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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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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Manny, why did you shoot your mouth off?

Manny played his last game for the Red Sox last night. He was unhappy in Boston. He has always complained about Boston. He's been quoted saying some pretty lousy things about the media, the fans, and pretty much everything else about Boston for years. But when he said that the Red Sox don't deserve a player like him, the rest of the team wasn't thrilled. And in a vote taken last night, all but one of the team voted to trade Manny to the Dodgers.


So LA, you get Manny. He's a great player with a terrible attitude. He's adorable, his smile is enough to light up anyone's heart, but he's a chronic misanthrope and he thinks a bit too highly of himself. Good luck to you in LA, Manny. You're really gonna hate it there. If you think the media was tough on you in Boston, you're gonna love the papparazzi. They'll eat you alive.


This is a three team deal. The Red Sox really don't gain anything valuable, but they lose Manny's huge salary, which allows them to have much more money come winter to find a replacement hitter.

The Red Sox will also lose Craig Hansen and Brandon Moss as part of the deal. Here are the names involved:

To Red Sox
Jason Bay

To Dodgers
Manny Ramirez

To Pirates
Craig Hansen (from Red Sox)
Brandon Moss (from Red Sox)
Andy LaRoche (from Dodgers)
Bryan Morris (from Dodgers)

Manny, who is represented by the evil jackass Scott Boras, was willing to ink this deal as soon as it happened. He wants out. And now he's out.

Rehabbing pitcher Curt Schilling this morning said he thought the Manny Ramirez situation has affected the team and keeping him in Boston for the stretch run could present a problem.

"At the end of the day you're taking the field with a guy who doesn't want to play with you, doesn't want to be there, doesn't want to ... obviously effort-wise is just not there and that's disheartening and disappointing," Schilling said during his weekly appearance on Boston sports radio WEEI's Dennis and Callahan program. "It's very obvious from anything you see or hear he doesn't want to be here. And anytime that there's a piece of the equation you have a problem, and then not trading and leaving him here is a problem because you don't know what you're going to get."

Shilling went on to say, "Scott Boras stands to make zero dollars if the Red Sox pick up Manny’s options the next two years. Manny’s not 1- years from retirement, he’s maybe four obviously, that’s where he’s at. So does Scott Boras want to get a two year-deal for Manny or a four-year deal for Manny? At the end of the day it falls on the player because Manny’s an adult… I can’t fathom Scott hasn’t had some… you read his comments, he just has no ability to answer a question short, tactfully, and straightforward. It’s a 12 paragraph way to say 19 syllable words that you just can’t figure out what the hell he’s saying.”

So it's done. Manny is no longer going to wear a Red Sox uniform. Like the two other infamous malcontents of the last 4 years, Pedro Martinez and Nomar Garciaparra, mid-season trades, while difficult, have ended only helping the Red Sox.

Trades happen. Anyone who is a fan of any sport knows that trades happen, and sometimes the players that are traded have requested to be moved elsewhere. I get that. But Manny... he didn't ever seem to be happy here, he pulled this crap ever year just as the trade deadline started to loom, and this year he went way beyond normal complaining to insults and ugly speech. What kind of role model is this for young kids? "The Red Sox don't deserve a player like me." WTF? That is someone with a serious need for an attitude adjustment. Baseball isn't the same thing as saving the world. It's a game. A game I happen to love, but a game, nevertheless. And when you think you're more important than your teammembers, than your fans, than the front office, it's time for you to go.

So you got your wish Manny. I hope you enjoy LA. Because LA isn't going to enjoy your attitude or your mouth. It's YOUR problem, Manny. You need to deal with it. Luckily LA is filled to the brim with therapists. Find one. Soon.


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Over the shoulder boulder holders

Let's talk about bras. Gentlemen, you can leave now if you do not want to read about the wonderful world of my boobs. I know you're dying to know all about them, but believe me, they are not all that interesting. There now, you have permission to leave if you want.

OK, with that out of the way, I'm going to complain about the state of my boobs and their lack of available boob coverage.

I lost weight. Of course that means that my already shrunken boobs shrunk even more, leaving them pancake flat but still fairly large. They point south at the best of times, and they have absolutely no shape left in them. Big empty bags of flesh. Not attractive at all, but they are relatively healthy and still on my chest so I'm thankful for what I have.

Except that the manufacturers of bras do not believe women come in my size. Honestly, they do not make a bra that fits me. You would think that someone somewhere would say, "Hey, we manufacture bras... maybe we ought to make a style or two to fit someone with a large band size but not huge boobs." Because that's what I need.

The largest band size in most bras is a 42. That is not large enough for me. Then, when you move up to the Queen Size bras, they have bands that go up to a 50, which is large enough for me, but the cup sizes start at a DD. I am nowhere near a DD. At this juncture I'd say I'm a strong C. I have some D cups, but they are too large for me.

I've used a back extender, however when you use that, you also lose the integrity of the style, meaning the straps tend to fall down your shoulders leaving your bra useless. What I want is a bra that is large enough across the back and small enough to fit my shrunken boobs. Is that too much to ask?

Every time I read about a new wonder bra, I check the sizes available and it's always the same story. The new Spanx bra, the one everyone swears is the most comfortable bra in the world? Largest back size is a 42. I can't get one. I want comfort. I want to have a normal bra like everyone else does. I'm tired of wearing cheesy crappy bras from Lane Bryant that never fit right.

The thing is, if I'm having this problem and I'm not that much outside of the norm, what do people do who are fat and flat? There have to be plenty of women out there that wear strange sizes (according to bra manufacturers). Where the hell do they get bras? Does everyone end up having custom bras made at around $200 a pop? Who can afford that?

I hate bras. They are always so uncomfortable. When I wear one, the minute I get home I have to whip mine off and do the under-the-boob scratch for about 5 minutes. It feels sooooo good to just get under there and scratch the hell out of the itchy spot where the elastic has been pulling at my skin. If my boobs weren't so floppy and large, I'd never wear a bra at all. But that's not only not particularly modest, it's also not great for my appearance. I want to find some comfortable bras that don't cost an arm and a leg and feel like they're actually giving me support.

I've tried the Wacoal bras, which are fairly comfortable when they are new, but then become itchy and less comfortable as the elastic starts to wear. I don't put them in the dryer, but the elastic tends to wear rather quickly on the band. Plus, the cost! Oh my, the cost is outrageous for that little tiny bit of fabric.

I just don't get why bras have to be so bothersome. Can't someone invent something more comfortable that a strangling elastic band around your chest? I mean, that can't be good for your lungs, can it? We can send people to the moon, why can't we have a more comfortable garment for holding up the boobage?

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

We Don't Want YOU!

This evening the phone rang and the Boy answered it. He proceeded to have a fairly straight forward conversation with whomever called, answering yes, no, I don't think so, not right now, etc. He was polite, but from his tone I could tell it was both an authority figure and someone he didn't really know.

He got off the phone and I asked him who it was.

An army recruiter, he told me.

WTF? I mean really!

First, I've signed a paper every single year at school saying that I do not allow any contact between my son and the military.

Second, my son is fifteen. FIFTEEN. He is not old enough to go into the service, and should not even be contacted.

Third, my son has a documented mental illness that would and will keep him out of the military. Say what you will about bipolar disorder, this is one of the few GOOD things for kids that have it.

I was pretty damn pissed that the army called. My son was nice and polite and didn't really tell the guy to fuck off, which kinda disappointed me. That means they'll call back. Hopefully I'll be the person that answers that call, because I'm not about to let this go without letting the military know where they made a grievous error.

I know the military recruit out of high school. I'm not a complete idiot. But the schools in our city have taken a proactive view of recruiting and don't allow military recruiters to speak to any kid that hasn't been given specific permission by parents or guardians. Believe me, I did not give any permission, nor would I ever. Kids this age aren't able to make the kind of life altering decisions on their own. At least my kids aren't.

While I'm not completely anti-military, there is no way on God's earth that I would allow a child of mine to go and fight in this illegal and immoral war. We're not supporters of the war in any way, shape or kind. I'm not a fool. I know that the country was lied to and manipulated into falling for the Bush crap. I never fell for it. I've always been against the war.

