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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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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Pieces of the Puzzle Finally Filled In

My father, who died several years ago, never talked about his WW2 experiences. I knew a few things, that he was a pilot, that his plane was shot down over Italy and he escaped to Switzerland where he was interned until he escaped and return to his squadron, that he flew a B-24 Liberator. That's pretty much it. I didn't even know that much until I was out of college. Like Tom Brokaw said in The Greatest Generation, men came home from that war wanting to forget everything they had seen, ready to get on with their lives. My father obviously carried a lot of the war with him. He was an angry person with a quick temper and an absolute inability to forgive anyone or anything. But to his children, we knew nothing about his war experience and how it might have affected him.


I've been half-heartedly doing research here and there to try and piece together just where my father was stationed, what his war experience was like, the squadron he was attached to, etc. But I never found much of anything until today. Today, I hit the jackpot. I found out his Bombardment Group number (55th), his Bomb Squad number (778th) where he crash landed and when (Oct 4th 1944, 13.90 hours, Dubendorf), his plane ID and serial number (Brown Nose/Dutchess Alice), and even the names and identification numbers of the entire crew. Jackpot! I even found out about a book written specifically about his plane and another plane, both shot down with squads interned in Switzerland.

Now that I have this information, I can get his service records and learn just what they mysteries are about. I know he earned several medals, but I don't know for what. I know about the internment, but I don't know exactly where (Davos, Switzerland) and for how long. Nor do I know how he got back to his squadron.

Knowing this information is exciting. It fills in a part of my childhood that was totally missing. The men that fought in WW2 were notorious for not sharing their past. They were also known for being very distant and detached fathers, something I didn't know until I read Brokaw's book. So many of the men described in that book sounded like my father. Unlike men from subsequent wars, the vets from WW2 didn't ever get to process their experiences. They came back from Europe or the Pacific fronts, still shell-shocked at the inhumanity they witnessed. But they were expected to find work, to get married and have families, to buy homes with the GI bill, and to forget about their experience with war. My father was one of those vets that did everything expected of him. He married my mother after knowing her for 2 weeks and going out on two dates. Yes, he WAS insane! He and my mother had my sister the following year. They bought a starter home, a tiny little cape in one of those brand new developments built just for the vets. They started their professional lives, raised a family, moved several times, each to a larger and fancier home. But the experience of war was never spoken about. Never. It just happened, and it went away without ever being processed.

As a child raised in this type of environment, it was difficult to ever know my father. He wasn't interested in his children, he wasn't loving or friendly or even caring. He earned money, he brought it home, and that was the extent of his involvement with his family. He wasn't a happy person. He had no friends, nor did he want them. He didn't like or trust people. He was a loner long before it was cool to be so. Because he was such a stranger to me, I have this need to find out more about him, about his war experience. I want to try and understand why he was so afraid of enjoying life. I think the key is in the military records. I just can't wait to find out more.

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Friday, September 28, 2007

Red Sox Clinch AL East!

We did it! With the season ending up in a couple of days, the Red Sox clinched the American League East position tonight, after the Yankees lost to the Orioles (Yeah, Baltimore!). This is the first time we've won the division since 1995. Oh, we've had plenty of wild card wins, but to bring home the division is a special honor for this year's team, and boy are they celebrating! More than 2000 fans stayed hours after the game in hopes that the Sox would come out of the locker room and share in the celebration. At a few minutes past 11, their wishes came true when the players poured out of the locker room, clad in adorable red shorts, brand new AL East T-shirts and new hats with the tags still flapping off the top, their hands filled with champagne bottles, and started showering the fans. The celebration continues as I type this, despite the media's desire to interview all the players and put a bit of the damper on the hoopla.

Tony Francona, the team's manager, pulled his hamstring falling off the couch in the locker room during the celebration. One hopes he was actually drinking the champagne.

According to ESPN:
More than an hour earlier, Boston reduced its magic number to one with a 5-2 win over the Minnesota Twins. And with those results, coupled with Cleveland's 5-3 win over Kansas City, the AL playoff pairings were set: The Los Angeles Angels will open at Boston, and the wild-card Yankees will start at Cleveland.

The Yankees, who had won the last nine AL East crowns, took a 9-6 lead into the bottom of the ninth at Baltimore. Then former Red Sox outfielder Jay Payton tied it with a bases-loaded triple. And Melvin Mora bunted in the winning run with the bases loaded in the 10th.

Fenway fans who stood to watch the end of that game on the center-field scoreboard shouted as the message board flashed: "CHAMPIONS OF THE AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST."

"It's unbelievable," backup first baseman Eric Hinske said. "Hopefully, this is just the beginning. "Daisuke Matsuzaka had set up the celebration with eight strong innings against the Twins. He won for just the second time since early August and David Ortiz homered for the fourth time in seven games.

When the division title was assured, Red Sox players poured from their clubhouse, through the dugout and onto the field.Ortiz, wearing street clothes just a half-hour earlier, was sporting a white division champions T-shirt. Jonathan Papelbon, who earned the clinching save, stood near home plate in a red T-shirt and dark undershorts, sprayed champagne, then flung the bottle high into the air.

The Girl is going to the game tomorrow afternoon. I think she missed the big one, but she's happy to just be going. I'm so jealous I look like a green giant.

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Interred With Their Bones

New review up at my review blog. If you're looking for a great mystery to read, don't miss this book. The reviews are all stunningly positive. We loved this book!

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This Old House

I finally remember what I wanted to tell you all, but completely slipped out of my head due to... oh, you know what it's due to.

The newest season of This Old House is doing on old Victorian in our town. This isn't the first time that I've lived very close to a TOH house being redone. About 13 years ago they did another green Victorian that was only a few blocks from our old house. They did a huge renovation on that place, down to the driveway, and we got to watch a lot of it going on. We met Norm Abrams and saw a bunch of the construction guys doing their work. It took months and months to finish the house and they did a remarkable job.


I also worked close to the house that killed Bob Villa. Oh, he's still alive, but no longer with the show after that house, which was so over budget that he got canned. And I've seen that barn house they did a few years back, which is on the same road as the place where we go raspberry picking.

The house they're going to do now was recently bought by a young couple with a growing family and they want to completely update the house. I can't wait to see the project start and I'll try to get some before, during, and after photos as the project moves forward.

This is a rather typical house in our city. We have a lot of large shingled Victorians which are considered very desirable housing despite their smallish rooms and often ancient plumbing, heating, and electric systems. Redoing a home of this size and age is a huge undertaking, as you can imagine, and it's going to be interesting to watch what they'll do to retain the charm of the house whilst updating it to reflect more modern life situations.

The new show starts on Oct 4, and is repeated often through the week. I tend to watch TOH very late at night, when PBS replays all their shows several times over.

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

You know how I said I was tired?

I slept for 14 hours today. Fourteen hours! I'm feeling refreshed, but still off. I tried to read today, and I am having trouble concentrating. What should have taken a few hours to read is taking so much longer. I believe my brain is begging for more oxygen.

So let's talk TV. I can do TV. Last night I watched that new show Dirty Sexy Money. I think I'm going to like this one, despite the addition of Billy Baldwin to the cast. There is something that irritates me about the Baldwin brothers. Alex doesn't bother me that much, but the rest of them? Ugh. As a member of a large ensemble cast including Donald Sutherland and Jill Clayburgh and starring the absolutely wonderful Peter Krause, Baldwin won't drive me away. This show reminded me a lot of the early days of Desperate Housewives, funny, sexy and more than a bit absurd. I hope it can remain as amusing as the pilot.

I'm also watching the new Gorden Ramsey show Kitchen Nightmares. It shows yet another side of Ramsey, helping owners with failing restaurants to revitalize their business with changes in decor, menu, and especially employee problems. This week's restaurant was so filthy and disgusting it make me literally sick to watch. Vermin, roaches, rotten food. I swear, eating out is more dangerous than crossing the highway on foot.

The rest of my TV viewing are return shows. I'm into Ugly Betty since I watched the marathon at the hospital. It's really an innovative and interesting, although completely implausable show. But quite enjoyable, overall. I like Betty, but I like the other cast members just as much.

I watched the premier of House and, as usually, was hooked. There is something about that show that I find riveting in it's absurdity. It isn't the medicine, it's House himself. He's a character that, although unbelievable, is so curious to watch, and so freaking funny. His use of sarcasm is perfect.

