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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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

And my back STILL itches

It seems to be the thing to go over this past year with a fine tooth comb and reexamine all the events of the year. I can do that in three words.

2008 sucked balls.

See, succinct and to the point.

2008 was not a great year for us. It was a year filled with fighting for my daughter's right to a free and public education, something she was denied most of the year. And of course that made for lots of legal stuff that also sucked.

It was the year that my health took a serious dive and I ended up in the hospital twice for congestive heart failure.

Then the Worthless Pet got sick and also ended up in the hospital, with asthma. Freaking ASTHMA. Cost and arm and a leg, too.

We added Pepper to the family and she has been such a delight that now I want to get every kitten I see posted on Petfinder. I think I'm going to be a crazy cat lady.

I was carless for 5 months, and that made life into a living hell. But in May I was gifted with our teeny toymotor and that has been an absolute godsend, even if registering it took about 130 trips to the DMV and city hall. That was a nightmare I'd like to forget.

We had plenty of health insurance craziness that has yet to be totally resolved. But it will after tomorrow. Go Mass Health!

It was the year that we canceled Hanukkah due to some heinous behavior by a certain GIRL in our house.

But it was also the year that Anne Coulter had her jaw wired shut, which gave me WAY more pleasure than it should have.

I did volunteer work for the Obama campaign, and got politically addicted in a way that I hadn't been in many years. And EVERY candidate I voted for won, for the first time in my entire voting life.

I also had some real successes in my work. My clients went on to have very successful IEP meetings with great results after a lot of hard work on all our parts.

I got a job writing editorials for our local newspaper, where I'm asked to rant and rave. What could be better than that?

I also got involved in local politics and appeared on local TV to discuss some financial brouhaha over our new high school.

I made many new friends, people that now mean so much to me that it's just fabulous to feel so loved. It had been a long time since I've made new friends, and all of a sudden I'm overwhelmed with the goodness of so many.

The Boy has, as I worried about all year, blown off doing anything regarding college. He will be taking a gap year, and then we'll discuss going local for a year and transferring to the college of his choice. Right now, he's not ready and he knows he isn't ready. Of course this means that he'll be home next year with NO plans yet. YET being the key word.

The Girl continues to be entrenched with the Boyfriend I'm not that fond of, and has gotten herself into way too many scrapes with him for me to be trusting. She's had a couple of bad times, but has bounced back much more quickly and has been mostly quite pleasant to be around. If only she would learn to tell the truth. It's a work in progress.

I blogged every day for 365 days. I wasn't sure I could do it, but it became such a habit that I just forged ahead. But I did it. I DID IT!

This past summer was the best summer I've spent in a long time. We had a great Staycation, spending time at the beach, in Maine, and around Boston.

I survived many months without LOST, but am now gearing up for the new season by rewatching last season. Can't forget anything with this show.

I cooked and baked a lot, and posted many recipes. I also started collecting recipes for a cookbook I want to make for my kids, so they will always have Mom's cooking when Mom is no longer with them. So far, ~250 recipes and I'm not done yet!

My garden drowned twice due to the monsoons we had this summer. But some of it bounced back and we did have a teeny tiny crop. It was disappointing.

My kids became much more independent once they reached the ripe old age of 16. Their curfew changed, and they were allowed more freedom. And we started doing some driving. Gulp. But no licenses yet.

I can't say it was all horrible, because it wasn't. But it was no banner year and I'm really glad to be moving on.

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

We're making some changes

The Girl has spent the last two days painting her room. She has hated the former color of her room with every fiber of her being since we moved in. It was a light lavendar with a pretty border of blue and purple flowers. The border was slightly crooked and Ms OCD couldn't stand it. It drove her bananas. Man, she's my daughter!

Since this summer she's been begging to paint her room. Every time she brought it up, I said the same thing. "If you clean your room, we'll get the paint and supplies. But you have to clean your room first." Her answer was, "I won't clean my room until I get the paint. I need the motivation to clean."


Then, with her last paycheck she went on her own to the hardware store down the street, bought the piant, rollers, trays, dropcloth, brushes, etc. and carried them all home. She was so excited. She chose two colors, blue and green, and did two walls of each color.

At the Linens N Things going out of business sale she bought really cool removable wall designs that we'll arrange on the walls once everything is finished. She also has bed linens that match the new colors, and she's promised to keep her room clean. We'll see about that. But she has been buying stuff to decorate for years now, and finally she's old enough to do it the way she wants it. I have complete trust in her taste. She's got a real eye for design and I can't wait to see the result.

Also, we were all home today doing this and that when the wind blew a huge gust and we heard the crack and crinkle of broken glass. We looked around at all the windows in the house and everything seemed OK, so the Girl went outside (in her shorts!) to investigate. There was a bevy of broken glass right underneath one of the living room windows, and in looking up she saw that the attic window had blown out.

The window was one of the original windows from the turn of the last century and needed to be replaced desperately. Now it will be. Eventually. The house is well insulated on the attic floor, but we need a window there to keep the house warm. It's gonna snow tonight. The repair guy is coming this evening to do a swift repair, and then a new window will be ordered.

In order to get to the attic, the Boy has to clean the back hallway which is filled with bags and bags of junk from his and his sister's rooms. That's how they clean. They pour everything (meaning old clothes and stuff that no longer fits) into bags and then dump the bags in the back hall. It's efficient if you're 16. It's a pain in the ass if you are the mom. Because all those clothes in those bags need to be washed before I can donate them to whatever. And that means....

A trip to the laundrymat.

The last time we took a trip to the laundrymat it ended up taking up half the day and cost about $50. We took the entire place over with duvets and blankets and everyone's entire wardrobe. I don't mind going, but the kids? OMG, you would think I was torturing them. They have to FOLD mountains of their own clothing. The indignity!

And we have to trade cars with someone because we just can't fit all those bags in the teeny toymotor. No way. But we'll do it because we have to. And we'll smile while doing it. YES WE WILL, dammit!

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Monday, December 29, 2008

Life's continuity

I just finished speaking to my friend Jean tonight. Jean is in her mid-eighties and she is as spry and on target as any 30-year old. She's an amazing woman, one I've written about before. I called to tell her about something funny I had read about the Scilly Island Airport, as Jean has vacationed on the Scilly Islands several times. I know she would find the article amusing, and hearing her hearty laugh solidified my joy in giving her something amusing late at night.

We spoke about her day. She's 'babysitting' for her 7 year old grand nephew today and he's having a sleepover alone at her house this evening. She told me all about the things they did, hiking over to Echo Bridge to hear the echo, going to a friend's house for hot chocolate, having pizza for dinner, and then watching a movie on TV.

If you knew Jean, you would know that every one of those things, besides the hike, are totally unlike her and outside her realm of daily living. I can't even imagine her eating pizza, and I've known her for 16 years. She does own a TV, but I've never seen her sit down and watch it. She's much more of a NPR person, and she's a slave to her New York Times. She also loves Sudoku and the Times crossword puzzle, and she's an ardent correspondant. She does use email (I taught her how to use a computer about 6 years ago, and now she's a bit of a power user on email) but most of her correspondance is done with paper and a pen. She writes letters and sends cards daily, and she also gets more mail than anyone I've ever met in my life. Dozens of cards and letters arrive for her, as well as catalogs and solicitations for charities, most of which she supports.

Anyhow, while we were talking I asked where she was going for her early spring vacation this year. She takes a month every year to travel in Europe, first visiting a friend in Genenva, and then going off on hiking tours with organized groups. She walks all over England, Scotland, Wales, and France. She's been to the Scilly Islands several times in early spring. Her vacations are always so interesting, and she takes tons of FILM photographs and files them all away in albums.