This doesn't mean that I don't support the people fighting this stupid war. I do. I am sad that they have been sent to be maimed and even killed for what? I want them to have better health care upon their return. I want them to get decent GI benefits. I want their families to be cared for while they are overseas. I think it's wrong that military wives are resorting to becoming surrogates in order to have enough money to live while their spouses are deployed.

However, I would not sacrifice one of my children to fight this particular battle. This battle. Not another battle. I would fight to the end of my life for the State of Israel. I believe that Israel's survival as the unique democratic state in the Middle East is necessary. If my children were to join the Israeli army, I wouldn't have a problem with it at all. If my children were to join the armed forces to fight an evil like Hitler, I wouldn't be completely against it. My father, after all, was a decorated WW2 veteran. But to fight for oil? And to make more money for Halliburton? I think not.

So military recruiters, you are on notice. You don't get to talk to my kids. You don't get to try and entice my kids with the promise of money and training after high school. Maybe someone else will fall for your charms, but not our family. We're not stupid. We know what this is all about.

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I am neurotic

I can't remember exactly where I got the link, but I've been fixated on the site "I Am Neurotic" for days. It is a riot. Maybe it wouldn't be so funny if I weren't so neurotic myself. I find myself agreeing with far too many of the posts, checking off the 'me too' button. Oh, I am so neurotic. My kids think it's OCD, which it probably is, except that it doesn't get it my way at all. I just happen to have a lot of little quirks that I do. Doesn't everyone?

I'm the person at the table in a restaurant that collects everyone's straw wrappers and ties them up neatly into a pretty knot. Or accordion folds them into springs. I can't just crumple them up and toss them. I am neurotic.

I fold a lot of stuff. Any candy wrappers left around are folded and then tied into knots. Napkins, too. And plastic bags. I am neurotic.

I straighten things up according to size. Biggest on the bottom, smallest on top. I am neurotic.

I tend to color code things. Like books. It looks prettier on the shelf. I am neurotic.

I can't wear socks unless they are turned inside out. I am neurotic.

I have to line all the silverware in the drawers perfectly. I can't stand if the salad forks are mixed up with the dinner forks. Ditto with soup spoons vs teaspoons. I am neurotic.

Toilet paper has to be hung over. I can't use it if it's under. I have to change it. Even in other people's houses. I am neurotic.

I don't think there is anything wrong with having somewhat peculiar habits. We all do. As long as it doesn't disrupt your life, what do these little habits matter?

I kinda like being a bit neurotic. What about you? What are your strange habits? Are you neurotic, too?

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Standoff!

The Worthless Pet has decided, rather belatedly, that he is not thrilled with the addition of Pepper to our household. Pepper is incredulous that something does not adore her. She cannot believe that that big gray hunk of fur who keeps hissing at her isn't playing. Worthless Pet, on the other hand, cannot believe the nerve of some little pipsqueak usurping his position as household love God.

There is a standoff.


Ringo will leave Pepper alone as long as she doesn't come hopping into his space. Pepper is learning to walk wide circles around Ringo. She wants desperately to be his friend. He wants her to disappear, although he finds her very interesting to watch.

They will be friends eventually. They aren't fighting at all. Mostly hissing and waving of tails. We're posturing a lot, but Pepper is kind of impossible to dissuade. She's just adorable, energetic as all get out, and thrilled to be exploring such and interesting environment. There are boxes to jump in, shelves to walk along, chairs and sofas to hide behind, stairs to climb up and run down, and miracle of miracle, a tail that looks really fun to play with. Pepper is brave. She runs after Ringo time and time again, no matter how much he hisses and postures. She's sure that he wants to be her friend. He's pretty sure he doesn't.

Standoff.


Not even a whiff of real out and out hostility, this is all figuring out their places in the new order. In the meantime, it is providing us with hours of hilarity. The two of them are so funny. And I have finally gotten a cat that loves to snuggle.

Big giant boy. Itty bitty kitty.

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Walking down memory lane

Neil has a great post up today about dinner at his mother's house. As I was reading it I was totally pulled back in time to my Great Aunt Lillian's house, where dinner was quite similar. I was thinking about how it comes about that two NY families from different boroughs and slightly different generations can be so similar and it came to me that it isn't so much generational as a moving up in the class system so prevalent in NY city during the post WW1 to post WW2 time period. For Jewish families living in NY, mine in Brooklyn, Neil's in the Bronx, Jewish emigres arriving in NY lived a hardscrabble life. Most of the emigres weren't educated, came from schtetl life in eastern Europe, and were employed in the trades. Although my grandmother and her sister, my Great Aunt Lillian were both born in the USA, their families were originally from Poland and their father was a bootlegger and liquor salesman. My maternal grandfather was born in Russia and was an upholsterer.

Aunt Lillian, being the 'ooops' baby of her family, was many years younger than her other sisters. She was only a few years older than my mother, and was more of my mother's contemporary than her aunt. She graduated from high school and even attended a bit of college, enough to get a teaching certificate. She married my Uncle Harry, who worked in an office during the day and attended law school at night. It took many years for Harry to get his law degree, but once he did, they left Brooklyn and moved to Rockville Centre on Long Island. Two children were born of this marriage, my cousin David arrived first, my cousin Nancy several years later.

The mental illness that runs through my entire maternal ancestral line did not leave Aunt Lillian's family immune. Nancy was in and out of mental institutions most of her adult life, and David was pretty darn nuts as well. Both of the kids were brilliant. Nancy attended Goucher college when it was part of the Seven Sisters, David was at Harvard. They grew up on Long Island where they lived fairly charmed lives with everything available to them that they wanted to pursue. But often, charmed lives aren't enough.

Nancy was severely depressed and was never able to hold a job for any length of time. She was often working as a cashier at Woolworths or such, living in Somerville and working mostly in Cambridge. I believe my aunt supported her. When I was working in Europe and traveling back and forth between Boston and Europe on almost a weekly basis, I got a phone call from my sister telling me that Nancy was in Cambridge Hospital, not a strange occurrence. Except that this time she complained incessantly that her back was hurting her and the hospital ignored her, as they tend to do with mentally ill patients. In actuality she had lung cancer and the tumor broke through her skin in the back before anyone would listen to her. She died about a month later. As I was the only family member with a place to live in Boston, Nancy's parents stayed at my house and I became a hospice worker for a while. It was very difficult, as Nancy was very sick physically and mentally. Her death was a blessing, but she refused to sign a will to the bitter end, leaving my elderly Aunt with YEARS of paperwork to deal with. And a law suit. It was a huge mess.

Meanwhile, my cousin David was "missing." Nobody seemed to know where he was or what became of him. Ostensibly he just disappeared into the atmosphere. The family always talked about where he could be, but nobody knew. Years passed and little by little I got the story out of my Aunt as to what happened to David. First, he had a brush with the law when he created the first Term Paper for Sale business while he was in college. We all knew that part, of course. It was so typical of our nutty family members. But when he was in the last year of his doctorate he got involved with a VERY famous and influential biographer who was very married. When their long term affair was threatened with national exposure, David agreed to change his identity and 'disappear' in exchange for not having his budding career ruined. In doing so, he left the east coast and moved to Oklahoma, where he taught his entire career at the University of Oklahoma. He died a few years back after a second bariatric surgery which affected his heart in some way. In his later years, after the story got out, I met him a couple of times, and man....was he strange. I mean really really odd. Now, looking back, he probably had Aspergers, but in those days that wasn't a known diagnosis.

My Uncle Harry died when I was in high school, and soon after Lillian married Noah. If ever there was a guy that was more perfect for her, I can't imagine who it would be. Aunt Lillian was VERY bossy. She ordered poor Noah about like he was a manservant and he did everything she wanted adoringly. They were perfect for each other. She'd scream "Noah" and he would come running. Noah was, by far, the most boring man I've ever met. OMG, he was like watching paint dry. He had his routine down pat. He would walk about 1.5 miles every morning to pick up a newspaper. On the way back he would stop and check on Aunt Lillian's best friend since kindergarten, and then come home and read the paper. He would play golf until lunch time unless there was snow on the ground. He came home from lunch, which was a fairly formal affair with a fruit course, a sandwich and a few accompaniments, and of course some type of dessert and instant coffee. With coffee mate.

After lunch Noah would do the grocery shopping for dinner and help Aunt Lillian prepare it. Like Neil's mom, dinner was a big deal every single night. She would set the table in the dinette off the kitchen with a table cloth, her good china, sterling silver, and crystal glassware. There was a bread and butter plate with butter knives, and of course a salad plate and an entree plate. She used linen napkins and silver napkin rings.