Have you been watching Ken Burn's new series on PBS, War? It is spectacular. Amazing. Inspiring, Awesome. Ken Burns has never done a bad series. He's a genius at combining dialog, historical significance, music and still photos to create a living memorial to his subject. But this is his best series to date, even better than the Civil War. If you haven't seen it yet, try to catch a few episodes. It's must see TV.

Otherwise, nothing much on the fall schedule that interests me. What are you watching?

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I'm trying really hard. Honest!

I know it's boring to read yet another post about me and my health. Yawn. Even I'm bored talking about it. But it's so much on the forefront of everything else that I can't really think about much else. I'm eventually going to get to the point where other things happen and I can comment upon them, but for right now, it's the Me Me Me show 24/7. Thrilling, huh?

I slept last night and had a very hard time getting up this morning. So I didn't. I entertained the plumber in my nightgown, I had my home health care aide clean the house, I watched a bit of TV and read a lot of a mystery a friend gave me to read in the hospital. At 3 I got up and dressed to be ready for our family therapy session. And what a session it was. The Boy was impossible and the poor therapist was getting so frustrated. She kept looking at me with this pleading look in her eye, and of course he caught on right away that he was pissing her off, so he went for blood. I do not get him sometimes. We have established that he thinks he does lots of stuff voluntarily and never gets praise for it. He also thinks that he is cooperative and always responds to requests to do something right away. Evidentally his world is a bit different from reality. He does NOTHING on his own, and when asked to do something he makes excuses, refuses, or promises to do it later, and never does. Yeah.

Then I took the Girl to CVS to get our prescriptions filled, and she found a 1-lb bag of candy corn for $.88 which has to be the highlight of her year. That child loves candy corn. I mean, she will eat it all year round if she can find it. Loves it. Me, I think it's a seasonal treat, like cinnamon hearts for Valentine's Day and candy canes around Christmas. But not her. Candy corn is an absolute favorite.

Our new CVS is huge. It's located in an retired supermarket, and it has the biggest selection of stuff imaginable. When we go, I tend to want to sit by the pharmacy and wait for the prescriptions to be ready, while the Girl liked to explore the makeup, hair products, and candy. I don't know another person who could spend hours in a CVS happily.

I'm absolutely exhausted after this day, and can't wait to just get back in bed and go to sleep. I have a feeling this bout is going to take a long time to recover from. I honestly feel like crap. I've completely lost my appetite. I just want to lay in bed and cry.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

World's Shortest Fairytale

Once upon a time, a guy asked a girl, "Will you marry me?" The girl said "No" and she lived happily ever after and went shopping, drank martinis with friends, always had a clean house, never had to cook, had a closet full of shoes and handbags, stayed skinny, and was never farted on.

The End
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Not the world's greatest homecoming

Well, I'm free at last, free at last, thank God almighty, I'm home and free at last! However, just because I'm home does not mean that anything exciting or spectacular has happened. The Boy walked out of school today because he was pissed off about something. In school suspension for him tomorrow. He also blew off his therapy appointment. He called me before I was released to give me this breaking news, and let us just say I was not happy. Then his program head called, and he wasn't happy either. He tried to call the Boy at home, but kid would not pick up the phone. So I called him to tell him to deal with his own problems, and he hung up on me. Nice!

I get home and both kids are fast asleep in the living room. The house looks like a cyclone struck it. It reeks of cat because a certain Girl didn't do the litter box, no matter how many times I asked her too. PU. I HATE that smell. The Boy didn't do his laundry, thus I couldn't do my laundry. So not a happy camper. I got yelled at immediately because they were tired and I wanted them to get up and clean up their messes. Dirty dishes from last week are gross. I don't want to see them. Period.

Then I try to get online and the FIOS is dead. I have to deal with that. Get it back up and running to see that the Wall Street Journal has picked up my banana complaint post. Interesting!

Plus, I have to arrange with a friend to pick up the Girl and take her to her house to get all her stuff she left over there. Girl is furious with me because I won't drive her hither and yon. I'm not up to driving yet. I really don't think I should drive for a few days, or even longer.

But then again, I'm HOME. With a blocked up toilet that doesn't seem to want to be plunged, a sink full of dirty dishes, a stack of laundry a mile high, a million bills to pay, and dinner to cook. Welcome home to me!

(Has anyone ever wondered just WHY we thought motherhood would be fun?)

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How to lose 10 lbs in 4 days laying on your ass

Hard to believe it. I've lost 10 freaking pounds since Friday. And, as the doctor says, I'm still not on empty. But I'm empty enough to go home, or so they say. Sometime this afternoon, if all goes well. I've already had Dracula come and draw 5 vials of blood this morning, and I've eaten yet another spectacular breakfast in which they forgot the following items I ordered and appear on my order slip: cream cheese for the bagel, orange juice, cream for the coffee, and my yogurt. But I did finally get a yellow banana!

My rather annoying roomate pooped this morning and left the bathroom door open. This is a serious hospital faux pas. I have no clue as to what she was thinking, since my bed is directly opposite the bathroom door. Ugh. So gross.

I can't wait to get home and take a shower with my own shower gel and shampoo. They give you soap here, which makes me one giant itch, and Johnson's baby shampoo. I don't know why they give adults with a lot of hair JBS because it doesn't clean your hair and leaves it feeling like greasy straw. But maybe that's just me.

Can't wait to see the Girl, whom I haven't laid eyes on since I got here Friday. I miss her, even with her hormones and her mouth. I think she misses me too. I did see the Boy on Sunday, but yesterday he didn't even call me. Out of sight....

I watched the Shrub's speech at the UN this morning. Bush lite. No substance, no firebreathing hell, no stupid threats. A couple of outrageous comments about America being the arbiter of health care for all and feeding the hungry. Evidentally Georgie doesn't get out amoungst the real people all that much. Maybe if he took a stroll around the neighborhood in DC he would get a glimpse of the people without healthcare and food. Meanwhile, he's tossing children just like mine off Medicaid. Fortunately for us, Massachusetts has required health insurance for all, and they won't cut off the kids. But the rest of you lower income, but not poverty level families that use state funded healthcare for your kids; good luck!

My favorite part of Amajorjerk's speech at Colombia yesterday was when he claimed that Iran didn't have homosexuals. Well, of course if you KILL them all, you won't have any left. But honestly, what a moronsky. The laughter of the Colombia audience was pretty humorous, too. I don't know what to think about Colombia's president's speech. You don't invite a guest to your home and then insult them before they're allowed to speak. Bad manners. Had he refuted DinnerJacket's speech afterwards, his words would have held more power and the students would have been able to ask the hard questions. But I'm not sure if it was grandstanding or just trying to cover his ass after asking a terrorist and antisemite into his university. Either way, I don't think he went about it the right way.

I met yesterday with the leading specialist on my heart condition. She's running a genetic study that I'm going to be involved in. She's already identified 8 different gene sequences that can cause my heart disease. She's very interesting and I think I'm going to find this useful, even though it will eventually involve both kids being tested. They have both had baseline echocardiograms, but now they'll have to have they yearly. It's OK with me and they don't mind, but the blood tests they're going to mind. It's only one blood draw though.

Now I have three different cardiologists, all women. That's SO unusual, because cardiology is thought of as a man's domain, but this hospital actually has more women than men in their cardiology department, and actually has a center for women with heart disease. I like having women physicians but I like knowing that women doctors specialize in how heart disease affects women differently than men. That's just too cool.

Gotta go because there's a big meeting of med students going on and I want to hide. Ahem. Talk to you later, hopefully from home.

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Monday, September 24, 2007

Who do I have to kill to get a frigging banana?

And other tales from the hospital...

The headach continues unabated. Tylenol is a pseudo medicine. It does not work. A gazillion dollar company that peddles placebos.

Roomate is better behaved although had a big argument with some visitor. And man, what a gossip! People calling and streaming in all day long, and she's telling one about the other, revealing secrets, and in one case, telling about a family secret from 75 years ago. This opportunity to eavesdrop on a complete stranger's life is interesting in it's scope. I must appear so boring to my neighbors. My main topic of familiar conversation is "did you finish your homework?"

So let's talk food. As in, "help, I'm starving!" First, and yes this sounds racist and I just don't give a damn, could the hospital PLEASE hire people who speak and understand English fluently to deal with the ordering of meals? Is this too much to ask? In this hospital they give you a 'menu' from which you can order your choice of meals. Things are divided up by both meal options, and then individual components. Idealy, it's a good idea. If you want to customize a sandwich, you can do so. But... in reality it takes forever because the person from the kitchen you're talking with has no English skills. So you have to go over and over every single item, and they never get it right. Three meals today. I ordered a banana for breakfast. It did not come. I ordered a banana for lunch. It did not come. I ordered a banana for dinner. You fill in the blank.