But this year she's not going in March. Her grandaughter, one of MANY, is having a baby in March. It will be her first great-grandchild.

I think that's so amazing. Jean's family is very closely knit. They all vacation together every summer, and gather together at Thanksgiving and Christmas. The youngest grandchild is the same age as my kids, the oldest must be closing in on 30. They are all ridiculously successful, just like Jean's kids and Jean herself.

I often wonder if this family's successes have to do with financial comfort. Jean was brought up in a wealthy family, she brought her kids up in Westchester, also with great wealth. Her children live in our city or in Minneapolis, but are very well set, with enough money to offer summers in Guatamala and Spain and traveling through Europe for their kids. The grandchildren are amazingly well-traveled, having been all over the world on various programs. There has never been any financial worry for any of them. Jean wouldn't allow it, and so far she hasn't had to worry. Colleges have been paid for, careers have been set up with cash, grad school is paid for, housing is acquired with help from the family.

The lack of worry about finances keeps these people close to each other. It's all equitable and fair, regardless of which of Jean's three kids are the parents. All the kids have been offered the same opportunities, and they have all been given the same chances for success.

I don't know if that's why their family has so little rancor towards each other when other families I know, where the finances aren't equitable at all, can't seem to get along. But it's interesting to wonder just why there is such continuity in her family when there is absolutely none in mine.

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

True Confessions

I wait all year for clementines to come to market, and when they do, I eat cartons of them. I cannot stop. I love them. I cannot only eat one. I have to have two or three at a time. I go through those beautiful little wooden boxes in less than a week. I am a clementine addict.

I also have a thing for Qtips. What a miraculous invention. A little stick, some cotton on each end, and bam! Best thing to make me relax ever. I have a dish on my desk filled with Qtips. I often read and write posts with one stuck in my ear. It's VERY attractive. Yes it is! When I run out of Qtips in my little dish, I get panicky. I need to know that there are Qtips at my beck and call, even if I'm not using one. Oh, and yes I HAVE punctured an ear drum with one, but that was way back in college and I'm more careful now.

Outside our back door I have two beautiful sets of windchimes. One is a small set of high pitched tubes, the other is the Olympic scale with a much lower pitch. Together they make the most delightful sound. A sound I often comtemplate when I'm sitting on the commode in our downstairs bathroom. It makes business much more pleasant.

I will watch almost anything on PBS. I will not watch begging shows, like those horrid Celtic Women, or the concert shows. If there is actual content, I will watch it like a zombie. Right now there is some show about Cambodia on. I don't know why I get so drawn in, but I do. I have learned an amazing amount after years of PBS. I even understand the really intellectual science shows about quantum physics. I have no idea of why, because my mind does not really work in the abstract, but I like the damn shows.

I never win anything. I enter contests all the time but I never win. I used to use "Aunt Trudy's" method when entering contests because she won things all the time, but it never worked for me. Aunt Trudy was my SIL's aunt. My SIL doesn't win either. Sigh.

I am already sick of winter and it's only been a week. I dream of retiring someplace warmer. Not Florida. Maybe Santa Barbara or San Diego. Warm. But it must be on water. And it must be a place that my friend Neener will live because we want to retire together. We do not play Canasta or Mah Jong. Yet.

I spend way too much time looking at real estate in my favorite towns. Houses I could have bought for $40K are now selling in the $2 million range. GAK.

I have dreams about George Bush leaving office. Crowds are chearing as he gets on the helicopter. Not because they love him, because they are so glad to see him go. My dreams have been very vivid lately. Usually I don't remember them at all. Now they are almost real. I wonder why.

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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Hamas vs Israel

Of course we're getting reports out of Gaza claiming that Israel is using disproportioinate force in retaliating at Gaza. Hamas is rarely mentioned in these reports, and if you believed the media here in the US, in France, and in the UK, you would think that Israel was entirely unprovoked at attacking Hamas strongholds in the Gaza strip. That would be an out and out lie. There has been a lot of provocation and Israel has held back even when Hamas targeted ONLY civilian targets, like apartment buildings and synagogues. Hmm, where is the news when that happens?

From a statement by the JCRC, the Jewish Community Relations Council:

Statement to Jewish Community On Gaza Crisis

We are writing to update you on the latest developments in the Gaza Strip. We regard it as important that you be promptly and fully informed about the circumstances that left Israel with no choice but to finally respond to the cruel, incessant attacks that Hamas has been launching against Israeli civilian centers.

As you know, over the past year alone, Hamas, designated as a terrorist organization by the European Union, Canada and the United States, has fired some 3,000 rockets and mortar bombs into Israeli towns and cities in southern Israel. Israeli families have been subjected to daily bombardment, whose purpose has been to kill or maim Israeli civilians as well as to terrify Israeli families.

Over the last week or so, Hamas, which calls for the "obliteration" of Israel , has intensified its attacks on Israeli civilians, firing some 200 rockets and mortar bombs in the last several days alone. Sderot, the long-suffering working class community where innocent Israelis have been wantonly attacked with rockets for more than three years, came under renewed fire. The attacks then spread to Ashdod and to Ashkelon, a city of 120,000 people.

President-elect Barak Obama said earlier this year about the more than 6,300 rockets and mortar shells from Gaza that have rained down on Israel since 2005: "If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I would do everything to stop that, and would expect Israel to do the same thing."

In this Christmas season, while Israeli and Palestinian Authority security forces were successfully working together to ensure a peaceful celebration in Bethlehem, Hamas fired more than 100 rockets and mortars at Israel's cities and towns. Moreover, as The New York Times reported, the terrorists "increased the range and intensity" of their assault. As a result, more Israeli citizens are faced with a serious lethal threat than ever before. Israeli author Amos Oz, a prominent dove whose call for peace with the Palestinians is shared by a majority of Israelis, wrote in a recent piece entitled "Israel Must Defend Its Citizens" that "The systematic bombing of the citizens in Israel's towns and cities is a war crime and a crime against humanity."

No country can tolerate such deliberate assaults indefinitely - and Israel has shown extraordinary restraint, publicly calling upon Hamas to stop the attacks and seeking to extend the fragile lull in hostilities that had been in effect for the last six months.

Hamas's disregard for Israeli life is matched by its disregard for the lives of Palestinians living in Gaza . Using innocent Palestinians as human shields, Hamas purposely fires its missiles from homes, schools and community centers, confident in the knowledge that when Israel finally acts to stop the killing of its own civilians, Palestinians will also inevitably be harmed. The use of Palestinian civilians as human shields is not merely unspeakably cruel. It is also a fundamental violation of Palestinian human rights by the Hamas leadership.

Israel cares deeply about protecting the lives of civilians, both in Israel and in the Gaza Strip. Its efforts this weekend to stop the Hamas attacks represent classic self-defense, undertaken reluctantly by an Israeli nation that longs for peace.

Israel is now compelled to act to defend its citizens. A loyal ally of the United States, Israel has rushed to our aid at times of crisis - rushing rescue workers to Nairobi, Kenya, in the wake of the bombing of the U.S. embassy there and sending planeloads of relief supplies to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Now our friend needs our support - our strong backing for its right to defend itself from terrorist attack.

In the days and weeks ahead, we ask that you make your voices heard about the need for Hamas to stop its terror, and to respect the lives of Israelis and Palestinians alike.

In my opinion, one of the most blatant violations of human rights is the constant mis-speaking of the mainline press in not telling the entire truth. Yes, Israel DID attack Gaza. That is a fact. But to leave out why, and to pretend that this is an act of aggression on Israel's part is heinous. It is a rallying cry for those that are anti-Israel and especially those that are anti-Jewish to reign down more lies about Israel in the hopes that this time the country might be erradicated completely. I'm so sick of main-stream media distorting the facts in favor of making Israel look like a constant aggressor. As Barak Obama said so eloquently, if someone were tossing morters and bombs at your home night after night, would you just sit like sheep or would you rise to defend your selves and your home. Israel is doing just that, rising after a long and provocative time to protect itself against Hamas, which has publically called for the death of Israel and Jews. This is what you defend when you say Israel is the aggressor here.