Dinner started with a melon slice or a half of a grapefruit, broiled. The fruit course set the tone for the evening. Next came a bit of an appetizer, often her famous tuna mousse served on a bed of iceberg lettuce.

Then out would come the salad in a lovely Waterford bowl with matching salad serving pieces. The salad consisted of iceberg lettuce, red onions sliced, sliced mushrooms and cucumbers without the peel, and of course those horrid tomato wedges of pale pink. The dressings were served in cruets and she usually made them with oil, wine vinegar, and various dried herbs that were older than Noah.

With the entree a bread basket with bread wrapped in a napkin and margarine on the side. Noah always loved bread with his meal, she would say. She would put a few slices of rye, some rolls, and a few pieces of wheat bread in the basket. Then the entree would come out. There were always two veggies served in their own china bowls that accompanied the entree. Usually there would be green beans or broccoli in one bowl, and squash or potatoes in the other. Sometimes she served rice. The entrees were strictly chicken and fish, mostly broiled with dried herbs atop. She was not a great cook, my Aunt. But she set a mean table.

Dinner was not over until we had tea or the infamous instant coffee. With that were served a few noshes, dry cookies from the Jewish bakery were mostly eaten. And then out came the ice milk or diet ice cream.

After dinner Noah would do the dishes while Lillian went into the guest bathroom to sneak a cigarette. She snuck 3 or 4 cigarettes a day her entire life, and we all knew it but played along. She would redo her lipstick, spray the bathroom with lysol, and come out all refreshed and ready for an evening of falling asleep in front of the blaring TV. Always PBS, of course.

Noah and Aunt Lillian got into a car accident in 2001. Noah died within days of the accident, Lillian died from residual injuries months later. I loved my Aunt Lillian with all my heart. She was a real character, funny as hell, smart as a whip, interested in art and theatre and the symphony right up until her death. She used to take off winters and go to Mexico where she took art lessons and painted in San Miguel de Allende. She wasn't very good, but she loved to paint and she loved Mexico. She outlived both of her children, which had to be horribly difficult, both of her husbands, and all of her siblings. She was fiery and kind, political and artistic, warm and crazy all rolled into one. She was the only relative on my mother's side my children ever met and she loved them.

I miss her very much.

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Trubble

We still haven't named the kitten, whom the Boy insists on calling "banana" but we're leaning towards Moxie, Pepper, Trubble, Muffin. So we're not the most original people in the world, but I can assure you, that poor little kitten will NOT be called Banana.

I had forgotten just how much energy little teeny kittens have. She's so adorable, but the climbing, the jumping, the snuggling, the playing, the licking, the jumping some more, and just plain exploring all over the house. Last night she ran behind the sofa about 10 million times, creating a great little freeway that only she could fit into. It was getting into the "I'm so tired I think I'm gonna fall over and croak" territory, so I picked her up, but her on my chest, and she was out like a light in about 10 seconds. I couldn't shift all night long, and it was incredibly uncomfortable after a bit, but if I moved, she got upset and squeeked.

The Girl went to her first big rock concert yesterday (Rock the Bells) that went from noon till midnight, and by the time she got home it was so freaking late I was almost apoplectic. Fortunately she called several times to tell me just where they were, and most of the time was spent in the parking lot trying to get out of the Comcast Center (formerly known as the Tweeter Center, which was formerly known as Great Woods). She came in and saw the kitten for the first time and she was so excited. And of course the sleepy kitty woke up and wanted to play again.

This morning we fed her wet food, and I put her in the litter box, but she didn't do a darn thing. Then about a half hour later, Uh Oh. It's OK. Accidents happen and she does know where the litter box is. I think I might get a smaller one for her because the one we have is very big and high. I'm not sure she can get in it herself in a hurry.

She still hasn't discovered the stairs, so she's been downstairs the whole time. She spends a lot of time getting up on and getting down from the sofa. A girl needs her exercise, you know.

Worthless Pet is curious but not the least bit upset by her arrival. He has tried to make friends, but she's having none of him. Eventually they'll be fine, but she's still in the hissing phase and WP kinda walks away like a wuss. The good thing is, he's not upset at all and is going about her business.

I take it back. He just hissed at her and then looked at me and sent me a few smiles. Maybe we should change his name to Trubble. Heh.

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Meet our new baby

We have a brand new baby in the house. She's just the cutest thing ever. Very curious. Very brave. Pretty darn vocal about her needs. An expert in getting into spaces we never even considered blocking off. She's smart as a whip and twice as silly.


But....

She has no name.

PLEASE help us name her. Because if you don't come up with a good name we can all agree upon, the Boy is insisting on "Banana" and there is no way in hell I am going to have a cat named Banana.

She is 8 weeks old. She needs a cute name. I suggested "Mittens" after Ralph in the Simpsons. But she doesn't have mittens. She's a true tiger all the way.

What do you suggest?

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Margalit's reading challange

Look, it's a reading challenge! Because, you know, I love books. Reading soothes me.
Now, this list of the new classics comes from Entertainmant Weekly, so I admit that I'm a bit dubious as to the content in some of these books. However, in perusing the list to see what I'd already read, I saw that they had chosen some of my favorites that I would indeed include as "new classics" so what the heck. I'll try it. I can read 6 books in 3 weeks (or days) so how hard could this be?

Joanna came up with this challenge. I found it on Jendeis' blog.

The challenge rules are:

1) Copy the list and bold the titles that you have already read.

2) Choose at least 6 other books from the list , read and review them between 1 August 2008 and 31 January 2009.

2) Come back here and post links to your reviews.

3) In January 2009, cast your vote for which one of the 100 books on the list is your favorite (and write a post on why). The winning book will be sent to a lucky winner chosen by the scientific method favored here in the blogosphere, i.e. names in a hat. Other contests are very probable too, I have some ideas, but they need planning.

4) Have fun! :-)

from EW.com


1. The Road , Cormac McCarthy (2006)
2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J.K. Rowling (2000)
3. Beloved, Toni Morrison (1987)
4. The Liars' Club, Mary Karr (1995)
5. American Pastoral, Philip Roth (1997)
6. Mystic River, Dennis Lehane (2001)
7. Maus, Art Spiegelman (1986/1991)
8. Selected Stories, Alice Munro (1996)
9. Cold Mountain, Charles Frazier (1997)
10. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murakami (1997)
11. Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer (1997)
12. Blindness, José Saramago (1998)
13. Watchmen, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (1986-87)
14. Black Water, Joyce Carol Oates (1992)
15. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Dave Eggers (2000)
16. The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood (1986)
17. Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez (1988)
18. Rabbit at Rest, John Updike (1990)
19. On Beauty, Zadie Smith (2005)
20. Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding (1998)
21. On Writing, Stephen King (2000)
22. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Díaz (2007)
23. The Ghost Road, Pat Barker (1996)
24. Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry (1985)
25. The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan (1989)
26. Neuromancer, William Gibson (1984)
27. Possession, A.S. Byatt (1990)
28. Naked, David Sedaris (1997)
29. Bel Canto, Anne Patchett (2001)
30. Case Histories, Kate Atkinson (2004)
31. The Things They Carried, Tim O'Brien (1990)
32. Parting the Waters, Taylor Branch (1988)
33. The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion (2005)
34. The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold (2002)
35. The Line of Beauty, Alan Hollinghurst (2004)
36. Angela's Ashes, Frank McCourt (1996)
37. Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi (2003)
38. Birds of America, Lorrie Moore (1998)
39. Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri (2000)
40. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman (1995-2000)
41. The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros (1984)
42. LaBrava, Elmore Leonard (1983)
43. Borrowed Time, Paul Monette (1988)
44. Praying for Sheetrock, Melissa Fay Greene (1991)
45. Eva Luna, Isabel Allende (1988)
46. Sandman, Neil Gaiman (1988-1996)
47. World's Fair, E.L. Doctorow (1985)
48. The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver (1998)
49. Clockers, Richard Price (1992)
50. The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen (2001)
51. The Journalist and the Murderer, Janet Malcom (1990)
52. Waiting to Exhale, Terry McMillan (1992)
53. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon (2000)
54. Jimmy Corrigan, Chris Ware (2000)
55. The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls (2006)
56. The Night Manager, John le Carré (1993)
57. The Bonfire of the Vanities, Tom Wolfe (1987)
58. Drop City, TC Boyle (2003)
59. Krik? Krak! Edwidge Danticat (1995)
60. Nickel & Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich (2001)
61. Money, Martin Amis (1985)
62. Last Train To Memphis, Peter Guralnick (1994)
63. Pastoralia, George Saunders (2000)
64. Underworld, Don DeLillo (1997)
65. The Giver, Lois Lowry (1993)
66. A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, David Foster Wallace (1997)
67. The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini (2003)
68. Fun Home, Alison Bechdel (2006)
69. Secret History, Donna Tartt (1992)
70. Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell (2004)
71. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, Ann Fadiman (1997)
72. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Mark Haddon (2003)
73. A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving (1989)
74. Friday Night Lights, H.G. Bissinger (1990)
75. Cathedral, Raymond Carver (1983)
76. A Sight for Sore Eyes, Ruth Rendell (1998)
77. The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro (1989)
78. Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert (2006)
79. The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell (2000)
80. Bright Lights, Big City, Jay McInerney (1984)
81. Backlash, Susan Faludi (1991)
82. Atonement, Ian McEwan (2002)
83. The Stone Diaries, Carol Shields (1994)
84. Holes, Louis Sachar (1998)
85. Gilead, Marilynne Robinson (2004)
86. And the Band Played On, Randy Shilts (1987)
87. The Ruins, Scott Smith (2006)
88. High Fidelity, Nick Hornby (1995)
89. Close Range, Annie Proulx (1999)
90. Comfort Me With Apples, Ruth Reichl (2001)
91. Random Family, Adrian Nicole LeBlanc (2003)
92. Presumed Innocent, Scott Turow (1987)
93. A Thousand Acres, Jane Smiley (1991)
94. Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser (2001)
95. Kaaterskill Falls, Allegra Goodman (1998)
96. The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown (2003)
97. Jesus’ Son, Denis Johnson (1992)
98. The Predators' Ball, Connie Bruck (1988)
99. Practical Magic, Alice Hoffman (1995)
100. America (the Book), Jon Stewart/Daily Show (2004)