Give me a frigging banana.

Not one meal has come out right. For dinner tonight I was told I was not allowed to eat tomatoes. Huh? I checked with the nurse? She looked at me as if I was nuts. Believe me, tomatoes are fine for me to eat. No restrictions at all.

Then there are the items on the menu that don't really exist. Rasberry sorbet? It says they have it. If you order it, you get Lemon Sherbert. Close, no cigar! Lucky I like Lemon Sherbert.

But my absolute favorite is that, at the bottom of the menu, in teeny tiny letters, it says that the hospital cooks everything well done to prevent the possibility of food contamination. Now, I don't like anything well done, but when a hospital says well done, they mean 'one step past shoe leather'. I ordered a chicken caesar salad. The chicken was inedible. The salad dressing was ranch. But it did have a lot of romaine lettuce. And black olives. The chicken put me right off even considering any other meat. I've been eating turkey wraps. They can't kill those. They try, but they can't.

If they don't let me out tomorrow, I'm asking someone to deliver a large bag of peanut M&Ms, stat. I need the protein.

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What do you do when....

You're in the hospital, you have a new roomate, she's not the most pleasant friendly person, and she fights with her grown up daughters constantly while blasting the TV at top volume? Are you allowed to smother her in her sleep?

I miss my little old Irish lady. This one... oy vey! She's in her 70's, has a real attitude problem, she can't read (I mean really, she is illiterate) and got all pissed with the nurses over paperwork like it's THEIR fault she can't read, etc.

I wanna go home. I'm not going to be able to leave until at least tomorrow, and I really just want to take my stuff and hightail it out of here. I won't, but it's so frustrating when you are stuck in a room all day long with someone who just doesn't even want to be pleasant. How hard is it to keep your mouth shut and not bitch at people who are trying to help you?

The hospital WIFI blocks yahoo, so I can't read my email. I can't get into my bloglines from here either. They seem to block anything they determine to be a big time sink, since all the employees have laptops and are on the same LAN. I think I might suggest that patient LANs are different than employee LANs.

I have a wicked headache but I can't take anything. I'm sure it's from noise, and I've got them searching for a pair of ear plugs for me now. The room is very hot, but I'm right next to the window and I have a really nice view from my bed. I'm up high, on the 14th floor, so I can see a fair distance.

The kids are all right. Girl isn't thrilled with her situation right now, but she's spending the afternoon at our house with Worthless Pet and Fishy and that will make her happier. She needs her alone time for all that serious trama counseling she does with her friends. I'm so glad I am not 15 again.

Thanks again for all the nice comments, etc. It is interesting for me to see first hand this little community we've created for ourselves online. So very comforting, too. I can't wait to get home and be able to catch up with all of you. Don't do anything too exciting until I get back.

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Tales from the Hospital

I'm still in the hospital, but I have to say, this is the most enjoyable hospital stay I've ever had. When I got sent up from the ER to my room, I found the most wonderful little old lady as my roomate. I absolutely fell in love with her. She is 87 years old, deaf as a post, tiny, Irish, and hilarious. Just totally hilarious. I swear, I laughed so hard yesterday that it was getting dangerous with all that Lasix. She sounds JUST LIKE a character in a fairy tale, only very ribald.

Then I got blessed with not one, but many wonderful nurses. And what a diverse staff. I have had nurses from the Congo, England, Haiti, and some Scandanavian country. Very interesting group of people.

Being in the hospital sucks, no doubt about it, but at least it's been entertaining. I'm feeling a lot better, and I'm definetly on the mend. It was pretty scary there, I got congested VERY quickly, which has never happened before. Usually it's gradual, but on Wed I saw my cardiologist and she said I was totally stable, and by Thursday afternoon I wasn't feeling great, and by Friday I was freaking out and just waiting for the kids to get home from school so I could get to the hospital. It was pretty bleak because when I got the the ER, it was, as usual, packed, and yet they got me in within 10 minutes, into a room within a couple of hours, and medicated up the wazoo really quickly. The hospital staff seems to think that this particular episode was caused by a ridiculous amount of ibuprofan I took for a migraine. I can't take anything for a freaking migraine now. Literally nothing. I'm just going to have to suffer. Which sucks.

The Boy came and surprised me with a visit today. He arrived, got the lunch menu, ordered a huge lunch, ate, and then watched the Patriots. What a guy! Actually it was great seeing him, and he made such an effort to get here.

The Girl is spending tonight with my friend I, and will get on the bus tomorrow morning for school. Hopefully I'll get out of here tomorrow, and then they'll just come home from school as usual.

Thanks for all the good wishes. I really appreciate your kind thoughts. It was a very very strange Yom Kippur, but I'm doing so much better and feeling so much happier. Now if only I could get a frigging night's sleep. I didn't sleep a wink last night, but I caught up on many TV shows I've never had the chance to see, which has been fun. Tonight, Ambien!

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

margalit is in the hospital

hi, this is the girl. my mom wanted to let everyone know that she went into the hospital yesterday afternoon for congestive heart failure. she probably wont be home untill tuesday. she is at brigham and womens hospital, tower 14d, #80. she is fealing better but is borred and has spent all of today watching the ugly betty marathon. my brother and I are staying with friends and the worthless pet anf fishie are at home. thats about it..i will update you later.
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Friday, September 21, 2007

Bullet Friday

In full congestive heart failure. Won't be posting or reading much today. I cannot breathe.

New book review up at my review site. This was a good read. Don't miss this one.

Best thing about when teenage girls are ticked off at you? They hide out in their rooms all day.

Had breakfast today with a friend from Berkeley and a friend from here. Nice, but I was so congested I could barely eat. I only had fruit.

Just finished reading the freaking funniest book. I'm going to review it when I'm feeling better. It was hilarious. And NOT about babies, breastfeeding, or potty training.

Yom Kippur starts tonight. If I have offended anyone on this blog this year, I apologize.

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

When Nursing Affects the Rest of Your Life

I don't know if this still is a local story, or if it's gotten out over the interwebs to all the other nursing zealots, but if it hasn't, it should. I know most of you are up in arms about nursing in restaurants and showing photos of nursing mothers on MySpace and FaceBook. Honestly, I haven't nursed in 13 years, I'm not all that invested in the entire scope of being outraged over any slight about nursing, and I kinda think that people that are so incensed about every single incident where a mom gets kicked out of a restaurant might think about getting a hobby.


But this is different. This is a story of a nursing mother who is in her final year of medical school. She needs to take a 9-hour test (and pass it) in order to take up her already matched residency in November. Her problem? The testers refused to allow her time off to nurse her baby. Or to pump. She has one 45 minute break half way through the test. Her baby is 4 months old. She is going to be so engorged and leaky that she is fearful she can't do her best on the test. She's asking for a short break of 20 minutes to pump. She was categorically refused by the NBME, who told her "Nursing is not a permenant condition."

This test affects the rest of her life. If she cannot take the test, she cannot become a doctor. If she can't take the test, she can't take up her residency. She's obviously brilliant, in a PhD/MD program at Harvard and was matched at Mass General, one of the worlds greatest hospitals. She's obviously serious about her career. She's asking for a small accomodation in order to relieve her engorgement and pump for her nursling. That she was refused is outrageous. That people polled here in Boston agreed with the agency by 69% makes me ballistic. What the fuck?
The testing board says that the only accomodate for disabilities covered under the Americans with Disabilities act. Nursing is obviously not a disability. I mean, nobody can argue that it is. But you gotta wonder if any women serve on that board, and of the women that might be on the board, did any of them ever nurse? Experience engorgement? Mastitis? You really gotta wonder.

I don't have an answer to this problem other than to schedule 2 20-minute breaks instead of one 45 minute break. If kids can gobble down a meal in 20 minutes, adults should be able to as well. But what I do know is that something is very very wrong with a medical institution if they don't know the simple facts about nursing mothers.

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Oh what a night!

My children aren't very nice right now. Not that I'm the nicest person on the block either, but at this moment they are both evil and I'm sick to death of them. Nice huh? Guess I win the bad mommy of the week award. I don't even care, because I'm so tired of them constantly being mean to each other I'd like to throw them both into some Colombian jail for a while and hope they come to their senses.