Jameel is live blogging the entire event here.

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Friday, December 26, 2008

Too Much, Too Many

Tonight we are entertaining teenagers. Lots of teenagers. They tend to take over our house and there is no place for me to hide. The house is small, the teenagers are big and loud. But they are having fun and are seemingly enjoying the evening, so all is well. Of course, I have the headache from hell, but otherwise, things are good. You?

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

If only there were pans that washed themselves

If you're here from boston.com, welcome. I'm not a professional cook, nor do I play one on TV, but I do love to cook and this was my first opportunity to cook a standing rib roast. I hope you enjoy the recipe!

A wonderful and generous friend gifted us with an amazing dinner last night, Christmas Eve. The dinner was partially prepared, but I needed to guild the lily of the side dishes, add a green veggie, and cook the standing rib roast. Never in my life have I cooked a prime rib and I highly doubt I ever will again. We got a 3-rib roast and it was so freaking costly I almost plotzed.

I looked online for recipes, and then searched my cookbooks, but nothing really moved me. There were a lot of plain roasts with yorkshire puddings, there were a lot with complicated sauces, but what I wanted was a simple but tasty New England style prime rib, like you would get in a good Boston restaurant. So I decided to make up my own recipe using fresh herbs, garlic, and create a wet rub.

First I picked some thyme, sage and rosemary from my little herb garden and chopped it all up into a little tiny dice.

Then I added 3 garlic cloves that were smushed by my knifeblade, and some sea salt and freshly ground pepper. I poured a big dollop of extra-virgin olive oil and then mixed up the herbs into a web rub.

With my impeccibly clean hands, I then rubbed the entire roast with the web rub, making sure to coat the fat on top of the roast.

I inserted the meat thermometer and placed the roast in the lower middle rack of the oven, which was turned to 450 degrees for 30 minutes, and then turned down to 350 until the thermometer registered about 135. I then pulled out the roast to rest for a few minutes while the side dishes cooked.

We had roasted brussel sprouts, winter squash with a brown sugar and pecan glaze, mashed potatoes, hotel rolls, and a lovely sparkling juice drink.

Then I sliced the roast as best I could, which was pathetic. The recipes all said that you should serve two ribs per person, but there is no way we could eat that much, so I sliced the three ribs, and then sliced each of those in half. It was a lot of meat and served two full meals.

But OMG, is that not gorgeous? It came out perfectly. Pink inside, juicy as can be, and so tasty. What a success story! I wish I could cook this again some day because it was easy and so absolutely delicious.

Unfortunately, with every dinner comes lots and lots of dishes. Why can't someone invent a kitchen that can clean up after itself, like on the Jetsons? How hard can that be after sending a man to the moon?

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Gray skies are gonna clear up

And I'm putting on my best Happy Face. It's not always easy to pretend to be OK when inside you're feeling defeated, but I'm trying. After talking to two friends last night, I actually laughed again, something that I have been lacking lately. As a person who usually laughs all the time, when I don't have any laughter in me, I get kinda bitchy. Anyhow, I'm feeling better. I got a decent amount of sleep then I went out with the Boy to drop the Girl at work, and then hit the grocery store to pick up my dinner that was gifted to our family by a good friend. The Boy has been pretty helpful since my crying fest the other night, and he's a lot more sensitive towards my feelings right now, so bless his little heart for that.

On the way home we foolishly stopped at CVS hoping against hope to pick up his prescriptions from the disaster we had a couple of weeks ago with the insurance company. Miraculously, two of the three prescriptions were actually there! And they let us have them. Unfortunately, the one we needed the most is being held because it was rejected by the insurance company. I didn't understand why because the pharmacy was literally trolling the bottom of the barrel of pharmacy college help and we had one guy who ONLY spoke Russian and the guy helping him spoke mostly Chinese. I would say it was amusing, but it wasn't because this ate up 45 minutes of my life and we still didn't get the damn pills. It was like the blind leading the blind, only more frustrating.

In the meantime, our CVS, which has all of two handicap spaces in the huge parking lot, had some total asshat parking in one of the two spaces without a placard. The other space was legitimately filled. Seven cars, including mine, were waiting for a space to park and this jackoff was doing his holiday shopping at the liquor store, and then CVS. When he come out, some old guy yelled "Are you BLIND?" pointing at the sign, and I yelled "No, he's just a selfish fucktard." Two of the other handicap drivers started yelling too, and this guy just ignored all of us, got into his car, and sat there taking up the space. I mean, REALLY???

We finally drove home and some other Masshole was tailgaiting us down our street, and even though I signaled way in advance of our driveway, which is a difficult entrance in good weather and an adventure in bad, the Masshole almost hit me as I went to make the turn. He did not see my signal light or me slowing down. He missed us by inches.

OMG, I am never leaving the house again. It is madness out there, people. Madness.

I get the stuff unpacked and sit down in front of the computer to read my email, and Firefox isn't working. The Boy was on the computer earlier and God only knows what he did this time, but I had to uninstall and reinstall it twice. Right now I'm using a version that is on the portable hard drive because I don't have the patience to repair it right now. In fact, the only patience I have is to read a book and hopefully drift into a nice cozy nap.

Happy Christmas and Hanukkah, everyone. I hope you all have a peaceful and fun-filled day tomorrow.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

So far, Hanukkah has sucked donkey balls

First night...sucked.
Second night...sucked less, but still was not great.
Third night....continues the suckage but has escalated due to not one match in the house that I can find, negating lighting the candles, no kids as both are out for the night, no food, and no joy whatsoever.

I think I'm pretty much done with this holiday season.

I have decided I have moved from seasonal sadness to clinical depression. It's day 3 of the can't stop crying bonanza. No longer just a pity party, I'm crying at Pampers commercials (those sleeping babies get to me, what can I say?) as well as stupid books. I have an appointment with a brand new psychopharm in January. I dreaded going but now I'm more accepting. I think it's time to get some help other than the Effexor, which no longer seems to be working.

I'm tired of being stressed. I'm just plain exhausted. I can't seem to bounce back. Parenting teenagers is hard hard work. I know this. Every parent of teens is in the same place I am. We're all feeling defeated and slightly crazed by the whirlwind of hormones that live in our houses. But most other parents have one teen and two parents. I have two teens, both with mood disorders, and I'm only one parent. It's so tiring. It's so freaking hard. Most of the time, I'm OK with it. But when they start trading off on the good kid/bad kid thing, and the craziness never lets up, it's just too freaking much for me. I'm SO done right now.

What do I want for the holidays? A clean house, the dishes done, everything in it's place, and a nice pleasant meal with no fighting. Does this seem like too much to ask? Because right now, in our house, it is asking for the impossible.

Which is why I'm so sad and defeated. I don't want much. Nothing material at all. I just want a clean house and a peaceful meal. And that is too much for my children to deal with.

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Monday, December 22, 2008

How the Girl ruined Hanukkah

It was the worst of times. It was not the best of times. It sucked. I cried. A lot.

Yesterday the Girl begged to go to Boyfriend's house for a while. There were to be both teenage mothers and babies there for party and she wanted to see the newest of the babies. They were decorating a Christmas tree. It was going to be festive. Please, please let me go!

I told her about 10 times that she absolutely HAD to be home before 4 pm, as it was candlelighting time. Over and over I reiterated BEFORE 4 pm. She agreed. No problem. She would be there with bells on. It was going to be fine. She was responsible, she would be home.