Any suggestions amongst the titles I haven't yet read? I'm thinking that America by Jon Stewart will be at the top of my list. But I'm not sure what else is really good.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Prayer for our country

In the Jewish liturgy, the Mincha, or afternoon service, begins with a series of prayers for the congregation, the State of Israel, and for our country. Every siddur (prayer book) has a different version of the prayer for our country, but the essence remains the same. All over the world, every Shabbat, Jews pray for the government to be strong, fair, and just. Lately that prayer has really struck me as something I think we should all take to heart, regardless of our religious beliefs or lack thereof.

The siddur that I like best is the Siddur Sim Shalom for Shabbat and Festivals, put out by the Rabbinical Assembly & The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. This is their version of the prayer for our country:
Our God and God of our ancestors: We ask Your blessings for our country—for its government, for its leaders and advisors, and for all who exercise just and rightful authority. Teach them insights from Your Torah, that they may administer all affairs of state fairly, that peace and security, happiness and prosperity, justice and freedom may forever abide in our midst.

Creator of all flesh, bless all the inhabitants of our country with Your spirit. May citizens of all races and creeds forge a common bond in true harmony, to banish hatred and bigotry, and to safeguard the ideals and free institutions that are the pride and glory of our country.

May this land, under your providence, be an influence for good throughout the world, uniting all people in peace and freedom—helping them to fulfill the vision of your prophet: ‘Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they experience war any more’ (Isaiah 2:4). And let us say: Amen.

I'm always glad to come to the Prayer for Our Country in the service for Sabbath and Festivals. I like the prayer as a prayer that means something to me each and every time I recite it. The words resonate with me because I believe so strongly that government should seek peaceful solutions, should protect it's citizens regardless of race or creed, should unite people in peace and in freedom, and should be a just body. I also have to admit to a certain unworthy tinge of SchadenFreunde that comes from my assumption that some of my co-congregants are less thrilled with the prayer than I am especially the part that says:

"this land, under your providence, be an influence for good throughout the world, uniting all people in peace and freedom."
For some Jews, this particular line smacks too much of Christianity as it definately reflects the teachings of Jesus, but to me, it seems to be exactly what I believe is right and good about any country. This prayer, although in an American Conservative Jewish prayerbook, isn't an American prayer. It's said in every country in every language where Jews reside. Unlike most Christian churches, the Jewish liturgy doesn't deviate from congregation to congregation. Interpretations do exist, so an American Reform congregation's prayerbook is going to be different than a British Liberal prayerbook, but the essense of the services is the same.

This means that a prayer for our country, or our Government is said by Australians, Chinese, Israeli, Canadian, French and Greek Jews. The interpretation for each country might vary, but again, the message remains true.

When I read the prayer, I think about how much the United States needs to take this prayer to heart. We don't take care of our citizens with fairness or with justice. We leave many of our most vulnerable citizens swinging in the wind without health insurance, child care, maternity care, subsidized housing, and food assistance. We don't have much of a safety net anymore.

We're a racist society, even when we pretend otherwise. This morning I read a blog from a recent college graduate that claimed that Boston was the most racist city in America. Hundreds of commenters from all over the country disagreed, saying that Milwalkee, St. Louis, Baltimore, New Orleans and San Francisco are all more racist than Boston, and why. The view of American from these comments is that blatent racism might be less noticable than in 1950, but it has not going away. Just tonight on the news a woman was interviewed about supporting John McCain and her reason was "He's more of an American, like us." Meaning white. Racism is alive and well in the USA and that makes me horribly sad.

Saying a prayer for our country isn't something that most people do on a daily basis, but maybe it should be. Maybe if we took this prayer that emphasizes justice, freedom, peace and security for all it's citizens, the country might be in a better place.

It doesn't hurt to try.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Attention Higher Power: Updated

We do not have tornado warnings in Boston. I repeat. Tornado warnings...no way Jose. We do not have funnel clouds. We do not want funnel clouds. We do not know what to do when we have tornado warnings. We are tornado ignorant. We like it that way.


We can deal with blizzards. We're familiar with hurricaines. We even have known an earthquake or two. But no, we do not know the tornado. And we are happy about it.

So when the TV shouts tornado warnings at us, what the heck to you expect us to do? Oh, we have basements. Do we go down there? Do we hide in the middle of the basement away from the windows? Do we go into a corner and weep? Do we hide under the stairs and hope for the best. Or snuggle down under the bulkhead? Are our basements even the right kind of basements for a tornado?


See, Higher Power, we do not know these things. We do not know what to bring with us when we hide in the bathtub like they did on Desperate Housewives. Do we pull mattresses over our heads? Is a bathroom with a large window safe? Are the windows supposed to be open wide? If a tornado hits, is it the wicked witch of the North we're afraid of? Will there be flying monkeys? I hate those flying monkeys. They are very scary and way too creepy for me. I won't watch them.


What is a funnel cloud doing here anyhow? Are you confused, higher power? Do you think we're in Kansas? We're in freaking Massachusetts. See, there is an ocean just a few miles east of here. Oceans don't happen in tornado alley. You need to find a nice flat plain to put down a tornado. We don't want them here.


We also do not want more flooding. We have had enough of that. The rain that keeps on coming and coming and coming so more? We're about done with that. So why, higher power, is the 11:30 pm forecast saying:

Storm Report
  • Heavy rainfall
  • Damaging wind potential is low
  • Hail possible
  • Severe Thunderstorm Watch in effect through 5am Thursday
    Flood Advisories issued throughout Mass.


    Who's idea of a joke is this, anyhow?

    Thursday at 1 pm. SO NOT FUNNY. Tornado in New Hampster? One spotted right down the road where we're supposed to be going to the movies? I am NOT laughing.

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    WFMW: Saving Money on School Supplies

    It's almost that time of year, when we all rush to Target or Kmart or Walmart or even Staples to spend our hard earned cash on school supplies. Yes, I know that when WE were kids, all we had to buy was a binder and some pencils, but times have changed. A lot. School departments hard pressed for cash have required parents to purchase more and more supplies for the classroom. Public schools aren't that bad compared to private schools. Private schools can put anything on the list of required supplies, and often do. I've bought kleenex, purell, soap, even toilet paper "for the classroom."