The Girl has been on a tear for a while now. She's always horrid when she has friends over or is talking to them on the phone because she believes it's cool to act like a roaring bitch in front of her friends. You know, being the leader of the "bad girl" pack these days with her tongue piercing and her magenta hair and all. Actually, most of the time she's sweeter than sugar and a really great kid. But she cannot leave her brother alone. She is SO mean to him, it's really disturbing. She just can't stop, either. The only time I've ever wished there was a man around the house is when she gets like this because what she needs is a serious talking to, and all she does is scream at me. And I mean scream bloody murder if I confront her behavior.

Tonight she went after her brother, who admittedly is about the most annoying human on the planet on a good day, and when I'd had enough and told her to go upstairs she want rabid on me. Screaming foul mouth crap at top volume. I kept telling her to go upstairs and calm down and she kept saying "no" and telling me what she wanted to do instead. Um, it doesn't work that way. Her brother, Mr Delightful, finally went over and pulled the plug on the computer, which really got her going, and she went upstairs for the rest of the night. The thing is, she has decided that she's got to solve all her friends little daily traumas and all of those are WAY more important than things like the dishes and other mundane chores.

And the Boy. He is SUCH an asshat. I can't even begin to describe just how annoying he is and how much he likes to be involved in parenting both me and the Girl. He honestly thinks he's the boss. There isn't a day that goes by where I don't have to sit him down and do the "me parent, you child" lecture, which goes in one ear and out the other. He's so rude. He's so obnoxious and he can be so freaking annoying, but he is rarely mean. When the Girl gets on his case, he gets very mean. The two of them are ready to kill each other. It's really getting bad and I'm just not capable of getting them to stop. I do what you're supposed to do. I don't engage in the arguments. I state my case over and over but I don't argue. I punish. I don't bargain.

However, in full teenage mode, what I say is totally disregarded. I could be a talking chimp for all they care. I'm the Rodney Dangerfield of mommies. I get no respect. None.

I hate when I feel like I can't stand these kids anymore. I mean, EVERY parent of teenagers feels like this. It's a challenge like no other, parenting teens. I admit that I'm not good at parts of it, and I'm very good at other parts. But what I want is for my kids to stop being mean to each other and mean to me. I'm not mean to them, I've never modeled meanness in any way to them, but geesh, they're masters of it.

Lots of times I blame it on the neurological stuff they both have. One kid on the spectrum, one kid bipolar. What a great deal I was dealt! But they have no empathy for each other. Just today I was explaining for the bazillionth time to the Girl about the Boy's lack of small motor skills. This isn't new, he's never had much hand-eye coordination. But we were talking about something she found exceedingly easy the first time out (cutting glass) and that he just could not do, and instead of being understanding when I explained why, she made some nasty crack. I was fit to be tied. Why the nastiness? She's certainly got her own quirks that drive him nuts. Why can't they respect each other's differences? They can with other kids, but not with each other.

Hell, I so need a respite weekend. I'm getting desperate for some time off from them. It's like having gigantic 3 year olds and I've already DONE 3 and do not want to repeat it.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Ahoy Mateys, It's Talk Like a Pirate Day

The pirate speaks,"Me beauties, I have very little t' say in pirate lin'o this morn'. Arrr. I have taken t' wee ones t' t' t' barbor surgeon at first light, where t' saucy lass gave t' kiddies some grog in t' arm. "All be well with both sprogs. Now I have t' go t' me own heart doctor, and another doctor this afternoon.

So, buckos, it isn't t' greatest day for this pirate. I'm just goin' t' have t' dream o' meetin' Johnny Depp and get t' family together later t' watch Pirates o' t' Caribbean. "



"I prefer me pirates t' look like this, don't you? "

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The Queen of Hangnails

This is a post for Works for Me Wednesday, sponsored by Shannon of Rocks In My Dryer.

I have a disgusting little habit. It's not just me, all of my siblings do it too. And so does my son. My daughter, she bites her nails. Her habit isn't as gross as the rest of us.

I pick my hangnails. I pick and pick and pick until I've got big gaping wounds on my thumbs. I pick the cuticles on my thumbs to the point that they never really grow back normally, they're just thick and gross. It is disgusting. I've been doing it for as long as I can remember, well back into elementary school days.

No matter how many lotions and creams I used, I still pick at any hangnail as long as it's there. So, the obvious answer is, remove all the hangnails so I won't pick at them, right? Um, except, if there is the least bit of tough dry skin, pick pick pick. I'm relentless. It's a nervous tic. I'm not even aware of doing it most of the time.

Recently I discovered that if I use the heel emory board, that big thing you use to remove the dry skin on your heels to make them look all pretty and pink, on my thumbs to take off the top layer of skin, I will not pick at my thumbnails. I don't have any dry skin to pick, the hangnails all get sanded off by the heel thingy, and my thumbs finally get to recover and look normal again.

Caveat: You must keep this up daily. If you don't remove the dry skin every day, you'll get hangnails again, and the cycle renews it self.

So, if you or your kids pick their cuticles, the way to get it to stop easily and painlessly is to use the emory board on your heel smoother to remove all the dry skin.

Works for me!

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

There's a New Widget in Town

Look way down on my right sidebar. See the new widget? It's from BlogRush. Que? What's BlogRush, you ask? Yet another easy way to pick up blog traffic and new readers. This one works a bit differently than other traffic attractors. If you click on my BlogRush widget, and then register, for each visit I get, I get the chance to have one of my posts on the Widget. And because you clicked my Widget and registered, you get to have the same number of my visits, plus your own visits posted on the Widget. If people click on your widget, you get the number of views that they get in traffic. So your possible traffic can immediately bring you more possible traffic.

If you title your blogs innovatively, people are going to want to click over and see what your post is about. They can easily love what they see, and add your blog to their aggregator, becoming a frequent visitor to your site.

So check out BlogRush. You don't have to do a thing beyond putting the widget on your site and writing inviting, interesting posts. You have nothing to lose, so try it. If it doesn't work for me, I'll surely let you know!

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Has Blogging Jumped the Shark?

In attempting to stop sleeping during the day, I'm awake and trying to entertain myself with morning TV, coffee, and a book. Finished the book, and decided to pay attention to Martha. What was I thinking? She started out the show today talking about blogging. Martha is blogging on both Facebook and MySpace. What is the deal with adults using MySpace and FaceBook anyhow? I don't get it. My kids both outgrew MySpace last year. It's got the worst interface, it's not really blogging, and it's horribly annoying with all the poking and whatever. FaceBook looks better, but the clubs on anorexia and ganging up on teachers and other kids? Do adults really need to be involved in this silliness?

Martha, who is the queen of perfection. What could she be thinking trying to make herself at home on MySpace? I just cannot imagine her fooling with the blinkies and the animated gifs. Hard to imagine her illustrating crafts and posting recipes on MySpace. I wonder for the future of blogging if Martha is pushing it. It just kinda creeps me out.

I know a lot of musicians have MySpace pages, and a lot of celebrities do as well, mostly to collect 'friends' but do they add any real content to their pages? Or are they basically advertisements for their latest CD or concert tour?

Blogging, like everything else, grows and changes as it gets older. For me, the difference between blogging in 2003 and blogging today is monumental. One of the things I love is that the Queen Bees are changing. Some are losing their audiences, some have closed down their blogs, some have just blogged themselves right out of anything interesting to say. New Queen Bees are coming up, and some of them are excellent writers. Who would have thunk that a blog like Confessions of a Pioneer Woman would have made such a big splash in the blogging world in such a short time? Great writing, excellent pictures, and a wonderful sense of humor keep this blog fresh with every single entry. Or that the Blog Antagonist would gain such a big following based on funeral stories?

One thing that has changed, and in my opinion it's not a great change is all the group Mommy blogs. One or two, fine. But there are way too many of them now, and the same people write for two or three of them, leaving none of them fresh or interesting or unusual. If new voices aren't brought forward, why would you want to read the same old same old two or three times a day? I think it's a big mistake to count on a few bloggers, especially those with the propensity to quit when the going gets tough. Personally, I gave up on all of the aggregated Mommy Blogs long ago and don't even bother to read any of them. I don't see that the content is all that fabulous and they're hard to wade through. I'm sticking with personal blogs.

There's been enough posted about advertising on blogs to fill up our town dump, so I don't think there's that much more to say. But I want to make sure that if you ARE putting ads on your blogs, you're getting revenue from the advertisers. There are a lot of shyster-type ads out there. Beware.