You know what happened next. 4 pm came and went. At 4:30 she called and told me she would be home in a few minutes. 5 pm came and went. At 5:30 I called and she was still at her boyfriend's house. I was livid. LIVID. I told her to get her ass home right that second.

She got home at 6. Two freaking hours late. No apology whatsoever. The second she walked into the house she started on her iTunes gift card. She wanted to upload songs onto Boyfriend's brand new IPod touch. I mentioned we needed to light candles. She went right on with the damn iTunes. She asked the Boy. She asked his friend. She had all kinds of questions and wanted to go onto the computer. I kept interrupting her but she WOULD NOT give up on it. I was getting madder and madder. I could feel steam pouring out of my ears.

We went to light candles and she sat down at the computer. Even with company I lost it. I really did. I had freaking had it. I made her stand up and light candles but she would not do the prayers. No participation at all. I'm getting madder.

The second the candles were blessed, she started on the iTunes card again. I shot her a look and she got a clue and asked if she could open the only presents there were, from a friend of ours. I said sure, and she made a really nasty comment. REALLY nasty. And then opened the present, which admittedly was a terrible choice, and got all high and mighty and even nastier. She complained vehemently about the present like it was MY choice and MY doing. It was not. And she knows from experience not to expect a relevant gift from this particular person. But she would not let it go.

I gave her fair warning that I was just about done with her. I went into the kitchen and asked the Boy to get out the food processor, so I could grate the potatoes and onions for latkes. When he did, the grating attachment was missing. I asked the Girl to look for it and first she ignored me, and then when I asked her more forcefully she gave me this crap about not knowing what I was looking for and how she couldn't find it and she had no clue what it was blah blah blah.

Well, that was about it for me. I threw up my hands and said "I'm done" and walked into the living room and sat down on the sofa and burst into tears. And right in front of me was the GD iTouch and iTunes gift card, so I took it and hid it from her. She marches into the living room, sees that it's missing, and goes ballistic.

She's going to call the police and report me for stealing the iTouch. She gets right into my face and she's screaming at me and calling me every name in the book, and and threatening me and I just sat there in tears. She marches upstairs to call the Boyfriend and comes down and smashes the phone into my face because she wants me to talk to him. I refuse. I have nothing to say to him. Again she threatens to call the police. Because I "stole" the iTouch. The child is delusional. I am now so furious that I know if she comes near me I'm going to blow. I tell her that she's grounded for two weeks and I will be taking her paycheck for the next month for the way she's behaved.

She goes APESHIT. But Boy's friend, who has his own family issues, tells her it's perfectly legal and that she's a minor and that everything that she thinks is hers belongs to me, including her paycheck. That his parents took his paycheck too several times.

Aha! Light dawns over Marblehead.

One thing I know about the Girl is that she listens to other kids when she WILL NOT listen to me. Because I'm only 56 years old and have lived a long and interesting life, so what the hell do I know? I'm her mother. Ugh.

Upstairs she goes for the night, and I do not see her again. The Boy and I eat leftovers and watch some TV. I cry pretty much all night long. I'm just so DONE. I have nothing left to give this kid because she is so not appreciative and she just berates me and treats me like hired help. It's enough.

However... this morning the Boy's missing jacket reappears. We both searched the entire house about 5 times looking for this jacket, and this morning it is under the chair in the front hall. It was NOT there last night. So either we have house elves, or the Girl had hidden it as some kind of a mean joke, and decided that it might not be taken well in this climate. Whatever. At least the jacket has re-appeared.

And that's how the Girl ruined Hanukkah.

The end.

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Late night sledding

I've mentioned that we live on quite the hill and that it makes for great sledding.


The Boy's friend carrying the fast sled up the hill for another run. They were out for about an hour, or until they both were soaking wet. Note that Chris is wearing snow pants and boots. Oh, and a jacket! Miraculous for a teenager.

The Boy and his friend Chris made a great sled path that goes over a small stairway in the hill, creating a nice big mogul, and then has 2 big turns that make you spin around in the blowup sleds. It's fast, and it's wicked fun.

They start right from our porch steps, and then just fly down the path. See the Boy wearing my green Uggs. He refuses to have a pair of his own boots. Never mind a jacket, hat, scarf, or snowpants. Those are for pussies. He's a man's man.

How cool is it to have a sledding hill right in your front yard? SO freaking cool!

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Latkes, Snow, and Hanukkah

Latkes. Yum. Love them. Here are my recipes for both plain potato pancakes and curried sweet potato latkes. You'll love them. Honest!


For those of you who would like a change from the traditional, here is a recipe for curried sweet potato latkes from Joan Nathan, author of Jewish Cooking in America, The Jewish Holiday Cookbook and The Flavor of Jerusalem.
  • 1 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and grated coarsely
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp. curry powder
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • peanut oil for frying

In a bowl separate from the grated sweet potatoes, mix the flor, sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, cayenne pepper, curry powder, cumin, salt, and pepper.

Add the eggs and just enough milk to the dry ingredients to make a stiff batter. add the potatoes and mix. The batter should be moist, but not runny; if too stiff, add more milk.

Heat 1/4 inch of peanut oil in a frying pan until it is barely smoking. Drop in the batter by tablespoons and flatten. Fry over medium-high heat several minutes on each side until golden. Drain on paper towels and serve.

Yield: 16 3-inch pancakes.

By the way, I made this with parve soy milk to have with a fleishig meal. I also used "Egg Beaters," and it turned out fine. Also, I didn't have curry powder, so I used tumeric, allspice, and fenugreeek, and it tasted fine.

As I said, we didn't wait to put them on a serving plate with applesauce. On the other hand, I don't think they would go too well with applesauce. Perhaps a Major Grey's chutney, or some other Indian sauce.


Source: New York Cooking by Molly O'Neill

  • 2 1/2 pounds Idaho baking potatoes, unpeeled
  • 1 large yellow onion, quartered
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup matzoh meal
  • 4 to 5 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 to 3 cups olive oil
  • 1 large jar (16 ounces) applesauce

1. Pick up the potatoes and admire their heft, their pure starchiness. Then scrub them with a brush.

2. Place the onion in a food processor. Pulse the blade a few times until the onion is diced into crunchy bits. Remove the blade and scrape the onion bits into a small bowl. Return the food processor bowl to the machine. No need to wash it yet.

3. Cut the potatoes lengthwise to fit in the food processor feed tube. Find the medium-coarse food processor shredding disk, which you've never used. Put it into the machine and turn it on. Begin feeding the potato slices into the machine.

4. When the potatoes are shredded, put them in a colander over a large bowl. Dump in the onion bits and mix everything around with your hands, squeezing the potato moisture out as you work. Let the mixture drip for a few minutes while you put on a recording of Kitty Carlisle singing "Beat Out That Rhythm on a Drum."

5. Pour out the potato liquid from the bowl, but leave the starch that clings to the bowl. This is good for you. Dump in the shredded potato and onion mix. Add the eggs, the matzoh meal, the parsley, the salt, and the pepper. Stir the mixture eagerly. Then let it sit for about 10 minutes.

6. In a large cast-iron skillet, pour in 1/4 inch of oil. Over high heat, get the oil very hot, but don't set off the smoke detector. Using a 1/4 cup measure or a long-handled serving spoon, start spooning the batter into the skillet. Flatten each with a metal spatula to a diameter of 4 to 5 inches. Do not try to make the latkes uniformly round. Reduce heat to medium and cook the latkes until golden brown on one side. Then turn over and fry them some more. When crispy on the outside and moist inside, about 5 minutes per side, remove and place on several thicknesses of paper towels. Keep doing this until you run out of batter.