    Now that my kids are older, we don't have to buy as many school supplies, but the ones we do have to get are expensive! This year we have to buy two graphing calculators that range in price from $100 to $200 each. Joy oh joy! But the kids need them for math. They don't provide them in school and they have to have them for homework as well.

    Now, one thing I've learned over the years is that items like graphing calculators are only used for a year or two, and then are tossed into a drawer when the kids go off to college. So I use Freecycle right after graduation to find the items I know they're going to need. For free! It took me a couple of months, but I found two of them and saved myself several hundred dollars.

    For smaller items, like gluesticks (what do kids DO with all those gluesticks?) and writing implements I am like a vulture all year long. When I see a sale on school supplies, no matter when in the school calendar we are, I buy what I know they'll need. I keep a paper bag under my desk filled with supplies I've gotten, and when the kids need them, they just go into the paper bag.

    All year long I add to the bag, and even in the middle of summer, these are just some of the items I've pulled out of the bag.


    We'll have to buy new binders and some spiral notebooks, but that's pretty much all I'll need to get come Sept when school starts here. Instead of shelling out a huge amount of money each fall, I end up spending less than half what I would, and we always have plenty of supplies on hand.

    One more thing: backpacks. I have found over many years that it is worth it to spend money on a really good backpack instead of buying a new one every year. My son has been carrying his LLBean backpack for 3 years now, and it's going to see him through his senior year as well. If you have never bought an LLBean backpack, they TOTALLY rock. We've tried many different brands over the years, and none of them have stood up like the LLBean.


    My daughter also has one, but she's way too cool these days to carry a backpack. No way! She carries a series big fancy purses and totes, each matching her outfits. Because nothing says "girly" like a huge silver lame bag.

    Stocking up on school supplies all year round really works for me!

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    Tuesday, July 22, 2008

    Ceiling keeps falling on my head

    When you live in an old house, you inherit a lot of old house problems. Although this house we live in is not even close to the oldest house I've lived in, it was built right at the turn of the 20th century, and as anyone who has ever restored a house from this time period, it has serious issues with the ceilings. Now anyone that has ever lived in a house from that time period has probably learned about the horrible calcimine paint that was used to prep ceilings. The stuff is the devils handiwork.


    Being essentially chalk, the water-based mixture of calcimine paint contained minimal binders and glues for adhesion. Herein lies the problem for those of us dealing with peeling paint now, because this lack of active binder chemicals discourages modern paints from adhering. Over time, any paint coatings over a calcimine base will fail, chipping and peeling away modern paint coverings have nothing to "stick" to.


    No matter how many times you scrape the paint on your ceiling with calcimine paint, the second you try to repaint, the new paint starts to peel. At first it's a bit here or there. Then, if you aren't diligent about scraping and painting (and lord knows, I'm not) your ceilings start to look like they have a dread disease.


    All through the winter, when the house is really dry, the paint crumbles and falls. Sometimes it's funny, like when we got a big chunk of paint in the sink, or when it fell all over the carpet and scared the cat to death. But mostly it's a serious pain in the ass and I'm really tired of it.


    I learned the hard way that the only real cure for calcimine painted ceilings is to put up drywall and start over. Even the guys on This Old House recommend this. It is that troublesome. There are some other methods, but even when I tried them on the house I restored, it didn't work well. It's so difficult to scrape every bit of paint and then the calcimine on a ceiling that is over 300 years old. In some cases we had to remove the entire ceiling, in other cases we had to put up drywall. That was when I was young and energetic.


    Now, I just want the freaking ceilings to stop peeling. I feel like every time I perch somewhere I have to look up to see what might be falling on my head.

    Our ceilings were all repainted 2 years ago. They were pristine for about 3 months and then the cracking started. With cracking comes peeling. Soon the ceilings look they're covered in cowhide. It's ugly and it's annoying.

    In the bathroom, where we had a roof leak, we almost lost the ceiling.


    Now pieces of the ceiling fall so often that even when the floor was washed yesterday, there are pieces of paint all over the floor today. That is not good.


    We also had a leak in the bathtub that sits right over the kitchen. The plumber fixed the leak, but the ceiling.... OMG it is horrible. It has to be repainted, as does the entire kitchen. I guess we're going to have to do it soon.


    For all of you that have popcorn ceilings, they're ugly as sin, but at least they don't fall down on your head. There are times when I wish we did have a textured ceiling. But they are fleeting. My children are so sick of me bitching about the ceilings. I'll be watching TV and all of a sudden I'll be totally obsessed with how horrid the ceiling looks. I can't help it. I HATE THEM.


    The joys of living in an old home go on and on!

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    Monday, July 21, 2008

    Fetid air

    I'm worried about the Olympic athletes in Beijing. The air there is absolutely fetid. The pollution is so bad you can't even see straight in front of you. It makes Los Angeles look positively sparkling clean. I don't really understand why the Olympic Committee would allow an Olympics in a place that has such terrible pollution.

    I have asthma. 90% of the time it is under control. I know how to take care to ensure that I don't have many big attacks. But every summer I end up with a doosy of one, mostly because the air is so thick due to hazy humid weather that I end up not being able to breathe. Every time it happens I'm totally surprised because I'm pretty used to breathing without an albuteral rescue inhaler in my hand.

    Last night I wasn't so lucky. I coughed the whole night, which is the first sign for me that my airwaves are irritated. When Janice called this afternoon I was coughing a lot and I could feel my voice going. By this evening, I couldn't take a deep breath. Asthma. It does such a number on my body. I can't even imagine what it must be like for kids who don't respond to the treatments and end up hospitalized. The few times that has happened to me, it's been terribly scary.

    Getting back to the Olympics, the air quality is terribly poor and many of the events are outdoors. Athletes that aren't used to breathing that kind of air are going to have a lot of coughing asthma. That not only isn't good for the foreign athletes who come from countries with clean fresh air, but it also gives the Chinese an unfair advantage. They're used to breathing in coal dust. It's pretty much what they know in Beijing.

    Now the athletes are also worried about the food. China puts so many steriods into their food supply that the athletes are afraid to eat it because they might have a positive result in a doping test. I mean, is this REALLY the best place to hold the Olympics. A country that has made more than a million people homeless by knocking down whole neighborhoods in order to build Olympic stadiums. A country with such terrible air pollution that even if the cars they banned were to stay out of Beijing entirely, the air would still be bad for the athletes. And finally, a country that puts poison into the food supply, so much so that there is a good chance that athletes would be affected by the steroids and hormones.

    I'm not a huge fan of the Olympics. I've never been to one, never really wanted to go to one, and if I did, it would be the winter Olympics because I find the sports more interesting to watch. However, I do have a strong opinion on the location of the games. I think it's ridiculous to pander to the Chinese government and allow them to behave in such a cruel manner all in the name of the Olympics. They now are enforcing etiquette rules to the citizens of Beijing, telling them what they can do to appear polite. I can't even imagine that going over in the USA. We just would laugh and do what we want. But in a repressive society, albeit one that is developing quickly into a first world capitalist country, people are afraid to go against the government. So they will sanitize the city and it's people, but the truth is that it's an unpleasant place with an unpleasant government and I fear for the health of all the athletes.

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    Sunday, July 20, 2008

    Oh, Thank God it is over

    In a day or two, the blogosphere should bounce back to it's regularly scheduled bitch and moan fests. That stupid waste of money alcoholic bash pretending to be 'educational' is finally over. Now all we have to endure is the backlash of posts going over every person we met and every thing we ate and the hilarity of every party where we got shitfaced and touched other BlogHer's boobs. And then the whole flickr fest of pictures. At least you don't have to be clicking over to see a bunch of silly 30 year old mothers acting like sorority girls at a rush party.

    Here at BlogNot, we didn't have to blog about traveling home because, um, we were home. We didn't have to blog about who we met and whose boobs we touched, because, um, we know how to keep our hands to ourselves. We didn't have to blog about being licked, being shitfaced, being trashed, being disappointed that the sessions were only so-so (which I've read at least a million times, leading me once again to conclude that the only reason for this 'convention' is to leave your kids at home and get shitfaced), we didn't get to meet x y and z, and OMG, there was a controversy about Dooce at the ending session. Like who the fuck cares?