Same goes for paid blogging. If you're being offered $3-$5 a post, you're getting ripped off. The companies won't increase your pay. They'll find someone else who is willing to work for that ridiculous wage. Don't lower your value by accepting payment that is not even minimum wage. It devalues blogging, it devalues your talent, and it allows aggregated blog sites to take advantage of you, knowing that you don't know how much your writing really is worth.

Lastly, if you're interesting in improving your blogging relationships, remember to comment. Comments are how people find your blog. The more you comment, the more you're going to find new blog readers who come to find out what your blog is about. Linking to other blogs works well, especially if you make it a regular part of your blogging. Claiming your blog on Technorati and watching your blog authority numbers. Register your blog with Alexa and watch your numbers fall as you make more blogging relationships. The more blogs that register, the more everyone's numbers change. We all want to make blogging relationships, and besides commenting, joining blogging carnivals and special events, and taking part in regular blogging features like Michele's Meet and Greet, or Works for me Wednesday will increase your blogs audience, get you noticed, and will also introduce you to hundreds of blogs you might not have noticed otherwise.

Keep apprised of blogging events by looking at people's sidebars. The next big event is Blog Action Day on October 15th, where bloggers will be spending the day writing about the environment. Think about participating. It's fun, you'll get exposure, and you might find your new favorite blog!

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UpsideDown and InsideOut

I've been totally discombobulated (is that actually a word?) for a couple of weeks now, and I'm beside myself trying to find my way out of the hole I've dug. Of course, the first thing that happens to me when I get out of sorts is to stay up all night and sleep all day. I try not to do it, but it happens every freaking time I get depressed. Either I need to keep Australian time, or I need to figure out a way to get past this latest bout of insomnia gone bad.

The first step in recognizing I'm in trouble is always the PBS obsession. I love PBS specials. I love their shows. I get addicted really easily to almost anything on PBS. Mystery, Nova, Antique Roadshow, History Detective.... I love them all. Unfortunately, they're on late at night, and I'll sit in front of the TV totally entranced by these damn shows. Recently I've watched some doosies. Did you all see the one on the Giant Pumpkin growers? Oy, I love it. I'm totally whacked, I swear it.

Then, as I stay up later and later, it gets really bad. After PBS starts showing repeats of repeats, I turn on the all night news on ABC. Which turns into the local news at 5, and then Good Morning America (I think that is what it's called) at 7. When the kids leave for school at around 7:30, I try to fall asleep and can usually sleep through GMA, Ellen, Martha, the View, the local news, and Millionaire. I tend to walk up right before All My Children, and I doze though that, falling back to sleep as it's over. What finally wakes me up is Judge Judy. I just can't stand that voice.

If I leave the TV off, I won't sleep at all. For some weird reason, when I get in this rut, I need the TV on. The sound keeps me asleep and keeps the outside noise from waking me up. If I turn it off, I'll read book after book after book, but I won't sleep. And then I get really crazy because I'm so tired and grouchy and angry at myself.

So, what to do? I've got to stay up for about 3 days straight to get tired enough to keep me asleep at a normal time. Then I'll get back into my normal pattern and won't drift off course for months.

In the meantime, I'm starting to get interested in the new offerings on TV. I saw an interview with 3 local kids that are on the first season of Kid Nation (yes, they are already casting for the next season, and the Boy thought he might want to do it, over my dead body). At first I was somewhat appalled by the whole notion of this show, but the kids started talking about the security (surrounded by electrified fencing and security guards) and the adult supervision (plenty, albeit off camera) and listening to the kids talk about how much the grew up and changed, and I guess I thought it might be interesting to watch afterall.

I'm also strangely looking forward to Survivor China. I haven't watched Survivor in years, since Rob and Ambuh, but this one looks appealing to me.

I'm disappointed that Amazing Race won't be on until January, ditto for LOST and 24, so all my favorite shows won't be on for months. That allows me to take some chances on some of the new offerings I wouldn't even consider, I guess.

Also, I'm starting a big project that should be a lot of fun and hopefully I'll learn a lot about some new software at the same time.

The new car should be arriving soon. I can't wait. I honestly cannot wait. Imagine me zipping around in a little red car after 14 years in a minivan. It is going to be so weird! I have no clue of what do DO with the minivan. I think I should keep it for the kids but they both think it would be social suicide to drive an ancient minivan. Spoiled brats!

Many doctor appointments and school appointments coming up this week and next. I have actually gained back 3 lbs and am not looking forward to the doctor's scale. I need to get back on track but because I'm eating one real meal a day, my body is in constant starvation mode. Once I get back to normal hours, I should start peeling off the weight again. The constant struggle to keep going down gets to me sometimes. I'm not dieting, I'm eating good food. I know what I need to do. I know how to do it. But when you get out of bed in the late afternoon and eat dinner for breakfast, it's kind of hard to get yourself into the right eating patterns. I need to work harder at it. Insomnia affects me in so many negative ways, and keeping the weight on instead of losing it is part of the reason I get so down when I don't sleep normal hours. It isn't an excuse. I know what the problem is and I know how I need to fix it. I just hate the constant fight against my body wanting to stay up all night.

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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sunday Bullets--Now Enhanced with Emmy Commentary

  • Our new dishwasher was installed yesterday. We got one with a stainless steel interior and it is so much more quiet than the former one, which had a sound like rockets were going off when it changed cycles. The bottom panel of the new dishwasher was damaged and we are waiting for another one. But in the meantime, we have clean dishes once again.
  • We've been hanging out our laundry on the line all summer. It's been a great savings in gas, especially since our old dryer is dead and the new dryer has yet to be installed. I have to say, even though the clothes are a bit stiffer, I'm loving using solar energy to dry my clothes. It does look a tad bit ghetto, but now all the neighbors are doing it, too, so we have our own little ghetto up on the hill. I love it.
  • There is a blogging position open at Figure Magazine, a new place for plus size fashion. They are looking for two or three bloggers to feature on their site. Jen of Jen and Tonic is one blogger that is self-promoting, so I figure that I could self promote as well. She's doing a great job and I voted for her as well, but I would love to blog for this magazine as well. Yes, this is shameless self-promotion, but if you feel I would do well as a blogger for Figure Magazine, you can go here to nominate me. If you don't want to, that's fine, but I could really use the gig and it is something I'm pretty passionate about. Yes, large clothing, and shoes for amazons are two of my biggest topics of conversation around here. Plus, you all know how up I am on celebrity gossip and weight issues. Plus, I need something fun to do to keep me out of Marshalls, right?
  • Our crazy neighbor, whom the Boy calls the Garbage Nazi, is putting up a hidious plastic fence today. I don't get it. She had a perfectly nice hedge of arbor vitae for years, then pulled them all out, put in a small perennial garden that went to weeds two years in a row, and now the huge plastic fence. I know those fences are cheap and go up in a flash, but they are so ugly. Shiny plastic reflecting the sun onto my tomato plants. Oh well, at least we won't have to look at her as she goes through everyone's garbage every week. Update: The fence is up. Only it's half a fence. I swear it, it is ONLY to block our property from her eyesight. And vice versa. It doesn't even go down her whole side of her house. She is such a nutcase, this woman!
  • SAT review courses cost a fortune. Everyone around here says they're required. Ugh. But we're going for it. I have all the books ready and all I need is a willing victim.
  • Just finished reading Surveillance by Jonathan Raban. I love Raban's writing. I've been reading him since the early 80's when he was still a British author, and have followed his life as he went through 2 divorces and a move to the USA, finally settling in Seattle. This book is a rather dark look at what the next steps might be in the Bush administration is allowed to trample over the Constitution even more than they already have. It has an amazingly wry ending and I recommend it. I'm going to review it later on my review site.
  • Now I'm reading My Year Inside Radical Islam by Daveed Gartenstein-Ross. This is quite the interesting read so far. It is a memoir of a secular Jewish kid from Ashland Oregon who falls into a Saudi-funded radical islamic charity that funds Al-Quida right from Oregon. He began to become interested in Islam whilst in college, and back in his hometown he is hired as part of the staff of a very radical fundamentalist Islamic group. The interesting thing? They're all American born ranchers with tattoos and seemingly regular lives. I can't wait to get deeper into this book. It's mesmerizing.
  • I've started knitting the Boy the scarf he's been begging me to make since last winter. He wanted something 'guy-like' that would go with both his brown and black jackets. But he wanted it not to be plain. It took a while to decide what exactly to make him, since he didn't want cables or stripes or anything remotely attractive. I finally bought a soft boucle in brown and black that knits up soft and not remotely 'girly'. If I have left over yarn, I'll make him a hat with ear flaps. All the rage around here.
  • The Boy is serving his friend some left over pot pie that I made last night, and he says to the friend "This is the thanks I get? I slaved over that microwave, Slaved!" Yeah, pushing buttons sure is hard.
  • So much to do this week. All I want to do is sleep. I can't seem to get enough sleep lately. Yeah, I know, I'm depressed. Got that. But I still want to sleep.
  • Emmy commentary: Eh. No surprise that the Sopranos took home the grand prize. Glad that Helen Mirren and Prime Suspect did so well. Rest of show was one big fat yawn. I missed the first hour watching BB8 update show. I don't think I missed much. Clothing choices? LOVED Sally Field in that little red dress. Adorable. She's so small and she usually wears stuff that overwhelms her. Didn't like Helen Mirren's dress at all. Can't remember who it was that wore the red dress that laced up in the back. Outstanding choice. Felicity Huffman... where were your boobs? Bad style for the mammary challanged. Kanye West, can you not afford shoes? William Shatner, that tux looked like it was made of automobile upholstery from 1958. LOVED Kathering Heigl's dress. Christina Aguilera adorably pregnant in white, excellent choice! Heather Panettiere, your Cinderella dolls wants her dress back. What a monstrosity! And Vanessa Williams, PETA is after you for killing all those poor green birds to make that gigantic nest you were wearing. Debra Messing, the giant wedding cake needs to be returned for the bride and groom. Red was the obvious popular color, but it was good to see color instead of all beige as in past years.