7. Serve the latkes immediately with applesauce and sour cream.

Makes about 16 latkes, which is all you should eat the first night. By the end of Chanukah, you should be able to eat twice that many.

House decorated for Hanukkah. Kinda slim pickings this year. I didn't have the cash to buy presents for the kids. I wish I did, but I didn't. So what you see is what they get.

Snow. We've got it. In spades. The Boy took these photos a few minutes ago.

That little car in front? Mine. Perhaps sometime in the spring it might be unthawed.

See the driveway? Me neither! Funny, that. It is SUPPOSED to be plowed. Supposed being the key word. We're here for the duration of winter, methinks.

Our neighbors back yard. Where is their first floor?

Other neighbors and the barn.

See that van? He has to be up at 5:30 to start hauling kids hither and yon. I don't THINK so!

Kids are going sledding on the hill. For some reason sledding at night is blissful fun. The danger. The insanity of it. Can't be beat. The Boy, who refuses to get a pair of his own boots, is wearing my Uggs. Can life be any crazier than this?

Friend of the Boy has fallen in love with those chocolate sable cookies. The rock.

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See you in April

For those of you singing "I'm dreaming of a White Christmas" stop it right now. STOP. There is such a thing as a white christmas, and then there is us. We're in a white-out christmas. It's freaking ridiculous. It's been snowing steadily since Friday afternoon. It looks like we've moved to the g-d north pole. I'm expecting reindeer to come bouncing down the driveway any minute now.

That is, if they could find the driveway. That's a hint, Mr Plow Guy. We couldn't find the driveway if we tried. Not that we could use it anyhow, because Mr Plow Guy hasn't salted or sanded either. Or shoveled the walkways. Or the main walkway where the mailman goes through the gate to deliver our mail.

So, that means we're stuck here until April or so, and we're not getting any mail. Excellent!

Kids were out sledding on the hill at 11 pm last night. At least we have built in entertainment. That counts for something.

And we have cookies. I made a small batch of these cookies last night, leaving half the batch to bake today. Lucky I did because they were SO good I would have eaten the whole batch. I'm giving you this recipe. It is, by far, the BEST chocolate cookie I've ever eaten, bar none. OMG, it's like fudge, only a cookie. You HAVE to bake this recipe. I guarantee you that you will take one bite and go into orgasmic sugar shock. This is a grown up cookie. Don't waste it on little kids. Too good for little kids. Best cookie ever!

photo from Dessert First

World Peace/Korova Cookies

From Paris Sweets, Dorie Greenspan by way of Deb at Smitten Kitchen

1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 stick plus 3 tablespoons (11 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon fleur de sel or ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chips, or a generous ¾ cup store-bought mini chocolate chips

Makes about 36 cookies

Sift the flour, cocoa and baking soda together.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add both sugars, the salt and vanilla extract and beat for 2 minutes more.

Turn off the mixer. Pour in the flour 1/4 cup at a time. Pulse the mixer at low speed about 5 times, a second or two each time. Take a peek — if there is still a lot of flour on the surface of the dough, pulse a couple of times more; if not, remove the towel. Continuing at low speed, mix for about 30 seconds more, just until the flour disappears into the dough — for the best texture, work the dough as little as possible once the flour is added, and don’t be concerned if the dough looks a little crumbly. Toss in the chocolate pieces and mix only to incorporate.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface, gather it together and divide it in half. Working with one half at a time, shape the dough into logs that are 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate them for at least 3 hours. (The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months. If you’ve frozen the dough, you needn’t defrost it before baking — just slice the logs into cookies and bake the cookies 1 minute longer.)

GETTING READY TO BAKE: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.

Working with a sharp thin knife, slice the logs into rounds that are 1/2 inch thick. (The rounds are likely to crack as you’re cutting them — don’t be concerned, just squeeze the bits back onto each cookie.) Arrange the rounds on the baking sheets, leaving about 1 inch between them.

Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 12 minutes — they won’t look done, nor will they be firm, but that’s just the way they should be. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and let the cookies rest until they are only just warm, at which point you can serve them or let them reach room temperature.

SERVING: The cookies can be eaten when they are warm or at room temperature — I prefer them at room temperature, when the textural difference between the crumbly cookie and the chocolate bits is greatest — and are best suited to cold milk or hot coffee.

STORING: Packed airtight, cookies will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days
The downside to being stuck at home, besides the fact that we're all a bit stir crazy after 3 days of looking at each other's happy shiny faces is that I'm cooking. And baking. A lot. Which means two things. Dishes and eating. Dishes are a perennial sore spot in this house that I've covered about a million times. If there were disposable pots and pans, I'd be the first freaking customer in line. And eating? Oh, there's that diet thing. Where I'm trying to lose weight. But then I cook and it's so good and I eat. Last night, chicken paprikash. To DIE for.

Plus, with all these food blogs, I collect recipes and think about cooking all freaking day. My recipe collection is amazing. So all you food bloggers: STOP. My waistline cannot take this infernal recipe posting.

Do you think there will be school tomorrow?

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LOST: Brand new preview

Four more weeks. Four. And then we get to at least find out what happened to the island.

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Technologically and mechanically challenged

For the most part, I can take care of myself in a disasterous situation. I rarely panic and mostly I just get frustrated and angry at myself for being unable to do what I want or need to do. Take this morning, for example. Please.

I sent the kids out to shovel the walkways so I could get out of the house to take the Girl to work early this morning. They semi-cleared off the car and around the car, and once I got the car going, I got down the hill despite the fact that it hadn't been plowed since yesterday afternoon. There were about 5" of snow on the driveway, and with my minivan, that wasn't much of a problem. The ToyMotor is another story.

Coming back home I got about 10 feet up the driveway in first gear. So I backed up and tried again. Another 5 feet gained, but nowhere near even the middle of the driveway. Rinse and repeat for a total of 8 times before I gave up. There was no way that car was going to get up the hill. I was afraid of this because I have had premonitions about this since I got the car last spring. It has no clearance and a tiny engine. It's a wicked pissah car in all but snow. Snow has defeated it.

I put the parking brake on and trudged up the hill and knocked on my neighbor's door. I was out of breath as usual, and when he opened the door I said simply "Car stuck on hill." He put his outerwear on and told me he could handle it. Ahem. First he suggested that I could learn from him. Not likely, but I humored him. I've been driving longer than he's been alive, if you get my drift. He tells me to get into second gear and I tell him that the car can't make it up the hill in dry weather in second. I have to use first. But he knows better. Whahaha.

First attempt he slides back down the hill. Second attempt he slides back down the hill. Third attempt he slides down the hill after really gunning it. At no point did he get anywhere near as far as I did. So he says he's going to get a shovel and some sand and salt.

At this point I retreat into my NOT warm house and complain deeply because I'm a human popsicle. I tell the Boy to check the temperature and it was 59 freaking degrees in the house! He likes to turn the heat off, not down. He's an idiot.

After about a half hour, my neighbor finally gets the car up the hill. He had to shovel tracks to do it. And still the damn snowplow guy has not showed up.

We are totally snowbound until the driveway is cleared. And I think I need snow tires to get up that hill. Which will radically suck since tires are the one item I absolutely HATE to buy. You can't eat them, you can't wear them, you aren't entertained by them. And they're ugly. It just peeves me no end that I might have to buy them.

So that's mechanical. Let's move on to technical.

Of course we took pictures of all this blog fodder. I mean, who wouldn't want to photograph my car totally stuck on the hill? It was pretty damn funny once I was no longer the one trying to get it up here. We took photos of my neighbor desperately trying to get it up the hill, photos of it stuck on the hill, photos of it finally clearing the big turn in the middle of the hill, and photos of it sitting in a parking space looking all happy and comfy.