    Instead we napped and the kids did various things like go see Batman (the Girl) and hang out with friends (the Boy). It was quiet and pleasant at home. I love having time off to just think and read. I did some work in the garden, which is so spectacular this year that I think I should win some sort of medal. Every tomato plant is filled to the brim with green fruit. The peppers are getting huge and a second bunch is just coming out. The zucchhini is filled with flowers and small little fingerlings. My herb garden is gorgeous. Even the flowers are fantastic. And we had a hummingbird this morning eating off my hanging flowers. It's like a little Tasha Tudor site here in BlogNot land. I'm so pleased. I got more happiness from gardening than I do just about anything else.

    My neighbor isn't so lucky. For the second time in a year she has put in a garden that has done virtually nothing. Her many tomato plants aren't even a foot high and I don't think they're going to fruit at all. Her eggplants are also doing nothing. I feel badly because she walks by my garden all the time and sort of just looks at it. Maybe next year we'll do a collaborative attempt because I could use the labor to enlarge the garden. I'm planning to turn the farm back into production, one shovelful at a time!

    I'm still so worried about Lisa at Clusterfook. If you haven't popped by to read her story and maybe donate a penny or two, please go and say hi. She's gotten a ton of support and it is helping her to stay positive in a time where there few positives in her life.

    OK, we're getting back to normal now. If that has ever even been an option around here.

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    Saturday, July 19, 2008

    Blognot: Our day at the beach

    BlogNot moved outdoors today. It was hot hot hot outside. Typical July weather in New England: hot, humid and hazy. The weathermen love to talk about the 3 H's. We hate them. Nobody in their right mind would want to spend the day outside. Unless they were at the beach.

    To the beach we went. The Girl and 3 of her friends wanted to go and see the sand sculptures at Revere Beach. Now, I've lived in the Boston area most of my adult life and the only other time I've ever set foot on Revere Beach was the day before I delivered my babies. And I only was there for the clams at Kelly's Roast Beef. I was desperate for clams. I had a hankering and a half for clams, and my wonderful neighbor popped me in her car and took me to get some clams. Other than that memorable event, Revere Beach has always been off my radar screen.

    Why? Because it's so freaking crowded there, the beach never looks clean, and to tell you the truth, it's not the most relaxing place in the city. It's noisy with the languages of a million different countries, all screaming at top volume. It's crowded because there is a subway stop right across from the beach, which means that every person in Boston can hop on the T and be at the beach without having to look for and in some cases pay for parking.

    However, today we got into the teenymobile and headed up to the beach. I even drove over the Tobin Bridge, which is a big feat for me, seeing as how I hate bridges.

    BlogNot Revere Beach started out with a bang when I got the PRIMO parking space of all times. I mean, it was so good I didn't even want to ever leave it. RIGHT in front of the showers, right on the beach, right across the street from the ice cream store, and right by the sand sculptures.

    We walked up to a nice spot right by the life guards, plopped down in our sand chairs, and promptly started frying. I used the sun screen, but I'm still burnt. Again, hot humid and hazy. The perfect weather for burning.

    The sand sculptures were amazing.


    This one is the hulk.



    And we have this beautiful one, still being worked on.


    This is a monument to Boston that was done by various sculptors and sponsored by a lot of companies.





    This was the Girl's favorite, a tribute to video gaming.


    A woman on a widow walk.



    The bottom of her house was buried in the sand.


    This is the Girl scouting rocks for me. I like beach rocks.


    This beach is in the direct landing flight path from Europe.


    We got home about 5, took showers, and then a friend came over for 'dinner' and drinks. We had a lot of frozen strawberry daquaries and cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory. Quite nutritious, right? We watched a nice movie, and then I fought with the computer trying to download these photos. I'm telling you, you people have no clue the stress I go through trying to wrangle this old gal Ms Emachines into behaving the way I need her to. She's very very stubborn.

    BlogNot winds up tomorrow. I'm not sure what's in store for us, but what have you been doing this weekend?

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    Friday, July 18, 2008

    BlogNot: Social Activism

    Well, shiver me timbers, I'm pissed as hell today. It's Karen's fault. She sent me this link and we've had a bit of back and forth about how she's censored because she carries BlogHer ads and they essentially censor anyone that speaks up against them. Ahem. So I realized I don't carry Blogher ads on this blog anymore. No I don't. Because I speak up often about what a joke that organization is. Now, I recall that last year I was all hot and bothered during BlogHer because I was doing Blogathon raising money for Children's Hospital in Boston. A worthy cause by anyone's standards. It was my second year doing Blogathon, and I raised a lot of money both years. But what I mostly remember, what TOTALLY pissed me off, is that of all the money I raised, none of it came from BlogHer people. None. Not a penny.

    Now that pissed me off because first of all, charity vs nail polish? Come on, people. Charity vs shoes? Charity vs anything to do with that stupid joke of a 'convention'. You have GOT to be kidding.

    Another blogger who does Blogathon every year shared with me her frustration about this as well. She was pretty damned furious in fact that the Blogher bitches couldn't fork over a penny for charities (I think she raises money for cerebral palsy, which her son suffers from) but they could hand over their visa cards for anything pertaining to furthering their social climb up the blogging ladder of 'success'. Because you know, they're brands and they monetize their blogs and talk all sorts of stupid useless marketeer speech. I do not know why nobody has clued them in that marketeers are the lowest form of people.

    So that was last year and this year I've just given up on the whole BlogHer phenom because it's like kudzu... you can't kill it but you know that it's strangling the people that belong to it.

    And then Karen's email came and I'm on the warpath again. Because this time it's not me that is hurting. I don't expect one damn thing from anyone associated with BlogHer. I've learned that a shallower bunch of women doesn't exist on this planet. I don't WANT to be their friends. Personally, I think anyone that falls for Lisa Stone's lines is a complete Moron with a capital M. She's the biggest shyster out there, she's reaping the benefits of BlogHer stupidity, and she's laughing all the way to the bank while serious social climbers and self promoters shill for the organization in the hopes that someone will notice her.

    Karen's email was about Clusterfook. Her cancer is not responding to treatment. In fact, the doctors have stopped the chemo. She is dying. DYING. She will be leaving her daughters without a mother and a mountain of medical debts to inherit. This is her third bout of cancer. The doctors she has been to have almost killed her, have made serious mistakes in her treatment, and now are abandoning her. It is terribly horribly sad. Really, go read her posts. Learn about this brave courageous woman.

    Now what does she have to do with Blogher? A lot, it turns out. BlogHer turned her blog DOWN for BlogHer ads. Because she's got a mouth and an opinion, and as I've said, BlogHer doesn't like that at all. They censor people.

    Additionally, she needs help. Help she is NOT getting from Guess Who? Why, the BlogHers. In fact, a Blogher bigshot said that she would hook Clusterfook up with a PR person so her story could get out there. And guess what happened? When said PR person couldn't use her, he disappeared. But only after giving her the third degree about her illness, her treatments and her bills. NICE. Jeremy Pepper, the PR guy from hell, promised her that they would bring this up at BlogHer in order to help her raise money to offset her medical bills. And he lied. To a dying woman. Because it wouldn't further their rise to fame and fortune.

    Lisa at Clusterfook needs help. There is no other way to say it. She needs YOUR help. I've done what I can, but I'm one person with a limited amount of resources. But you guys aren't. You know doctors and have places for her to stay. She needs to find a hospital that will take on her case. She's been turned down by a lot of places already. You might have a bit of extra cash, or can send her flowers or a treat. She needs the support of a blogging community that believes in helping more than dressing up and drinking all night long.

    Please take the button above and put it on your blog. I know it's ugly, but I'm out of time and I wanted a button out there, no matter what. Link it to Lisa's donation button, so all one has to do is click on the button to get to her.

    Code for button is in comments.

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    Thursday, July 17, 2008

    BlogNot: Day One

    Today was such a fun filled day at Blognot. Many of us slept in, exhausted after a long day of not traveling. Since there wasn't any time changes or new schedules to get used to, a lot of us get up at our regular times and went about our lives. It was so squeeeetastic!

    I took the Girl to summer school, and then came home and just got back and bed and went right back to sleep. I know, but that's what being on a staycation is all about! Enjoying yourself and being yourself.

    Later I got up after snuggling with the Worthless Pet and went to pick her up. We stopped at CVS on the way home to pick up a few girly supplies, like my cholesterol prescription. A girl can get along without makeup, but she has to watch her cholesterol, right? Squeeeee!