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Friday, September 14, 2007

My new career as a Stylist

Not really. Honestly, nobody in their right mind would let me do their hair. Which is why the Girl and her BFF are right this second taking a shower to wash out the magenta-red hair dye I streaked their hair with. And while I was at it, I put in a nice big streak in my own hair. I mean, why not? It says something, right? Like this mid-century mother has lost her freaking mind and is now living her second adolescence. Not all that incorrect. I have lost my mind recently. I think I left it someplace around the house, but nobody seem to know where it is. Perhaps it's time for a closet cleanout.

The Boy just came downstairs and said, "You died your hair too! It's like...Jesus. Jesus. It's badass. It's all silver and pink. Awesome."

Now, I'm pretty sure Jesus didn't have magenta hair. Did he? I don't seem to remember anyone mentioning that about him. God Bless the Boy, he's not all there.

So anyhow, first we had to bleach both girl's hair because BFF has jet black hair and the Girl's hair is very dark brown. Once we bleached, we had to dry the hair. Then we had to dye the hair red, and finally it's time to wash it all out. It was a comedy of errors, this whole process. BFF wanted her bangs done, and a 'few' streaks here and there. Until she saw it and then she wanted more streaks, wider streaks. Her mother explicitly said "not too radical." I have a feeling her mom is going to faint dead away. I tried, I really did, but I have crappy tools. I used the stupid toothbrush-esque thing that came with the dye and it isn't really easy to manage.


Then I had to do the Girl's streaks and I had already done a crappy job earlier in the month, so we had some mistakes to correct at the same time we were doing new mistakes on top of the old. Her baby hairs, well, they were white and now they'll be very bright pink. It will look good once it's dry. I hope.


With the teeny bit left over, I put in a nice wide streak in my own hair where my bangs were growing out. Not a lot, just enough to make you look twice. Or thrice. Because there's nothing less likely to run into around here than an old lady with a big magenta streak in her hair. Second childhood indeed.


Once we'd washed out all this chemical crap from our heads, the girls headed upstairs to use the wet/dry straightener to 'do' their hair. After they're done, the Girl will come downstairs and do mine.

The weirdest thing is that all of our hair has the same color on it, but it's different on each of us. BFF has really bright magenta-red streaks in the front, but the back is much less red. More like pinkish streaks, but very lightly done.



The Girl has very bright red streaks all over her head, lighter in the front, but really red all over.



My streak is more of a lighter pink infused with sparkly gray and dark brown hairs. It's a totally different color on gray hair than it is on bleached black hair.

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A Look Back at the Internet Year

Sadly, most of this is more than familiar to me. I believe I'm one of those Internet People.


http://view.break.com/362585 - Watch more free videos


How about you? How much of this was stuff you've seen in the past year?

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Stuffed

I made an incredible dinner tonight, if I do say so myself. We had the most gigantic chicken in the world sitting in the freezer. It was actually a capon, and it must have been raised on Barry Bond's ranch because it obviously grew up on growth hormones. That thing was enormous. 12 freaking pounds enormous.

I've never made such a huge chicken, so I figured I'd make it like I make a turkey. I picked a bunch of fresh herbs from the garden, including oregano, sage, thyme, basil, and rosemary and chopped them all up. Mixed them with the juice of half a lemon, a splash of Boyajian's orange flavored oil, some EVOO, salt and pepper into a nice lovely herby rub.

I pulled the skin back from the chicken, and rubbed the whole bird with the herby rub, and then took the dregs and rubbed the top of the chicken skin. Sprinkled it with sea salt and a bit of pepper, put the other half of the lemon in the cavity, and put it in the oven at 375 for a couple of hours.

In the meantime I made a cranberry apple herb stuffing, some french green beans, fresh cranberry sauce, and warmed up a raisin challah I had made yesterday.

The chicken was amazing. It came out looking just like a turkey, all brown and crispy, and it was so juicy inside. I've never made a better roast chicken. I took the pan drippings and made gravy but the chicken really didn't even need gravy. The thing was just insanely good. Best thing? It was so huge that there's a ton left over so I can make a pot pie for dinner tomorrow, and some curried chicken salad for lunch.

I'm a converted capon fan. These birds are darn good eating!

Check out the latest book review on my review blog. Great reading and great eating! What more could you ask for?

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

He's breaking my heart a little at a time

Parenting a child with a mental illness is never easy. That's the understatement of the century. But there are times when it is so painful that I wonder how I can go on knowing that it will never change, there is no cure, it will always be hard. My heart seems to be chipping away with every act he does, no purposefully, but because he just doesn't 'get' how much pain he causes me. Nor does he much care. When I tell him that the hole in my heart has grown a bit larger, he blames me. It's always my fault because I don't listen, because I never admit I'm wrong, because it's just always ME that's in the wrong. That's how he sees it. But the truth of the matter is, although I'm far from perfect, it's hard to find much blame on anyone but himself for this latest caper.

Yesterday, after school, he called me and said he wanted to go over to his friend's house for a couple of hours. I reminded him that it was erev Rosh Hashona. He promised to be home by 5 pm, plenty of time to be ready to start the holiday. We had a back and forth and I made it abundantly clear that 5 pm was a deadline. There was no deviation. He must be home by 5. He agreed.

Of course, 5 came and went with no Boy. 6 came and went with no Boy. By 6:30 I was panicking. I couldn't make dinner until he was home, I had called the kid's house several times and nobody answered the phone, I had called all his friends, including the Girlfriend who doesn't live remotely close by, nobody knew where he was. 7 came and went with no Boy. I moved from angry to worried. What if he had been arrested or was in the hospital? Never one to be calm in a situation like this, my anticipatory anxiety was on high alert. At 7:30 I vowed to call the police if he wasn't home in a few minutes. By now he had totally ruined Rosh Hashona, we had no meal to eat, I was in no mood to have a conversation with God, and I was just beside myself with anger and worry and hurt.

At 8 he strolled in, saying "I'm sorry, I couldn't get a ride before now" like that was an excuse for not phoning. I would have arranged a ride. He could have taken a taxi or public transportation. I could have gotten him home. He didn't even bother to GET why I was so upset. And upset was just a nice word for seething anger. I was furious. I sent him to bed immediately with no dinner. He knew he had gone way over the edge because he went up with no argument. But he must have felt lousy because he went to sleep in my bed.

The Girl and I ate leftover chicken teriyaki wings. We snuggled. She knew how hurt I was. I felt as if not only was the Boy rejecting Judaism, which is par for the course with many adolescents brought up observantly, but he was rejecting me and my feelings about the holiday. I know that the Boy hates Judaism. Let's face it, the religion treated him like a dirty piece of crap. The organizations that we were a part of never even tried to understand and work with him, they just rejected him time and again. I don't blame for feeling angry. I'm angry too.