Now, not only do we have an ancient and somewhat challanged computer that shuts down by itself about once an hour, we have children that plug in their ipods and external hard drive to said computer. So when I went to download the photos from my camera to my internal hard drive, the computer confused what I wanted and downloaded them somewhere and then deleted them from the camera. It's done this before. It is SO frustrating when it happens because I have to search and search for the photos. Unfortunately, I can't find them anyplace. I moved them someplace, but wherever I moved them to, they didn't make it. I've gone through countless folders of photos and I just cannot find these photos. They are lost forever.

However, I did redeem the day by watching Dogma with the Boy and he was silenced from doing the lines with the movie. I have mentioned that he memorizes movies, right? SO irritating. He's been doing it since he was really small kid. He's memorized hundreds and hundreds of movies. I have no clue as to why. He also memorizes TV shows, all of which are his "favorite episodes". He's gifted. No doubt about it.

Sadly, due to the snow situation we missed Christmas in the City. Hopefully we will be plowed out by tomorrow morning so we can do the real party. I am so sad that we missed it, but really, stuck stuck stuck.

Did I mention it's still snowing and we're supposed to get another storm tomorrow? Global warming? You think?

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Blizzard, you can bite me!

We are so ready for this storm. There is absolutely nothing that we need, and nothing more to prepare. The kids have a half-day today, and should be home soon. We'll bake cookies this afternoon since there is plenty of time and ingredients. I've already put oil in the car, moved it to the other side of the driveway where all 4 houses pack in the cars tightly to ensure that the plow guy gets the rest of the driveway done correctly, and scraped off the windows to remove the thin layer of ice. And may I just remark that it's freaking cold outside.

Last night my friend Roxanne went shopping and picked us up some provisions. The usual milk, bread, but no eggs. We have plenty of eggs. She's such a sweetie and that was above and beyond the call of duty, but then again she was already going to the store. I'm so glad I didn't have to brave the store today. I don't think I could have done it without going beserk.

This afternoon I'll make up a big pot of chili. Nothing warms you up like chili on a cold snowy night. Bubbling hot, it's a great meal that is fortifying and delicious. We're big on chili in this house.

The Girl's job thinks she's coming in tonight. They think wrong. Once it starts snowing we are snowed in until the plow comes and does our enormous hill. There is no way we can get out until we're plowed out. And he's not going to come half way through the storm. Besides, I'm not driving in the middle of a blizzard to get her to Panera where no customers will be because they are all hunkered down in their own homes. It's just stupid. She's a minor and I get to say when she can and can't work. I'm responsible for her safety and they need to understand that I have the last word, not the damn restaurant. She can find another job pretty quickly. They love her there. She's a good worker and she's pleasant to the customers. It costs a lot to find and train a new employee, so it's in their best interest to deal with her today.

If you're dealing with inclement weather today, keep warm, drink plenty of hot cocoa or hot spiked cider, and have a great time. There is something about a snow day that just slows me right down to a snail's pace. It's the knowledge that the world has stopped for a bit and that Mother Nature has taken over the power.

We'll take a walk in the snow much later tonight. I can't wait.

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Will it ever stop?

Chronically busy. I hate this. I want to go back to chronically lazy. Hopefully, tomorrow will be an enforced lazy day due to heavy snowfall predicted. They're calling for a foot of the white stuff, which will surely keep me inside under the down comforter. But tonight we have been gifted with tickets to the Bruins as a last minute thing, which means that I will have been out late three nights in a row. Holy Batman, this never happens. I've been home with the kids so long that three consecutive nights out seems like I'm reliving my youth.

My house, on the other hand, looks like someone took a huge eggbeater and just whirled around the contents. Things are not where they belong. My bra sits on the coffee table. The broken glass painting sits on the dining room table. A raft of textbooks lay right in front of the front door. It's a totally disaster area and there is no time to clean it up this weekend, for we're doing Christmas in the City again.

I spent a large part of the day trying to straighten out an incorrect charge on my debit card. You would think this would be easy, but nope... it had to be as complicated as possible with 4 long phone calls that contradicted each other. I didn't lose it, I didn't even get annoyed. Because after dealing with Mass Health last week, and totally failing despite the fact that they are clinically insane, I can now deal with any agency or business as long as they are in fact sane. Meanwhile the saga with Mass Health continues and we're totally out of some meds. It's not good.

The economy is wreaking havoc with my holiday tradition of driving around and looking at everyone's lights. So many houses are dark this year. I can understand not wanting to pay the extra money to the electric company, but it's sort of sad. It's the one thing I really like about Christmas, seeing the lights and the funny blow-up snow-globes and waving Santas. But this year there are a few tasteful deer grazing on lawns and that's about it for decorations. Not that I don't love the deer. I do. But I also love garish decorations and so far we haven't seen one house that's gone all overboard. New Englanders are too darn conservative with their pretty candles in the window thing.

We still have not picked out a holiday movie although I'm pressing for Slumdog Millionaire. It's so much harder when there isn't a Harry Potter film at Christmas. We'll decide on something, but it's going to be an argument because the Boy only likes 'guy' movies and the Girl and I are way more into "chick flicks". Isn't gender amazing?

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Doing my civic duty

Tonight my friend and I traveled west to attend the second of four meetings regarding the turnpike authority's proposed raising of the tolls from my city into Boston, as well as the bridge and tunnel tolls.

Currently a trip from my city, 6 miles due west of the center of Boston, and bordering Boston on 3 different sides, costs $1.25 in tolls on the Mass Pike. The pike is the only toll road into Boston, so that commuters from the north and south of the city can drive in for free, but we're the only folks who have to pay a daily toll. The proposed toll increase would bring the fee up to $2.00 each way, costing the average commuter an extra $1040/year. Additionally, the current tunnel fee of $3.50 for both ways would be raised to $7.00, so that a trip from my house to the airport would now cost $9.00.

Hundreds of people attended the meeting from all over "metro west" and other parts of the greater metropolitan area. The first speakers were all state representatives and they were uniformly outraged that their constituants were going to continue to be punished when nobody else in the entire commonwealth even pays tolls. I was astounded by how well prepared they were, how eloquent each speaker was, and how they were aware of how this proposed toll hike would affect the residents of "metro west" as well as East Boston.

After many different legislators spoke, the average citizens were also allowed to speak. Of the hundreds of people that showed up, only one person was against removing the tolls. So many citizens from so many towns talked to the Turnpike Authority representatives and explained why this toll hike would be a severe hardship to them. One woman talked about her mother in Revere in an elderly housing situation that required the daughter to visit at least 3 times/week to help out with shopping, doctors appts, etc. The proposed hike would cost this woman $45/week just to go help her mother out. Many people talked about how unfair and inequitable this toll hike is, that only a few people would be required to pay for everyone else in the Commonwealth.

When it was my turn to speak, I got up and talked about how my disability wages come to a startlingly low $8.65/hour, and one trip to the airport would cost me more than an hour's 'pay'. I talked about how my city would be so negatively affected as people pulled off the highway at our city rather than to pay the tolls, and would use our streets, polluting out air, and expecting our very broke city to pay the cost of road repair. I explained how more people would use Rt 9 to get into the city, a road that is already so overcrowded that ambulances cannot get through the traffic to get to the major hospitals. I said that this was a life and death situation and that the turnpike reps would be responsible for deaths if they pushed more cars onto our secondary roads.

They only let us speak for 2 minutes, and I didn't go over my time, but I was pleased that I had spoken with great passion and that I made it clear that their proposals were not only unfair to the commuters, but to all the people of our city who would be the most negatively affected by even more traffic on our already overburdened streets.

I can't say that the turnpike reps heard every word said tonight, but they heard me. I pointed right at the head of the Turnpike Authority and blamed him for the situation he's gotten us into. I looked him right in the eye and made sure he heard me say that if deaths occured due to increased traffic in our city, he was responsible.

