, I live with him. Yeah, that's my Boy all right.

Ok, the Boy isn't nerdy and doesn't have a horrible voice and taped glasses, or even yellow planet pajamas, although I've been threatening him with some for Hanukkah. But he's got that know-it-all, let me tell you all about what kind of train we're on attitude that drives me bonkers at times. It's not that he doesn't have friends or isn't able to relate to other kids. It's that he just doesn't always get when to keep his trap shut and stop sharing useless information. For example, at the very end of The Polar Express, when the elves are partying and they have the Steven Tyler look-alike elf in the elf-Areosmith band, the boy is all disgusted because they show elf Joe Perry playing a Stratocaster, and lord knows, Joe Perry doesn't really play a lowly stratocaster. It was WRONG. So we had to hear all about what Joe Perry really plays and why the Stratocaster is absolutely the biggest mistake in the history of film.

I'm telling you, this is one very annoying kid at times. You should sit down with him during Wheel of Fortune. His disgust over contestants that can't guess the puzzle in two seconds is legendary in our home. He has no patience for lesser mortals. He thinks that everyone should be able to win the million dollar prize on Millionaire. He thinks that Ken Jennings is NORMAL, for heaven's sake. He finds mistakes in every TV show and movie he's ever watched. He can wax forever on the CGI merits of a film, telling how they did every freaking special effect. It's daunting how trivial his mind is. And this is coming from the Queen of Triva, the Empress of Minutae. I promise you, he's 50 times worse than I ever was.

It's been such a long day. I can usually handle it if I get time off. But when I've got sick kids home for almost the whole week and haven't had one second to myself, I get very weary. Crabby and weary. Bitchy, crabby and weary. Yeah, that about sums it up.

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