But my anger at organized religion does not remove my love of God or tradition or Judaism. I hate the organizations. I don't hate the religion. I love being Jewish. I'm extremely proud of my Jewishness, I love the religion, I love the holidays, I love the whole idea of being a Jew. So why my son trounces on a High Holiday like it has no meaning at all, my heart hurts. I feel as if he's not only rejecting Judaism, but he's rejecting me. It is very painful.

I know that because his bipolar disease often interferes with making good decisions, and adolescence isn't really helping in that direction as well, but I'm tired of making excuses for him and his bad behavior. I'm sick to death of apologizing for him and excusing him because he 'can't help it'. He can help much of his bad behavior. He just doesn't care to. His narcissism is strong, like most teens. Right now it's all about him. Last night, however, it was all about us, as a family, as a people, as a religion. He wrecked evev Rosh Hashona, and there isn't an excuse for that.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Have a sweet New Year

L' Shana Tova!

May you be inscribed....
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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Works for Me Wednesday: Plunging

Oh, let's get down and dirty. You know that those damn low flush toilets that are the law here in MA doesn't always work according to plan. We all have to deal with these toilets in order to save the earth. I'm OK with that because I'm pretty much a green type of person. But I hate plunging.

Some people can clean up vomit and poop. I am not one of those people. I'm the one who barfs on the barfer. And the poop... it makes me barf too. When the kids were babies, I could do the diapering just fine. But once that part of my life was over and done with, any human poop related accident I just could not handle. Fortunately, they were mostly few and far between, when the kids were sick.

But plunging? When the toilets backed up, guess who had to deal with them? Yup, that would be me. So I tried to figure out a way to get this horrid chore out of my life forever?

What to do? Teach the kids how to plunge. It seems like a natural life lesson, right? But in order to plunge you need to have the right kind of plunger, the kind that is easy for a kid to handle.

Most of us have this kind of plunger, your generic, red rubber number. It is too hard for young kids to use, because it doesn't have enough suction. Do not try to teach your child with this plunger.



Another popular plunger is the flange plunger. This one has much more suction, but it also has another problem. Live and learn, they say. I learned the hard way with this type of plunger. When you plunge with it, it picks up a large amount of toilet detrius in it's bulb, and when you life it out to see if the water is going down, it tends to pour all over everything, like your floor. UGH. Do not use this type of plunger either.



This is the gold standard of home plungers. This is what you want. It only takes a few up and down motions to get the clog out. It doesn't hold huge amounts of gross water. It's light weight and easy for a kid to handle. And it comes in nice bright colors! We have a red and a blue one. One for each bathroom.



Once you begin to teach your child about how the toilet works, make sure you show them how to shut off the water the second it starts building up. There are knobs behind the toilet on the wall. TURN THEM OFF. Then your toilet won't overflow.

Plunge, let the water go down, and make that chug noise, then turn the water back on. Clean off the plunger, and voila, you're done with absolutely NO mess.

Your kids can learn this very quickly on their own. Just make sure they tell you when they've plunged to you can check afterwards and make sure everything is OK.

It works for me!

Good luck!

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Oh, my aching back!

I can be the queen of denial when it comes to my own health. I sort of cruise along from day to day, dealing with the aches and pains that come with growing older. One day my knees ache, the next day I've got a wicked headache from sinus problems. I'm a kvetch, but I usually just keep it to my self and move on. I have to be on death's door to call the doctor and say I'm sick.

I think I'm going to have to call the doctor. My freaking back is KILLING me. I don't know what I did. Maybe it was sitting on uncomfortable wooden pews for several hours. Maybe it was all that returning stuff to Marshalls. Maybe it was when I was weeding huge invasive things in the garden. You got me. All I know is, this is day three of "Mommy is waddling and needs help getting up from a chair" and I'm not enjoying it one bit.

My wonderful and caring friend with a chronic bad back gave me some of her muscle relaxants a while back, and so I've been taking a couple every evening. They knock me for a loop, I sleep for hours and hours, and when I wake up, my back hurts. But I'm certainly well rested!

I have changed my PJ's daily. Today it's the PINK!!! ones. That's about the extent of my activities. I drift in and out of sleep all day long, rising to make dinner, and then laying back on the sofa and wishing that I had a new spine, because this one is not working well.

Back pain is something we all experience at one time or another in our life. My back aches in the middle, and then again in my lower back. My neck hurts from sitting up so straight in order to type. I do believe my back needs some severe help.

Do I go to a chiropractor? I've been that route before and felt relief, but never cured. I'm thinking about acupuncture. I've never had it, mostly because the needles kind of freak me out and I don't understand how it works. But hell, I'm in agony here. I'm about to try anything.

Any suggestions?

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Monday, September 10, 2007

What does DESERVE really mean?

Our city is certainly divided. There are the people on one side who think they're living in a wonderful community with great resources, excellent schools, good town services, and a comfortable easy lifestyle. I'm on this side of the board.

Then there are the malcontents. They are the people for whom nothing in our city is right. The schools stink, the mayor stinks (and I'm with them there), the alderman stink, the finances of the town stink, everything stinks. But they continue to live here and spit their venom every week in the local paper. You know them. You've got them in your town, too. They're unpleasant, uninformed, provincial, usually wrong, and very narcissistic. If you don't agree with their particular whine of the week, you're an asshole.

This week the whine is about modular classrooms. These people cannot BELIEVE that the children of our fair city have to endure the shame and humility of modular classrooms. The horror! Modular classrooms are dank and dark, they are freezing in winter and boiling in summer, they provoke bad behavior and inhibit learning. Plus, our children DESERVE better. We pay taxes. We have a reutation to maintain. People won't move into our community if we have, gasp, modular classrooms.

Oh my freaking God, I'm about to bash their collective heads together, the idiots. I just cannot believe the stupidity and provincialism of this latest brouhaha. Modular classrooms are everywhere. I learned in many modular classrooms in LA. My children learned in modular classrooms in the Bay Area. Other communities successfully use modular classrooms. Why are they different than our city? Because we're a city of spoiled brats that think we DESERVE better than anyone else. It makes me sick.

I grew up in LA. Modular classrooms are a fact of life in California schools. They alleviate overcrowded classrooms, they are a cheap way of expanding the schools, and they're perfectly nice. When we lived in the Bay Area, the Girl was in a modular classroom that was provided by CAL Berkeley which monitored the energy consumption, the air pollution, etc. It was the nicest classroom in the school, bright, cheery, and LARGE.

So what do you think? Are modular classrooms the devil's work? Does every child DESERVE only the very best, fancy schmancy classroom? Does the classroom itself even matter, or is it what does on INSIDE the classroom that is the most important thing in educating our kids?

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This is what a year of partying can do

I've said it before, I feel sorry for the young 'stars' who have such bad parential units that they grow up thinking that alcohol, drugs, partying every night, and bashing cars into anything in front of them if just A-OK behavior. It's apparent that these girls just don't know how to behave, seeing as that nobody ever taught them what good public behavior is all about.



You didn't even try. You made no effort. You were so blitzed that you couldn't even lip synch to your song. Dancing? You could barely walk across the stage. You needed help doing moves. You were pathetic. You sucked. You deserved the boos you got.

Why did you think you could come on stage so out of shape in that ridiculous outfit you were bursting out of, and prance around looking like you've just come out of a vicodin haze and think people would welcome you back with open arms.

You destroyed your career all by yourself. It isn't Kevins fault. It isn't your mother's fault. It isn't your kids faults. It is YOUR fault for being a total sleaze and not even having enough respect for your fans (and I have NEVER been one) to even try.

You suck, Britany.

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Saturday, September 08, 2007

Why does Plum Island have to Change?

I hate change. I like things to be like I know them to be. I mean, I don't mind new foods or fashions or things of that nature, but I like a town to remain familiar, a city to stay the way I remember it, and things to remain stable.

Homes are all crowded into a small space on the tip of the island surrounding the basin.

For more than 20 years, Plum Island has been pretty stable. Yes, there have been a lot of new people moving in and building huge beach homes on tiny parcels of land. There have been plenty of folks who have smartly raised their houses to protect them from the vicious stormy seas of the Atlantic. Shacks occasionally fall into the ocean or fall apart from the winds and waves. But the island remains pretty much like it always has been, a summer outpost for middle class folks who love the beach and don't want to be in a large beach community. Plum Island remains small because it has no where to go. With the Parker River reserve taking up 2/3 of the barrier island, the homes and businesses are all crowded in a small space between the Parker River salt marshes in the basin and the open Atlantic. Just the way it should be.