    After we got home, I worked for 4 hours or so redoing a blog for someone. I know, sometimes work just gets in the way of drinking, noshing, and chatting. What can I do, I'm a responsible person. Plus I learned a new trick with banners today. And I got to scream obscenities at Blogger for those damn widgets that make redesign such a pain.

    By that time, the phone started ringing and my email was filling up. I spent a lot of time plurking all my deep thoughts, which were so richly recieved. Those plurkers, they are the nicest bunch of people. Not all stuck up like those that worship the fail whale.

    Soon it was time for All My Children, a don't miss show on ABC. Did you see it today? My goodness, that Annie is annoying, isn't she? What's with Ryan and Greeley? They kinda make me sick. The discussion around the TV was lively as both kids moaned and groaned about the stupidity of this particular soap.

    Not to be outdone, we turned to CBS where we watched As The World Turns. Goodness me, it was rather naughty today. That annoying woman, Liberty's Mom, the one that Brad slept with in high school and now Jack is sleeping with? Will someone just KILL HER OFF. She irritates the hell out of us. The Boy goes livid every time she comes on. Parker and Liberty were sucking face today, which was kinda cute. NewLily went ballistic when Holden told her that he was having a fling. He didn't reveal it was Carley, but really...how stupid does he think NewLily is? It looked like NewLily was gonna roll over Carley with her car, and of course Carley was staring at the car like a deer in the headlights, which amused us no end. Can't wait till tomorrow to find out what happened.

    The kids decided that they couldn't handle Dr Phil, thank God, and turned off the TV. The Girl made plans with her friend to attend the Carnival in the northern part of town. It's an Italian festa and a LOT of fun with good food and music and rides. Lots of rides. She goes every summer. Then the Boy decided to go to his friend's house for the evening. So I got to play driver and take them to their various destinations before coming home.

    Dinner tonight is Indian food, with rice, chicken curry, a cucumber riata, and a nice big salad. For dessert I have coconut sorbet. I've already popped open a bottle of wine, and I hope the entire bottle is polished off in record time.

    Then on to the ICA for an sculpture exhibit on Free Thursday. I think they have drinks on the balcony. Squeeeee!

    For all of you attending BlogNot, be sure to let your readers know that this is the place in town to be seen. We're gonna rock this town tonight!

    Mwah!

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    Wednesday, July 16, 2008

    SQEEE! Staycation plans for BlogNot

    I'm just realizing that BlogNot starts tomorrow. TOMORROW, people. Oh, I am so not ready. I haven't had time to get my mani pedi yet, so my toenails are still navy blue (that wonderful OPI color from the Russian collection I had put on 2 months ago before we went to Chicago). Yes, there is about 1/4 of grown out nail at the bottom, but really, it still looks pretty darn good. My fingernails, however, look horrible. I'll have to do them myself using my new OPI colors I got for my birthday. I'm not sure whether to use the All That Razz-Berry or Midnight in Moscow. Or I could use Black Onyx and pretend I'm Sweetney in high school. Whadda you think?

    I've got a pile of laundry waiting to be washed. I'm going to pack about 15 outfits that I won't wear because I'm on Staycation at BlogNot, and really, what do I need other than shorts and t-shirts. But I have so many C.U.T.E. things in my much smaller than last year size! My adorable black and white dress. My white miniskirt with the brown and white embroidered top I got at Target for a song. My seersucker capri pants with the adorable hawaiian inspired shirt. Goodness, so much to choose from. I just don't know!

    I'm so excited to be hanging around her and her and her and her. There will be a bunch of other folks too, like him and her and him and her. Oh, I shouldn't forget her and her and her either. It will be so great at BlogNot, being with such illustrious company. We've not going to the non-existant parties and BFF get-togethers this year. Nope, we're on Staycation. SQEEEEE!!!

    I did buy a new pair of sandals that will be comfortable and perfect for wandering around the house. Yes, fake birkenstocks. I KNOW! But they're better than crocs, right? I don't want to be a fahion don't, but comfort is always first with me. I'll also not bring my black flip flops with the cute beading. And probably my multi-colored flip flops as well. I'm nothing if not a shoe fashion maven.

    I'm a bit worried about not seeing Dooce and Alice and all those other A-List bloggers that think so highly of themselves. It's OK, I know how to avoid running into them. It's called Staycation. I think there will be some people at the conference I can't abide. Like her and her and her. But then again, easy to avoid if you're on Staycation.

    Think of all the money I'm saving, too. I mean, I'm always broker than shit, so why not do Blognot and spend my money on more important things. Like food and rent and utilities. Oh, and maybe gas. Gas is good, right? So far I've saved a couple of thousand dollars, with all the airfare, hotel bills and of course the all important BlogHer "conference" expenses. You know, like the alcohol and the hamburgers and junk food. BlogNot offers free entrance. All you have to do is show up. We don't pretend we're an educational conference that can't even be bothered to find a keynote speaker. We admit we're not educational. We're all about the Staycation. The community pool, the public beach, the tanning on the lawn, and maybe some lemonade right out of the freezer. SQUEEEEEE!

    The best part of Blognot is not worrying about how much of an introvert I am. Yes, I am. My Myers Briggs profile is INTJ. Heavy on the I. I don't like most people. But with Blognot, I don't have to worry about that at all. I'm able to hang out with all the folks I love best, with none of the anxiety. SQEEEEEE! Plus, San Francisco in the summer. What kind of moron thought that would be a good destination? Cold and fog? Smoke from fires? Hills impossible to negotiate for the handicapped. So freaking expensive it makes Tokyo look cheap. Homeless people confronting you at every ATM machine (which of course you'll have to use to keep replenishing that alcohol money). No way, Jose. I'm on Staycation, where the weather is perfecto, hot and sunny. SQEEEEEEE!!!

    If you're on Staycation too, join us at BlogNot where you're more than welcome to be your true self, wear pajamas all day long if you want to, toss the makeup you never wear anyhow, and put your unstyled hair up in a pony tail. We love you just the way you are! Oh, and don't forget to get a few flicks on DVD for the weekend. Squeeeee.....

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    Tuesday, July 15, 2008

    WFMW: Blueberry Pie Recipes

    In the middle of summer, berries are abundant and not so costly. Where I live, in the Boston area, local blueberries are starting to appear at the farmer's markets and local stores. I can't resist a blueberry. High in antioxidents, they are so delicious and good for you too! Although we usually eat them on cereal, in muffins, and in pancakes, when the tiny Maine berries first appear in our farmer's markets, I'm all about the blueberry pie. There is almost nothing better than warm blueberry pie with a scoop of home made vanilla ice cream on top.

    Don't have much luck with pies? This one is really easy to make. And if you can't stand to think about a lattice top, another way to deal with making an attractive, but partially open top is to roll out the dough, and using a cookie cutter, cut out a bunch of shapes and lay that atop the fruit as a crust. It works wonderfully!

    Easy Old Fashioned Blueberry Pie

    Ingredients
    12 oz. blueberries
    1/2 cup sugar
    1 tablespoon flour
    1/4 cup butter
    1- 9 inch unbaked pie crust

    Directions
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    In a large sauce pan combine blueberries, sugar, flour, and butter; bring to boil and reduce heat to simmer. Simmer berries for 10 to 15 minutes until thickened. Pour berry mixture into unbaked pie crust. Bake pie for 30 minutes or until golden brown.


    Do you want to try something a bit more complicated? Something that will bring ooos and aaaahs to your table? Try this lattice topped blueberry pie.


    Blueberry Lattice Pie

    Peeking through an easy-to-make lattice crust, glistening blueberries invite pie fanciers to take a bite.

    2 (9-inch) frozen pie shells, thawed to room temperature
    3 cups fresh blueberries
    1/2 cup sugar
    2-1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
    1 tablespoon butter
    1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
    1 egg yolk

    In a medium-sized saucepan, combine 1 cup of the blueberries, the sugar, cornstarch and 2 tablespoons water. Bring to a boil; cook and stir until mixture thickens and is clear. Stir in butter; cool for 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining 2 cups blueberries and the peel; cool. Preheat oven to 400*. Pour cooled filling into one pie shell. Lay the remaining pie shell on a waxed paper; cut seven 3/4-inch wide strips; arrange in a criss-cross pattern on top of blueberries, pressing ends into the edges of the bottom crust. Combine egg yolk with 1 tablespoon water. Brush top crust with egg mixture. Place pie on a cookie sheet. Bake in the bottom third of the oven until crust is golden and filling gently bubbles, about 30 minutes. Cool on a rack; serve warm.