We'll know in January whether or not this insane proposal goes through. There is one more citizen's meeting in Worcester on January 7th, and I encourage anyone who feels strongly about this proposal to go and speak out. Give your testimony and know that you worked to fight this governmental agency. We all need to raise our voices in protest!

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Holiday Party Fun

Tonight my parenting group got together for a bit of holiday cheer. We elected to have the party at Roxanne's house because she was the only one that would have Christmas decorations up and the rest of us are members of the tribe. Roxanne always has the most lovely things in her home, and she's a natural born decorator who makes and repairs most of the items in her house. She's also the greatest dump diver I've ever met and has furnished half her house from the town dump. She's amazing and totally hilarious.

This is a terrible photo of Roxanne, but Pele, the little elf, was dressed to kill.

The fireplace decorated with icicle lights, artichokes and pine cones, and plenty of plants.

The tree is tall and thin and has such pretty decorations on it.

The dining room with part of the scrumptious meal we had. Don't you just love the lights over the table?

Roxanne's latest dump find, this corner cabinet just moved in a week ago, but it fits perfectly in the room. It holds a nice collection of Santas.

Looking into the kitchen, even the doorway to the "man cave" has a pretty handmade wreath.

Pele checking out the snacks in his little elf costume. That dog has more clothing than I do!

Lisa checking out her gift from the Yankee Swap, which we all failed miserably at, since we all loved what we got! No swapping at all.

Marianne scratching off her scratch tickets. She won a big $3.00. Ronna looking particularly fetching with her eyes closed. I am a terrible photographer, evidentally.

Roxanne looking enthralled by another hilarious story from Ronna. We're a tight group of people, but we're also all pretty funny and we just crack each other up. It's so nice to have such a great group of friends, especially since we all have kids with 'issues' and really get each other's situations. It's really wonderful to have such great support. I love these people.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Busy busy busy

I've got a really busy day going on, so I'm not going to be able to write anything profound. I've got a holiday party tonight, a major protest to prepare for tomorrow night, took the Boy for his job interview, had to pick up a bunch of glass from a glass painting that the kitten knocked off the wall and broke, and now I have to go and make snacks for the party. Oh, and wrap the present.

I'm so bummed about the glass painting. Although most of the picture is OK, the large column in the middle cracked in two, and the little side lines with turquoise have all broken. I'm going to have to find the guy that made this picture and find out how to fix it. I bought this picture and a second one I gave to my brother when he opened up his own law practice. His is huge and less classical, but they are both beautiful and so unusual. The artist is Dutch and I got them in the Netherlands when I worked there. I just hope I can find the artist after so many years. Fortunately his name is rather unusual. Google, don't fail me now.

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Monday, December 15, 2008

Tacky or just plain disgusting?

I saw these today and I swear, I couldn't believe my eyes. I know they were done in fun. I know that the person that designed them thought they were silly and kitsch. But REALLY? Is it funny to mock something that is so revered by so many Christians around the world? Is it funny to call your product Stigmittens?

I just don't know. I certainly don't think they're funny. I think they go beyond tacky. But then again I'm the girl that thinks tattoos are tacky and pierced lips are gross. I'm not a big fan of scarification or body modifications, and I think, given the choice between the two, I'd go for the Stigmittens over the real live stigmata.

I question the motive and the humor. I hate when people make fun of other people's values and beliefs. Which, btw, is why I am not welcoming of religious cards into my own home. Because it's rude, it's dismissive, and it's insensitive. Anyone that doesn't get that, in my opinion, has a real problem with their own self-awareness. But that's neither here nor there. I don't think poking fun of something like the stigmata by making mittens depicting the bloody scar is wholesome fun for all. I wonder the reactions there would be if people who are religious saw some kid wearing those. I'm guessing those mittens could incite some real hatred.

But I'm curious. What do you think? Are they funny? Would you wear them? Do you find them insulting?
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Sunday, December 14, 2008

I'd forget my own head if it weren't attached

Did your mom ever say that to you? Mine did. A lot. My memory is poor. I think it's ADD. Certainly not with the H. I can't remember anything if it isn't written down. I couldn't even use a PDA because it I don't write it, I can't remember it.

Guess what I forgot today?

That winter vacation is going to leave me with two loud teenagers for a very long 12 days. I completely tossed that tidbit from my mind. No planning. Not even a trip to the MFA, which we will do, or a trip out west to deliver some stuff to a certain blogger having a very hard time. Of course that's not MY fault, because she won't give me a date. But when she does, we'll head out there. But otherwise... I have absolutely nothing up my sleeve.

Oh, the heat in the car isn't working. I think it's the thermostat, which does this interesting dance between boiling hot and freezing cold all the time, so any long trip would be painfully cold. I gotta get that fixed pronto Toronto. But we should have planned something.

Of course, now that I've got it on my mind, there are no children about to discuss it with, because they only stop by to eat and sleep these days. Or to bitch at me for this and that. They're both good at that. Too good.

I am avoiding going out today. My kidney still hurts like a mofo, it's freezing cold out, and I just do not want to do my errand. Well, that's false. I want to do it. I just want to do it when I don't have to fight for a parking space, wait on line for an hour just to pay, and listen to other people complaining about how expensive everything is. This economy is so depressing. I just have to go get a Yankee Swap present for a parent in my group, and I do think I know what I want to get, but it means actually entering a store between Thanksgiving and New Years, which is against my personal moral code.

I guess I have to actually get dressed. And maybe scrounge up breakfast. Isn't the whole point of Sundays that you get to do what you want, not what you need to do?

Meanwhile, I'm going to have to figure out some way to entertain these kids over the holiday break. Hopefully the Boy will get that job he's interviewing for on Tuesday, and they'll both be busy working over the break.

A girl can dream, right?

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Stabbing of 1000 Knives

It started a few days ago with what I thought was a crick in my back. You know, you get up funny and your back does that little yeouch thing. Oh, your back doesn't do that? Just you wait till you're 56. I promise you, your back will yeouch more often than you care to admit. Like usual, I ignored the pain and sloughed off any thoughts of illness or death. I'm crazy, but I'm not that crazy. I tend not to call the doctor until I'm at death's door anyhow, and this was just a crick. Or so I thought!

Foreshadowing aside, I reached the epitome of my pain tolerance last night and vowed to see the doctor today. Only guess what? It's Saturday and seeing a doctor on the weekend is not so easy. As in impossible.

Oh, I called right at 9 am, and left a call back message. I guess Dr Wong tottled in around 11 or so, and returned my call. Now, I don't know Dr Wong. He's just the on-call doc covering my practice. But he certainly has aced his "dismissive attitude" class in medical school. He asked a few questions. I told him the requisite answers. He wanted to know how I knew it was a kidney infection. I told him that I had the exact same thing a year or so ago, and if he was looking up my record online he would see that the description of both ailments was pretty much identical. Different kidney's though.

He told me to take ibuprophan and come in on Monday to the urgent care. So, that was not helpful. But as long as I'm supine, it doesn't hurt that much. Moving is what makes it painful. The suckiest thing is that on the weekend there is nothing to watch on TV and there is nobody home to work the DVD player for me. My kids have got that TV hooked up to so many devices that I honestly have no clue how to do anything anymore but turn on the TV. I can't even get the TV to go through the speakers. It is truely pathetic.

I have one book to read that actually might hold my attention. Otherwise, I might have to make one of the kids come home and entertain me. I also have an important errand to run, although I probably can put it off until tomorrow.

In the meantime, my friend dropped by for a bit and we had the most morbid conversation complete with visual aids ever. We picked out coffins. And plots. Just because you never know!