The Parker River Wildlife Refuge is a bird sanctuary.

On the island, everyone pretty much knows everyone else. There are only a few places to hang out, get some clams and drink a beer. Not many stores, not many restaurants, it's mostly tiny pitted streets with a mishmash of beach houses. If you don't know it, you'd probably think it was just like a bunch of other small beach communities in northern New England. It certainly doesn't have the prestige of Nantucket or Martha's Vineyard or the cache of the Cape.

But then some rich person discovered Plum Island and had a vision. A vision to make it upscale, to make it the newest beach getaway town of New Yorkers with a lot of money to buy up the homes, tear them down, and make Southhampton type modern homes in their place. This rich person was the wife of the chief executive of the clothing chain Aeropostale, Jean Geiger. She fell in love with Plum Island, but of course couldn't just leave it as it was. Instead she bought up the only hotel in town and remodeled it into a chic Miami-styled upscale inn called "Blue". Next she purchased 16 commercial and residential properties valued at almost $10 million, most of which she intended to remodel to match one another, as if they were all part of one big resort.

But when she died two years ago at the age of 54, everything stopped. The commercial places remained closed, boarded up, and the citizens of the Island lost their gathering places. Even the food stand by the public beach, the only place on the Island to purchase something to eat right off the beach remains closed.

The cottages pictured here are typical of the homes on the island.

Her husband Julian Geiger pledged to follow through with her plans. He gave $1 million to the Newburyport domestic violence center, which was renamed the Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center. He closed on the sale of the Beachcoma and Atty. May's, but for only $2.4 million, less than the former owner had expected. Julian Geiger has continued to run the hotel, which now rents rooms, in-season, for $300 to $1,000 a night. He opened the beachside food stand Jeanne's, the former Atty. May's, for the 2006 summer season but kept it boarded up this year.

Julian Geiger said that he intends to reopen Jeanne's but wants to renovate it into a year-round restaurant. He said he understands the frustrations of islanders who are waiting for the businesses to reopen. After his wife died, he said, his first priority was to keep the inn running and to follow through with purchasing the properties his wife had intended to buy.

In my opinion, Geiger doesn't have a clue as to what the island community wants or needs. In the winter, they are often stranded on the island when the draw bridge is unable to open. Currently, there is no place to buy milk, diapers, food, or anything else if the draw bridge can't be opened.



Geiger doesn't understand that people have lived on the island, winterizing their cottages as they can afford it, for generations. They are fearful that their properties will become unaffordable to future residents if New Yorkers begin showing up in droves. Besides, doesn't New York have it's own beach front property. I think it's called Long Island. Stay down there, please.



If the rumors are true, that Geiger and Steven Karp, the billionaire Boston Developer who lives in a 20,000 sq foot home in Weston that I've been in (some day I'll describe it, but suffice it to say, it is so lavish that the RealEstalker would love to get in there and photograph it) might have plans in common for the redevelopment of Plum Island, we can expect a huge upscale mall, Karp's specialty, giant homes, and a CheeseCake Factory. Oh joy!

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Friday, September 07, 2007

I can't ever remember being more moved emotionally

Today was a day that I will remember the rest of my life. A day so filled with emotions, so filled with tears and sadness, with laughter and joy, with love and empathy that by the time we finally got home this evening, I simply lay down and fell asleep.

I've never been to an official funeral before. I've never been to the funeral of a beloved firefighter, a real hero to an entire city. But today I was so fortunate to be able to celebrate the life of Warren J Payne with his family, his friends, his coworkers, and with the family of firefighters from all over the country.


When we arrived at the viewing, we almost immediately ran into Warren's son, our dear friend JP. He was wearing a suit, something I've never seen on him before, and he looked stately and handsome, but very uncomfortable and almost shell-shocked. I gave him a big hug and told him how sorry I was for his loss. A small group of people stood outside the church and talked, some of us haven't seen each other in several years. It was hard to catch up in such sad circumstances.

The church as a huge set of steps up to the front door, and they were all lined with firefighters from Boston to greet the mourners. We walked up, and waited in a long line to pay our respects to the family. Warren's mother, who had just been released from the hospital that morning, his sister, twin brother, and younger brother were all in the front. At the casket I told Warren that I would look out for JP as best I could. It was the only promise I could make to him.

We took our seats and waited while scores of people filed into the church, waited in the long line, and then paid their respects. We saw lots of people we know from our City, where Warren lived (despite what the media keep mistakenly reporting) and there was a goodly amount of hugging, handshaking, and small talk. We waited a long time for the service to begin. Towards the end of our wait, the dignitaries started arriving.

John Kerry, Gov. Deval Patrick, the Mayor and Mrs. Menino, Martha Coakley, the Lt. Governor, Diane Wilkerson, Sal DeMati, many of the city council members, and the state house and senate were all in attendance. I've never seen most of them in person, and might I just remark that John Kerry is really GREAT looking in person. Way better than on TV. He's pretty damn hot!

The service itself was amazing. Gospel music with all the hallelujahs, moving speeches by Warren's superiors and friends. Some of the tributes were funny, others were uplifting, still others were tearful. For me, there were two things that really stood out. Not one person, not one speaker said anything about Warren's ex-wife, whom the media reported as being a very different person that those of us that know her were rather upset about. She was not mentioned once. Yes, she was there. But she was ignored, which was very helpful for me.

The second thing was what made me cry harder than anything else. Warren's younger son (14) is autistic. Severely autistic. At one point he had to get up and the police/fire liaison accompanied him up the aisle. As he passed by I saw that he was clutching a Thomas the Tank Engine video. I'm telling you, I totally lost it. I have no clue as to whether or not he knew what was going on, but that he brought his Thomas video along with him as a comfort object just about totalled me.



The service was long. Warren's ailing mother was given a special Medal of Honor, and JP was given his father's badge. Jeremy wasn't in the church when Warren's firehat was presented to him, so JP gave it to him when he returned. He carried it proudly all afternoon.

After the service was over we left the church with a huge honor guard at the top of the stairs all displaying the different flags representing the various fire departments in attendance. We walked slowly down the stairs, bagpipes playing in the street, and got into the car to join the funeral procession to the cemetery.

From the church to the cemetery was maybe 4 or 5 miles, but it took forever. The first mile we crawled by thousands upon thousands of firefighters, 4 deep at some points, on both sides of the road. They were standing at attention in 93 degree heat wearing full dress blues and white gloves. It was so moving. They stood there looking at us with such sadness and camaraderie on their faces. One of the family was gone. You could see it on each and every face lining the streets.

Not only were there firefighters lining the streets, there were people everywhere. On balconies waving flags, on street corners leaning on storefronts and waving. Men from the barber shop with capes still around their necks. Little kids at a parochial school all lined up at the fence in their uniforms, waving madly. Moms with kids, single men and women, groups of friends. The entire way, the streets were filled with people paying their respects. It was overwhelmingly emotional. I don't even know how to describe what it felt like to see the whole city come out to honor Warren's life.

So many people claim that Boston is a city divided. A segregated city. This was a black man's funeral in a community that is mostly black in color, but the crowd was a rainbow of colors. As we went through the Hispanic neighborhoods, people were out waving. In white neighborhoods, too. There was no color barrier. Everyone was paying their respects regardless of color. It makes me incredibly proud to be a resident of this city.

When we finally got the the cemetery at Forest Hills, there was another long wait while they removed the casket which was atop the ladder truck to which Warren was assigned. Finally we parked by a beautiful small green pond by the Firefighter's Memorial, and the internment began. It was short, with people laying flowers on the casket, the bagpipes playing Amazing Grace, a color guard, a gun salute, etc.

Then we headed to another Memorial Service for the kids at our City's local Youth Center. The kids stopped to change out of their formal clothes, and then got together to play incredibly loud music, eat a lot of food, and get to share with JP and his brother how much they love and care about him. All the parents pretty much knew each other, and we talked. There were a lot of teachers from the schools, guidance counselors, school psychologists, spec ed reps., the Mayor and the Superintendent of Schools. Buttons were handed out with Warren's photo on them, which I'll wear proudly on my coat all winter long.

When the Girl and I finally left around 5, a lot of the boys had taken their shirts off and were playing rock and roll stars in the recording studio at the Youth Center. JP was playing drums, he was back in his regular gigantic clothes, and he was smiling. Smiling. My heart was bursting. I love this kid. I got to tell him twice today how much he means to me and how much I love him and will help him. It's all I can do. It's probably not enough. But it's real.

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