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    I just got this email

    I just got this email from a friend of mine. She was at work and called me, but I didn't hear the phone. Why? Read it.

    Do you know that your daughter has both telephones with her but it
    locked out on the roof outside your window???

    Please go let her in.


    OMG, that child is SUCH blog fodder. She likes to lay in the sun on the porch roof outside my bedroom window. She believes she gets a better tan out there. On a hot shingled roof. She is nuts. She shut the window because the air conditioning was on. Sigh.

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    Monday, July 14, 2008

    WTF is wrong with the citizens of the USA

    Today on the news I heard that McCain and Obama are running neck and neck right now? I'm sorry, but I just do not get this. WHY would anyone vote for that ancient old man who has no respect whatsoever for women? Are we such mysoginists in this country that we think it's fine to elect a man who left his first wife in the hospital for a woman he was having an affair with and subsequently married. Are we so stupid that we believe in a guy who thinks women don't deserve top level jobs, are uneducated, and should be off having babies at home? Having babies non-stop because he doesn't believe in birth control, abortion, or pretty much any reproductive rights for women. While he takes viagra that's covered by health insurance, he thinks it's fine to ban coverage of birth control pills from insurance companies.

    Oh, and while we're on the subject of insurance, he really doesn't believe in universal care, either. He believes in subsidized private care, so that the poorest of our citzens will once again be left in the dirt begging for a doctor to care for them.

    WHY would anyone support this jackass? It is because of his 'military record'? Um, it's not all that impressive once you look beyond him being a prisioner of war at the Hanoi Hotel. Is it because he believes that this craptacular war in Iraq should go on ad nauseum, killing Iraqi citizens as well as American soldiers daily? For what? A bit ugly piece of sand? Sorry, but it's not worth the loss of lives. Nor is it work the loss of money to the American citizens supporting a war they didn't ask for, didn't want, and for the most part don't support. We support our troops, not the war they're fighting.

    Is it because he's really a Bush third term? Only worse? If that's possible. I mean, is he going to improve this country? Is he going to help the economy? Nope, this is the guy that doesn't even know the price of gas right now, but his children charge $50K per month on their credit cards. While his wife charges that much on a daily basis. On what? How can someone with that kind of money understand what it means to live in poverty? Or day to day, paycheck to paycheck, hoping that the money holds out the whole month and there is still food in the pantry.

    Does he seem empathetic to you? I look at his smug face and I want to smack him. I don't think he cares one whit about the American people. I think, like Bush, he cares about power. I don't think he understands that Christian fundamentalism isn't an excuse for subjugating women. Again, don't think he cares. I don't think he cares about farmers plowing under their crops after the worst flooding in recent memory. I don't think he cares about our food supplies being contaminated by Chinese products. I don't think he cares about our failing health care system. Or our failing education system. I don't think he cares that fewer and fewer Americans can afford college educations so the colleges are filled with foreign students with the money to pay. I don't think he cares that there is not enough low income housing to care for our citizens. I don't think he cares that the poverty rate hasn't changed since 1965 and the poorest citizens are being squeezed harder than ever due to rising prices.

    I don't think he cares about anything other than corporate greed (he likes it) and keeping the war going so he can ensure corporate greed will be a lasting phenomenon.

    Again, people are voting for him why? Please, tell me why you would cast a vote for such a man. I really want to understand it. Is it pure racism? Is it fear? What is it?

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    Sunday, July 13, 2008

    An absolutely perfect day

    Getting up early on a Sunday is almost unheard of in our family. Except that today we had plans. Big plans.

    First we drove up the coast from Boston to Maine. We saw a few funny things on the way.

    A Mercedes with a Ron Paul bumper sticker.



    The sign that you see before you actually enter New Hampster advertising both the State Liquor Store and Lottery tickets. If that doesn't give you an idea of what New Hampster is all about, I don't know that would. (You have to click on this to read the sign.)


    Over the bridge from New Hampster to Maine, our destination of choice. First stop is Yummies.


    Yummies is a candy store. But it isn't any normal candy store. They specialize in nostalgic candy like Abba Zabbas and French Taffy.


    They have more varieties of salt water taffy than you've ever seen and it's all fresh. Nothing stale and hard here.


    Plenty of options if you like chocolate.


    The Boy got a chocolate school bus to give to his bus driver in the fall. He loves his bus driver. She's awesome.


    We told the Boy's friend Chris about how awesome Yummies was, but he didn't believe us. He couldn't believe that sheer amount of candy in the store. It is awesome. He had to borrow a little money. Eyes bigger than stomach!


    They have a great gift shop, too. But you can't eat gifts, so we never buy a thing there!


    Look! Sugarless candy. Plenty of options.


    Mmmmm. Fudge. The boy always leaves with fudge.


    We're leaving with a bit of candy. Four people, four bags. We are all big fans of candy.


    Next stop was the Bass outlet, as I was looking for a pair of sandals that aren't flip flops. Flip flops are killing my feet, even good ones, and I needed to find something comfy. They were having a 70% off sale. You read that right. Seventy percent off. Now that's MY kinda sale. I bought a pair of fake birkenstocks and the Girl got some socks and a pair of flip flops. The Boys sat in the car eating candy.

    After the outlet, it was time for the beach. We weren't really sure where we wanted to go, but we were close to York Beach and I'd never been there, so we opted for that over Ogunquit.

    The parking lot was HORRIBLE. They had hardly any handicap spaces and the people trolling the lost were like sharks. We got cut out of several spaces, including one that a guy was so incensed about me trying to pull into it that he got about an inch from my car and got half way out of his big honking pick-up truck to scream obscenities at me. Welcome to Maine! Anyhow, I finally found a space after a major temper tantrum, and we toted our stuff to the beach and settled down for a long afternoon's playtime.

    The water was freezing. But the sun was hot and there was the most delightful breeze.


    The Girl fell asleep right off the bat. She was so anxious for a deep dark tan, and her wish was granted. But she's not dark enough. She really wants a tan this summer, something she hasn't had in years and years. She's careful, so why not?


    The Boy and his friend decided they wanted to dig a hole.


    Not just any hole. Grand Canyon east.

    It got bigger and bigger.

    Bigger and bigger still.


    Soon it was a really big, really deep hole. A nice hole, but a hole nonetheless.


    They worked hard on it using the snow shovel from our car.


    Deeper and deeper they dug, until the Lifeguard told them they had to stop because the hole was too big. Stupid rule!



    I walked down to the water's edge and watched the waves. So pretty.



    Look at the houses on the cliffs. I'm so jealous I could spit. What a great place to live.



    Chris decided that being buried was a great idea.



    He lost his legs in Nam.



    We voted this the cutest bathing suit on the beach.



    We voted this the ugliest tattoo on the beach. And believe me, there were a plethora of ugly ones to choose from.



    The Girl slept on. I woke her up and made her turn over. She fell back to sleep.


    But then she work up and helped to bury Chris even deeper.



    It got late and soon it was time to go.


    We were all so hungry we decided to hit the Clambox in Ipswich.


    What? You've never been to the Clambox? For shame. The food is to die for. We had to wait on line for an hour just to place our orders. Then the food came and we ate ourselves silly.

    On the highway before we got off in MA, we saw this very classy New Hampster car. I mean really. Do little kids have to see this?


    We got off the road and drove past my old house. Isn't it beautiful? It wasn't like that before we restored it. You haven't lived until you've sanded off 3 different colors of porch paint off a beautiful 300 year old wide plank floor. Or replaced a kitchen that was last updated in the 1930's.


    We drove down Rt 1 to the highway, and once on 95 we played padiddle the whole way home. Every kid hurt their hand slamming the roof. The Boy got pissed and sulked for a bit. But he was better until we were almost home, and then he got car sick. Again. Happens EVERY single time we go to Maine. Like clockwork.

    So he ran in the house and barfed a couple of times, and now he's on the sofa milking it for all it's worth whilst watching Miss Universe. Such a guy!

    What a great day. It was absolutely perfect!

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