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Itty Bitty Weather Malfunction

You might have heard that Massachusetts and the rest of the east coast had a bit of weather in the last day or so. Today was our turn. It started sometime last night. We got rain, and then there was the ice. Lots and lots of ice. Ice that turned branches into missles. Ice that bent trees over as if in prayer. Ice that coated roads, trees, power lines, and homes. Black ice. Thick ice. Cold ice. Dangerous ice.

The Governor called a State of Emergency sometime this morning after half of the state turned into an ice cube. Trees fell hither and yon. Overhead electrical wires were downed all over the western and central part of the state. People stuck in their houses without electricity were using their crackberries to find out what's happening outside their homes. 300,000 people are without power in the central part of the state.

Photo by Kelly

We got creamed with rain. Lots and lots of rain. Streets are flooded, the library is once again under water, neighbors are cursing passing over that amphibious vehicle for sale last summer, and my children flat out refused to go to school until the rain let up.

Of course we had school. We never cancel school in our fair city because any added days to the school year are widely ignored by parents who have paid for and will be sending young Jessie and Julia to summer camp.

Shelters have been set up for those whose homes have been damaged or are without heat and power. Hopefully they will take in pets, but usually they do not. Poor pups and kitties are stuck at home with no heat. I hate that.

We have power, we have heat (yea gas company!), we have food, and we don't smoke cigarettes, so we're basically good to go for the long haul. We also have a huge pond in our back yard where once there was grass, and if I were inclined to leave the house, which I'm not, I would find that the road to my gym is flooded. But really, why go out when we have a working tv and heat?

The sad thing about all this is how pretty it is.

Such damage and distruction and I'm thinking, oooooooh, look at all the shiny ice. In the meantime, people will be without power through the weekend, it will take weeks to clean up all the damage, and by then we're in for at least another nor'easter. Yes, this wasn't snow, but it sure caused more damage.

Power company employees are such heros.

photos via boston.com

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

It's not me, it's you, Mass Health

My parent partner meeting was this morning, and as we sat talking about all sorts of topics, we both had the same experience last night of trying to pick up a prescription at the pharmacy, using our brand new insurance cards that Mass Health had sent us, and being denied the prescription because the phone system at Mass Health would not accept the card.

So we got on phones, me on the land line, her on the cell, and phoned Mass Health to try and decipher what exactly the problem was. Her wait time was 8-9 minutes, mine was 9-12 minutes. We both loathe calling Mass Health because it's the most frustrating experience ever, every single time you call them. We're both sitting on hold, cracking up at how ridiculous this was, when I finally got a customer service rep. Her first words to me? "Hold on for a second." Now if that doesn't make you feel all cozy and loved, I don't now what would. Then there was a noise that sounded like crackling cellophane before the service rep came back.

First I asked her about the new cards. Why weren't they working? She told me that they wouldn't work until January. But... when the cards arrived in the mail they said to destroy the old cards and to replace them with the new cards. Being well behaved, both of us had done exactly what they had said in the letter. The letter that forgot to tell us that the cards are only good starting Jan 1. OY!

Then I asked her why the automated system wouldn't take the number on the new card. Because you're supposed to use your social security number, even though the voice mail asks for the new number. OK. That makes no sense either, but we're still being polite.

Next I ask her why the Boy got a new card but the Girl did not. She told me that they are sending out the cards arbitrarily and that some people have gotten them while some have not. Now this seems to be particularly nuts, but still... I'm willing to accept this as part of the Mass Health totally bizarro organizational skillage.

So then I ask her how I'm supposed to pick up my son's prescriptions if I don't have the right card, the pharmacy was unable to get in touch with them because they kept entering the number on the new card, the only card they had, and the automated phone system asks for the new number and not the old number, which the pharmacy had already deleted. She gives me a second phone number to call to find out what the old number is.

Problem is, I don't think I've got the mental strength to deal with a second bout of Mass Health insanity. I honestly do not get why they are so horrid to deal with, but at least I know it's not just me. Everyone hates dealing with them. They're disorganized, crazy, and the most wasteful agency in our state. They spend more money on letters that say next to nothing and are often completely incorrect that you would believe. Every communique from them comes with two letters that say the exact same thing (one per child, I believe) plus a form on how to translate the letter into a variety of languages.

Now that Mass Health is part of the Massachusetts required health care, you would think they would be better run. But nope, that's not happening. They get worse and worse.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Love Letter to Boston

I first moved to Boston after graduating from the University of Colorado to attend graduate school at Harvard University. When I came to Boston I had never lived in a big city before, and it was very daunting. Oh, being brought up in LA, a huge city, should count. But it doesn't because LA is totally spread out and we lived something like 30 miles from downtown, about as far away as you could get in LA County. So Boston was the first city where I had to learn the subway and I needed to be able to find my way around.

Overlooking Quincy Market and the waterfront.

Every day after my classes I would get into my car, pick a spot on the map of Boston, and attempt to drive there. I say attempt because most of the time I got so hopelessly lost that I would end up in some godforsaken neighborhood in tears, completely unable to find my way back home.

Beacon Hill

You see, Boston has some very unusual traits and one of them is that street signs are optional. You can drive down a busy street for miles and miles and have no clue as to what street you're actually on. We don't believe in ever giving drivers a clue as to what road they're on. Some cross streets have signs, others do not. Sometimes the signs are placed so far in that you can't read them from the road. As I said, signs are seemingly optional.

Waterfront view of Rowes Wharf

I wanted to learn my new city, but it was hopeless. The more I drove, the more lost I got. I didn't yet know the names of the major roadways, nor did I understand all the "ways". Many of the roads are connected, and you might start out on the Riverway, which leads directly to the Jamaica Way, and so on. Confusing? You bet.

View from the Cambridge side of the Charles River

Oh, and the rotaries. I had seen rotaries in Europe, but had never lived in a place where I would have to learn to navigate them. To say I was clueless would be kind. There are certain rotaries that still, after 30-odd years, still confound me.

Waterfront wharf condos

The most difficult part of trying to learn the city was that I didn't know which parts of town were good and which were "bad". Nor did I know why there were parts of the city that were totally suburban and other parts that were candidates for urban renewal. The whole city was just plain confusing. And yet, day after day I would get into my old 1969 Chevelle Malibu and take off for some exotic sounding place like Roslindale or Mattapan.

Mattapan Community Center

I've lived in Boston a very long time. I know my city pretty well, and I have no fear of driving through it, from the neighborhoods that white people fear to tred, to the beautiful communities on the waterfront or on Jamaica Pond.

Jamaica Pond

I love this city. It offers me the feeling of home, something I never had until I came here. Boston is a city that makes me feel warm and fuzzy and covered in hugs. It has more to offer than just about any place else in the country. You like history? You can walk from the Paul Revere House to the US Constitution and the Old North Church.

USS Constitution

Paul Revere House

You like art? You can visit the brand new modern art museum on the waterfront, or take a day at the MFA with some of the greatest art in the world. You like food? We have some of the countries finest cooks, and we have some of the best ethnic restaurants found anywhere.

Lower Newbury Street

You like shopping? We have Newbury Street with it's high end boutiques, we have Copley Place in between two large hotels, and we have some of the great department stores like Saks, Lord & Taylor, and Macy's.

Old State House

In the 30-some years I've lived here, I have learned my city inside and out. I can now drive pretty much anywhere and I know all the main roads and neighborhoods. However I find myself often isolated into parts of the city that are 'safe', which is another word for 'white'. I have very little fear of most communities and I'm aware of the areas where it's not really a great idea for me to be after dark. But I'm not afraid here in Boston. We're essentially a safe city. A beautiful city. A city that will be my home for years to come.

View of Back Bay, an exclusive neighborhood built on landfill off the Charles River

But the weather still sucks.

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